Strive for Brevity in your Science Videos

When it comes to video, brevity is a virtue.  From shooting clips to the final product, we should strive to keep things brief.  When shooting, you want to keep your clips short, preferably under a minute or two in duration. Why? Because you are going to have to review all that footage you shot, perhaps hours of it, just to find a few minutes that you will use in the final product.  I don’t know about you, but I find that reviewing long clips can be torture.

It’s much easier to shoot multiple short clips that can be reviewed quickly; those that contain useful material can then be imported to your editing program and the rest can just be archived or deleted if absolutely useless.  During interviews, I will film each question and answer separately instead of shooting it as one long sequence.  This makes life much easier when I sit down to edit.  You can always splice these separate clips together later, even reordering them to tell a better story.

You also want to strive for brevity in your video segments, especially the talking heads segments.  The longer the talking head sequence, the greater the likelihood you will lose the viewer’s attention and interest.  I routinely intersperse a short clip of a person talking to the camera with footage accompanied by a narration or a montage of photographs.  Each segment moves the story forward, but is delivered by different people or other information sources. Here is an example:

In this sequence, I had a brief (32 seconds) clip of a person talking followed by a montage of still images, short video clips, graphics, and narration that moved the story forward. I repeated this type of sequence throughout the video, which can be seen in its entirety here.

Also, as I illustrated in the previous post, you can break up a long interview with other footage, graphics, or photographs so the viewer has something new to look at at frequent intervals.  This approach gives the illusion that something new is happening, when in fact the same person is speaking for several minutes.

Strangely enough, I figured this out on my own and very early in my video-making.  I only later learned that shooting short clips and keeping your video segments brief were methods that professionals recommended.