One of the biggest ways of sharing content right now is through video – it’s the number one source of information for 66% of people*. And when it comes to science, the trend is no different. Creating high quality video content to share your research with a wider audience is invaluable in a world where people spend an average of 6 hours 48 minutes a week watching online videos*.

At Sciad, we’re passionate about creating high-quality content. Drawing on our experience of creating bespoke videos for clients across the life science sector, here are our 5 top tips for making a successful science video.

 

Quality content – a story worth sharing

 

At the core of any video is the content. Creating a high-quality video can be a significant investment, so make sure you’re confident that this is the best point in your pipeline to share the findings. Before you start, ask yourself:

  • Is my story current? If you have noteworthy content that relates to subjects trending in the current news agenda, it’s a great time to share.
  • Is my story relevant? Content with real-world applications that directly benefit or impact your target audience makes for a good video.
  • Is my story unique? With a constant stream of online content, viewers are looking for something different to grab their attention.
  • Is my story concluded? Research is always changing. Check that your story is ready to share and not likely to evolve significantly in the next few months.

 

From science to storyboard – curating the script

 

Research is typically communicated through scientific papers, statistical results, complex graphs, and technical language. The task of a science communicator to turn this complexity into compelling content. Multi-year-long projects built on decades of research by experts at the cutting-edge of their field must be translated into a simple script that anyone can engage with. This process starts with conversation. At Sciad, we start by talking directly to the scientists behind the research to get a thorough understanding of their work. The next step is moving from the methods and results of a research project to the classic beginning-middle-end of a story. The beginning needs to draw the audience in and set the scene of why your research was essential. The middle needs to get across the science – what your team discovered and how they did it. The end needs to leave an impact, showing future potential. And all this needs to fit into no more than 200-300 words.

 

Behind the camera – footage that flows

 

With the filming capacity of today’s smartphones, everyone can be a content creator. To make a video stand out in this crowded market, it’s essential to get high-quality, attention-grabbing footage. This takes skills, patience, and teamwork.

Good films have a mixture of A-roll (action/speech shots) and B-roll (background footage).  When A-roll involves speech to camera, we want this to sound natural. Therefore, our scripts act more as a guide – rather than memorising lines, we encourage the scientists to use their own words, giving them as many takes as they need. Our film crew are on the other side of the camera, giving prompts and engaging in conversation. This is edited out in the final cut, leaving the speaker alone, but it creates a natural feel that doesn’t leave the speaker staring down the barrel of the camera.

B-roll is an opportunity to give a behind-the-scenes window into the world of research. Whether we’re filming high-tech laboratory apparatus, or simply capturing team comradery, shooting B-roll takes time, cooperation, and understanding. The camera crew need to understand how processes and technologies work to depict them accurately. And this depiction needs to be captured from all angles –behind, up front, zoomed in, wide shots – to create a dynamic video. This means getting scientists to repeat a procedure again, and again, and again… cooperation, understanding, and patience are essential.

 

That was quick! – getting the perfect length

 

Gone are the days when people willingly watch lengthy videos – the average adult’s attention span is approximately 8 seconds**. This means that years of research must be communicated effectively in approximately 2 minutes. Yes, a whole day of filming for just 2 minutes of content. Our job is to make a video that engages, excites, and inspires. B-roll gets mixed with A-roll so that there is always something new yet relevant to look at. Hesitation, repetition, and deviation get edited out to give the smoothest narrative. And as always, we work in a cooperative manner, running edits by the science team to ensure we are producing a story they’re happy with.

 

Collaboration – combining skills and learning from each other

 

The fifth and potentially most important component is collaboration. Just like scientific discoveries, a high-quality film comes through combining a diverse range of skills and expertise. At Sciad, we work in conversation with our clients at every step of the process. From script-writers to camera teams to research scientists, each member of the project takes the time to understand each other’s needs, appreciate each other’s strengths, and have the patience to get each detail just right. Through building on a constant dialogue of two-way feedback, we ensure we produce a film that everyone is proud to share.

 

Keen to see some examples? Take a look at the videos we made for the Royal Society of Chemistry 2021 Horizon Prize winners here, and stay tuned for the 2022 prize winner videos coming soon. If you want any help with creating your next video, get in touch with our team today. 

 

References:

*   https://techjury.net/blog/video-consumption-statistics/#gref

** https://www.talkingtreecreative.com/blog/video-marketing-2/the-impact-of-video-length-on-engagement/

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