Skills Earth Sciences


As spatiotemporal geologic process often span thousands to millions of years and are not directly observable, an intuitive understanding of these abstract process can often be achieved through animation. For the deep sea or deep Earth, photos, videos, and simulations are required for us to access them visually. Informative videos and animations of the Earth facilitates the transfer of knowledge to more diverse audiences than traditional reporting. The creation of a global archive of Earth system animations can help to stimulate public and scientific interest in the Earth sciences, and bring greater appreciation of the field17.

You may find that an animation or video is the ideal visual element to help explain or understand a particular topic. There are some libraries for geological animation online (e.g., from USGS) but they are often quite topic specific and may not be adaptable to your needs. Though it is a significant undertaking, it is possible to create animations and videos that suit our own needs.

Some rules to keep in mind when making your own geoscience videos17:

  • Rule #1: Animations are complex. Creating a scientifically correct animation is a field in of itself. It is often outside the scope of a master’s student to create original animations. In this regard, we’d advise to focus on video and use animation sparingly.
  • Rule #2: High quality sound pays off. Good sound is critical to making videos and animation that have a high production quality. Recording good sound should be a high priority.
  • Rule #3: Keep them short and sweet. To maintain the attention of your audience, videos of three to five minutes fare best. If you’re aiming for longer videos, keep your intended audience in mind and consider which content is necessary.
  • Rule #4: Include closed captions. For the hearing-impaired this is essential, but closed captioning can also serve to help your audience follow the video even in noisy environments or in situations where they don’t want to disturb those around them.
  • Rule #5: Provide resources and give credit. The websites, textbooks, or contacted experts you used to research the video’s content may prove useful to your audience. List these references at the end of the video and be sure to thank those who helped in the video production.