If you’d like to use a video clip of a research session in a presentation or report, you’ll first need to scrub the clip of PII and/or PHI (referred to as PII from here on). Removing a user's personal and/or health information is important for anonymity and identity protection. If you’re conducting research and the user has provided any combination of the following, the video needs to be scrubbed of:

  • Names

  • Address (whole or part)

  • Phone Numbers

  • Fax numbers

  • Email addresses

  • Social Security numbers

  • General educational credentials

  • Dates (other than year) directly related to an individual

When in doubt, scrub it out: If you aren't sure if something qualifies as PII, you should consider scrubbing it from the video before socializing.

Before you begin

This 4-part technique uses a combination of iMovie, screenshots, and photo editing software capable of blurring images.

Step 1: Import and screenshot

Using iMovie, you’ll import the video and take screenshots following these steps:

  1. Import the video file to iMovie.

  2. Save this file before you do anything else!

  3. Navigate to the section of the recording containing PII.

  4. Mark the instances where the PII happens.

    1. Pro-tip: each time the PII moves, add a new marker. This will help in Step 3: Import & Overlay.

  5. Screenshot the area of the screen that contains PII.

    1. Pro-tip: if there are multiple places where PII occurs, try to get all of them in the same screenshot. This will make aligning the screenshot with blurred PII and the video easier in later steps

Step 2: Blur PII

Once you’ve got your screenshots, you’ll need to blur them in photo editing software.

  1. Open the screenshot in a photo editing program (Photoshop, Sketch, Preview, Pixelmator, etc.).

  2. Isolate the PII using the selector.

  3. Blur that PII real good.

  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 for all instances of PII on that page.

  5. Export as PNG.

Step 3: Import and overlay

This is probably the most complex, tedious part of the process. You will get frustrated on your first try, but you'll be a pro after you've done it once.

  1. Import the blurred screenshot to iMovie and align it with part of the clip you wish to cover. (This is where those markers you made in Step 1: Import and screenshot come in handy)

  2. Choose "Picture in Picture".

  3. Resize and align the screenshot.

  4. You'll need to repeat steps 1, 2, & 3 every time the PII moves (e.g. if the user scrolled and it's higher on the screen). Copy & paste the screenshot already in iMovie and reposition, as needed.

Part 4: Export and distribute

Pat yourself on the back—the hard part is over! Now all you need to do is get your PII-free user session out of iMovie and distribute it to the team.

  1. iMovie File > Share > File

  2. From this view, you'll be able to customize the export. Choosing a lower resolution and quality will help reduce file size, export, and upload time.

  3. Distribute accordingly!