What to do before you go into the field
Plan well for what sort of data you would like to collect to build your corpus or answer your research questions, then determine what equipment would best facilitate your data collection. Be sure to check out equipment at least two weeks before you leave for the field to allow enough time to ensure it all is in working order and that you have a solid grasp on how it all works. Make certain you have planned out how you will be charging your devices and batteries.
Create equipment failure contingency plans before you depart
Devise redundancy plans for when/if equipment fails in the field. For example, bring two audio recorders with you in case one fails. If your main video camera stops working, do you have a digital camera that can capture video? If your computer breaks down, do you have enough SD cards to continue recording priority materials without transferring data off of the cards? You can continue translating and transcribing by playing audio stored on the SD cards using the audio recorder. You can play back video for transcription using the video camera. Remember to bring enough notebooks and pens.
Storage plan in the field
Bring enough hard drives for backing up your data on more than one device. Have an additional back-up on a second device or hard drive (best to keep them in two locations, i.e. not in the same pelican case, so that if something catastrophic happens to one, there is a greater chance that your secondary back up is safe).
Helpful software to bring into the field
- Audacity (http://audacityteam.org/)
- Praat (http://www.fon.hum.uva.nl/praat/)
- Elan (https://tla.mpi.nl/tools/tla-tools/elan/download/)
- CLAN (http://childes.psy.cmu.edu/clan/)
- VideoLAN (VLC) (http://www.videolan.org/index.html)
- F4 (https://www.audiotranskription.de/english/downloads-en.html)
- SayMore (http://saymore.palaso.org/download/)
- FLEx (http://fieldworks.sil.org/download/)
Make sure you bring .exe installer files with you in case your computer’s hard drive needs to be reformatted or you need to re-install any software. Make sure you have the right version of Java for the Elan you will be using, remembering to bring the Java installer file, too.
Set aside time to try out your field laptop once you have loaded all the programs. Elan may not work with a particular video format unless you have the right codec loaded onto your laptop. Note, most video cameras capture .MTS files, which are not compatible with Elan (see: Extracting audio from video file using VLC).
Gather all elicitation materials you will be using before your trip. If you are using a picture task, it is a good idea to laminate the pictures so that they stay in good condition for multiple runs.
After reading through this guide, if you still have questions, or you wish to request a service, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), or better, visit the CoEDL Service Request Form. CoEDL members use the Member login at the bottom of the CoEDL webpage. Then click the General Members tab, the link to the request form is in the left-hand panel.