Recording an Interview Over Blue Jeans

by Aaron Bannasch

When teaching an asynchronous, online course it can be difficult to find a time for a guest speaker to appear in your course. A guest speaker can instead record a presentation or speech on their own and send a recording for use in your online course, or you can host an web conference to help facilitate a recording and capture a conversation between you and your guest. If you choose to facilitate a recording over web conference, read on for recommendations to make the process go as well as possible.

However, web conference technology can limit the quality of a recording and also has the potential to lose connection and miss portions of your interview. Instead of relying on internet or phone connectivity to be the only source for your recording, you can use a dual system approach and record using a separate device or software to reduce the chance of a technical error occurring during the recording.

For example, if you conduct a web conference using audio and video, but your guest uses a mobile phone connection to dial in to the conference, you could lose their audio signal if their phone battery expires or if their network signal drops. Instead, you can ask them to use the audio recorder on their phone to capture their voice in high quality, and in the case that the connection is lost, their audio recording will continue. You’ll have to edit out the part where the connection was lost, but you won’t have a loss of content because you weren’t dependent on the web conference recording for your source material.

Whenever you are making a recording of someone in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, make sure you confirm that you have permission to depict their likeness and any accompanying physical or intellectual property they may be contributing to the recording. If you have concerns about how to confirm this or how to document an agreement, please contact distanceeducation@northwestern.edu.

Recording Over Blue Jeans

Download and install the Blue Jeans video conferencing software https://www.bluejeans.com/downloads on your computer. If you are using a mobile device, you can find the Blue Jeans app in your device’s application store. While the Blue Jeans mobile app works very well, it may be difficult to hold a mobile device for an extended period of time. If you choose to use a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet instead of a laptop or desktop computer, secure it to a solid surface such as a desk or table to prevent unnecessary movement or fatigue caused by handheld use.

After the Blue Jeans software application installs on your device, launch the application and select the Join as Guest button if you do not have a Blue Jeans login account. Enter the Meeting ID number: 111 and select the Join Meeting button.

When you are asked to the input source you will use to connect to the meeting, select Computer Audio. You will be shown a preview of your computer’s webcam and built-in microphone with the option to change the sources. If you do not have an external USB microphone, headset microphone, or other input device connected to your computer you may not have any options besides the default shown. If you do not have a computer with any devices capable of providing an input signal for recording, you will not be shown any options and  you will need to use a different device or contact aaron.bannasch@northwestern.edu for support. Make sure Camera ON and Microphone ON are displayed, then select the Join Meeting button.

When you enter the meeting, select the Settings button (it looks like a small gear or cog wheel) from the menu on the side of the application window. When the settings panel opens, select the Play Test Sound button. You should hear a lively guitar rhythm play. If not, adjust your computer volume and try again. After you confirm that you hear a sound, select the Settings button again to close the panel.

You should see a Parrot (named Jean) on your screen. As ridiculous as this may seem, say hello and introduce yourself. Jean should ‘parrot’ back the introduction. If you can clearly hear Jean, that means others will be able to clearly hear you. If not, try moving closer to your microphone, going to a quieter location, or adjusting the volume of your voice. Note: Jean has a parrot voice, not a human voice, and may sound different from you. Your voice, unless you are also a parrot, will sound like a human to other participants in the video conference.

You can also use this preview meeting to see yourself on camera. If your camera is positioned too low or you are in a dark or unevenly lit location you may need to adjust your camera position and lighting. Use solid objects, such as a stack of phone books, to elevate your camera to eye-level. Position yourself and your camera so that the brightest light sources in your area are behind the camera and illuminating your face without casting shadows from other objects (you may have to move lamps, open windows, or flip light switches on and off to get it to your liking).



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