Communicate science in TV-series style


Using the TV-series story format to share scientific information | Mandate European research network TINNET | Story Winfried Schlee, Patrick Neff, Hynek Bures | Direction Hynek Bures | Animation Ehud Graf | Voices Fernando Tiberini, João Duarte Ferreira | Music Lionel Dentan | Languages English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese | 2019

The production of this animation series has been very exciting! First, the project allowed us to venture out into a new professional sector: brain research and health care. Second, we dared to tell the information in a very unconventional way: they are fun to watch! Third, we weaved scientific information into a TV-series story format. But before I expand on this, let's start by watching the first of the five stories: Do you know what tinnitus is?

The Netflix effect

In the recent past, TV series have become the dominant way to tell stories. Netflix TV series are a good example. Netflix uses the TV series structure to hook its subscribers to its services. With each new season. The audience comes back to continue watching the story. We wanted to make use of this effect in order to attract a maximum of views. Sharing your knowledge in small bites has several advantages:

  • A series of videos means more content for your information campaign on social media. With each new Facebook post a new video is added, encouraging the audience to come back and follow you over the period of your campaign.
  • Shorter videos have a greater potential to be watched till the end. How many times have you clicked away from a YouTube video because you felt its duration was just too long for what you wanted to learn?
  • Short videos help your audience to digest one message or topic at a time. For example in a YouTube playlist the viewer can stop the stream after each video clip. Taking time to reflect on what he or she has just learned?

The Simpsons generation

The last point here above could also work against you: At the end of each video the viewer clicks away to something completely different. To counter this habit, we looked for inspiration from the most successful animation series ever: The Simpsons. First, we have created a title sequence that introduces our character and his big problem: tinnitus. To keep production costs manageable, we stopped short of changing some elements in each title sequence.

Second we dared to use an animation style that is closer to fictional story telling rather than the usual serious scientific videos. And finally we added one non-Simpsons element to our story structure: Each video tells you where you stand in the series (video 3 out of 5) and each video ends with an outlook what the next episode is all about.

The Swiss knife approach

Ideally, you create a video or an animation for one specific channel: For your key note presentation, for your Facebook page, for a specific client segment. From my experience, clients like to maximize the use of the commissioned work. Sharing your information in a series of short videos allows just this. Short videos can be used on social media and in your next public presentation.

It provides you with the ability to create a multi-media experience for your audience. Fox example, on the organization's web page, the videos can be enriched with additional information using text, images, graphics or links to further information. BBC makes great use of this approach for its online news stories where text, video, statistics and even interactive applications let you dive deeper into a topic.

One language isn't enough

This animated series has been produced in 5 languages: English - German - French - Spanish - Portuguese - Click the links to watch it in your preferred language. And please share them to the respective language web worlds and communities!