LumaFusion (2019) Tutorial: Video Editing on iPhone & iPad

In this tutorial series, learn how to edit your videos on iPhone or iPad using LumaFusion 2019. In Part 1, I introduce the workspace and show how to trim clips and begin building your video. In Part 2, I cover various adjustments such as creating cutaways and picture in picture, modifying the audio, and adding text titles and transitions. These basics will get you started editing video like a professional.

I found the LumaFusion app to be fairly easy to navigate, and it worked well with the touchscreen on my iPhone. Although sometimes I found it difficult to see some elements in the timeline (e.g., transitions), I was able to make them larger by expanding the view (using the pinch-zoom gesture). (This would be less of a problem on an iPad.)

The various framing tools allow quick resizing and positioning of a video clip or photo.The ability to use multiple tracks is a big plus. I also like the advanced text titles tool, which lets you select font style, size, and color, along with other options such as outlining and opacity. Additionally useful are the galleries of presets, which allow you to quickly make routine adjustments. Although not covered in my tutorial, you can create custom presets and save them to a gallery for repeated use. Overall, the app seems to be well designed and has few glitches.

The Chemistry of Color in Birds

Another nice video by the American Chemical Society focuses on what’s behind the diversity of colors in birds. It illustrates how to make an eye-catching video that gives the viewer something beautiful to look at while explaining the science behind the dramatic images:

How to Prepare a Graphical Abstract for a Scientific Paper

Some scientific journals are asking authors to prepare a graphical abstract to be submitted along with the manuscript. Graphical abstracts can help attract readers to your papers. In my opinion, it is worth the time and effort to craft them. In this video tutorial, I talk about the benefits of graphical abstracts to the author and briefly show how to prepare one. This and other writing tutorials are posted on my other YouTube channel.

The Pixar Storytelling Formula

Pixar films tell great stories. Toy Story. Finding Nemo. WALL-E. Up. These and other films have together grossed $ billions and won many awards. For example, WALL-E, one of my favorites, earned $533 million at the box office and several awards, including an Academy Award for best animated feature. How do they do it? Pixar story artist, Emma Coats, says that every Pixar film follows the same narrative formula, which involves six sentences (#4 in a list of 22 storytelling tips). Pixar’s formula seems to be derived from one developed by Kenn Adams, teacher and author, who posted his version (with eight steps) on his blog, Back to the Story Spine.

This is how it works. Each sentence begins with a few words followed by a blank space to be filled in by the storyteller. You can use six steps or eight:

  1. Once upon a time, there was …
  2. Every day …
  3. One day …
  4. Because of that …
  5. Because of that …
  6. Because of that …
  7. Until finally …
  8. Ever since then …

Those of us in science wishing to be better communicators, especially with video, can adapt this narrative formula to tell our science stories.

For example, we might want to tell a story about a research project to show students how scientists work. Here’s one story designed with the eight-step formula:

  1. Once upon a time, there was … a scientist who was interested in how coastal forests called mangroves managed to avoid submergence by rising sea level.
  2. Every day … the scientist read journal articles that said mangrove forests keep pace with sea-level rise mainly by accumulating mineral sediment carried by rivers, tides, and currents.
  3. One day … the scientist collected cores from beneath several mangrove forests in the Caribbean Region and found mostly organic deposits called peat.
  4. Because of that … the scientist wondered if plant matter (dead leaves and roots) might build up enough to help some mangrove forests adjust to changing sea level.
  5. Because of that … the scientist, along with colleagues, conducted a 3-year experiment on a mangrove island in Belize to see if a change in production of plant matter could alter vertical movement of the soil surface.
  6. Because of that … the scientist showed that production and accumulation of mangrove roots were mainly responsible for upward expansion of the soil surface.
  7. Until finally … the scientist was able to report that Caribbean mangroves adjust to rising sea level through biological controls on change in soil elevation.
  8. Ever since then … scientists have had a better understanding of how loss of mangroves may affect vulnerability of tropical coastlines to sea-level rise.

That’s the story of how one of my research projects came about and how it turned out. I published that paper in 2007:

McKee, K.L., D.R. Cahoon, and I.C. Feller. 2007. Caribbean mangroves adjust to rising sea level through biotic controls on change in soil elevation. Global Ecology and Biogeography 16: 545-556.

My formula-guided story illustrates how scientists make observations that lead to new hypotheses, experiments, and a more refined understanding of an ecosystem—suitable for an audience of science students. But I could have told other stories—for example, the challenges I experienced conducting research in a remote, waterlogged, bug-ridden habitat.

The Pixar formula is similar to an older storyline called “The Hero’s Journey”, which I’ve described before. The nine-step Hero’s Journey features a protagonist who encounters a catalytic event, which propels her to take action and to eventually achieve a goal. The Pixar formula is a bit more generic and has several steps, but also involves a conflict and a resolution. Even briefer is the ABT (and, but, therefore) model promoted by Randy Olson.

Take your pick. All of these narrative formulas can aid scientists in telling stories that people can understand and remember. If you want to make a video about a science topic but are having difficulty coming up with a story, give one of these formulas a try.

Women in Chemistry and the Periodic Table

The American Chemical Society has produced a video celebrating Women’s History Month and the International Year of the Periodic Table. The video, which is part of their series called Reactions, features two pioneering women in chemistry: Marie Curie (of course) and Ida Noddack.

See how they contributed to the periodic table: