Trying to be pitch perfect with a quick turnaround by Lisa Tossey

Deadline: one week. Due to an embargo that was lifting the following week we had a handful of days to plan, shoot, produce, and get approval on a video package. The package would accompany a cool research story that touches on the neurobiology of those who have perfect pitch, or the ability to accurately identify a musical note without any other reference point.

The story’s writer, Beth, came up with a script for a one minute highlight video, which I tweaked and storyboarded. She also scheduled a photo and video shoot with the lead researcher and a UD student rumored to have perfect pitch. I shot them the next day and handed over the storyboard and footage to our digital creative specialist, Paul. I then collected other assets for him and started working on storyboarding a separate interactive Instagram Story with an art director, Jeff. As he produced that, I snipped out some of the footage I captured to show how someone is tested for perfect pitch and produced two versions - one for use on Twitter and a second to go on YouTube as a breakout video to support the main one.

We came right down to the wire, but got everything up within a few hours of the lifting of the embargo, thanks to incredible teamwork throughout. Are there some things we would have done differently if we had a longer timeline? Sure. But we’re pretty proud of what we were able to accomplish in a few days!

Here is the main video that accompanied the story.

University of Delaware neuroscientist Keith Schneider and collaborators from York University in Toronto, Ontario, have found a fascinating distinction in the brains of those who have perfect pitch.

This is the breakout video to show the test in progress. We were all holding our breath at the start of it because although we were told the student has perfect pitch, this researcher hadn’t tested him. As you can see, we needn’t had worried, however it was a huge relief when that piece fell in place.

Are you curious about how someone is tested for perfect pitch, or the ability to accurately identify a musical note without any other reference point? Watch University of Delaware junior David Krall be tested by neuroscientist Keith Schneider.

We also used this video on Twitter, where it gained a lot of engagement!

We took a different approach with the Instagram Story and made it interactive, using Instagram’s tap to advance feature to allow viewers to “test” their ability to identify notes. I hope that this, combined with the clean graphics and interesting stats will engage viewers enough to swipe up to view the story at the end. We’ll see!

Read more about this research on perfect pitch here on UDaily > 

Getting to the root of a story by Lisa Tossey

Nematodes are usually bad news for gardens. But not always - as I just learned doing this piece on how they are tiny superheroes in one aspect of agriculture. These wriggly microscopic worms can actually be used as a tool in fighting larger corn rootworms, which are currently a major scourge of the Corn Belt here in the U.S.

The challenge for this video is that I shot it - both the interview and the b-roll - before seeing the written story it would accompany, so I did my best to try to imagine all the visuals I might need to illustrate the science. This was backwards from the usual approach, so I was pretty pleased in the way it ended up coming together.

I also worked with senior art director Jeff Chase again to illustrate what happens in this epic battle beneath the soil’s surface. The result is this short explainer video that we added as a card to the main story.

Read more about this research in this UDaily article >>

From the storyboard to the screen by Lisa Tossey

Planning is key for videos - especially when it comes to animated sequences. I enjoyed helping to write this script and storyboard it, then watch it come to life under the graphic magic of my colleague, Jeff Chase.

A few shots of my planning sketches on the script, followed by the final video.


Learn more about this $23 million grant here >

A link between farting termites and cleaner energy? by Lisa Tossey

I have to say, that got my attention…

In reality, it is microbes doing the “farting” - specifically methane-producing microbes who live within the gut of termites. And since these microbes also help termites digest wood, researchers are looking at how they might be put to work “mining” vast reserves of coal that are otherwise difficult to access, since coal is basically compressed wood. By having these deep diving microbes convert coal directly to methane, or natural gas, its energy can be captured and utilized in a cleaner burning form to serve growing energy needs as greener alternative energies come on line.

I worked with Jeff Chase, senior art director at University of Delaware’s Office of Communications and Marketing, to produce this series of videos on the topic to accompany an article by Tracey Bryant. These pieces were designed to work in concert with each other if viewers wanted to dive deeper into the topic and are linked by cards. The wood to coal explainer was also designed to stand alone as educational piece.

A huge shout-out to Jeff for his beautiful graphic work on this!

UPDATE Jan. 16: Cool to see this was picked up by Newsweek!

Termites may hold the key to transforming coal - a big polluting chunk of the global energy supply - into cleaner energy for the world, according to Universi...

Students shine on research cruise by Lisa Tossey

I'm still processing all the amazing experiences I had on the R/V Atlantis last month, diving on the East Pacific Rise in DSV Alvin. I am currently finalizing a highlights video for the cruise that will showcase some of the amazing sights we saw 2500 meters under the sea, but one of the favorite parts of my work out there were the student pieces. 

I chatted with a couple of the undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a postdoc, about their expectations before making their first dive in DSV Alvin, and then again afterwards to hear about their experience. They expressed their thoughts so clearly and with such enthusiasm it was hard not to get stoked with them! Here's Ph.D. candidate Kristin Yoshimura speaking about her dive. The other videos can be seen on the trip blog or the college's Facebook page

The ship's crew and staff also remarked on the quality of the students we had with us - they were all fantastic and did University of Delaware proud!

Test run with the GoPro Karma grip by Lisa Tossey

I was a carrying a new tool on our research cruise aboard the R/V Atlantis - GoPro's handheld stabilizer, the Karma grip. We had a few days at sea as we were underway from Costa Rica to our station at 9 North along the East Pacific Rise, so I decided to put it to the test by carrying it completely through the ship to provide a quick video tour.

I'm impressed by the results, which you can see below. The video is from one take, walking through doors, in and out of different work areas, and up steps on the vessel, which was moving at about 12 knots at the time. I can't wait to put it to use on some other projects soon! 

Project VIDEO Virtual Reality work recognized by Lisa Tossey


I’m thrilled to have just been notified that Project VIDEO, the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) grant work I’ve been collaborating with Christopher Petrone on, just won the Audiovisual division of the 2016 Delaware Press Association awards. Chris is the education specialist for Delaware Sea Grant’s Marine Advisory Service and PI on our project, and I assist him on the educational components and do all the video and virtual reality shooting and production. It will now go on to the national communications contest held by the National Association of Press Women (NFPW).