This semester, the Graduate Student Association is excited to announce it is hosting a Science Sketches Competition! This contest is open to ALL graduate students to create a 2 minute video giving a summary of their project or work in their lab (for examples: https://www.sciencesketches.org).
Videos must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59 pm on April 9th, and the student body will vote on their favorite videos during the week of April 12th. The top three videos will receive prizes from the graduate school.
Science Sketches Contest Guidelines
Presented by UT Health San Antonio Graduate Student Association
- Create a 2-minute video of your research
- Submit your completed video to Katie Lillis (email@example.com) by 11:59 pm on April 9th, 2021.
- Vote on your favorite videos April 12th-April 15th!
- The students with the top three videos will be announced on April 16th and awarded prizes by the Graduate School.
How to Create Your Video
Guidelines adapted from sciencesketches.org. Visit their website for additional resources and examples.
Step 1: Decide on your story and audience
- For example, you could:
- Describe a very general science concept or classic experiment for the public
- Describe your own project or an ongoing area of research in your lab
- Make a video abstract for your recent publication
Step 2: Write the Script
- Identify the take-home message you want to convey to the audience and then decide what supporting information is essential to get your main point across.
- A two-minute script is only ~300 words, so make every word and sentence count. Write a draft of the script and get input and feedback from colleagues and friends.
- Simplify your language and avoid jargon. Try to minimize the number of words that these online tools define as complex and rewrite your script to explain things more simply: http://scienceandpublic.com/ and https://www.online-utility.org/english/simple_basic_helper.jsp
- Who is your audience? If it’s the public, check if a non-scientist friend or family member can understand your main point. If it’s science journalists or other scientists, check that someone outside your field gets it.
- Time yourself reading the script to make sure that it only takes 2 minutes.
- Continue to edit and revise until you have a final version that fits the above criteria.
Step 3: Create illustrations
- Design some illustrations that will go along with your script. The images don’t have to be complex, and you don’t have to be a great artist. You can also write out key words and phrases that you want to emphasize.
- Come up with something for everything you say in the script. Sentences without an accompanying illustration or written keyword will feel like dead space when editing the video later.
- You will have plenty of time to draw your images clearly and write key phrases legibly because the video will be sped up to match the audio, so don’t worry about how long it may take to draw something.
- Create a “storyboard” of your images and words on A4 (or 8 ½ x 11”) paper to figure out how many sheets you will need and the best layout for each one. Keep in mind that your piece of paper will later be the size of a YouTube screen, so your words and illustrations should be large enough that they are still readable on a smartphone.
- Use thick markers instead of fine-point pens to make sure your writing is visible.
- Make use of different colored markers to highlight your message and tie recurring objects or themes together.
***Note: We will also accept videos made using PowerPoint slides. We ask that you limit this presentation to 3 slides max if you choose to use slides instead of sketches.
Step 4: Record the audio
- Find a quiet space free from background noises. If you are recording in a lab, be especially aware of humming noises made by equipment and high-pitched noises coming from air vents.
- Also be aware of noises you might unconsciously make while recording: tapping fingers on tables or feet on the floor, rustling or moving the paper for your script, etc. Try to eliminate all of these noises.
- You can record your audio using something as simple as a smartphone. We usually use the iPhone Voice Memo app.
- Email the file to yourself.
Step 5: Record the video
- Find a well-lit room and prepare your recording space.
- Set up a video camera or smartphone to point straight down at a sheet of paper. For a video camera, we recommend using a tripod. For a smartphone, you can get creative with lab supplies – a lab clamp stand works really well for this purpose! (see Appendix 2 for additional example set-up photos)
- Be aware of lighting and shadows as you set up your camera and stand.
- Tape down a background piece of paper and frame your shot.
- Now you just need to hit record and draw your images! We suggest going through the script or audio line-by-line as you draw to make sure everything is drawn in exactly the same order that you say it.
Step 6: Edit the video using your favorite software
- We now have a 2-minute video tutorial for the editing process: http://www.sciencesketches.org/single-post/2017/07/20/How-to-edit-your-ScienceSketch-with-iMovie
- Tip: if you want to add free background music, check out http://freemusicarchive.org/
- Import the video and audio files into your editing software. We use iMovie, and we have heard good things about Windows Movie Maker for PCs.
- Rotate all video clips as needed and mute them. If necessary, crop and white balance your source clips at this step as well, before you start chopping up the footage.
- Now you just need to speed up the video to match the audio. This requires strategically chopping the footage up so that you can manipulate the speed of small sections independently.
- Some helpful editing tools in iMovie include (under Modify in the menu bar):
- Split Clip (cmd B)
- Slow Motion
- Fast Forward
- Add Freeze Frame
- Export your movie when it is finished. File > Share > File…
Step 7: Submit your video!
- Send an email with your video to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You will receive a confirmation email once the video is received.
- Videos will be available through the voting form that will be distributed April 12th and available through April 15th.
- Winners will be announced on April 16th.
- If you are interested, we encourage you to also submit your video to email@example.com. This organization will publish videos on their YouTube channel, so be sure to check them out!