Next stop Hollywood?

Picture this! Maarten gives advice to Silke, Dimitar and Thorben. Photo: Maike Nicolai, GEOMAR

“Klimawandelforschung am GEOMAR” – why not aim high in your very first project? “Das Leuchten der Korallen” – let’s start off with something really magic! Dive into the deep ocean with the famous deep-sea crawler “VIATOR”. Or find out what excites marine geologists and what a fun cruise and a scientific cruise have in common (and what not). Five short films resulted from a three-day video workshop held last week by the Integrated School of Ocean Sciences (ISOS) and GEOMAR.

For the workshop, we managed to lure the marine biologist and filmmaker Maarten van Rouveroy to Kiel. Maarten currently works as Head of Video Production at Greenpeace International in Amsterdam and has produced a number of films about scientific topics (check for example “Testing the Waters”).

But what exactly is a topic? And, even more important, what’s a story? This is what we discussed at the very beginning of our three-day workshop. A topic alone does not make a good film – a story has to be told about it. And a good story needs a protagonist and some additional characters. “People like watching people”, Maarten stressed to my great joy. A basic truth, sometimes difficult to follow in a scientific environment…

Defining their stories was surprisingly easy for our 15 participants. After a long day of theoretical instructions, they scripted their debut works while Maarten and I ran back and forth to make sure cameras, microphones and tripods fit together and recorded in the correct mode.

Interestingly, every group found a way to start shooting outside the next day – the weather was just too appealing. Visiting the groups one after another, I did not just get a sunburn, but also quite impressed about how cleverly our camera people dealt with their equipment. With very little experience, they got some really good shots into the can.

The “Klimawandelforschung” feature for example included some CSI-inspired lab shots and the “cruise scientists” managed to capture two GEOMAR ships very nicely. Armin tried the tiger move while Peter talked his virtual audience easily through their little coral movie. The VIATOR team portrayed the crawler from all sides, flew in a true star of marine sciences and proved themselves as interview talents. Wow!

ISOS-GEOMAR video workshop.

Alex and Kristin edit their film about scientific and fun cruises. Photo: Inga Koszalka, GEOMAR

The editing session on day three was an eye-opener especially concerning b-roll pictures. Oh it’s that much additional material you need…! Also, everybody had to learn one’s lesson about different editing programmes, operating systems, file formats and compressions. Mhm, that’s part of the job, I’m afraid…

But luckily, scientists don’t lose courage because of technical issues. Some work would have to be done until we might consider publishing our short films – but trust me: We had had lots of fun both making and watching them. So it is possible to involve scientists even deeper in public outreach and communication. More of this, please!

GEOMAR ISOS Video Workshop

Olaf in focus: Dimitar, Thorben and Silke knew how to get a real star in front of their camera. Photo: Maike Nicolai, GEOMAR