We’re pleased to announce our next recipient of the RealPlayer Video Visionary Award – Humanitarian, which recognizes non-profit organizations that use video in innovative and creative ways to help share their message, is Earthwatch. The organization is dedicated to helping people around the world understand what it takes to create a sustainable environment.
One of the key ways the organization accomplishes this is by getting people involved in scientific field research and education by inviting them to join an Earthwatch Research Expedition. Whether you’re interested in climate change, archaeology, or wildlife, the organization provides an opportunity to work alongside professional scientists around the world to help solve environmental challenges.
EARTHWATCH VIDEOS FROM THE FIELD
Many of Earthwatch’s online video collection include footage taken in the field often taken by expedition members. When watching videos created from this footage it’s easy to feel like you’re with them in the field or could be. It reminds us that the earth is a gift and that all of us can help nurture and take care of the planet. You don’t need to be a scientist to affect change, just have a desire to help. If you also happen to have an adventurous spirit an expedition might be right up your alley.
VIDEO VISIONARY INTERVIEW WITH EARTHWATCH
We caught up with Rob Stringer, Media and Communications Officer for International Environmental and Conservation Charity at Earthwatch, to learn more about the organization and how the use of video helps spread its message. What follows is our interview with the Video Visionary Award – Humanitarian recipient:
RealPlayer (RP): How long has Earthwatch been producing videos?
Rob Stringer (RS): Longer than I could guess, probably! We’ve got an amazing archive full of slides, photos and footage that could date back to any time since Earthwatch was set up in 1971, documenting literally hundreds of projects across the world. You could probably spend several weeks getting lost among the images of distant lands, amazing animals and ‘70s hairstyles.
RP: What is the effect you want to achieve by combining graphics and live footage in a single video?
RS: Being a charity, we don’t have the resources to available to travel around and collect ideal material from all of our many projects (imagine what a great job that would be). Instead, we often rely on our fantastic volunteers who send us their snapshots and videos. We think this also helps show people a first-hand picture of an expedition experience.
By mixing live footage with still graphics, we can show the active nature of our expeditions. We can also capture those fantastic moments of engagement when something “clicks” in the volunteer’s brain, and the research and educational perspective really comes together for them.
RP: What are some of the challenges the video team faces when they go into the field?
RS: The beauty of our projects is that you can get up close to amazing species and habitats, knowing that you’re there to help – not just to look. One challenge is presenting this experience in the right way. We don’t want to give the impression that you can just wander up to an animal and pick it up, for instance. When there is interaction with a species, it’s for research reasons only – for instance weighing, or tagging, or taking blood samples – and the animal is released again unharmed. We always need to make sure that people understand this in our videos and images.
RP: What does using split screens in many of the videos on your site accomplish?
RS: Simply, it’s a great way to show a diversity of activities, experiences, and landscapes. For instance, while some volunteer teams are monitoring climate change in the Arctic, others are helping ease human-animal conflict in South Africa.
RP: How has video helped you spread the word about the Earthwatch institute?
RS: Video is a fantastic way of demonstrating the key part of our mission: Action. We don’t just talk about environmental issues, we do something about them – and so do our volunteers, our educator fellows, our corporate partners, and our scientists. The best way to get someone to understand an issue is not to explain it, it’s to get him/her involved with it and help him/her make a personal connection. It’s that connection that inspires people, and encourages them to pass on the inspiration to others – beginning a ripple effect across the world.
RP: Can you tell us about the video team?
RS: It’s a responsibility shared by our Communications team, from sourcing video and images from volunteers and scientists, to putting the videos together.
RP: Where can people go to learn more about Earthwatch and spread the word?
RS: Just visit www.earthwatch.org, follow us on Facebook or on Twitter. There are many ways you can get involved – from donating, to joining an expedition, to getting a school team together, to getting your business involved. We hope to see lots of new people in the field with us this year!
Joni Blecher, RealPlayer Blog Editor - Joni started covering technology back when cell phones didn't have color displays and quickly made a name for herself in the mobile industry as CNET's "Cell Phone Diva." In addition to covering everything mobile, she has launched and edited multiple blog sites. When Joni started appearing in product review videos, she fell in love with the story-telling format and honed her video skills to include producing and editing videos. Joni has made appearances on CNN, BBC, CNBC's Bulls Eye, and Good Day New York to discuss the latest in technology. When she's not spending her time writing or shooting video you can find her exploring and tasting the latest food trends.
Follow her on Twitter @JoniBlecher