Exploring Hidden Histories: Recording and Gathering Materials
Having done your initial planning and research, you are now ready to gather material for your Hidden History. You may already have stumbled across some interesting documents in a library or archive, you may have identified some people you’d like to interview, or you may want to take some photos or record some video/audio footage.
You can use our templates to gather recording permission from your interviewee or event participants, plan questions, and record details.
Equipment and apps
A lot of people worry about needing to get or learn to use professional equipment or complicated computer programmes. If you are producing a big programme for the BBC then you might need to, but for our Hidden Histories, the aim is to to make them as easy and enjoyable to produce as possible, whilst also learning some very useful skills along the way! Depending on what you / your group want to produce, the sort of equipment you might need to access could be:
- Smartphone or iPad / Tablet: There are apps available to do ALL of the functions below direct from a phone or tablet, and we would recommend using these as the most accessible means for most Hidden Histories projects. However, it’s really important to be sure that you have enough memory and battery on the device you choose to use every step of the way, that you install the apps/programmes you will need to work with, that you save your work and back it up externally as you go along (to the cloud, or to a hard drive).
- Scanner: A flatbed scanner can capture documents at high resolution for the very best quality. For ordinary usage, apps like Scanbot, Adobe Scanner or Evernote Scannable – or even your phone’s camera – can capture most documents well enough for your project.
- Camera: A digital SLR (single-lens reflex) will capture the best quality images for photographic exhibition/publications, however most smartphones have cameras and built-in software of more than sufficient calibre for capturing images for digital stories and online albums.
- Video Recorder: As above, while designated video cameras will produce the best high-quality footage, most mobile devices are capable of doing so for this purpose. Example apps include iMovie or Adobe Premiere Rush.
- Audio Recorder: Again, there’s plenty of expensive recording equipment available, but most devices have their own capacity to record audio. Example apps include Smart Recorder or Hi-Q
- Editing Software / Computer: There’s a wide range of editing software available for different budgets and devices. See the writing and editing page for more.
- Notebook, and any props needed (e.g. discussion objects, backdrop / logo / image)
- Spare batteries, memory cards and chargers.
If you need help accessing equipment, Wales for Peace work with People’s Collection Wales who have a network of over 20 digital heritage stations in locations across Wales. For specific projects working directly with WCIA or PCW, we may be able to loan professional recording equipment by special arrangement. We also offer training on how to use equipment to best impact.
Digitising Documents and Images
Most things you’ve read or watched about historical events and people will probably have been illustrated with documents, images, maps or pictures of objects that enable us to visualise and understand the people, the place, and the situation. If you can find old documents or images to help tell your story, as long as you get permission to share these publicly, they could be of enormous interest and value to people reading/watching your Hidden History, as well as to other pupils/students or historians. By sharing on People’s Collection Wales, you are adding to the nation’s heritage for posterity.
- Secure permission from the copyright holder
- Scan the document (either as individual pages, or a multi-page document)
- Edit if necessary – you may need to ‘crop’ the scan
- Save as a GIF, PDF or JPEG file
- Register and log in to People’s Collection Wales
- Click on ‘Upload / Edit & Create’ – and then select your files, or ‘drag and drop’ (either as 1 image, or a multi-page document)
- Complete the information so others understand the background to the document (title, description, creator/credits)
- Complete tags for categories, dates and mapping information, so users can find it through different searches
- Publish! It will be moderated and approved by the PCW team within a few days
Recording for your project
Recording Video – Top Tips
If you plan to produce an interview piece, short film or digital story, the following top tips may prove helpful whilst recording
If you plan to produce a short audio feature or record a lecture or event, the following top tips may prove helpful whilst recording.
Recording people or events
You will probably want to interview several people as part of your project. This can be one of the most interesting parts of any Hidden History! Whether you are capturing a short opinion piece or a more in-depth story for a feature, you will need:
Oral History Projects and Interviews
Capturing oral histories where people’s memories, attitudes and experiences are recorded can be a useful way to explore heritage. Oral history allows people whose voices might not otherwise be heard to share their experiences and fills gaps in our history. Everyone, irrespective of their background, has a unique story to tell. This guidance gives advice on how to plan all aspects of your oral history project and to make sure it achieves outcomes for heritage, people or communities.
A Guide to Producing Your Own Documentary Project
Photographer Lee Stow, in association with Wales For Peace and Ffotogallery, discusses her experiences from working on ‘Women, War, and Peace,’ and shares advice for young photographers who plan to develop a strong and coherent documentary project. Lee’s insights and tips give professional context to our step-by-step practical guide and video (below).