This slideshow covers the basic steps to take in planning and creating a science video and also includes links to additional information about video design, storytelling, filming, editing, and publishing.
Karen L. McKee, Ph.D.
The Scientist Videographer
Producing your own videos is an easy and effective way to
communicate with a global audience. This DIY toolkit explains in
10 steps some of the basics of video-making and provides useful
links to additional information.
If you are going to use video to communicate, it must be
as outstanding as your other information products. Just
like a journal article or presentation, your video must be
well organized, free of content and technical errors, and
accessible on common platforms. In addition, it must
meet a viewer’s expectations.
Tip: Watch videos on your topic and notice what
enhances or detracts from the experience.
Step 1: Understand what makes a
good (and bad) video
There are many ways to use video to communicate science. Here are a few
1. A video abstract enhances a journal article and makes it more
discoverable online. Learn More
2. A methods video can be submitted to a journal as Supplemental Online
Material. Learn More
3. A video resume’ can be used to show intangible qualities such as
enthusiasm, confidence, eloquence, or humor or to illustrate your unique
skills and experiences. Learn More
4. Enhance your next conference poster with a video. Learn More
Step 2: Decide what you want to communicate
Decide what your main message is going to be and who your target audience
will be. If you are not clear about the message, your audience won’t be either.
Your target audience will determine how you format and deliver your message.
Tip: Don’t bombard the viewer with facts, facts, and more facts. Instead, tell a
story. Learn More
Step 3: Frame your message
The simplest approach is to use a three-part structure: a beginning, middle, and end. This
structure will organize your information and will meet the viewer’s expectations for a story
format. Also, set a time limit and decide on pacing (e.g., a fast-paced delivery vs. slow
Tip: Keep your video brief and focused on the most important aspects of your message.
Aim for a video of between one and three minutes. Learn More
Step 4: Decide on a story
structure and pacing
Before starting to film, you need a clear plan of action. A script will help you organize your
thoughts and avoid rambling and digressions. Create a concise narrative that covers each key
point to be made in your video. Then decide how and where each segment or scene will be
filmed. Select locations for filming without distracting movements and noise in the
Tip: Read your script aloud to gauge timing. Cut or rephrase if it goes too long. Learn More
Step 5: Write your script and plan your shots
You will need a recording device (camera, smartphone, tablet, webcam) to film your
video and movie-editing software to trim your footage and organize it in sequence. You
may also need an external microphone and tripod to ensure stable shots.
Tip: If you are a beginner, start off with whatever device you already own and know how
to operate, such as a phone camera. Simple-to-use but powerful editing apps (iMovie,
Kinemaster) are inexpensive and easy to learn. Learn More
Step 6: Select your equipment and software
Filming will likely be the most challenging part of creating your video. Practice your script
until it feels natural; if you flub your lines, just do a retake. Don’t forget to capture
additional footage (b-roll) of plants, animals, equipment, facilities, or landscapes to
illustrate what you are talking about.
Tip: There are many dos and don’ts in filmmaking. By knowing the most common filming
mistakes, you can avoid them. Learn More
Step 7: Film your video
You need to edit your video footage to remove mistakes and organize it in a sequence to
tell your story. If you add media downloaded from the Internet, be sure it is in the public
domain or you have written permission to reuse in your video.
Tip: Editing is more about removing material than about adding special effects or music.
Select only the best clips and trim those down as much as possible. Learn More
Step 8: Edit your video
The easiest way to share your video is to post it on a media-sharing platform such as
YouTube or Vimeo. You can adjust the viewing settings to share your video publicly or
privately, to allow voting and commenting, and to show viewing statistics.
Tip: Be sure to add “tags” to your video, which makes it easier for people searching for
information on your topic to find your video. Learn More
Step 9: Publish your video
Many people fail to take this final step and wonder why their video has so few views.
Make people aware of your video by including a link to it on your website, your blog,
social media (Facebook, Twitter), and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.
Tip: You can take the “embed code” for your video and install it in a window on your
website or blog. Visitors can watch the video without leaving your site. Learn More
Step 10: Promote your video
Want to learn how to make an effective
and professional science video? Read
The Scientist Videographer eBook
(available in iTunes Store)
Link to book