Make your own science videos and share your knowledge with the world
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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 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
Watch 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).
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.
I 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
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.
Most of you probably have a resumé or CV (Curriculum Vitae) to give to potential employers or others who may need it to evaluate you. Most resumés and CVs look alike, however, and often don’t get across what is particularly compelling or unique about the person it describes. In today’s competitive world, it’s important to distinguish yourself from others and create a lasting impression. How can you convey what separates you from the crowd?
One idea that is growing in popularity is the video resumé.
A video resumé is a great way to visually show who you are, what you know, and what you are good at. The idea is to create something that augments your text resumé and really drives home what makes you special. The audio-visual features of a video resumé provide quite a different perception of a person compared to the traditional, written resumé, which is typically dry and impersonal (just the facts, ma’am). The video resumé can help you get across the answers to the questions an evaluator is most concerned about:
What distinguishes you from your peers? What special skills or knowledge do you have that is in high demand? What is your most outstanding work and why is it important? What kind of person are you? What are you passionate about? How do you handle challenges? How do you work with others?
Of course, if you are going to use a video resumé, it must be outstanding. Just like a traditional resumé, a video resumé must be well organized, accurate, free of technical errors, and accessible on common platforms. Don’t even consider producing a video resumé unless you are willing to put the necessary effort into making a good one.
In this post, I’m going to go through the steps for creating an excellent video resumé, including preparation, design, recording, and sharing.
Step 1: Understand what makes a good (and bad) video resumé
As in any new endeavor, a good place to start is to see what makes a good video resumé. For many readers, especially those in the science profession, the concept of a video resumé may be totally new. I imagine most of you have never even seen a video resumé.
So let’s first take a look at a good one:
I selected this example because I thought it was technically sound as well as effective in its purpose. What features make this video resumé good? First off, the video was short (exactly one minute) and to the point. Brevity is essential because a potential employer is not going to waste time watching a long video of you, especially one that simply restates what’s on your written resumé. This video conveyed the person’s qualifications and experience effectively and efficiently. Most importantly, this video resumé actually showed the person at work, which emphasized his technical skills, his knowledge, and his on-the-job experience. In other words, the video provided visual evidence of his qualifications as an expert in a unique field. The voice-over provided additional key information about his educational background, the types of equipment and processes he knows, and the people his work supports. However, he did not go into great detail in the video about his qualifications and background—that’s what a text resumé is for. Instead, he emphasized those skills and experiences that distinguish him as a niche expert. Actually seeing him in action produced a memorable impression about what kind of person he is and why he is unique. And memorable impressions, I would argue, can help someone stand out from the crowd.
Now let’s consider another video resumé:
That video resumé is, of course, a parody, but it gets a number of points across about how not to make a video resumé: Excessive special effects, over-the-top music, a fake interviewer, a superior-than-thou demeanor, fake settings to show off impressive but unrelated activities, use of made-up jargon (the “possimpable”), talking but saying nothing, listing no useful attributes (trustworthy, punctual, detail-oriented, and AWESOME are pretty meaningless descriptors).
You can find more bad video resumés by searching YouTube with the keywords, “video resumé” and scientist. Most of these make the same mistakes:
The video shows the scientist sitting stiffly in front of the camera and never deviates from that frame.
The scientist simply repeats information that can be found in any text CV.
The scientist does not speak clearly, speaks too rapidly, or speaks in a robotic monotone (or all three). Some are clearly reading a script.
The scientist shows no energy or passion.
The information presented does not distinguish the scientist from his/her peers.
The video does not show the scientist actually doing science.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Once you have an idea of what goes into a good video resumé, the next step is to decide on equipment and software.
Step 2: Select your equipment and software
You need a device that records video, preferably in HD (high definition). You can use a smartphone, a digital camera, an iPad, or a webcam (see this post for some tips on filming with a smartphone). You will also need an external microphone to get good quality audio—especially if you are a distance from the camera (see this post about microphones). Unless you’ve got someone to help you operate your recording device, you will need a tripod (there are inexpensive desktop tripods and phone mounts you can purchase).
No matter how good you are at filming, you will need to edit the footage. For this, you need movie-editing software. If you have access to a Mac, you can use iMovie, which is easy to learn. The iMovie version for iOS can be downloaded to an iPhone or iPad for about $5. There are more expensive applications, but these usually require a lot of training and practice.
Step 3: Decide on a structure and pacing
Here, you want to set a time limit and select what type of format your video will follow. These decisions will be determined in part by the equipment you use and your experience with the hardware and software you selected in Step 2. If you have no experience with video, then a simple format may be best. Those with some experience or access to filmmaking equipment and software have more options.
It’s important right from the start to set a time limit because that will force you to focus on only the most important aspects and to be creative. The video resumé example above was one minute long, which was plenty of time to get across key information. There are movie trailer-like templates that can be used in editing to create a fast-paced video resumé (more about this below).
The format of your video resumé can be similar to the example: footage of you conducting your work with your voice-over describing what’s happening. This approach is technically the easiest to pull off.
Another option is to speak directly to the camera, interspersed with images or clips of you working and interacting with others. If you work in really interesting environments with amazing scenery, your on-camera speech can be delivered hanging in the canopy of a rainforest, standing on a glacier, crawling through a cave or walking through an impressive research facility. However, remember the Barney Stinson example? Don’t use a backdrop that has nothing to do with your work.
If you have friends or colleagues who are willing, another idea is to film a few people you work with expressing their opinion of you (preferably good ones). A few clips of co-workers or students talking about what it’s like to work with you can be impressive—if done well.
Step 4: Write your script and plan your shots
Yes, you need to write out a script. A script doesn’t have to be followed word for word during filming, however. It’s there to help you plan your shots and keep within your time limit. Also, if you are planning to use voice-overs, a script can be quite helpful.
When I make a video, I usually start with an outline, dividing the video into three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. I then add the major points to cover within each section. Finally, I write out a narrative addressing those points. Once I have a narrative, I read it aloud and time how long each section takes. If I’m way over my target time limit, I will go back and cut some of the narrative or rephrase it to be more concise. I also know that I speak at about 150 words per minute, information that helps me when writing my narrative.
For a video resumé, the beginning can be a simple introduction that explains who you are and a bit about your background. In the middle, you spell out what distinguishes you from your peers. At the end, you sum up by stating your career goals or passion for your work or some other memorable ending.
Before you begin filming, you must decide who or what will be shown in each scene of your video. With a script (or at least an outline) in hand, you can better plan your filming. Go through the script, section by section, and decide what footage, images, diagrams, or other graphics will be used to deliver that information.
For the introduction, will you film yourself in the laboratory operating an instrument while your voice-over explains that you have ten years of experience working in a biogeochemistry laboratory? Or will you film yourself emerging from the ocean in scuba gear and explain to the camera that your research focuses on the effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs?
In the middle, you want to illustrate those attributes that set you apart. Be creative and try to plan footage that illustrates your key skills or experience. If you have extensive experience leading large research teams, then don’t stand before the camera claiming this experience; film yourself leading a group of people in the laboratory or the field. Don’t go overboard like Barney Stinson, though. Select a few scenes or backdrops for your footage; you can also add still images of organisms, equipment, facilities, or landscapes to your video—if they are relevant to your work.
At the end, select something memorable to say or to show. Emphasize your main message—who you are, what you know, or what you do best.
Step 5: Lights, camera, action!
The next step is to record your video. This step will likely be the most challenging for you, even if you have some experience. Because the video is about you, your image and/or voice will be part of it. Speaking in front of a camera can be intimidating, however—even seasoned teachers and professors get tongue-tied when that red light goes on. The answer is practice. Practice your script until it feels natural. Film your practices and then review this footage. This approach takes time and may be painful, but will definitely help you get over fear of the camera and to deliver your lines smoothly.
During filming, if you flub your lines, just do a retake. If you have trouble remembering your lines, break the shots down into smaller clips and peek at your outline or script in between takes to help you remember what to say. If all else fails, you can use the voice-over approach illustrated in the video resumé example above.
There are many do’s and don’ts in filming. You can avoid most beginner mistakes simply by being aware of them—check out these tutorials that should help:
You need to edit your video resumé so that you can remove mistakes and organize your footage into the desired sequence. You will need movie-editing software to accomplish this step. There are many tutorials on movie-editing—the basics as well as how to use specific applications. For example, the mechanics of movie editing with iMovie for mobile devices are covered in this tutorial: iMovie for iOS Tutorial Updated. If you are interested in the movie trailer format for your video resumé, I cover how to use iMovie trailer templates in this tutorial: How to Create a Book Trailer with iMovie.
Editing is more about removing material than adding material such as special effects or music. You need to be ruthless in trimming your footage down to your target length. Use only the best footage to illustrate your background, your work skills, and your on-the-job experience. These clips need not be long—even a few seconds will be enough to show off a skill. Note: scenes longer than 5 seconds will make your video resumé seem to drag. Review the video resumé example above and see how short each scene was—most were 4 to 5 seconds long.
You may want to bring in additional media (photos, graphics, animations, music) to enhance your video resumé. A word of caution here: do not use anything downloaded from the internet unless you are sure it is in the public domain (e.g., from a U.S. government website) or you get written permission (or pay a license fee). Your best option is to create all the content for your video resumé. If you need a shot of a boat, a building on campus, an organism, or a landscape, take your smartphone or camera out and shoot it yourself.
The next step is to publish your video resumé online. Even if you don’t want your video resumé publicly available, you will need to make it easy for a potential employer to view it. Most video files are going to be too large to email, and you can’t be sure the recipient will have the correct software to view it. The easiest way to share your video is to use a media-sharing site such as YouTube. You will have the option to keep your video resumé hidden from public view—only people with the link can see it. Once the video is uploaded, you can insert the hyperlink into a text resumé or you can send the link to a prospective employer. This approach also facilitates posting your video resumé on your website. An embed code is created for each video uploaded, and this is used to insert the video into a website. Watch this tutorial to see how to upload a video to YouTube: How to Upload Your Science Video to a Media-Sharing Site.
If you wish to make your video resumé publicly available, you can use the link or embed code for your published video on multiple platforms:
Your website: use the embed code for your video resumé to install a player window (in desired dimensions). That’s how I embedded the videos above in this blog post.
Your blog: if you host a blog, you can include your video resumé on the About page.
Your Twitter or Facebook Page: share your video resumé through social media, which will then automatically embed the video in your site.
Professional Networking sites: you can put the link to your video resumé on LinkedIn or ResearchGate. LinkedIn allows embedding of multiple videos. On ResearchGate, you can insert the link to your video resumé in the “About” section.
Well, that’s about it. If you are thinking about creating a video resumé, these guidelines will hopefully put you on the right track.