A blog about Modern Communication for Modern Science

ScienceFilm Workshop Announcement: Friday Harbor Lab, WA, May 22-29, 2016

We often get emails from people interested in taking a ScienceFilm workshop. Most of our workshops are ‘chartered’ these days (this is where an organization brings us in to teach their people about science film-making. It is uncommon for non-affiliated people to be accepted into these workshops, but your time has come! We announce a ScienceFilm workshop at Friday Harbour Laboratories, May 22 – 29, 2016.

This workshop costs US$1799, and includes 7 days of instruction and hands-on practice with Jeff and Colin, plus meals and accommodation. We offer discounts for graduate students, and for those not requiring room and board. For more information and registration materials, please visit our website for this workshop:

We hope you can join us!

Drones and Salmon

The fast evolution of consumer drone technology is a boon to the science filmmaker, particularly those who work on systems with large spatial scales. This video, about salmon migrations in Alaska, is mostly eye-candy (not a lot of narrative), but images are compelling enough to keep our attention for 5 minutes. Aerial shots can be used to set the scene, to give viewers that rare top-down visual that develops our understanding of a place, and to contribute to a diverse array of creative shots. Enjoy.

ABOVE ILIAMNA from Jason Ching on Vimeo.

Beautiful, informative, and educational!

We’ve posted several links to great animations about science before, but here are some particularly excellent examples of the marriage of narrative, beauty, and science history. The paper cutout animation by Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck continues to inspire.

Check out these great films:

Great video series from the American Museum of Natural History

Science video has come a long way in the last few years. Here are some great examples of well-filmed, slickly produced, entertaining, and informative videos from the American Museum of Natural History, in their series Shelf Life

I particularly like this Coelocanth video:


How to use your GoPro effectively

GoPro cameras are ubiquitous, for good reason. In Science Filmmaking, they can get you into small spaces that are essential for supporting your narrative, and capture action in a hands-free way. Here is a great summary from B&H about creative ways to use your GoPro:

For an example of a Sciencey video filmed using a GoPro, here is something put together during a class experiment about kelp biomechanics. It’s a bit older now, but shows some neat angles.

Aerial Videography with Drones: A Primer

The landscape of aerial videography is changing so quickly! What was possible only with very expensive helicopter time is now a snap with a little investment and some practice. If you are interested in embarking on a foray into aerial videography with a drone, here is a great primer from B&H to get you started.

I have a DJI Phantom Vision 2+, and it is an incredible piece of equipment. I crashed my Phantom 1 into the ocean (with GoPro and gimbal, a $1500 loss). Mistakes aren’t cheap, but the perspectives are unbeatable.

Michael Moore’s top 5 suggestions for documentary

These are good tips! Remember that a science film is just a documentary about science!

World Science Festival & an amazing library of science videos

If you want some examples of how other people have approached the telling of science stories through film, look no further than the World Science Festival. This is a festival that happens each year, this year in New York City from May 30 – June 3rd. I have no doubt that the festival would be excellent to attend, but you can gain a great deal by watching some of the 300+ videos, mostly science related, in their awesome video library.

There is something here for everyone.

GoPro releases HD Hero 2!

I love my GoPro HD Hero camera. For versatility/quality/size/value/price you really can’t beat it. Except, GoPro did beat it, by releasing a new version of the camera today. A quick run down of the key new features:

– new sensor and processor
– faster frame rates (up to 120fps)
– 11 MP stills (up from 5)
– wider (170 degree) angle of view in 1080p
– Sweet Wifi streaming (to come with as yet unreleased Wifi Backpak)
– redesigned LCD interface

All your old accessories still work too. Awesome!

Check it out here

Paper puppets and beautiful {de}composition

Sweetfern Productions has produced a wonderful and novel science film about the decomposition of a whale. What? Awesome and inspiring:

Whale Fall (after life of a whale) from Sharon Shattuck on Vimeo.

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