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film

My film is ready, now what?

My film is ready, now what?

It’s no secret that at EGU we believe using film as a medium to communicate science and engage the public with research is a great tool! So much so that we organise an annual competition for early career scientists (ECS) to produce a three-minute video to share their research with the general public, as well as publishing film how-to-guides on our blog and organising film-making workshops at our General Assembly (GA).

The film-making workshops of 2014 and 2015 focused on how to make a film: from producing the script right through to aspects of editing and post-production. This year, the workshop was delivered by Stefan Ruissen, an online & cross media specialist, and centred on how scientists can raise the profile of their film work. In today’s post, we highlight some of the main points from the workshop and share Stefan’s slides with you too.

The fact that rich-media and video has grown to form an integral part of conveying a message, be it a news story, a funny meme, or capturing moments of our everyday life should not be underestimated. Harnessing the growing popularity of video when it comes to helping you tell the narrative of your research is crucial!

Video and social media

Social media channels mean that the possibilities to communicate and share the film you invested so much time in creating have multiplied. An important take-home message from the 2014 workshop was knowing your audience: whom are you producing the film for and what message do you want them to take away from it?

Knowing your audience is vitally important when getting your work out there too– where is the most likely place you’ll find your audience: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, via a blog? Spend some time trying to work this out, both in the planning stages of film-making and once your video is ready.

Social media generates opportunities to share your film with a broad audience. Identify which channels are the best ones to reach your audience and tap into your existing networks for maximum impact.

Social media generates opportunities to share your film with a broad audience. Identify which channels are the best ones to reach your audience and tap into your existing networks for maximum impact.

And while social media generates so many opportunities to share your film, how people are consuming content online is also changing. In the past users would actively search for content they wanted to read about or watch; now a day, most content arrives at people’s doorsteps through algorithms curated by social media channels. This means that, not only is it important to get your film ‘out there’, you’ve also got to get it noticed.

So, once you’ve identified the best platforms to use, post the content and don’t forget to engage with your audience! Be sure to start a conversation and be part of it. You will most passionately tell your story, so use every opportunity to drum up further interest in your film.

Tips

  • Get noticed in on-line searches: When planning your film, think carefully about the title and once it is finished, invest time in preparing a description text and key words
  • Be prepared: Have a set of promotional materials to hand, inc. a film summary, stills from your video and a short trailer
  • YouTube: simply uploading your video is not enough. Social media 101 says your film should come complete with description, a link to further information/the film page (if available) and don’t forget a catchy preview image to hook viewers
  • Twitter: exploit your existing network, or spend time building links with relevant peers and organisations who can further your work. The same is true for hashtags – reach a bigger audience by tapping into # and using mentions
  • Facebook: Combine all your posts with stills or a trailer of your film (that’s where that preparation of promo materials comes in handy!)
  • Ask your audience: Put yourself in the shoes of your audience, how would you find new science related content? If you aren’t sure, speak to your audience, they’ll likely give you a few pointers!

Making your video isn’t the half of it: while there is no doubt that you should concentrate your efforts on planning, shooting and editing your video, save some energy to develop a strategy which will allow you to disseminate your film work effectively. For more details on how to best achieve this, why not take a look at Stefan’s presentation?

By Laura Roberts Artal, EGU Communications Officer

This blog post is based on the presentation by Stefan Ruissen at the Short Course: Scientists must film! (SC47) which took place at the 2016 EGU General Assembly in Vienna. The full presentation can be accessed here.

How to share your science through film

This year was the first ever EGU Communicate Your Science Video Competition, an opportunity for young scientists to share their research with the wider public. It was also the first year to have a science film workshop at the Assembly – one to meet the needs of budding science communicators at the conference. Dan Brinkhuis from ScienceMedia.nl and Maarten Roos of Lightcurve Films set out to share their film making experience with eager EGU 2014ers last month. Here are their take-home messages…

First things first

Communicating science to a wider audience is becoming an increasingly important part of academic research. Funding bodies are calling for evidence of demonstrable impact and, with that, the need to share scientific work more widely, across both political and public spheres, is becoming increasingly clear. Sharing research straight from the scientists is also a fantastic way to get the next generation excited about science. There are many ways to do this: outreach events, blogs, public lectures, social media and more. Science films are just one of the many tools in the science communication toolbox. So, first things first: is film the right thing for you? Think about what you want to achieve, who you’re targeting and whether this medium will deliver that message to those people. It may be that other tools are better for the job.

Or must they? Make sure film is right for you before you start.  (Credit: Dan Brinkhuis/Maarten Roos)

Or must they? Make sure film is right for you before you start. (Credit: Dan Brinkhuis/Maarten Roos)

If you’ve picked film out of the toolbox then there’s a little prep work to do before you grab your camera and get going: consider the budget, the way the project will be managed and how you’re going to evaluate its success. Brinkhuis has put together a brilliant checklist on things to do before you film, be sure to check it before you get started.

One of the key things to work out before you get going is how much it’s all going to cost. While some grants have funds set aside for outreach, and others are specifically designed to support science communication projects, scientific filming is often done on a low budget. And there’s no reason for this to mean you have to compromise on quality. With SLR cameras and GoPros capable of recording fantastic footage in unfathomable conditions, there’s no need to splash out on swish tech. The same goes for sound: a simple collar microphone – the sort you might find at your favourite geoscience conference – often does the trick. If you need a little music, keep your eye out for Creative Commons pieces – they make a great backing track and they’re free to use.

Okay, so the kind of cameras you’ll be using are a little more advanced than this, but it looks good, right? (Credit: Flickr user Issac)

Okay, so the kind of cameras you’ll be using are a little more advanced than this, but it looks good, right? (Credit: Flickr user Isaac)

You’ve got the kit, what next?

When making a science video it’s critical to catch your audience’s attention in the first 20-30 seconds, especially if they’re browsing YouTube after a long day at work. You have a lot of hilarious cat videos to compete with and if your film doesn’t grab them, the clip of Mister Tickles falling off the kitchen counter, into the dog bowl and leaping 5 feet in fright will. In a rough analysis of some of NASA’s YouTube videos, Roos found that animations and data – the clips that were the most visually engaging – were also the most successful means of keeping an audience glued to the screen. So, if you want to share science on screen successfully, keep it visually interesting!

A rough analysis of what makes a successful science video on YouTube. (Credit: Maarten Roos)

A rough analysis of what makes a successful science video on YouTube. (Credit: Maarten Roos)

Having a fast-paced intro and visually engaging material is just part of the process. To really hit home you need to tell a story. This is something that also applies to science writing, and is a wonderful way of letting readers, viewers and listeners alike see where the spark for a particular investigation came from, how the scientific process has unfolded and, crucially, why it is important. If you’re unsure where to start with the story, think about why you’re investigating that topic, what inspires you about your project and what problems you hope to solve as you carry it out. Share that enthusiasm with your audience.

So what do you do if you simply want to record a scientific presentation, but make sure it’s a useful tool for later? Roos recommends putting yourself in the viewer’s shoes – not simply making a record of the presentation, but seeing it from the eyes of the audience members, so the viewer feels like they were there. Here’s his guide to filming and effectively editing presentations and lectures.

These are just the basics, but you can catchup on the full presentation and the tips and tricks talked about on Twitter online – almost as if you were at the workshop!

By Sara Mynott, EGU Communications Officer