TalkBank Digital Video

H.264 Video Format

To maintain compatibility across systems, it is important that all TalkBank video be in H.264 format. This is the format produced by default from newer high-definition video recording devices. However, video direct from the camera still needs to be compressed for easier usage. We recommend use of iSkySoft Video Converter for this. If the original is in H.264 format and if you select MP4 as the output option in iSkySoft (choose the "Video" tab in the bottom of the window), then the compression will be quite quick. If your original is in some other format, you can still use iSkySoft to both compress and change the format to H.264. When doing this, you will need to create a custom version of the MP4 converter by clicking on the the wheel at the top right of the MP4 icon. This will bring up a custom format creator. Select a bit rate of 1500 kbps and a frame rate of 29.97. Selection of resolution is tricky, because you need a ratio that is the same as original. You can compute this by knowing the resolution of your original and then dividing as necessary. For example, you may need 720x480 or 720x576 or some other ratio, depending on the ratio of your original. The current standard for HD is a 16:9 ratio which corresponds to 960x540.


We have recently (Nov 18, 2015) evaluated the use of iOS mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod) for videorecording live conversational interactions. After extensive comparison of alternatives, we have defined a system that outperforms our previous camcorder-based recommendations in terms of portability, flexibility, control and quality. So, we have removed those earlier recommendations from the web. Here is the system on which we finally settled with current prices from Amazon, Apple, and the AppStore. It is possible that much of this would also work with Android devices, but we haven't yet tested those.
  1. Camera: iPod, iPhone, or iPad with 128GB to allow for many hours of filming. The advantage of the iPhone Plus is that it has a bigger screen for easier on screen operations and a longer battery life. The iPad has an even bigger screen, but it is a bit less portable, and the camera is not quite as good.
  2. Application: You can use the built-in IOS Camera application, but the FilmIc Pro application ($9.95) provides additional crucial control for focus, audio gain, and filming formats.
  3. Power: While filming, you can keep your iPhone/iPod/iPad charged up by using the lightning cable and charger that come with the phone, along with or one or even two of the 6-foot Lightning Extension cables from CableJive ($32.95), depending on how far away your power source may be. Or you can recharge between filmings.
  4. Microphone 1: For personal interviews in a quiet room, the internal iPhone microphone works well by itself.
  5. Microphone 2: Apple sells the studio quality Apogee microphone ($229) that connects using the lightning cable. This cardioid mike will work best with a single individual, but it blocks use of the lightning port for power. Using the next alternative gets around that problem and allows for better mike placement.
  6. Microphone 3: For recording from a single participant, we recommend the Sony ECM-AW4 wireless bluetooth lavalier microphone ($168.99) with two Energizer L92 lithium AAA batteries ($9.99 for 4). The receiver plugs into the headphones port of the iPhone. Adjust audio gain control in FilmIc Pro.
  7. Microphone 4: For group recordings, we recommend a 2-pack of SoundTech CM-1000 conference boundary condensor microphones ($89.95). The 2-pack comes with a Koss Y88 Y-Cord which then plugs into a Rode SC4 3-band connector that goes into the headphones port of the iPhone. If you are using only one of the two microphones, it can plug directly into the Rode SC4.
  8. iPhone Tripod Kit: For the iPhone or iPod, the Apple Store sells the Photography kit ($199.95) in which includes an excellent 6-inch Manfrotto tripod, iPhone mounting adaptor, HISY remote bluetooth button, and olloclip Photo Lens. Apple also sells a kit with a taller Manfrotto tripod and microphone.
  9. iPad Tripod Kit: For a tripod and holder for iPad you can use the iOgrapher case which you then mount to one of the Manfrotto tripod units. iOgrapher sells various other compatible accessories.
In FilmIc Pro, we record in 16:9 ratio at 25 fps and 1040 aspect. You can save clips to the Camera Roll and then transfer them to a Mac OS X machine using the ImageCapture application that Apple provides with the system. For those who prefer recording using a camcorder, the important thing is to use an external microphone. Cameras with a hot-shoe connection can use the Sony ECM-W1M for recording from single participants or else the Audio-Technica ATR4697 boundary microphone for group recordings. If your camcorder has audio gain control, you can use the SoundTech CM-1000 instead. Recordings can be transferred from your camcorder to iMovie and then compressed using iSkySoft. If you do not need video, but need mobility, you can use any the Sony wireless setup connected directly to a ZoomH4N or Marantz recorder, If you do not need mobility you can use the Snowball USB mike connected to a MacAir laptop. For complex recording from multiple angles your can use the RecoLiv Multi-Cam application on multiple iOS devices.