Making videos is fun, but if it’s your first time, it’s nice to have some help from friends or colleagues. The aim of this guide (click here for printable version) is to help you produce a short science video in a few simple steps:
Step 1: Choosing your topic
We’ve selected eight different STEM themes for you to choose from below:
- Climate Action!
- Healing the Body, in association with CÚRAM
- How Things Work
- Myths Busted!
- Our Amazing Planet
- Science and Me
- Science Heroes
- Science in Space
Discuss the topics with the group or individual to see what sparks some interest. Maybe you’ve always wanted to find out how DNA is used to solve crimes, why we crave foods that are not healthy for us, or who discovered penicillin. Perhaps you know someone whose life has been changed by advances in science, technology or medicine or somebody working in those areas.
Any aspect of the competition topics may be communicated by your video – so be creative and original! Don’t try to cover too much! Use this handy ReelLIFE SCIENCE brainstorm sheet to explore your chosen topic to find a manageable subject for your video. You only have 3 minutes to communicate a topic, so perhaps pick one aspect of the chosen topic and tell your story!
Our friends in the CÚRAM SFI Research Centre have provided additional information about their research into Medical Devices, which may inspire you to explore these particular topics.
Step 2: Choosing your Style
Next, you’ll want to decide how your video will look and feel. Will it be filmed or animated? Humorous or more serious? Will it take the form of a demonstration, an interview or even a song? What’s the best way of getting the information across to the viewer in a memorable way?
Remember you have the advantage of using a visual medium, so feel free to dress up, draw, demonstrate, animate, sing, play, experiment, interview, visit a local site, build, recruit friends, family or whatever you need to tell your story. Using a storyboard can be a great idea, to plan what will be seen at all stages of the film.
Above is a highlights reel of videos produced for ReelLIFE SCIENCE over the past few years, to give you an indication of the different styles and approaches taken by filmmakers. You can also view full-length winning videos from previous years on our 2013-2018 page, while a more extensive range of videos are available to view in our Video Library.
Step 3: Making your Video
Film the video using whatever device you are most comfortable with, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or camera. Just make sure you film it in landscape (sideways) orientation, rather than portrait, so it looks well on the big screen.
Top 5 Tips for Filming
- Ensure plenty of storage and battery power before starting.
- Turn on gridlines when filming to frame your scene correctly.
- Zoom with your legs, i.e. move towards your subject.
- Avoid distracting backgrounds.
- Clean your lens.
You can also submit an animated video. There are lots of free animation software packages online, or you could use stop-motion techniques to animate modelling clay, toys, puppets or images/drawings. If you are using stop-motion, a tripod is invaluable to keep your device steady. We don’t recommend the use of slideshow-type videos, where images are shown with a voiceover, as we favour original video footage to communicate a topic.
Getting the sound right can be one of the most challenging parts of film-making.
Sound quality is crucial to a good video, and viewers are more likely to forgive poor image quality over audio quality. Audio quality can often be poor if filming outdoors, particularly on windy days (use an external microphone if possible), and can negatively impact otherwise excellent video footage. If you think the sound quality is poor or inaudible, consider recording a separate voiceover indoors using your video camera or phone voice recorder and adding it to the video afterwards.
Videos can be made in English, Irish or even using Sign Language, although you may wish to consider including English subtitles during editing to appeal to a wider audience, particularly internationally.
If you are using a tablet or smartphone, you can simply use its video editing software or download an app to join your clips together, add images, subtitles, music, sound effects, a voiceover or credits. If you use a camcorder or digital camera, you will need to upload your video to a computer, which will come with its own editing software or you can search online for a free software package to use.
The fantastic DigitalStories.ie website curated by Michael McNamara, Digital Technologies Team Leader with PDST, is an excellent resource for expert and beginner filmmakers, with reviews of free and paid-for apps and websites for filming, editing, animating and finding copyright free music and sounds.
Make sure everything in the video has been created by you!
You cannot use any copyrighted material in your film without permission, such as video clips (TV, movies, online videos), images, music, sound recordings, etc. When you upload your finished video to YouTube for submission to ReelLIFE SCIENCE, your audio track may be removed, if copyrighted material is detected by it’s software. For more on YouTube’s Copyright policy, read here. Thankfully, YouTube have a large catalogue of free music and sound effects for your video for you to download and use.
Remember to keep the video length between one and three minutes as longer videos will be penalised during judging. This is where the use of a storyboard in the planning phase can really help!
Get parental consent for any children identified, appearing or participating in the video, ensuring that parents or guardians are fully aware of the nature of the competition, and the subsequent use and display (including online and at public screenings) of the video entries by ReelLIFE SCIENCE, NUI Galway, our partners and potentially the media and general public (e.g. sharing the videos via Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
Step 4: Submitting your Video
To submit your video to ReelLIFE SCIENCE, you will need to upload it to YouTube and send us the link via our online Application Form (form for schools; form for groups/clubs) before the submission deadline of October 18th 2019. You can read about ReelLIFE SCIENCE’s Data Protection Policy here. Multiple videos can be submitted by schools and groups, but each must be uploaded individually.
It is important to note that Video Privacy Settings should be set to ‘Public’ so your video can be viewed by our judges and the general public. You can find lots of information in the YouTube Help Centre about privacy settings, how to upload videos, supported file formats, etc. After judging, you are free to remove your video from YouTube if you wish.
Click the ‘Parental Consent received‘ tickbox, to acknowledge that consent has been received for all necessary participants, as outlined above. Completed consent forms do not need to be submitted to ReelLIFE SCIENCE, but to complete the application process you must acknowledge that, where required, they have been completed and received.
Click the ‘Agree to Terms & Conditions‘ tickbox, to acknowledge that you have read and agree to the competition Terms and Conditions.
After you click submit, you should receive an acknowledgement message sent to the email address you have provided. After the competition, all participants will receive a Certificate of Participation to download and print.