The magic of filmmaking (science and otherwise)

I originally posted this at my Scientific American blog.
Soon, Carin and I will be attending Science Online 2012 in Raleigh, NC. We will both be running workshops with co-hosts on creating videos. We will also be your emcees for the Science Online Film Festival featuring some amazing pieces. Keep your eyes pealed here for entrants and winners!

I’m cohosting a workshop, Basic Videomaking 101, with Jim Hutchins, and we’ve pulled in a nature filmmaker Rob Nelson to assist us. This will pretty much be the nuts and bolts of making a science video. How to be a good host, how to plan your video, and why it is wise to NOT wear stripes, things like that.

This is a hands-on workshop where participants can begin to script and produce their own videos. Each video needs to tell a story. What are your objectives for the video you’re making? What do you hope to accomplish? Just as we have clearly defined objectives and a “hidden curriculum” in the classroom, video production needs a set of decisions about level of presentation, lighting, dress, and setting that will affect how your audience reacts to your video. We will also work together to develop “best practices”: what works, and what doesn’t work, in online videos? Come prepared with your ideas and we will work together to turn them into ready-to-post videos.

I’m going to sidle away today from science itself and focus on film making via a couple of pieces created by filmmaker Jesse Rosten. He is not a science film maker, per se, but he certainly has a good eye and technical skills and anyone wishing to make a video can learn a lot from watching his works.

He recently made a film poking fun at how the beauty industry uses Photoshop extensively to remake the appearance of everyone. This short video is featured at the top of the post.

According to Jesse’s blog, he was watching an infomercial for beauty products and realized that before and after images were identical except for photoshopping and came up with the idea to “market” Fotoshop as a real beauty product. He nails “marketing speech” on the head, too!

I love this video on so many levels!

When I went to check out other things Jesse has done, I recall I had seen his work as he created a video where he used 9 iPads as light sources (and I’ll speak a bit about light sources for shooting video at the Scio12 workshop, too) for a photoshoot.

It’s not practical, but as Jesse says, it’s about working with what you have, and some of you will come across this as you start filming your very own science videos!

So we don’t neglect science and nature, I found his video about bees. It has very little to do with the science of bees, but certainly is fun to watch!

He also created a video about the giant redwoods of California. A lovely and moving piece.

As science video makers, we can certainly aim high, and there are plenty of great videos we can use as inspiration!

And this isn’t the last you will hear about Science Online from me here as my next post here will talk about our keynote speaker.