This website is designed to encourage and inform students, teachers, scientists, and other science professionals who are interested in using video to convey information about themselves, their work, or a topic of interest. Here and on my YouTube channel you will find video tutorials, tips, reviews, and other information that will help you plan, shoot, edit, and publish effective and professional-looking videos.

Videography skills will become increasingly important for the scientist of the future to keep pace with the rapid changes in communications technology and electronic publishing. As demand for more accessible and engaging science information increases and as competition for science jobs, research funding, and space in journals becomes more intense, those scientists with multimedia skills such as videography will be at a distinct advantage. 21st century consumers of scientific information, both technical and non-technical, will expect media-rich content, and science educators and researchers must be prepared to provide it.

Learn How to Create a Video

screenshot_iphoneWatch tutorials to learn, step-by-step, how to design and make a video to demonstrate a new method, produce an online lesson, record a screen presentation, and create other communication products. Tap the image to the left to see a tutorial showing how to shoot and edit a video with a smartphone. For more tutorials, see this list by category (or select Tutorials in the Navigation bar).

Now Available: The Scientist Videographer eBookThe Scientist Videographer Book

This ebook is a detailed how-to for scientists, science educators, and students who wish to make their own videos. This electronic guidebook was created with a new authoring platform to combine text, video, and other interactive content to facilitate learning. This ebook shows how to plan, shoot, edit, and publish an effective and professional-looking science video to demonstrate a new method, record an online lesson or lecture, create supplemental online material for a journal article, produce a virtual tour of a laboratory or experimental facility, to raise online visibility—and many other uses.

Read more about the book on this page (or select eBook in the top navigation bar).

Who Is The Scientist Videographer?

cameraoperator_cartoon_klmckeeI am a research scientist who has discovered the value of having videography skills in my communication toolbox—which in the future will be just as important as writing and oral presentation skills are now for a successful science career. I’ve found that video has not only expanded my abilities to explain and share my science with others, it has benefited my career in ways I never dreamed possible. To learn more about what led me to acquire videography skills and why I think it will be a critical communication skill for the scientist of the 21st century, check out my About page. See the links in Other Science Contributions for more information about me and my research.

My Science Videos

Mississippi River Flood of 2011

Public domain image (U.S. Geological Survey)

In addition to science videography tutorials, I have produced and published several peer-reviewed science videos as well as a number of other videos on various science and science-career topics. I provide links to those videos on My Science Videos page to show how someone with no formal training in videography, media, or science communication can produce effective videos to convey a science message. I made my first science video in 2008 and have since published about 80 videos (including tutorials).

If I can do it, so can you.

The Scientist Videographer Blog

For more information, tips, video reviews and general musings about science communication, go to my blog. Here you will find additional material and links to video tutorials and other instructional information. See recent posts below or select Blog in the Navigation bar.

mangroves_K.L. McKee

Recent Posts

Filming with a Smartphone: 20 Basic Camera Shots

Remember the opening scene in the original (1978) Halloween movie? In that scene, we see the exterior of a house, but from the point of view of one of the movie characters, which happens to be Michael Myers, the crazed killer…but as a child. He is creeping around looking in the windows of the house at the people inside. The camera faithfully shows us what he sees as he enters the house, opens a kitchen drawer, and takes out a large knife. We don’t see him, only his hand and what he is looking at. The suspense builds as he climbs the stairs to the bedroom…

That scene from Halloween used a point-of-view shot, which is one of a variety of camera shots used by filmmakers. A shot is the space seen in a frame of film. Different types of shots (wide shot, close up, cut-away) are used to show a film’s setting and its characters, as well as to set a mood or otherwise convey unspoken information to the viewer.

You are probably vaguely aware of the different camera views and moves that are used in the making of movies, even if you can’t name them. Of course, professional filmmakers know all the basic shots because that knowledge is essential when making a film that people want to watch. But did you know that you, the scientist videographer, can use the same set of camera shots to add visual variety to your science videos?

In the following video tutorial, I provide examples of 20 camera shots that you can use to make a video with a smartphone. I’m focusing on shots that can be done easily with a smartphone since many people are now using them to make their videos. I’ve illustrated each shot with one or more clips from my own video library. Most of these are traditional shots used by filmmakers, but I included some additional ones that I, well, totally made up. But I think you’ll find that they all will give you some ideas of different ways to shoot your videos, which will make them much more interesting to your viewers.

Here is a list of the 20 basic camera shots, along with a brief explanation, that I cover in the video.

  1. Extreme Wide Shot: In an extreme wide shot, the subject is visible but the emphasis is on showing him in relation to his environment.
  2. Wide Shot: The subject is closer to the camera in a wide shot, but he is still shown in perspective to his surroundings.
  3. Full Shot: A full shot is even closer, but the subject’s body is still in full view.
  4. Mid Shot: In a mid shot, only part of the subject is visible but the view gives an impression of the whole.
  5. Medium Close Up: A medium close up shows more detail by framing the subject’s face and upper body, for example.
  6. Close Up: One portion of the subject, such as a face, takes up the entire frame in a close up.
  7. High Angle: A high angle shot looks down on the subject or scene, perhaps to show an activity as in these examples.
  8. Two Shot: A two shot is a shot of two people in the same frame.
  9. Group Shot: A group shot shows three or more people in a frame.
  10. Cut-in: A cut-in shot focuses more closely on some aspect of a scene or subject. This can be done by moving the camera, as in this example, or by the subject moving closer to the camera, as in this second example.
  11. Cut-away: A cut-away shot moves the view away from the main scene or from one subject to another, as in this example.
  12. Pan: A pan moves the camera horizontally to sweep across a scene. It’s better to use a tripod to pan smoothly, but if you don’t have one, you can also move the camera freehand as in these examples to gradually reveal your subject.
  13. Tilt: A tilt shot moves the camera vertically. For example, to reveal a tall object.
  14. Tilt & Pan: A combination tilt and pan shot can be used to follow an object moving through space such as this quadcopter.
  15. Aerial Shot: An aerial shot is a view from a plane, a helicopter, or a drone.
  16. Point of View (POV) Shot: In a point of view shot, the camera shows what the subject is looking at. This shot can be used to put the video viewer into the subject’s shoes.
  17. Moving Vehicle Shot: The moving vehicle shot is a view of subjects being transported through a scene in a boat, car, or other vehicle.
  18. Selfie Shot: The selfie shot is when the subject is holding the camera and filming themselves talking or engaging in some activity. The selfie shot is accomplished with the aid of a selfie stick and a phone mount.
  19. Selfie Arc Shot: In an arc shot, the camera circles the subject. The selfie arc shot is one in which the subject twirls in place while shooting a selfie. This shot sustains the same view of the subject but reveals the subject’s surroundings in a 360 degree turn.
  20. Entrance/Exit Shot: With the camera fixed in place, a subject can move toward or away from the camera. Such shots can be used to open or close a video.
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