Skip to main content

Inspiring future scientists to tackle the Earth’s biggest problems.

The Tech Interactive is a science and technology center in San Jose, CA. It serves over 500,000 annual visitors, the majority of whom are children and students. Inspiring and teaching young people about the power of STEM learning is at the heart of their mission. We have partnered with The Tech annually for the past seven years on their Tech for Global Good event and exhibit, but this project was something new. Solve for Earth will be a fresh, permanent exhibit at The Tech, highlighting work the of start up companies (Emerging Tech) and scientists (Scientist Stories) who have committed their talents to helping solve real-world problems related to climate change. For the Scientist Stories series, we featured 4 leading scientists. For each scientist, we created three films: About Me, What I’m Working On, and What I’m Discovering.

The Tech Interactive

San Jose, CA

Arts, Culture, Humanities

In the physical exhibit, the screens are oriented vertically, which meant that our films needed to be posted in 9:16, instead of the traditional 16:9 format. This would be a fairly simple thing to accomplish, however, The Tech decided they also wanted a version that was horizontal, to make it optimized for web sharing.

We agreed that was a good decision, but then had to figure out how best accomplish this while ensuring that each format was as engaging as possible. We decided rather than shooting horizontally at a very high resolution to be able to crop it vertically in post-production, that we would shoot every shot both vertically and horizontally. We felt that we would have more control over framing to ensure each shot was as dynamic vertically as it was horizontally. This meant a lot of additional time was needed during the shoot to re-rig the camera back and forth for every shot. We didn’t have the luxury of adding shoot days, so we just had to be as efficient as possible. As a team, we streamlined the process of re-rigging and balancing the camera on the Movi Pro so that we could bounce back and forth quickly. We also shot a lot of drone footage, which played well both vertically and horizontally. While labor-intensive to transition between so many setups, it resulted in high-quality footage for both orientations.

In our Solve for Earth exhibition, The Tech Interactive aims to inspire hope and provoke action that will lead to us living sustainably. The work of the scientists featured in our Scientist Stories videos provides a template for the kinds of questions we should ask and how we can all be part of the solution. The team at Tectonic took my vision for Scientist Stories and made it come alive. I truly believe that these videos will have a powerful impact in The Tech Interactive's community.

Michelle MaranowskiExhibit Developer and Curator, The Tech Interactive

We wanted these films to really captivate the kids watching. In the process of making these films, we observed the behavior of students at other museums to gauge the attention span of young people walking through a museum. It was shocking to us how quickly a person will stop watching a video. We knew we needed to make these films short and visually stunning in order to achieve the purpose of the exhibit.

One of the ways we did that was by creating an awesome motion graphics style.  The graphics were an essential part of these films, helping to explain some of the complicated concepts that each scientist discussed. We were inspired by examples of graphics with sophisticated, thin line weights. We chose to keep everything white and clean, and balanced the precision of the straight lines with a handwritten typeface to represent notations made by the scientists. Getting this style right was really important to us for both comprehension and visual interest.

Scientist Stories Sneak Peak

The construction of this exhibit is still underway! We are eager to see it all come together and to watch the films on the large, vertical screens. Our hope is that these films will inspire young people to use their gifts and talents to help our world, whether that is through science or another area of study. Beyond that, we think these films will leave people with a sense of hope for the future of our planet as they witness the creativity and drive these scientists are bringing to the fight against climate change. I know that they did for us.

Johanna Beach

Johanna is a producer and editor at Tectonic Video. She loves helping nonprofits grow by telling their stories.