Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Tutorial: Ethnographic Video—Storytelling for Impact


An end-to-end approach to scoping, planing, shooting, editing and sharing video ethnography projects.


We’ve all seen the power of a well-crafted ethnographic video to capture the attention, and imagination of the room, whether that room is a design studio, a classroom or a boardroom. At its best, it can generate empathy, reveal insights that would be impossible to describe, and build conviction and consensus, in ways that can lead to alignment on what action to take next. In this tutorial we show you just how accessible this powerful form of expression can be to produce.

Join experienced video ethnographers and editors, Nick, Charley, and Prabhas, to explore the craft of ethnographic storytelling for impact, through video. It is appropriate for ethnographers of any technical level and will be shown to be an effective methodological and strategic storytelling choice, no matter your budget.

The workshop takes an end-to-end approach to thinking about how to scope, plan, shoot, edit and share video ethnography projects. At every stage along this journey we will take time to reflect on the important decisions that must be made about what, who and how to represent the subjects of our work, in ways that are authentic to those who have trusted us with their stories and personal environments.

Taking into account factors like budget, skill set, privacy, and audience we will share our perspective on the best strategies for leveraging ethnographic richness to deeply engage stakeholders, and show how our creative work can often be fueled by these perceived constraints rather than impeded by them.

You won’t leave this workshop as an expert video ethnographer or editor, but you will leave it with some new strategies for how to impactfully engage with your clients and colleagues across a range of different types of projects.

This video has been edited to protect the privacy of participants in the event.

→ Watch along with this tutorial: Using Video to Think Ethnographically (Charley Scull & Nick Agafonoff).


Charley Scull is an ethnographer and research strategist who has worked in consumer insights, innovation and UX spaces since 2005. His work has spanned a range of industries, geographies and focal lengths: from the granularity of package design and concept testing to trans-global systems thinking projects on healthcare, sustainable seafood and the future of mobility. Charley was trained as a visual anthropologist and that visual sensibility and the cultural analysis that came with it have remained core components of his practice. Charley was a partner at Filament Insight & Innovation and the Practica Group before joining the UX research team at Facebook. He holds an MA in visual anthropology and a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of Southern California.

Nick Agafonoff is a market ethnographer and qualitative researcher (online & real world) with 20+ years of commercial experience. Facebook, Google, Jack Daniels, McDonald’s, Volkswagen and Nike, represent just a few of the global brands that Nick conducts large scale, in-depth, iterative qualitative and ethnographic studies for. Nick is widely known for his application of video documentation and storytelling to commercial research. He is expert in participatory and observational filmmaking techniques, ethnomethodological ‘disruptive’ techniques, auto-ethnography techniques, and non-participatory techniques, such as Eye Tracking. Presently, Nick is the Director of Lived Experience at The Practice Insights and Director of Real Ethnography.

Prabhas Pokharel is an entrepreneur, design researcher, and computer scientist; he creates human-centered technology. He is currently the co-founder & CEO of Reduct.Video, which helps design researchers and strategists leverage the power of video storytelling to transform their organizations—so that everyone from the CEO to individual engineers have see & hear the human needs of their customers, first-hand. Prabhas studied Design Thinking with David Kelley at the Stanford, and was inspired to create Reduct while conducting ethnographically-inspired needs finding as a part of Stanford’s Design Thinking methodology. Before that, he worked with UNICEF to found one of it’s first Innovation Labs, and at the Earth Institute at Columbia University to create technology to further social development in the developing world.

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