In the fall of 2021, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage published a free online Video Production Handbook, which was originally developed by Dr. Kristin Dowell in 2007 as part of a program of the Oklahoma Language Digitization and Access Project. The downloadable guide, available in English, Mandarin Chinese, and Tibetan, furthers the mission of the Center’s Language Vitality Initiative, to provide training materials to language communities and increase knowledge of audio and video documentation best practices.
Dr. Dowell first created the handbook as a teaching tool for the Oklahoma Native American Youth Video Workshops, with the support of a 2007 NSF-NEH Documenting Endangered Language grant awarded to Mary S. Linn, then curator of language and cultural vitality at the Sam Noble Museum in Norman, OK. The original handbook was regularly used in classrooms by Dowell and by fellow instructors Racquel-María Sapién, Michael McCarty, Mary Linn, Olivia Sammons, and Brooke Shackleford, who all improved the manual through use. The handbook was later translated into Chinese and Tibetan for use in the Sino-Tibetan Language Research Methodology Workshop, a Center-supported language documentation training at Nankai University in China.
“There is tremendous power in creating stories, supporting language work, recording oral histories, and documenting cultural heritage through media production,” writes Dowell. “Teaching video production skills to as many people as possible has been a fierce commitment of mine for many years.”
For more on the handbook and the Language Vitality Initiative, see this news release from the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.