Participatory Video Field Guide: Resources

List of Sessions

Equipment List


  • Iphone 11 with FiLMiC Pro App to support video filming
  • Laptop ASUS x515e with Adobe Premiere Elements for video editing
  • ‘Basic’ Sony headphones
  • Rode SmartLav+ microphone and VideoMicro Compact Camera Microphone Accessory and windsock and connectors for iphone
  • Tripod
  • Hand-held smartphone video rig
  • Power charger – Power-Charger-Solar-Splashproof-Shockproof
  • Anker-SoundCore-Dual-Driver-Distortion-Microphone-Speaker
  • Waterproof external hard drive
  • Video light
  • Projector screen
  • Speaker
  • Mac mini M1 (desktop for editing)
  • Editing software – Final Cut Pro on macOS Monterey


Games and Ice-breaker Activities


The Disappearing Game

This is quick, energising game where everybody learns to set the scene, use the viewfinder, push the record button and watch the video back. We used a tripod to support the iphone and ensure that the filming would be stable and the focus already set up.

The entire group lines up and poses as if for a photo. The facilitator starts recording and then pauses it as one of the members of the group leaves the shot. The idea is that the rest of the group remains still like statues (but this is almost impossible and adds to the fun when watching back!). When you resume recording it looks as if one member of the group has ‘disappeared’. The facilitator explains to this first person how to start and stop the video. This person then pauses the video and explains to the next person how to start and pause the filming, and so on until there is no one left in the shot.

At the end of the game each person has operated the filming equipment. We then play the film back – either directly on the phone or preferably download and watch it on a computer screen. We uploaded the film within the editing software and so also demonstrated what difference this made to the ‘disappearing’ film with added sound effects.


The River of Life

The ‘River of Life” method is a useful way of visualising and reflecting on different aspects of a person’s story. It is a visual and reflective technique that helps people to explore and understand a particular life journey by mapping out significant events over periods of time using a river metaphor.  In this case we were thinking of people’s lives before the Solar OASIS was built and then the changes that had happened since.

It involves drawing a river on a piece of paper and using sections of the river to represent different stages of this journey. The different sections of the river represent a specific time, with significant events or experiences depicted along the way for example turbulence in the river may indicate a difficult issue that needs to be navigated. By visually mapping out experiences on the river drawing, it is possible to reflect on the ups and downs, the important milestones, and the ‘flow’ of life over this particular time.

The River of Life helps people to visualise their life (or a particular period of it) as a continuous stream and helps them to gain insights into how past experiences shaped them and help in navigating future challenges. The group discussed what their lives were like before the construction of the solar oasis and detail some of their daily routines and activities and then how things had or were changing since it had been built.

The River of Life focuses on drawing rather than text, so this makes it particularly useful in groups that do not share a language or whose written or verbal language is more limited. When used in a group as in this case, it is an active method, good for engaging people and can be used as a visual aide memoire/prompt to include specific details when story-telling and storyboarding.

External Resources


  • InsightShare (practical guides and toolkits along with many examples of research activities in the field)
  • PIPERS for SUNRISE – Public Involvement and Engagement Strategy and Pilot Study Report
  • Benest, G. (2010). A rights-based approach to participatory video: Toolkit
  • Davies, R., & Dart, J. (2007). The most significant change (MSC) technique: A guide to its use. Rick Davies.
  • Lunch, N., & Lunch, C. (2006). Insights Into Participatory Video: A Handbook for the Field. InsightShare.
  •  Wheeler J. ‘The Life That We Don’t Want’: Using Participatory Video in Researching Violence. IDS Bulletin. 2009;40(3):10–8.
  • Mistry J, Shaw J. Evolving Social and Political Dialogue through Participatory Video Processes. Progress in Development Studies. 2021 Apr 1;21(2):196–213.
  • Shaw J. Re-grounding participatory video within community emergence towards social accountability. Community Development Journal. 2015 Oct 1;50(4):624–43.
  • Dart J, Davies R. A Dialogical, Story-Based Evaluation Tool: The Most Significant Change Technique. American Journal of Evaluation. 2003 Jun 1;24(2):137–55.
  • Willetts J, Crawford P. The most significant lessons about the Most Significant Change technique. Development in Practice. 2007 Jun 1;17(3):367–79.

Funding source

Determining Equitable Benefits: Achieving Transitions in renewable Energy (DEBATE) is funded by British Academy Small Research Grants scheme SRG22\220462 (2022)