#SciFund Challenge Class

Video storytelling made easy for scientists

Part 9: Planning Your Shoot

With the script for your video in hand, you can more easily make decisions on what images (video or still photographs) you want to illustrate that message. Afterall, a great script with no engaging visuals by itself belongs on the radio or a podcast. What your audience sees in your video can say as much about your message as what they hear. Making sure the content of your visuals tells the right story is the essence of shooting good video.

It’s useful make a checklist of all the visuals you would ideally like in your video so you can check them off as you get them. Here are some things to think about:

  • Get creative about how to visualize ideas in your story arc – not everything can be captured on video. Consider photographs, screencasts, drawings, animation, props, and analogies.
  • Think about if you’re going to include yourself in your video, or just your voice, or not at all.
  • Think about cutaways and b-roll that we talked about in week zero, to visually illustrate key points or ideas.

On the worksheet, make a list of potential shots under each section. We have gone through this exercise for our own snowy plover video. Take a look at what we came up with as an example of what this all should look like on the page:

Script: Step 3

Now is the time to dream big in terms of visuals. Think of the best thing that could visualize what you are saying in your script at that point and write it down. Let limitations like time, money, resources and geographical location reign you in later. If you put your dreams to paper now, you are more likely to find creative solutions to those limitations later. For each section, list more shots than you might need. When we get to editing, things come up that you haven’t foreseen and having some extra footage in your back pocket can be really handy.

Coming up with the script for the snowy plover video reminded us of one really important thing about video: Not everything has to be said, especially if your images and other audio cues are already saying it for you. In the part of the script where we say “they really mess with the birds” we can add shots that illustrate the impacts that un-leashed dogs have without having to spend the time saying “dogs can disturb birds from the nests and make them take flight” . We have footage of the birds taking flight and being disturbed off the nest so we can let the images do the talking.

This is the Topic section of our video, using the same script as we showed earlier in these instructions. Take a look at the rough cut of that section: