Science in Society

How do I plan the structure of a short video?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A short video typically includes interviews with researchers (and others) and b-roll footage (supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot).

If you are shooting informal footage with your cell phone in the field, always use the phone in landscape format by tilting it on the side:

  • It helps to conceptualise a video structure before jumping into more formal interview shoots to avoid a laborious video editing process later.
  • All shoots at specific venues need to be planned carefully to make sure the weather allows and entrance is possible. If the videographer is hired or researcher is flown in, your lack of planning may be costly.
  • To avoid a series of talking heads, the video interview footage is enriched with b-roll footage, e.g. footage of a Protea flower swaying in the wind while the researcher speaks about climate change affecting Cape fynbos. B-roll footage in the field shot in landscape mode on your phone is extremely valuable.
  • Short video productions need to be very tight (2-5 mins) to retain the attention of a popular audience. They can be super short 30s clips too, depending on the platform. Longer versions may entail creating programmes on topics, which is a specialist field for broadcast journalists and documentary film makers.

  • Enter with b-roll footage taken on Robben Island while the introductory voice or text speaks to a challenge (short text, done by voice-over artist, the researcher during the interview or by a community member affected by the issue)
  • The frame then shifts to the face of the speaker and interview with researcher who will talk about the HSRC work done.
  • Researcher explains the research findings ― frames alternate between researcher’s face, b-roll footage and infographics.
  • Frame shifts back to the researcher’s face who talks about what these findings mean and why they are important
  • Then shifts back to community member’s face who speaks about impact/collaboration ― we can include more b-roll
  • Addressing the conclusion and What next? Question: researcher’s voice with face then roll out with some b-roll footage and final HSRC/DSI branding frame.
  1. Who is my target audience?
  2. What do I want to share?
  3. What should my word count be?
  4. How do I structure an article?
  5. How can I use stories in my communication?
  6. I need help with language and style
  7. What about footnotes/bibliographies/references?
  8. Tick box
  9. Talking about the HSRC: Are we diluting our brand?
  10. Focus on the researcher: Conveying the So What? and writing a short biography
  11. How do I structure a PowerPoint presentation?
  12. How do I take a useful photograph?
  13. How do I plan the structure of a short video?
  14. Useful links on science communication
  15. I am no digital native and need help with these: ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​creating hyperlinks, tracking edits in Word, making edits in Pdf, sending large documents and folders via WeTransfer
  16. Visualise your communication for impact
  17. HSRC events: Requirements for drafting and sending invitations

This toolkit is designed to help HSRC researchers to communicate information about their research effectively to maximise impact.​​​​​​​