13 February 2015

Video in Education and Outreach

Posted by mcadams

By Lisa Strong

I call myself a video/multimedia producer because video is just one of the tools I use for communicating science. It’s a pretty great one though, and probably my favorite. I gave a talk at the AGU meeting in San Francisco a couple of years ago with the provocative session title: “Is Video Replacing Writing? The Role of Video in Effectively Communicating Science.” The easy answer is, no, it’s not replacing writing, as in “buh-bye writing,” but writing had better scoot over.

Video is an excellent tool for conveying emotion and generating excitement. It’s got beautiful moving images, ambient sound, and music (if you dare). It’s got human connection if you talk with people on camera or see them active on screen. It’s the most visceral way to capture an audience and tell a story. It’s not the best at communicating the details of a story however. Text, well written, still does a good job at that. But if your audience is prepped and excited about a topic or in my current case, a research expedition (because they watched an interesting or compelling video), they may be more inclined to sit down and read more about it.

In the glory days of magazines, the still photos attracted people to flip open the pages. Some people only looked at the pictures, but if they were moved, amazed or intrigued, they’d dive into the words. Now is the glory days for web media.It’s easy to share a video. Movie making equipment is affordable. Likely your phone is a video camera. Basic editing software may come free on your computer. Not that equipment turns you into a filmmaker, but it gives you the tools to try it out and practice the craft at a low financial cost. And since AGU member scientists are often roaming the Earth doing science in remote and beautiful locations, sometimes just being there with a camera (and a tripod please) is enough. AGU has a wonderful Tumblr feed called Postcards from the Field. I think a short video from the field from a skilled producer would be even cooler.

With an eye on that, AGU has supported a handful of science video filmmakers in starting AGU Cinema, a short video film festival with an Earth and planetary science theme. Participation is open and submissions have grown a lot over three years. It’s been a good way to share a wide range of stories, production values and techniques of guerrilla and professional earth science filmmakers. I’m going to enter this one in 2015 – my science music video from Expedition 354: Bengal Fan.

To read more about our expedition, check out www.joidesresolution.org.

– Guest blogger Lisa Strong is a video producer and education officer aboard the JOIDES Resolution.