Darwinopterus settles in at Lapworth Museum of Geology in Birmingham

A pterosaur acting as your museum guide – that is the elegant setting of a promotional video from Lapworth Museum of Geology at the University of Birmingham. “Trying new ways of filming is all part of the process of learning what your perspective is,” says the producer, Jack Richardson, PhD researcher at the department of Earth Sciences.

Originality in communication doesn’t have to be spectacular and self-boasting – even the smallest of quirks can set it apart from the competition. A perfect example is the video above which recently was published by the Lapworth Museum of Geology at the University of Birmingham (recently  nominated for Art Fund’s “Museum of the Year”). It also shows how an artistic idea can merge with a practical perspective – as soon as the viewer has accepted the setting (“we’re inside of the mind of an extinct animal”) it is perfectly natural to have a fly around the rooms to get the best possible overview.

Hi Jack, tell us a little about your interest for video as a communication tool!
Video is a very interesting and useful tool for science communication. It can convey so much information in very little time and also allows for creativity to inspire emotion and reach a wide ranging audience.

How did you get the idea that you should use the Darwinopterus (a kind of pterosaur) as the main character?
This project was put together by a group of very hard working and dedicated individuals. The Lapworth Museum of Geology relies on just a few staff so having a strong volunteer base really helps to branch out and bring together people from all backgrounds. Julian, who is a volunteer, is a very talented artist who created the incredibly realistic model for the museum. Matt and I are always keen to help and have experience using drone technology for research, naturally this led to all of us coming up with the idea of bringing this life-like model to life!

Who is your favourite video producer in the SciComm world?
I wouldn’t say I necessarily have a single favourite producer in the scicomm world. I would say that there are lots of amazingly talented individuals out there creating unique, informative and very creative content. I often find new contributors on YouTube, such as Simon Clark or Charlie McDonnell. I think there’s a lot of space for new and creative ways to share the stories that science has to tell.

Please give three pieces of advice to the early career science or tech person who wants to take up video as a communication tool! 

1) Get out there and start filming! it’s never too late and it’s by far the best way to learn.

2) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Trying new ways of filming is all part of the process of learning what your perspective is and sometimes this doesn’t work and you need to learn from that.

3) Be open about filming. People in academia might find it strange, but if you can be very open about why you are doing it and for what aim, people are much more receptive and willing to help.

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