Video at Sea: Telling the Stories of the International Ocean Discovery Program

Friday, 19 December 2014: 1:40 PM
Douglas Harned, FilmAxis.org, Cary, NC, United States and Matthew Wright, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Washington, DC, United States
Seagoing science expeditions offer an ideal opportunity for storytelling. While many disciplines involve fieldwork, few offer the adventure of spending two months at sea on a vessel hundreds of miles from shore with several dozen strangers from all over the world. As a medium, video is nearly ideal for telling these stories; it can capture the thrill of discovery, the agony of disappointment, the everyday details of life at sea, and everything in between.

At the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP, formerly the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program), we have used video as a storytelling medium for several years with great success. Over this timeframe, camera equipment and editing software have become cheaper and easier to use, while web sites such as YouTube and Vimeo have enabled sharing with just a few mouse clicks. When it comes to telling science stories with video, the barriers to entry have never been lower.

As such, we have experimented with many different approaches and a wide range of styles. On one end of the spectrum, live “ship-to-shore” broadcasts with school groups – conducted with an iPad and free videoconferencing software such as Skype and Zoom – enable curious minds to engage directly with scientists in real-time. We have also contracted with professional videographers and animators who offer the experience, skill, and equipment needed to produce polished clips of the highest caliber. Amateur videographers (including some scientists looking to make use of their free time on board) have shot and produced impressive shorts using little more than a phone camera.

In this talk, I will provide a brief overview of our efforts to connect with the public using video, including a look at how effective certain tactics are for connecting to specific audiences.