April 26th, 2010
I know what you’re thinking — you are DYING to see a video about … science camp. Right? More than any other subject in the world. You’re just thinking, “Damn, I need to see me one of them science camp promo films!”
Actually, if you think that’s the last topic in the world you want to see a video about then you have something in common with our editor, Ryan Mitchell, since that’s what he felt when I asked him to view this video about a science camp in New Zealand. And yet … Ryan became an instant fan. Same with Ty Carlisle. Same with me (“the Randy of the group” to draw on the anecdote in my book).
On this website you hear me critiquing the making of films and videos a lot, as well as in my book (a book with the word “DON’T” in the title of every main chapter!). So it’s fair to ask from time to time, “Hey smart guy, why don’t you show us a few examples of what a good video should look like.” Well, here you go — sent to me last week from Steve Ting, a 25 year old filmmaker in New Zealand. He put together this 5 minute video for a science camp for kids in Otago, New Zealand. Check it out.
HANDS ON SCIENCE: I’m an instant fan of The King Cannons
So, why are we so impressed? First off, the video has a solid narrative arc to it — you get a clear feeling of a beginning, middle, and end (btw, I just last night went to a screening of an environmental documentary that had about 25 endings — one sound bite after another that felt like, “great, perfect ending!” but then it wouldn’t stop — the movie that wouldn’t die!).
It has a lively opening montage (GREAT music cue) to get things started, punctuated by the first dialogue, then has a middle with the feeling of several chapters (ocean science, physics, etc.), then you get a clear feeling around 4 minutes that we’re wrapping things up. And it’s wonderful how the final music cue (“Taking my teenage dreams away, all they want is my life and my money!”) kicks momentum into the piece to get us out with energy.
The pacing of the editing is excellent, the music scoring (which is ESSENTIAL in this sort of piece) kicks ass, there’s a little bit of substance with the attempted experiment to break glass (but not so much as to bog things down). And lots of great shots throughout — clearly Steve has a keen “eye”. I would have to think this is a useful promotional tool for their science camp.
It’s a little hard to pinpoint why I really like this particular exercise in science nerdery, versus other videos I get sent. A lot of people sent me the LHC rap video a couple years ago, which I thought was mostly dorky and even irritating. On the other hand, the “Cruise, Cruise Baby” parody was apt and funny, as well as the “You Can Have What Invert You Want” video (drags a bit, but the writing is brilliant … if you’re trained as an invertebrate zoologist, like some of us).
But Steve’s video here is in a different class — with emphasis on the word “class,” which is what it has plenty of. It’s simple, uplifting, well made, and I guess the best thing about it is that it’s so “honest” that there’s a sort of beauty to the kids admitting they’re nerds. Every science camp should dream of having such a video.
Bottom line: Six thumbs up from us, which is something you’ll almost never see. Really nice job, Steve.