Writing for videos and podcasts has taught me an important lesson: Compared to your eyes, your ears aren’t the brightest sensory organs in the room. I’m no neuroscientist, but if you look at the amount of grey matter dedicated to making sense of what we see versus what we hear, it’s apparent that we’ve evolved to rely on our eyes more than our ears.


Primary auditory cortex, featured in magenta. (Source:

Continue reading Your Ears Are Stupid: My Top Ten Tips When Writing for the Ear

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Horsfield’s tarsier on

I had planned to blog about crocodiles this week and post an accompanying video. But unfortunately my video editing program developed a mind of its own just before the car showed up to transport me to the airport and back to my hometown of Seattle for the holidays. Ah, techmology [sic]!

So I started looking for something else to write about and came across the website.  ARKive is an initiative of  the  UK-based Wildscreen organization, whose mission is “to promote the public understanding and appreciation of the world’s biodiversity, and the need for its conservation, through the power of wildlife imagery.”

Living in the U.S., I’d never heard of ARKive  before, even though it’s been around since the early 2000s. It was launched by legendary broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and the basic idea is to collect and consolidate high-quality video and images of endangered species into a massive database. The goal is to “create a unique audio-visual record of life on Earth, prioritising those species at most risk of extinction.”

Continue reading ‘Tis the season for ARKiving

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The winners of this year’s AAAS Kavli science journalism awards were announced today, which included four awards for stand-out science video. And the winners are (drum roll please!)…


“Going Up: Sea Level Rise in San Francisco Bay” KQED QUEST/Climate Watch (San Francisco)

A look at what climate change means for the San Francisco Bay Area. Somehow making climate change local makes it real. An artfully-produced piece with beautiful cinematography and flawless editing. The only place I ‘glazed’ was the section about government agencies that manage coastlines around the Bay Area. This obviously isn’t of much interest to those of us that live elsewhere, but then again, we aren’t the target audience.


“Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers” PBS NOVA Online

Each profile features a fun little peek into the scientist’s personality, a ten-question Q & A, an explanation of their work and an thirty-second ‘elevator speech’. This formula works perfectly for the web because the viewer can choose how much they want to watch.

These profiles in particular clinched the award:

Jean Berko Gleason: Psycholinguist

Andre Fenton: Neurobiologist

 Steffie Tomson: Synesthesia Researcher

IN-DEPTH REPORTING (an umbrella category that covers anything over 20 minutes)

“Death of a Mars Rover” National Geographic Channel

Based on the synopsis in the AAAS press release this sounds like the plot line to the Disney movie WALL-E transposed onto a Mars mission. But that’s about all the info I can find on it. The doc doesn’t turn up in search, it’s not listed in IMBD, nor is it available on Netflix. It might be very good, but I guess those of us without a subscription to National Geographic Channel will never know.

“Japan’s Killer Quake” WGBH/NOVA

I missed this when it aired but remember being amazed when I saw the promos for it running only two weeks after the tsunami hit Japan last spring. The team at NOVA must have put it into high gear to pull this together in such a short time frame.  Fortunately, the entire episode is available on-line (as are all NOVA episodes–go public broadcasting!)

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and here’s to hoping I’ll see my name somewhere on that list in years to come.

Image via

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Here is a fun and informative video by scientist-filmmakers Neil Losin and Dan Nappen on the bite of the crested anole–a lizard native to Puerto Rico which has invaded South Florida. Neil is researching how the transplanted anole has adapted to its new environment by measuring its bite force, an indicator of food preference and level of competition with other lizards. The video has a great sound track and engages us with simple motion graphics that help elucidate where the research is taking place and how the Florida anole compares to its island-inhabiting progenitors. You can watch more of Neil and Dan’s videos on the website of their production company Day’s Edge Productions.

(Thanks to Bora Zikovic @BoraZ for the tip.)

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Image: hitthatswitch/Flickr

Image: hitthatswitch/Flickr

Ever wondered what makes a video go viral? As an online science video producer I’m constantly mulling over this question, trying to figure out the right formula of content and style to create a popular video.

Some students of YouTube claim that viral videos have common characteristics.  Kevin Nalty, a professional marketer and “weblebrity” with over 187 million views on YouTube, thinks he has the formula at least partially figured out. He writes in his  book “Beyond Viral: How to attract customers, promote your brand and make money with online video” that viral videos tend to include these types of content:

Continue reading How to make a viral science video

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