Cutaways Versus Insert Shots

Cutaways and insert shots are two film editing techniques that are used to connect scenes, provide context, and/or to add visual interest to a video. For example, an interview featuring a person talking for several minutes can be pretty boring. One or more cutaways, however, can be used to show what the interviewee is talking about, adding visual interest to the film. A cutaway might feature a plant, animal, landscape, map, animation, instrument or some other object or process being described during the interview.

Insert shots are also used to provide context in a video, often showing some additional detail in a scene. For example, a medium shot might show a scientist working in the laboratory and pipetting a liquid into vials. An insert shot showing a closeup of the scientist’s hands or the pipette tip would be filmed separately and inserted into the main footage. Such edits can enhance a video by providing a new perspective or additional detail not apparent in the main footage.

The scientist videographer must plan ahead for cutaways and insert shots by filming “b-roll” footage along with the main footage. Such preparation may take a bit more time during filming and some effort during editing but is well worth it in the end.

In the following tutorial, I describe these two techniques and show how to use them in iMovie to edit video footage.

How to Get More Views of Your Science Videos

Have you posted a video about your science on YouTube but are not getting many views? Do you wonder how other creators optimize their videos to get more views? I’ve noticed that many videos made by scientists are good, but they don’t garner many views on YouTube. That’s a problem because such videos are important in showing how science works and why scientific research is important to society. In a new tutorial, I explain what you can do to get more YouTube views of your science videos.

Apollo 13 View of Moon

In 1970, the crew of Apollo 13 made it to the moon but never completed their mission to land on the surface because of an explosion that damaged their craft. To get the astronauts safely home, NASA routed them around the dark side of the moon for a slingshot trajectory back to Earth. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13, NASA has used video data captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft during this ill-fated trip to recreate spectacular views (at 4K) of the lunar surface.

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:

Yanny vs. Laurel

By now you should have heard about the audio clip in which a spoken word is perceived as “Yanny” or “Laurel” depending on the listener (I hear “Laurel”). Here is a brief video by AsapSCIENCE that concisely explains this auditory illusion and reveals which of the two words was actually recorded.

It’s a good example of how video can be used to explain the science behind a fascinating phenomenon. The creators used an electronic white board to create their video (see this post for a how-to tutorial).