We're a little crazy, about science!

Make a SciComm video, the hardest way possible!

Writing, and filming, and edits… OH MY! I’ve done it, I’ve committed to making this science communication video (SciComm for short, if anyone was wondering about the title). Yesterday I went into the lab to do some filming and realized that I was about to make a great video, or at least I like to think so. But more importantly I was going to do it the hardest and most convoluted way possible. Why? Well, why the heck not?

Yesterday I introduced my big to-do list. The main thing that got tossed on the giant pile of stuff I need to do is film an outreach video for the lab I work in, the main school one, not the hospital one. I don’t like doing anything halfway so I decided to make it as professional as I possibly could. I borrowed a tripod from my Co-PI’s lab, I planned out the video, I planned out my do it yourself at home activity, and I even wrote a nice script to go along with it all. Then I set off filming and realized I was making this far more complicated than I needed to, but I’m doing it anyway damn it!

At this point you’re probably saying to yourself, “this doesn’t seem that complicated so far.” And you would be correct, it’s the way I planned on filming that makes this outrageously complex. Have you ever seen an old silent movie or even a parody of a silent movie? Normally the person says something, you don’t hear it, then a card appears with the line the actor was saying. Well in my case, we’re doing something similar. The audio is the problem you see.

I didn’t have a way to record good audio. Despite everything I tried I couldn’t do it so I finally said screw it, we can work around this limitation by dubbing over it in post. I have a nice stationary microphone I used for another video project I did, so I have the ability to record good audio, just not at the same time I’m recording the video. Now dubbing over me speaking would be ludicrously difficult. It would probably end up looking like any movie that has been redubbed in english. The mouth and the words wouldn’t sync and really that would be super distracting to the viewer! Never fear, I’m a problem solver of the top degree! (hint: I’m really not)

Instead of talking during my videos I decided it made more sense to not even bother trying to talk at all. That solves the problem of the overdubbing and will ideally make everything less distracting. I would just narrate what was going on in the film! Genius! Except there’s a timing issue. So I tried to record a few shots of every scene I needed for this ~10 minute video of our lab and my “do it at home” demo project. That way I could dub over it with either a short narration or a long narration without having to rush through it all. Okay so we’ve already added like 20 layers of complex to this thing, but we’re good… right?

Let’s just make this even more complex while we’re at it. To make matters worse I filmed the videos before I recorded the audio. The smart thing to do would have been to get the audio perfect and mimic it as I was playing it in the background of my recording. THAT would’ve made life easier. Instead I now have to record audio to fit the video I shot. Not the end of the world, but now I need to make sure to hit all the talking points I need to hit without going over the time of the film. More importantly the motions I make or the reactions I have on the film need to be tied to the audio somehow.

Basically this turned out to be one giant mess. It will get done and I will make the best video I can, but oh man do I hate myself right now. This has been one of those, you don’t know the best way to do it until you’re half way done, type things and frankly I wish it wasn’t. I tried my best to plan for everything and work out what needed to happen, you just don’t know how it will work out until you start doing it. It will work out in the end I’m sure, I just need to do a bit (a lot) more work before I get the videos to a place where I’m happy with how it all turned out. The last time I had to narrate something it took me hours to get the audio recorded before I was okay with using it, that was basically just slides, this is actual video so I can only imagine how long this will take me.

Thus concludes my introduction on how to make a SciComm video as complicated as possible. Hopefully you’ve learned a valuable lesson on how to overthink your video projects. Don’t worry you too can make your video as complicated as possible. Try it and let me know how it goes!*

*Please don’t do this, it’s not fun.

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