Guidelines for audio and video material

This page is for sharing our knowledge and suggestions on how to write, record, produce, archive and upload audio and audiovisual presentations. There are several situations where audio or audiovisual recordings can be made:

  • During an internal MEG toolkit
  • During an external workshops
  • At an improvised studio

For several purposes:

  • For creating a video lecture on the FieldTrip channel on YouTube
  • For sharing raw footage with colleagues
  • For in-house development of presentations

It can be helpful to prepare a (video) presentation by writing a 'storyboard'. A storyboard can be nothing more than your text written out per slide in the notes section Powerpoint slides. We found it helpful to collect all the content in this form as it allows easy sharing and correcting as well as providing an autocue when recording a video lecture.

To make the 'storyboard' from your Powerpoint presentation, [save as pdf], then go to [options] and select [Notes pages] under [publish options] (see below).

Although you might plan to do editing and improvements later, the quality of the end-project depends firstly on the quality of your recording. You can fix some things, but just like neuroscience experiments, you might spend a lot of time fixing things the hard way, which would have been easy to avoid during recording.

Audio Equipment

The intelligibility of a recording depends much on the quality of the audio recording, rather than the video. Bad audio is tiring, and there is much in the audio that determines the atmosphere and general impression.

You can record audio using:

  • The internal microphone of a laptop
  • The internal microphone of a camcorder
  • An external microphone

Using the internal microphone of a laptop or camcorder often has limitations in quality and positionion. We advice an external microphone such as the Zoom H2 the we acauired and that can be found in the box of equipment in Robert's office. The Zoom H2 is very easy to use, although it does have some options you might not expect (it e.g. has 4 channels). You can familiarize yourself with the manual here.

When you plan to do an audiovisual recording you need need to synchronize the audio recording with the video recording. This can be done later (i.e. during editing) but it is easier to record audio and video simultaneously from the start. For this purpose the Zoom H2 be used as a USB microphone. To use the Zoom H2 as a USB microphone, make sure it is in XY recording mode. This is a 2-channel mode (4-channels do not work through USB) which is directed towards you if you have the menu screen directed towards you:

Then, to connect the Zoom H2 to your computer:

  • Press the MENU button on the right
  • Use the PLAY toggle to move down the menu to USB, then press to enter
  • Use the PLAY toggle to move down the menu to AUDIO I/F, then press to enter
  • Use the PLAY toggle to move down the menu to CONNECT, then press to enter

It is also possible to use another (external) microphone record with the Zoom H2, such as a headset or lavalier microphone. Both microphones can also be found in the box of gadgets in Robert's office. The quality of these microphones seems OK, not great, but they do get rid of some environmental noise, echoes and reverberations. However, with the headset the recording can sound like the person is talking straight into your ear which is really not comfortable to listen to.

Although it is possible to record audio with the build-in microphone of a camcorder, the audio quality is typically insufficient, so you also need to record audio separately. As many camcorders are not able to record from external microphones, this means you would do a so-called dual-system recording, e.g. by using the Zoom H2 to record on SD card, and then synchronizing the two audio channels to the video during editing. Although the Merge Clips feature in Adobe Premiere Pro does this automatically, we have no experience using it. Manual alignment of the audio with the video+audio is quite easy if you use an (improvised) clapperboard. Simply clap your hands in front of the microphone and camera immediately after starting recording on both. The clap is easy to identify in the two audio channels.

Video Equipment

You can record video using:

  • The build-in webcam of a laptop
  • An external webcam
  • A camcorder

Your internal webcam might be sufficient, but Robert can also borrow you a Logitec HD-PRO C920 webcam. The quality is great so long as you don't record in the highest (HD) quality. If you do, the video will probably not be smooth.

Our first video was recorded using a semi-professional camcorder borrowed from the MPI, in combination with an external powered shotgun microphone. The use of such equipment is beyond the scope of this page.

The are several places and occasions where you might want to do audio or audiovisual recordings:

  • At a workshop at the Donders
  • At an external workshops
  • At your office or at home

In combination with the specific purpose of the recording, there are many ways in which you could set up the equipment.

During workshops

There are several differences between setting up a recording at the Donders, and setting one up externally: you'll have more control over the situation at home and might be able to use more and larger equipment than what you would be able to bring and set up externally. Then again, the external location might own more professional video equipment that you do.

Whatever else you are able or willing to set up, it might be a good idea to bring the Zoom H2, together with the lavalier microphone. This will make sure you have good audio recordings, whatever happens. For many purposes audio is, in fact, enough. Especially since you might be able to edit it together with your slides. Good audio + slides can already be very informative and relatively easy to do.

In addition you can use video recordings to make your video more entertaining, either recorded using your own camcorder (you can borrow one from Robert or the TG), or by the video recorded at the external location. Note that if you will edit in your slides anyway, you won't need to have a full video view. Better might be to make sure you are in view.

At your office or at home

If you are makeing a recording at your office or at home, you have more flexibilty of the setup. You can:

  • Record behind your desk
  • Record your presentation in front of a group
  • Prepare and record a video in an improvised 'studio'

When recording at your office, the DCCN or at home you will have more control over the environment, and might carry around more bulky equipment.

When recording at the DCCN, know that your audio recording can suffer from annoying echoes and reverberations in many rooms. At the DCCN the worst room to record is the colloquium room (which is, of course, where we did our first on which you can hear the echo). The Oval Office is better. Even better would be the sound-booths at the MPI.

The easiest setup would be you sitting behind your desktop/laptop and record a 'classic' youtube video. However, we have noticed that it benefits the energy and dynamics if you are able to stand in front of the camera. If want to record while standing up, however, the setup becomes a little bit more complicated, regarding the microphone placement, autocue and camera angle.

Using a camera with a good zoom, it is possible to place it in front of a projector screen on which you can display your notes (together with your slides). This is what we did for our first video. This video can then be edited, adding the slides (see the editing paragraph).

When using a webcam, you can use the setup shown below (ignore the extra camcorder). The webcam is placed on the top of the laptop, which is placed on a platform. This allows you to stand up, which is good for you own energy and voice, as well as coming across more dynamic. The microphone is on a separate tripod, placed just out of view of the webcam. It is connected to the laptop by USB cable. This setup is relatively easy to put together and to edit later, because the audio and video are recorded together and both are of good quality. Also it is quite mobile and robust. Both the microphone tripod and laptop platform are in Robert's office.

Recording (Software)

When recording video and/or audio using a Mac, you can use QuickTime Player. This is probably installed on your system already. It is easy to use and so far we encountered no problems. Well, except the fact that it can only record your primary screen and is therefor incompatible with using a dual-screen setup (with your notes on primary, and the display for the audience on secondary screen). Record your video and audio simultaneously using Start Video Recording, under File:

For recording video and/or audio using a PC, we have not found a satisfactory solution. We have tried CamStudio, which can be downloaded for free. However, in our experience it stalls/crashes when recording files over 2 GB. There are several settings which will determine the size and (inversely) the quality of the recording which depends on your purpose. Note that when recording video, audio is not included by default.


You can edit your audiovisual recordings using many free packages. For instance,Audacity is great (and free) audio editing software. For video editing, free software such as Windows Movie Maker is too limited in our expereince.

Adobe Premiere has everything you might need - and more. Getting to know Premiere might take a couple of days, but it isn't nearly as daunting as it might look at first impression and there are plenty of youtube video tutorials available that can get you started.

There are some things you have to be aware of when you use Adobe Premiere, however.

Using Adobe Premiere

First of all, if you import files (images, video, audio), Adobe Premiere will not copy these files, but only link to them. So never import files directly from your SD-card, external HDD, or thumbdrive! Instead, create a folder of your project on you HD, in which to copy all the files that you will use.

If you start a new Premiere project, you will need to specify whether you captured you video in DV or HDV (high definition). Secondly, you need to specify the resolution and frame rate. Of course the resolution and frame rate depends on the recording as well, but you can upgrade your final video to a higher resolution, for instance, when you want to use high-resolutions stills with a miniature 'talking head'. You will not need 50 frames per second, 25 is good. For our first videos we used 1080p25 as shown below:


We have a shared network drive on a QNAP server at the DCCN on which all raw and processed recordings are to be archived. Please ask Robert for details on accessing the network drive.

The recordings and edited material are organized according to Bugzilla identifier. Please see this bugzilla search for reference. The meta information (e.g. when was it shot, with camera was used, which software was used) should be included in the Bugzilla comments for future reference.

Exporting Adobe Premiere project to the QNAP

An Adobe Premiere project links all the files you use - video, images, etc - but does not copy them. Therefore, you can not simply copy your project to a new location on disk as all the links will be broken. The only way in which you can move a project is to export it, using the option to copy all used files with it to the new location. To do this, go to Project –> Project Manager. Then tick the boxes as below:

Note that the drive letter is Q. Always map the QNAP folder to Q, so that the links are not broken.