How to make an awesome RocketHub video proposal

Hi, fellow SciFunders! Kelly Weinersmith here! I run a science blog over at Weinersmith, where I use videos from time to time to communicate with my audience. A key part of a successful crowdfunding campaign is a compelling two to three minute video. How exactly do you do that? I’m here to give you some background information about how create your very own RocketHub video proposal for the SciFund Challenge!

So, how the heck do I make a video?

Well, there are lots of different ways to go about this. I’ll tell you a bit about what has worked for me, and hopefully the community will chime in with hints about what has worked for them. My video editing experience has been completely Mac-based, but I’ll do my best to offer tips for Windows users as well. The links to tutorials are for Apple’s iMovie software, unless otherwise indicated.

Option #1: All eyes on you

Say you want to make a straight forward video in which you look directly into the camera and speak to your audience. If you take this no frills approach, it is very important that you come across as confident, excited, and that you don’t stumble over your words. Know what you’re going to say before you get the camera rolling, and practice saying it a few times too.

Lots of laptops have built in cameras that capture sufficiently high quality videos, and most digital cameras will also do the trick. If you can get your hands on a really high quality camera then that will increase the production quality of your video, but I think that most laptops and digital cameras will suffice.

Personally, I own a MacBook Pro and use the application Photo Booth to record my video, and then I edit the video in iMovie. Using Photo Booth is pretty straight forward, but iMovie takes a little getting used to. The PC equivalent to iMovie is Windows Live Movie Maker, but my PC friends with video editing experience prefer Adobe Premiere. This program is typically not free, but you may be able to get it for free or at a discounted rate if you are at an academic institution.

iMovie and Windows Live Movie Maker have informative websites with lots of useful tutorials. Here are two basics to get you started:

*Recording a video using iMovie (rather than Photo Booth)

*Editing the video (e.g., if you have two video clips in separate files that you want to join together into one video): iMovie and Windows Live Movie Maker

For more advanced iMovie editing tips, scroll down to the bottom of this page and browse the many available tutorials.

2) All eyes on your computer screen

Perhaps you’re not particularly excited about being front and center in your video. Fair enough. There is software available that allows you to record whatever is happening on your computer screen while also recording audio (provided you have a microphone either in your computer or attached to your computer). For example, here is a link to a power point lecture I recorded on my MacBook, which I then edited in iMovie. This video gives you an idea of what I’m talking about, but I would definitely polish this video and the presentation if I were using it to ask my audience for money. For example, I wasn’t particularly handy with iMovie at the time, and accidentally cropped off the top and bottom of the video (to avoid my cropping mistakes, check out this video).

There is lots of software available for recording your screen. I tried some of the free software available on Download.com, but found that most of the free stuff either limits the length of the videos that you can record or posts their logo somewhere on your videos. I personally shelled out the money to purchase Snapz ProX. You can download a free trial of this software, which may be all you need to make your RocketHub video. Here is a link to the tutorial for using Snapz ProX.  This is a Mac program, and unfortunately I don’t have suggestions for a good PC equivalent.

3) The best of both worlds

You can, of course, also use video editing software to splice together videos of yourself, your study system, and whatever else you want to include. In fact, this is the route I would suggest. I think an audience likes to see the face of the person they are supporting, and enjoys seeing the system too (e.g., seeing your study organism, your field site, your computer simulation in action, your equipment, etc.).

Examples

Below are some example videos from RocketHub. They become more technically complex as you move down the list, but I have provided tips for how to achieve a similar feel for your video:

Cacao Solar Roaster & Pedal Powered Winnower 

If you have something exciting (e.g., an exciting piece of equipment) that you can show off to your audience, then by all means show it off! This video seems to have required no editing.

Urban Bard’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” 

You could record something like this on a good digital camera, and could then edit the video in iMovie or Windows Live Movie Maker.  Here are some tips to make a movie like this:

a) If you have iMovie, you can remove some of the shakiness associated with walking while recording (tutorial here).

b) Add music using iMovie (tutorial here) or Windows Live Movie Maker (tutorial here) . It’s best to add music that is not copyrighted, or has a Creative Commons license. You can find copyright free music at various sites, including Incompetech.

c) Add text to the screen (tutorial here).

TV Guide Letter Theater

This video incorporated some of the tricks listed above, and relied heavily on humor to excite the audience. A video like this would require a lot of editing (as it regularly goes back and forth from the narrator to the two characters), but might not be so hard to do once you get the hang of the editing software you are using. A few tricks:

a) Add video effects (e.g., turn color video into black and white). Tutorial here.

b) Add text to the screen (tutorial here).

Before you make your video, head on over to RocketHub and watch some of the successful and unsuccessful video proposals. While the video proposals currently up on RocketHub are not science proposals, they will still give you some idea as to the video quality you should be hoping to attain and should provide some inspiration about how to excite your audience.

Looking forward to providing input during the upcoming video peer review, and to seeing your videos up on RocketHub!  Happy sciencing!! (that’s right, it’s a verb too!)

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