Video Class 2016 Week Zero: how to think about making a video

Video Class 2016 Week Zero: how to think about making a video

Welcome to SciFund Challenge Video Class for Scientists, 2016!

I’m really excited to meet you and hear the stories you want to tell about your science! If you haven’t done so already, then please make sure you have ordered all of the items listed on our recommended equipment list and have them in your possession before the official start of the class on 05.15.2016. 

This is a pre-class Week Zero for our video course. Please have a look at this stuff before the official start of the class. Here’s the plan for Week Zero: how to think about making a video.

  1. Security announcement
  2. Important Google+ instructions (follow these steps to avoid being deluged by Google+ notifications)
  3. What is Week Zero? What’s the point?
  4. Your instructions for Week Zero.

With that, on with the show!


On April 15th Internet security blog Trend Micro posted an urgent call to action, calling on all Windows users to uninstall QuickTime for Windows NOW. You can read the article here, but the long and short of it is that Apple is no longer supporting QT for Windows and therefore, the software is left wide open to numerous security threats.

The Bad News – The editing software that we had previously recommended for Windows users to participate in this 2016 class (Davinci Resolve), requires QT for Windows in order to be installed and to run on Windows. If you haven’t already done so, please uninstall QT for Windows and Davinci Resolve now. Mac users, you don’t have to do anything. Apple is continuing their support for QT on Mac OS.

The Good News –  We have found another piece of editing software called HitFilm 4 Express which looks more than capable for our needs, it isn’t quite so power hungry as Davinci Resolve, so is actually more appropriate for our class, and like Resolve, works on both Windows and Macs. 

So, here’s the list of things to do, if you are affected by this.
1. Immediately uninstall QuickTime (only if you are on a Windows machine – again Mac users are unaffected). Here are instructions from Apple
2. Uninstall DaVinci Resolve.
3. Install HitFilm 4 Express. The install process will make it seem like it is required to share your love of HitFilm 4 Express on social media: you can 100% skip all of that.
4. So that we can serve you as best we can, we are trying to keep track of who is using which video editing program. If you were initially planning on using DaVinci Resolve but are now switching, please let us know through this form which will take you 5 seconds to fill out.

With that out of the way, on with the scheduled program…


By default, Google+ will send you a deluge of notifications by email. You will want to trim the list of notifications so that you get only the critical stuff. Just to emphasize, if you don’t do this, your email inbox will be flooded with notifications. We put together a short video describing how to keep out the unnecessary notifications, which is below:


Please go through this material before the class officially starts.

In the announcement for the class, we said that the class would be five weeks long, with each week covering a different subject. So why have an extra pre-class Week Zero? It is a common misconception that the secret to a good video is flashy effects and pretty images. Actually what makes a great video is a great story. That’s why the focus of this class is really on storytelling. But it’s hard to tell a good video story if you are struggling with the basic mechanics of creating a video.

So, that’s what Week Zero is all about – giving you a simple introduction to how to think about the mechanics of video production. I am introducing themes for this Week that all of us will be coming back to later in the course.

The structure of Week Zero is very different than the rest of the class, which is highly collaborative between class participants. In contrast, you’ll be doing Week Zero on your own (but the instructors are still here to help you! Elliot Lowndes:, Jai Ranganathan:

The only equipment you’ll need for this week is the computer you are using for video editing and your video editing software (either HitFilm Express or iMovie).


A video tells a linear visual story, one video clip shown after another. When I plan a video I begin to visualize what I want the story to look like in my head first. It’s like I’m arranging a jumbled set of images onto a timeline in my brain. This is something that comes easily to me because I’ve made videos before, but it’s not necessarily intuitive. This Week Zero exercise is an experiment to see if we can help you begin to visualize your own videos in this way, and get used to using the software. We think if you can first experience how clips are arranged on a timeline on the computer (turning a jumbled group of moving images into a linear story) you will also be able to start visualizing your story in your head as you plan your own video.

Your task for Week Zero is to create a sequence from the video clips we provide.  This exercise will take ~3 hours and will introduce you to the software as well as helping you plan your own story when the class starts.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Install your editing software. (refer to our signup instructions for recommended editing software that you will need to download to participate in this class).
  2. Download the clips from my Google photos album (click the link, download the clips to your computer).
  3. Import the clips into your editing program (watch my video above to learn how to import clips).
  4. Watch a short tutorial I made on basic editing tools.

Here’s my tutorial for iMovie:

Here’s my tutorial for HitFilm Express:

  1. Based on what you have seen in the tutorials, use the clips to make a sequence that tells a visual story.
  2. In the instructions for Week One, I will post a video showcasing how I went about this exercise with the same clips and tools.
  3. Unlike the assignments for the rest of the class, you don’t need to upload your final product to the Google+ page for the class – this video is just for you. In fact we won’t be doing any formal interaction at all for Week Zero (nothing on the Google+ page for the class or Hangouts). However, if you are familiar with Google+, feel free to post any thoughts you may have to the page for the class. If you aren’t familiar with Google+, don’t worry! We’ll be providing precise instructions how to use Google+ in the instructions for Week One.
  4. Additionally, we would love for you to share your thoughts on Week Zero when the Week One Hangouts start up. Again, we’re not asking you to share this video with the rest of class (though you are welcome to do so), but we would like to know what you learned.

Good luck and we will see soon for Week One of the Scifund Challenge Video Training Class for Scientists 2016. Any problems? Please do get in touch (Elliot:; Jai: