Imperial College iTunes presence

Imperial College iTunes presence

what is multimedia?

Wikipedia describes multimedia as ‘media and content that uses a combination of different content forms…multimedia includes a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, or interactivity.’

In this module, we will be looking principally at the production of video and audio (podcast) content, and their applications for researchers.


Mark Friedmann of science media site SciVee:

‘Web 2.0 has ushered in the age of interactive rich media for all online interactions. Online visitors now expect and demand a media-rich interactive experience when they go online…All science publications and researchers increasingly must deliver such experiences to engage their readers and clarify the delivery of their scientific findings.’ (Meredith, 2010)

Multimedia tools (video and podcasting tools) allow academics and researchers to produce engaging, interactive audiovisual content to promote and publish research. Producing videos and audio podcasts has gone from being an expensive and laborious task to a simple one, with free production software available both online and on most PCs and Macs.

The rapid advance in the video technology available on most commercial mobile phones and tablets has made the ability to shoot, process and share video accessible and inexpensive.  From video diaries, to crowd sourced journalism, to  ultra-low budget films, mobile technology has taken the ability to shoot film off the shelf and put it in the pockets of mobile and tablet owners.

Videos allow for an immediate and engaging way of communicating knowledge and engendering debate, with sites like YouTube and Vimeo providing the ability to comment on, vote for and share videos. They are also well suited to presenting research findings and phenomena that work best when presented visually:

‘With videos you can now describe dynamic phenomena which are too complex…to do in words and two dimensional pictures. The availability of media which distributes video has opened up an enormous range of science for exploration that was previously closed’. (Whitesides, 2011)

Podcasts are audio recordings that can be shared and downloaded online. They provide a quick and easy way of disseminating and discussing research and opinion on the web, with specialised services like iTunesU catering for academics and institutions who produce podcasts.


If you have a smartphone, tablet or iPad, the odds are you will be able to shoot video using your phone or tablet’s built-in camera. Although the resolution of videos shot with a camera may not be amazing, many modern smartphone cameras do offer high quality pictures and sound. Using a smartphone or tablet camera is a good way to practice and get into the habit of shooting videos and recording yourself.

A quick guide to shooting video on your mobile phone

You can use free apps like Magisto, which is available on Android and Apple devices, to edit your videos. There are also more professionally-orientated paid-for apps such as iMovie available.

Online, you can use services such as Vine to produce quick and snappy videos. Many social media services allow you to record and upload video straight to your profile.

Applications like Windows Movie Maker, Windows Sound Recorder, Apple Podcast Capture and Apple Photo Booth come pre-installed on most PCs, laptops or Macs. You may need a webcam or microphone depending on your computer’s specifications.

Free video and podcast software such as Camstudio and Audacity is available to download online, as well as editing software like YouTube Editor and Movie Masher. Imperial College has a site-wide licence for Panopto video software, which is being used to record lectures, but can also be used on your desktop to shoot personal videos and screen captures. You can find out more about Panopto at Imperial here:

If you ant to share your videos, they can be shared on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, while podcasts can be shared via the likes of iTunes and Podomatic. Imperial College also has its own iTunesU channel.

If you’re looking for videos, try a specialist search site such as Google Video Search.

Who uses multimedia?

Video and audio content is being used by scientists and researchers in a variety of ways, from Not Exactly Rocket Science using video content to engage the public with science, to the likes of Nature and Science magazines embracing video and podcasting to enhance, promote and disseminate their articles. More recently, the first peer-reviewed, PubMed-indexed video journal, the Journal of Visualised Experiments (JOVE) has begun publishing scholarly articles in video format (note: Imperial College now has a subscription to JOVE:

JOVE’s publishers state that:

‘Visualization greatly facilitates the understanding and efficient reproduction of both basic and complex experimental techniques, thereby addressing two of the biggest challenges faced by today’s life science research community: i) low transparency and poor reproducibility of biological experiments and ii) time and labor-intensive nature of learning new experimental techniques.’ (JOVE, 2012)

Presenting experimental techniques and findings in audiovisual format provides an enhanced alternative to print journals. By making explicit the methods and processes involved in research, JOVE’s video articles provide significant time-saving advantages over print journals to the scientific community. Rather than describing experimental techniques, as articles in print do, videos can show them, first-hand and in detail.

Alongside JOVE, other journal publishers are increasingly making use of video and interactive multimedia in their publications. Rather than incorporating static diagrams or images into articles, many journals will now embed video files into the text, to be viewed online or in PDF form. This has several advantages over static images, as this article from BMC Medicine explains:

‘From a scientific point of view, the greatest asset is presumably that the transparency of the presented data can be expected to increase, while the need for explanatory supplemental material will largely become obsolete’.
(Ziegler et al, 2011)

More generally, scientists, researchers and universities are using multimedia to promote, share and discuss their work. Videos and podcasts present the opportunity to make accessible, high-impact presentations, that, when combined with social media like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, can be viewed and shared by hundreds or even thousands of people in a short space of time.

Closer to home, Imperial College now has a dedicated Digital Media team, who manage the College’s video output and assist staff and departments in the production and dissemination of multimedia content. Using channels such as the College’s iTunesU and Youtube presences, academics, researchers and departments are using video to deliver teaching, report findings and engage the scientific community and wider public with Imperial’s research and teaching.

Imperial College – The Schrödinger lecture 2012 

‘What interests me the most is what we can do with social and digital media. The ability to promote research directly to the public, and hear their feedback, while connecting academics and their wider audiences is an unparalleled opportunity for universities.’(Christie, 2011)

Tools for creating videos and podcasts

Applications like Windows Movie Maker, Windows Sound Recorder, Apple Podcast Capture and Apple Photo Booth come pre-installed on most PCs, laptops or Macs. You may need a webcam or microphone depending on your computer’s specifications.

Free video and podcast software such as Camstudio and Audacity is available to download online, as well as editing software like YouTube Editor and Movie Masher.

Videos can be uploaded and shared on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, while podcasts can be shared via the likes of iTunes and Podomatic. Imperial College also has its own iTunesU channel.


1. Use Vimeo’s Video 101 tutorial to learn the basics on shooting video, then use your mobile, webcam or portable video camera to shoot a 2 minute video about yourself and your research.

2. Upload your video to Youtube or Vimeo (account required)

3.  Use Vimeo or Youtube’s sharing functionality to share your video to a Twitter,  Facebook or G+ account.


Christie, K. (2011) Going viral: using social media to publicise academic research. Higher Education Network Blog [Online]. Available from:

Darzentas, N. et al. (2007) Science communication media for scientists and the public. EMBO Reports, 8(10), pp.886-887 [Online]. Available from:

EDUCAUSE (2008) 7 things you should know about lecture capture [Online]. Available from:

EDUCAUSE (2010) 7 things you should know about online media editing [Online]. Available from:

Hannay, T. The Nature Podcast. Serials, 19 (2), 161-163 [Online]. Available from

Huler, S. (2011) Scientists nourish the YouTube generation. [Online]. Available from:

JOVE. (2012). About [Online]. Available from:

Meredith, D. (2010) SciVee: integrating video into scientific publication. Research Explainer [Online]. Available from
Ziegler, A, et al. (2011) Effectively incorporating selected multimedia content into medical publications. BMC Medicine , 9 (17) [Online]. Available from

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