Tuesday 6 December 2011

Importing videos into NVivo 9 as internal sources

Written for users of video analysis in NVivo 9 qualitative research software. Attention: Technorati blog aggregator. The code GCJXS6STZCJQ confirms this blog as mine :) !

With your video file in the right format, size and descriptively named, it is ready to import as either external or internal source into NVivo 9. Using the analogy of an Adobe Illustrator's use in graphic design, one can either choose to embed files internally within the file (like a poster graphic with fonts and images saved in the .ai file itself) or linking to them externally (the poster file is smaller as it links to the files outside itself).

QSR encourages users to only import the files that are core to their research, since importing source internally increases file size and, if very large, may impact on NVivo's responsiveness. An important limitation of importing video files as external source, however, is that it does not afford you the same opportunities to code material that internal files do. See the screengrabs below:
Screengrab of an external source video in NVivo 9
Screengrab of an internal source video in NVivo 9
Our research project has 26 subjects and for each at least two video interviews and two Day Experience Media (DEM) videos. We could try to import all 104 videos internally: at a conservative estimate of an average file size at 50 MB for interviews and 30 MB for DEM, that's 
2 600 MB for interviews and 1 560 MB for DEM. This could total 4,160 GB, a big file. NVivo's Offline Help says a standalone NVivo file has a size limit of 4GB, so we may need to reduce the low settings used in our optimized encoding process to ensure that internal files are well within this limit!

In starting the initial coding, we will focus on four subjects (Ace, Edmore, Thabang & Khanya): all four were hosted at a digital storytelling workshop at UCT recently thanks to their comprehensive contribution to the ICT Access and Use research project. I will use their thoroughly documented examples to initially test file imports:

After consolidating all their first and second interview files to a shared intranet folder, I have imported these videos as internal source (Adoné will also be providing a transcribed interview shortly). The research team can now begin to code these internal videos, while the research leader can test the import of codes and classification attributes from the researchers' NVivo master copy files back into her project master.


  1. Hi Travis

    Have you considered exporting only the audio of your video interviews as MP3 and coding that? May be much smaller - that is of course if you don't need to code visuals such as facial expression, hand gestures, etc.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Huntergatherer.

    The research team has considered using only audio, but our principle investigator, Laura Czerniewicz, and project researcher, Cheryl Brown, may need to present on the most interesting coded examples at conferences. In this context video is superior to audio and compensates for the additional challenges coding it brings.

    Since this post was written, I have learnt that one can code internal video files in NVivo 9 (64 bit) efficiently, even if they are 200MB in size. Out team must just be selective in the videos we choose for internal coding to avoid the total size of our project file being problematic. Hopefully, this will ensure we have a file that is efficient to query and present at conferences with :) !

    Kind regards,


This blog is moderated due to problems experienced by a few readers who could not submit unmoderated comments. Please keep your comment length under 300 words; any longer and you will struggle to submit it. Ta, Travis.

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