Interpretation of interview data

I conducted semi-structured one-on-one audio interviews, with three Virtual Reality (VR) practitioners linked to the Coldharbour project as visiting lecturers, from different sectors within the field, including academic, VR film directing, and VR broadcast.

I chose audio interviews over visual interviews as interviewees are typically more relaxed without a camera present, the voice carries authenticity enough for the data I wanted to produce, which uses written transcripts. Visual clues in this instance weren’t required for analyzing and gathering the content together.

In order to transcribe using YouTube, I attached a random visual file to my audio files in Premiere Pro, uploaded to YouTube corrected for transcription mistakes and exported to Word. Having looked at the resultant interview transcripts, I decided to remove the “discourse markers”, those verbal tics that we use to join up ideas or gain thinking time in the middle of spoken conversations. It will make them so much easier to read, as the authors at Global Pad (2017) note:

“It can also be helpful to omit discourse markers if they do not serve any useful purpose. Knowing when to omit the discourse marker is a subtle aspect of language use and comes with more practice and wider reading.”

“Remember, it can be tedious to read a piece of writing which has too many discourse markers. The writing can seem pedantic, heavy and over-pompous. You are ideally seeking a light, flowing style, not a heavy or forced one.”

I’ve removed “sort of”, “you know”, “like” “I guess” “so” and the like, perfectly normal in conversation but distracting in text.  For the purpose of creating a rich reference for students on my research question  it’s better that the sentences / phrases are able to be clearly read as written sentences. Subsequently after these were removed, as I read and ordered I had sometimes to edit the text for grammatical sense.

The point of my research project is to produce knowledge that is instructional to a large degree, so the analysis of the material is more about grouping the responses into relevant themes.

As I read and analysed content in common to all three interviews, highlighted the core ideas an index of themes grew partly through the common questions posed in interview, and in the process of sorting as I read. If the content of all three responses were pertinent to a theme I included them all, separated by a line after the paragraph.

All of the themes responded to the research question as directly as possible. Not all of the interviewees responded to the questions directly, and there were some questions that were particular to each person, leading to only one paragraph, representing one respondent.

Gibbs (2018) writes; “In phenomenological analysis a term that is used instead of codes is themes (King, 1998, Smith, 1995). Again this captures something of the spirit of what is involved in linking sections of text with thematic ideas that reveal the person’s experience of the world.”

In keeping the promise of anonymity the participants were not named. This enables too, different viewpoints and ideas on the same theme offering richer offerings to the reader, and freedom of expression for the interviewees, and a parity of offering.

Initially I thought student participation  might contribute to this study but decided not to pursue that, as I realised that current students involved did not yet have the expertise or enough experience to be able to meaningfully contribute to the study question, and the one that did have experience did not participate in the study. Difficulties in scheduling between the two cohorts also meant that collectively they had only had one intensive day of theory and one of practice before the end of Term that coincided with the range of this research.

I’ve created a padlet page where I’ve synthesised and ordered the interview material here under the research question:

What elements of 2D filmmaking change when working in 360 Virtual Reality (VR) live action film?  SiP (Self-Initiated Project) research by Iris Wakulenko, 2019.

https://padlet.com/i_wakulenko/pgcertsip

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Global Pad Open House (2017) Discourse Markers. Available at: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/al/globalpad/openhouse/academicenglishskills/grammar/discourse/  (Accessed: 20 April 2019).

Literature review 2

Literature review 2019

Immersive industries growing exponentially, 360 VR and VR is changing rapidly and information can be quickly superseded. Therefore, I limited the years of enquiry to the last three unless particularly relevant as historical / information that still stands. Our 360 films are entry level, equivalent to what was new in 2016.

Gaming is thriving and 360 VR is part of it but the VR computer created environments form the greater part of that sector, so, I’m just acknowledging it and not including it this review.

There are online academic journals that discuss aspects of VR, notably in Communications.

Online industry sites abound too, around the immersive industries, featuring interviews with practitioners, and a large volume of material on technical developments, new gear; hard ware, software releases, apps etc. geeky stuff.

Podcasts: there’s also many (hundreds) where both professionals, independents and amateur enthusiasts release their thoughts on what they have learned so far. The podcasts are often designed as info-tainment within the immersive technology world, or magazine style interviews with people working in the field in various sectors. Some are audio versions of their video channels.

Instructional videos on the web about VR abound too. Hundreds. Broadly based around publishing content, instructional, reviews, tech channels by magazines or individuals.

Broadcasters publish articles and research and distribute VR in their channels, notably YouTube and Facebook.

 

 

 

My data set and gender

Having decided on my data set : three long transcribed audio interviews and my auto-ethnographic voice transcriptions, one thing really stood out – all my references were from women, all being  linked to our collaborative project Coldharbour.  Interviews were with an academic,  a practitioner working for a broadcaster, and another, a VR director working in the humanitarian sector.

I did some reading to place these female practitioners into contemporary context and tried to get a sense of whether these women are part of a small minority in the field – and I just happened to meet them. Our project itself being co-created by a woman with many contacts in her field of investigative documentary gave me the introduction to one of the practitioners, and the other, my colleague had worked with her in 2D filmmaking and seen some of her VR works at a documentary festival and suggested her to me as a speaker. So in this context two women recommend other women that they’ve worked with before.

Immersive industry technology is growing rapidly in the UK (Tarling, 2018) and this is good news for  women working in, and for those including students, who are considering a career in VR.

However the culture of the industry and of the content itself really needs to improve its offer to women and girls. Commercial VR 360 film applications are big in sport, porn and in gaming, an industry known for its sexism and online bullying and abuse of female gamers.

“Women have previously been found to experience ten times the amount of negative comments in chat forums and three times more likely to experience negativity when gaming online.” (Cybersmile Foundation, undated)

An article written by a female American author for Upload VR (Duong, 2016) celebrates the rise of women working in the new industry of VR, noting the challenge but pointing out the possibilities.

“Working in virtual reality, as the intersection of technology and entertainment (two mediums with tremendous gender gaps), these women have demonstrated intelligence, will, and bravery as they face the unknown and a sea of men. However, given how new virtual reality is, there is a unique opportunity to really have an impact in the way the virtual reality industry is shaped… and women are taking it by storm.”

So it was disappointing to read that  in the year after Duong’s article was published, UploadVR was itself being sued for: “‘rampant’ sexual behavior in the workplace and wrongful termination, sexual harassment, sex and gender discrimination” and the deposition notes that the virtual reality startup’s SF office was “a hostile environment for female employees.” (Matney 2017).

Whilst admitting it’s difficult to determine how many female creators are involved in the sector, UK national network Tech Nation has recently produced research that indicates low levels of women in the field: Tech directors (22%) and female tech workers (19%). (Tech Nation, undated).

A London based tech company founder Ghislaine Boddington in Tarling, 2018 mentions meeting mostly men in VR contexts, also talks about content of VR work and the need to be inclusive to involve the widest possible audiences, and in particular female audiences.

“A high proportion of VR content is male heterosexual porn,” she explains. “Content creators need to think in a much more diverse way” to broaden the technology’s appeal, she adds”.

Producer and VR creator Catherine Allen says (Faramarzi, 2017)

“VR is an incredibly powerful medium, but no one is a VR expert yet. We honestly don’t know what the hell we are doing with this technology which is why it is so important to get all backgrounds involved regardless of gender, age, or expertise. The stronger we stand together, the more impact we will leave for future generations.”

So my sense from the articles that I can access (due to language and search engine bias) is that currently in the UK, and more so in the US, that there is  a small but growing group of female creators and experts, who are committed to developing VR, are engaged in experimentation, and evolving new types of content and are excited about being at the start of what is clearly a growing sector worth billions. However those blocks to the involvement of women, that is, the  culture and practices of the immersive industries, (and in education before it), has to change to take full advantage of the potential that female creators and audiences can grow.

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Duong, J. (2016) A New Era: Women Working in VR UploadVR . Available at: https://uploadvr.com/a-new-era-women-working-in-vr/
UploadVR is a virtual reality media company based in San Francisco, California. The company is best known for its virtual reality-driven events, digital publication uploadvr.com, and the Upload Collective, a VR focused co-working space in San Francisco

Matney, L. (2017) UploadVR sued over ‘rampant’ sexual behavior in the workplace and wrongful termination
Available at: https://techcrunch.com/
TechCrunch is an American online publisher focusing on the tech industry. The company specifically reports on the business related to tech, technology news, analysis of emerging trends in tech, and profiling of new tech businesses and products. Wikipedia

The Cybersmile Foundation (undated) Abuse of female gamers linked to bullying ‘rather than misogyny’.  Available at:
The Cybersmile Foundation is a multi-award winning anti-cyberbullying nonprofit organization. Committed to tackling all forms of digital abuse, harassment and bullying online, we work to promote diversity and inclusion by building a safer, more positive digital community.

Tarling, S. (2018) Why VR is out of touch with reality for women. Special report FT Transform, Financial Times. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/79066ba0-dd43-11e8-b173-ebef6ab1374a

Tech Nation (undated) Diversity and Inclusion in Tech Companies report. Available at: technation.io/insights/diversity-and-inclusion-in-uk-tech-companies/

Mixed methods review: “the two main bodies of love in the enquiry”

When I’m in a hurry or my thinking gets too tangled I like to record my thoughts on my phone – it’s a useful method to download those things out of my conscious brain and use the instantly translated transcripts as source material.  Also, it’s appropriate source material for the autoethnography method I’m experimenting with, in regard to my personal process.

I love accidents and flashes of inspiration in scientific or artistic practice – they can really turn around a project.. though the accident has to be followed through to a conclusion. (Loria, 2018). The instant transcriber of my verbal stream of consciousness audio recording on my phone is pretty good but not infallible. One of the accidental transcripts (in bold below) it made really appealed to me.

“I went along and looked at it (narrative enquiry) I didn’t want to tell a story about telling stories in 2-D or 3-D I thought to be better it’s about me more, to be reflective about the process, so I think my methodology is going to be a one where I keep a journal I keep subjective thoughts I talk about the creative thoughts that come to me and I like, and so the two main bodies of love in the enquiry that I want to look at in this project are the mechanics of of how you make something happen” Wakulenko, I. (2019) Reflective note transcription  

If I use the accidental simile “the two main bodies of love in the enquiry” and replace it with the two main bodies of work research enquiry – one “body” being subjective – and the other, an objective “body”.

The “bodies of love” that had turned up – the accident in my transcript made me recall the brilliant philosopher Gillian Rose’s autobiographical treatise “Love’s Work” (2011). In it there was a section that she wrote on the boundaries between two people – and rather than a boundary, she proposed love as a permeable membrane that expanded and contracted between the two. Perhaps within the theory of knowledge, knowledge may be described as a permeable membrane between subjectivity and objectivity – I think they are connected and relational.

There are multiple debates in research and in philosophy around subjectivity and objectivity – essentially centring around the question – can there be anything truly objective. Here’s one that says it can, in opposition to a post-modernist stance:

This article argues that subjective processes, social relations, and artifacts (including research instruments and methods) enable researchers to objectively comprehend psychological phenomena. This position opposes the postmodernist contention that subjective processes, social relations, and artifacts interfere with objectivity. (Ratner, 2002).

In Research Methods in Education the authors comment on  a rise in recent years of a third path approach to research, a new paradigm of a mixed methods review where both objective (quantitative) and subjective (qualitative) are used. This, to me, seems both pragmatic and a reflection of the greater complexities of the world that binary approaches offer. According to Rick Reis at Stanford (undated);

 “Creswell and Plano Clark (2011) date the beginnings of mixed-methods research back to the mid- to late 1980s. Methodology experts and writers from all around the world seemed to have been simultaneously working on similar ideas regarding the combination of quantitative and qualitative methods”.

As another approach to my research, I’ve been thinking about using David Kolb’s experiential learning cycle analysis, which would integrate the subjective parts of the process into the learning.

  • as the concrete experience, describe the development and effectiveness of the Coldharbour partnership of two MA courses, Documentary Film who do 2D and MA courses, Virtual Reality, 3D storytelling (with an external organisation
  • the reflective observation – the recordings & blog journal thoughts I write
  • adding qualitative interviews with students/filmmaker to my journal, the conceptualising / learning from both and a review of the literature of 2D and 3D storytelling.
  • active experimentation process will, however occur out of the range of this exercise but I can plan what is next in conjunction with the project partners

I was interested too, in visualisation as a method but was afraid that understanding it as a research method would possibly be too risky and would take up too much time working it out..though images have suggested themselves to me: the moire pattern when visualising the creation of new knowledge, the hourglass shape of a research project (starting out wide, narrowing, going out wide), an apple (a Christian knowledge transgression myth by the female sex resulting in being cast from paradise, a poisoned apple – Snow White, Fermat, a reward, the Judgement of Paris, a gift for the teacher), the beautiful silvery fish (representing my elusive research idea falling back into the water of my subconscious), it could really be a rich area of enquiry. It wouldn’t work for the aim of my research, to produce a written reference for students.

Grading & Reproducability of research
I was fascinated to hear Catherine’s description of the meta study of grading across subjects – with the result that they could not objectively be mapped to standard criteria, there was so much variation in the results.

“Catherine shared her insights from External Moderation Forum with Margaret Price, who has been doing a large piece of work with a sample from across the HE sector, including a range of subject disciplines. Price (2005) found that parallel grading of samples of work varied widely, which leads her to fundamentally question the ‘standardising’ tools that are used.  ” Martin, J.  Formative Assessment Presentations email 18.02.19: Summary Tue 19/02/2019 10:30

Similarly, something I read recently in ScienceAlert about the poor statistics of reproducibility of scientific & social science experiments is currently precipitating something of a reproducibility crisis – by extension, a ‘questioning the standardising tools’ (but with also other factors in play..)

 Context is everything, and a different conclusion might not make the data or even some of the findings bad (Mcrea)

Author of Autoethnography as Method Heewon Chang writes about inserting the personal into the academic, as a “research method that utilizes autobiographical data to analyze and interpret their cultural assumptions”. Critic Sue Butler reviewed Chang’s book and wrote:

To support her central assumption of self, the author draws on the principles of social constructionism proposed by Ken Gergen (1999/2000): What we take to be knowledge of world grows from relationship, and is embedded not within individual minds but within interpretive or communal traditions. In effect, there is a way in which constructionalist dialogues celebrate relationship as opposed to the individual, connection over isolation, and communion over antagonism.

(my emphasis) (Butler, 2009 p. 122)

 The auto-ethnography resource of my recordings / my writing is reflective and personal, yet it is connected to wider cultural knowledge, and in a critical analysis.

A Gillian Rose (and I don’t know yet if they were the same author) wrote a work on Visual Methodolgies – which even if I don’t use Visual Research as methodology, I do want to explore when researching the right project.

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References:

Butler, S. (2009). Considering “Objective” Possibilities in Autoethnography: A Critique of Heewon Chang’s Autoethnography as Method1. The Qualitative Report, 15(1), 295-299. Retrieved from https://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol15/iss1/15

Chang, H. (2016) Autoethnography as Method London & New York : Routledge

Cohen, L.,  Manion, L., Morrison, Keith (2011) Research Methods in Education Routledge 

Kolb, D. A. (2015) Experiential learning : experience as the source of learning and development Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Education

Loria, K. (2018) These 18 Accidental And Unintended Scientific Discoveries Changed The World Science Alert. https://www.sciencealert.com/these-eighteen-accidental-scientific-discoveries-changed-the-world

Finnigan, T. , Aronstam, D.  (year) Visual Directions  http://www.arts.ac.uk/cetl/visual-directions (bad link)

Mcrae, M. (2018)  Science’s ‘Replication Crisis’ Has Reached Even The Most Respectable Journals, Report Shows 

Ratner, C. (2002) Subjectivity and Objectivity in Qualitative Methodology FQS  Vol 3, No 3  Access here: http://www.qualitativeresearch.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/829/1800

Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies Sage

Rose, G. (2011) Love’s work New York Review of Books
Pixabay Apple, Red, Red Apple, Apple Orchard
Pixabay License

Free for commercial use
No attribution required

Research ethics

Much of the research on ethics arises from the well established sectors of medical ethics and social research norms – which in turn rest on the law as the highest expression of culture.
Historically, the post WWII Nuremburg trials established a world wide medical ethical code:
The judgment by the war crimes tribunal at Nuremberg laid down 10 standards to which physicians must conform when carrying out experiments on human subjects in a new code that is now accepted worldwide. This judgment established a new standard of ethical medical behavior for the post World War II human rights era.

The Nuremburg Code

www.cirp.org/library/ethics/nuremberg/

The UK government has ethical standards for all sectors of government across the whole of public life.

My approach

Having got approval from the Dean to investigate this project, my first steps to addressing the ethical concerns of my project are:

– to seek permission from my Course Leader to undertake this research as part of the Course work I undertake for the MA
– to brief and ask permission from other project partners, the other MA Course Leader, and the project initiators from outside the College.
– then I will brief the students about what I am doing, and ask for in principle agreement to participate in the research that I will devise as part of their work

I’ll give my interviewees a project information document, and ask them to sign a participant release form.

Once those things are determined I’ll be able to fill in the ethics forms and submit for approval.

Responding to the following reference, I will ask myself:
– will this project be worthwhile?
– who will benefit from it?
– what are the potential risks for the participants?
–  what are our roles and responsibilities as researchers?
– who are we accountable to and what are we accountable for?
Ethical reflexivity is a core feature of qualitative research practice as ethical questions may arise in every phase of the research process (Von Unger, 2016). For example, researchers ask themselves: will this project be worthwhile? Who will benefit from it? What are the potential risks for the participants? What are our roles and responsibilities as researchers? Who are we accountable to and what are we accountable for? Some of these questions have already been the focus of the FQS debate on ethics (see link above). These questions do not generally have easy answers, as ethics are intertwined with (university, state, field) politics in many ways (Roth, 2004b) and remain open to re-interpretation and debate in fundamental ways.
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References:
British Educational Research Association [BERA] (2018)
Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research, fourth edition, London.
Available at: https://www.bera.ac.uk/researchers-resources/publications/ethical-guidelines-for-educational-research-2018
Roth, W-M., Von Unger, H. (2018) Current Perspectives on Research Ethics in Qualitative Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research
(Accessed: 3 February 2019)
FQS is a peer-reviewed multilingual open-access journal for qualitative research, established in 1999.

 

Thinking about my research question

Storytelling in documentary film and virtual reality films

 

Theory
Referring to the texts following from the two disciplines, I’ll attempt to find junctions and interstices between the ideas on narrative in two fields, with the goal of examining the impact of 360 degree filmmaking on documentary narrative.

Non-fiction film started at the genesis of filmmaking, and although Virtual Reality (VR) in this current incarnation is very new, forays into 3D are almost as old of film:

3D technology can be drawn the way back to the start of photography. A new invention by David Brewster in 1844, Stereoscope could take 3D photographic images. At the Great Exhibition in 1851, a picture of Queen Victoria taken by Louis Jules Duboscq, using the improved technology became very well known throughout the world. Soon, the craze for stereoscopic cameras caught on and these were quite commonly used by World War II. 

In 1922 the first public 3D movie, “The Power of Love”, was produced and it was in 1935 that the first 3D Color movie was produced.                                          Visionnw

Practice
I’ll look at 360degree films in a collaborative project between MA Documentary Film, MA Virtual Reality and the Independent Film Trust (IFT), Coldharbour, the aim being to produce up to 10 VR films to be created for an exhibition in London.
My particular focus will be on the way non-fiction storytelling is affected by working in 360 degrees in Virtual Reality.

There are many challenges and variables; the foremost being that the student workshops have not yet started. MA DF has a new Course Leader, MA VR is in its first year and this is the first collaboration with the IFT,  although I know their Operations Manager as a Visiting Speaker on Investigative Journalism. The two courses have signed expressions of interest with the IFT, they have applied for and received funding, students have been briefed, and now the teaching and experimentation will soon start, all being well. 360 degree filmmaking is new to me too, and it will be still a while before it becomes a mainstream medium.
As Bucher (2018) notes – “Experimentation is key to moving the medium forward”.

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References:
Bucher, J. (2018) Storytelling for Virtual Reality: Methods and principles of crafting immersive narratives. New York: NY & Abingdon : Oxon : Routledge.

Visionnw (no date) The History of 3D Technology. Available at: http://www.visionnw.com/history-of-3d-technology.htm (Accessed: 30 Jan 2019).