Science, It’s Your Thing: Winners Announced

Previously, I described the amazingly clueless video put out by the European Commission called, “Science, It’s a Girl Thing!”, which included an inordinate number of sexist stereotypes to paradoxically attract girls to science (go here to see that video and my commentary).  Not surprisingly, it drew howls from women in science and prompted a rash of parodies and satirical commentary from the blogosphere.  Subsequently, The European Science Foundation sponsored a contest, inviting entrants to submit a one-minute video aimed at the “It’s a Girl Thing” mission to attract more females to consider a career in science.

The winners were just announced at the European Gender Summit.  Notice that the top winning entry used the electronic whiteboard approach, which I talked about earlier and did a tutorial on, to convey its message.  Congratulations to all the winners and kudos to all the entrants!

I’ve installed the winning entries below.  Go here to see all the other entries.

Winning Videos Selected by the Jury Panel:

Science, it’s your thing!, Stéphane Debove, Country: France

#Science It’s Your Thing, Imogen & Freya Wadlow, Country: Australia

Winning Video Selected by Popular Vote:

The Future Belongs to Us Michelle Goffreda Country: United States

Mr. President, Are You Listening?

MinutePhysics recently posted a video entitled, Open Letter to the President: Physics Education.  This video is a good example of how to use an electronic white board to create a video about science, or in this case, science education. Previously, I talked about how useful this approach can be for teaching and also provided a tutorial about how to create a video using this approach.

Check it out:

Where Should I Publish My Science Video?

You’ve finished producing your science video and are ready to publish it.  Where is the best place?  YouTube? Your own website? In the following tutorial, I discuss some points to consider in making your decision because, in the end, it will depend on your particular situation and your objectives.

Be sure to select the HD version and full-screen options (on the lower right of the player window) for best viewing:

Download the script for the video here:

Download (PDF, 31KB)

Science Video Tip: Keep Your Audience in Mind

This post continues the theme of diverse audiences and how to prepare your science communications for them.  In this video, I describe the three types of learners and how you might use that knowledge in preparing your next video or other communication project (for best viewing, select the HD version and full-screen options (see menu bar at bottom of player window)):

Using Graphic Novel Apps to Tell Your Science Story

I’ve been experimenting with the graphic novel format to see how it might be used to tell a story about science.  The application I used is called MotionArtist, which is available for free (as the public beta version) until early next year (January 15, 2013) when the retail version will be offered for about $60–70.   You can watch a video here that shows what MotionArtist does and how it works:

As you can see, with MotionArtist you can create a graphic novel or web comic relatively easily.  There is a slightly steep learning curve, but the tutorials offered on the MotionArtist website provide enough information that most people can get started and then learn by playing around with the application.  It does help to already have some experience with other animation software, but most of the tools are fairly intuitive.

I decided to learn as much as I could about the various tools, panel options, workflow, etc. by creating a short project.  That has been my approach to learning videography:  pick a project that requires some new technique or software that I want to master and then learn by trial and error in the process of creating my project.

In this case, I wanted to use a science topic but one that I could have a bit of fun with and that would be complimentary with the graphic novel/web comic format.  So for my project, I chose an environmental phenomenon known as “brown marsh”, which refers to sudden dieback of coastal marshes.  Instead of telling the story from the viewpoint of scientists, however, I decided to use marsh snails as the protagonists in my story.  Although I set out to tell quite a different story, once I “created” the snail characters, they took over and told a very different story from the one I had initially envisioned (funny how that happens).

I used MotionArtist to set up the panels, import images and some video clips, and add text boxes.  If you want to animate, you will need to set up layers so that individual components can be moved independently.  I wanted to animate the snails and have them moving around.  I started with photographs of marsh snails and removed the image backgrounds as I’ve shown in a previous tutorial.  I used Photoshop to develop layered images of snails, marsh grass, and backgrounds.  These could then be imported as individual layers in MotionArtist or as a composite image.  I also used Photoshop to “cartoonize” some of the images prior to importing them into MotionArtist.

Once complete, the project can be exported as a video or as HTML5.  However, I exported as a video because the HTML5 did not seem to work with my content (except for the opening scene); perhaps this glitch will be “fixed” in the retail version of MotionArtist.  Although you can add audio and voiceover in MotionArtist, I used iMovie to add some sound effects and music and then to render the video.

Here is the final version, which I titled “Brown Marsh Apocalypse”:

I see a lot of potential for creating interactive graphics with this software to illustrate science concepts and will be giving this a try in the future.