This is one segment of a series of posts about storytelling. These posts will focus on the use of storytelling as an effective means of communication, education, and marketing. Storytelling is a wonderful way to share complex ideas in a memorable manner.

Storytelling can utilize oral, visual, and written narratives. Video storytelling is extremely powerful because it engages multiple senses. The viewer can see the story and hear the surroundings. One advantage of using 3D graphics for storytelling is that intricate images and models can readily be shown and extensive description is not necessary. Beautiful visuals quickly capture and hold the audience’s attention without losing their interest. Movement and sound further engage the viewers. Another advantage of using videos is that viewers observe the same image, which allows them share and discuss the experience. In contrast, when someone listens to or reads a story, they imagine their own visuals. This means that people who listen to or read the same story can visualize the narrative or participants differently. Videos provide a means to precisely share the same information with many people through the course of time. More and more scientists are employing video storytelling to share their discoveries with the world. Scientific videos help to enlighten lay people to the wonders of the natural world and captivate them.

The need for both artistic and technical expertise is one drawback for using video storytelling, because most research scientists do not possess these skills. However, specialized companies such as Motionbirth provide these skills and enjoy helping scientists to create 3D stories depicting their research. An excellent example of scientific video storytelling can be found at: www.motionbirth.com. This beautiful video depicts the function of MTH1 and is the result of a partnership between Motionbirth and Helleday Laboratory.

To synthesize these videos, Motionbirth divides their process into 3 major stages: pre-production, production, and post-production. These stages encompass all the steps to create exceptional videos, from the initial collaboration to synthesize of the story board to the final screen-ready video. In the pre-production stage, scientists share their research story with the artists at Motionbirth and then the artists create a storyboard that pictorially shows the sequence of events (e.g., comic strip). This allows everyone to see the story’s participants and how these participants will interact. The artists and scientists can get a feel for the visuals and make changes to the story. Animation also begins in this stage. In the production stage, models of the story’s participants and the scenery are generated. Next, these models are fully animated and the virtual set is created around the story participants. Lighting and shading are adjusted. Finally, in the post-production stage, the 3D graphics and animation are polished and perfected (e.g., color correction). The video is now ready for viewing.

Cross disciplinary training is often encouraged for postdoctoral fellows and many of the greatest scientific discoveries are the result of interdisciplinary collaborations. Today, scientists should look outside the various natural sciences for new collaborators to enhance their research. Because most scientist lack the artistic and technical skills needed to create videos, collaborations with artist and animators could be highly valuable. Video storytelling is an excellent method of communication and allows one to share complex ideas with diverse audiences. Scientists can readily use videos at conferences to show their peers a compact and beautiful summary of their work. These videos could also be used to engage and excite lay people and investors. Exceptional 3D graphics, created by artists and animators, allow researchers to share intricate ideas easily and quickly.