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How a trip to the top of the world connects to your research

Practical video storytelling tips that apply to any science research

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''All these questions about MOSAiC and climate, and why I do what I do have further facilitated a lot of thinking about what it means to share information and tell stories. I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to do this kind of thinking and story-telling with you. Now, after a number of interviews, it's very clear to me that the stories I can tell are created in part by the person I am speaking with; the person asking the questions. I think your questions and process of inquiry made me more mindful of the information, and how to share it. Therefore, my MOSAiC experiences and the narratives I share are intertwined with your insights.'' Dr. Allison Fong, ECO Team Leader, MOSAiC Expedition

Hear Dr. Fong talk about the importance of visual storytelling at California Academy of Science's NightSchool...


(starts @ min 22)




One axiom of engaging with audiences is that “you have to meet them where they are in order to take them to another place”– meaning that it is educationally advisable to reach potential audiences with topics and themes that are already appealing to them. Once engaged, they can be retained with a fascinating storyline.

How can I use video in my academic and professional career?


  • Conferences/Presentations

  • Grants

  • Faculty reviews

  • Personal (or Lab) Website/Social Media/LinkedIn Content

  • Thesis/Dissertation defense

  • Publications

  • Education and Public Outreach 

  • Interactive websites about your research

  • Tutorials

What can moving image work and video do?


  • Illustrate key concepts and ideas through animation, motion graphics and archival footage 

  • Provide visual rhetoric for key points, conclusions and disciplinary debates 

  • Reveal interdisciplinary connections, patterns and processes

  • Create visual analogies 

  • Anchor concepts in real world examples and provide relatable context 

  • Compress and communicate large temporal and spatial scales 

  • Slow time down to reveal processes the human eye misses

Who is my audience? What is my intention for the video?

Ground It

Ground your work in visual context
Provide visual context for data, abstract ideas & conclusions
Context can be a backstory, a process/method of inquiry 
Where did these numbers, graphs, diagrams come from?
What does it take to get a number?
(What does it mean to humanize science, and do you want to?)

Imagine you're at a conference listening to a presentation on the microstructure of arctic sea ice crystals, and the only visual component of the presentation is this: 

Okay, well, maybe not the best example because that is super cool! But how much more engaged would you be if you knew the story behind the animated diagram...

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How about just one more!

Use What You Have

How to build a

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Form communicates as much as content.
Formal techniques can do so much heavy lifting.
Lighting, sound, color, editing, rhythm, composition, the experience of time...slowing it down or speeding it up.

Don't assume that you know what is interesting about your 
own work!

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Get Physical

Show the process, show yourself working
Science isn't just about thinking and analyzing but building and making, 
designing and testing, fixing and problem solving


Choices of scale are inherent to both scientific research and artistic representation. From a scientific perspective, scale is often concerned with knowability and comprehension.  Artists think about scale as it relates to the somatic experience in the viewer.  

How do the choices we make regarding scale limit and inform understanding?

How does the scale we choose to work within and the scale we use to present an idea influence the way the information is received, valued, and experienced?  

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