August 6th, 2012
DARE MIGHTY THINGS. You betcha. This video would be kinda hard to watch if the mission had failed. But it didn’t. And now it’s a thing of beauty. Complete beauty.
HOW TO COMMUNICATE BRILLIANTLY: EQUALLY GOOD NARRATIVE AND VISUAL ELEMENTS
People ask me for examples of effective communication in the science world. Most stuff is terrible, but this one is truly amazing. It’s from JPL, which is maybe not such a surprise as they have had a long tradition of producing excellent visuals for their projects, but this one is more than just a bunch of cool visuals. It’s as good narratively as it is visually, which is rare.
I like web videos to be about 2 minutes in length. They need to be really good to justify much longer than that. This one is 5 minutes, and feels absolutely perfect.
It speaks for itself. Every element of production is wonderfully coordinated — the pacing of the editing, the graphics, the color palette, the close-ups of the scientists faces — even the sense of urgency in their “performances” — and they must be performances — the filmmakers must have coached them to have gotten such consistency in their tone.
And of course most powerful and effective (and important) of all is the music scoring — building an increasing sense of danger and tension.
Best of all is the finish, which is perfectly executed — like a triple body spin, flawlessly landed at the end of an Olympic gymnastic routine — they describe the last bit of the probe landing, finish on a shot of the rover on the martian surface, then exit with the challenge, “Dare Mighty Things.” Which they truly have. And succeeded.
This is a piece of filmmaking/communication at the same level of achievement as what the scientists have done in landing the probe.
It’s a role model for other science organizations. Judges Score: A perfect “10”. If we ever had a video like this submitted to our S Factor Panels we’d have nothing to say, we would just be humbled.