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:
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.
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.
These are good tips! Remember that a science film is just a documentary about science!
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.
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
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.
Here is a compelling blog post by Chris Mooney about the gap between science communication theory and practice. “What does the science of science communication look like?” Read more here
There are many science concepts that are too small, too far away, or too complex to actually film. These topics are still worthy of communication, and video technology is certainly the best way to help people understand. One solution is to use computer animation. I’m not suggesting that you learn how to do animation, but, as the title of this post suggests, make friends (or at least a connection) with animators. There are often student animators looking for good topics to work with. This synergy can no doubt result in some technologically advanced, visually pleasing, and informative short videos.
I was at a bonfire in Squamish a week ago, and we saw the Northen Lights (aka Aurora Borealis). What a magnificent sight. None of us really knew what causes Northern Lights to occur, so some digging around yielded this cool video: a great animation about the science of Auroras.
The Aurora Borealis from Per Byhring on Vimeo.
60-minutes has posted a great behind-the-scenes look at a new Animal Planet program called ‘Spy on the Ice’. (click here) It is a close-up look at polar bears, filmed with extremely creative techniques: remote control cameras disguised as ice, cameras that move on skis, etc. This is the work of John Downer, who pioneered many of these creative approaches. (Learn more about John here). Early in his career, John reared a duck from an egg to enable himself to get closeup shots of a flying duck.
I love this stuff! These are such clever ways to approach filming, it makes me want get out there and build such things. Take inspiration from people like John: the only thing that limits you is your mind!