We get quite a few comments that ask us how we create a What If episode and where we get all the information from in our videos. To give you an idea on the amount of work that goes into the production of a video, we have put together a step-by-step timeline for you:
How We Create
A What If Episode
What happens before we publish a video
- IdeationOur whole production process starts and ends with you, our followers, subscribers and fans. You are the inspiration for the show, and thanks to your ideas we have something to work with. Our social media team collects your What If suggestions from: comments, our google form, direct messages on Instagram and our Facebook group "What if discussed". We also follow closely what's trending in science and the internet at large to bring the most relevant episodes to you.
- Research 1-3 daysAn idea gets selected and directed to a member of our research team qualified in the field. All our researchers have University degrees and experience that ranges from biology, psychology, physics and science writing and are really good at finding scientific theories and facts that make our episodes worth watching. They collect the latest scientific publications, articles and other source material from trusted sources and also track down viewpoints that challenge common preconceptions. As the researchers compile material they are focusing on presenting complex and challenging information in such a way that it can be picked up by anyone, regardless of their education or age.
- Scriptwriting 1 dayAt this stage, the researchers share the collected information with the video producer, who then writes a compelling script in the What If tone and voice by condensing it into an easy-to-understand 5-10 minute script. This process usually takes anywhere from half to a full day.
- Fact-checking 1-2 hoursTo make sure all information in our videos is as accurate and up-to-date as possible, our fact-checkers and proofreaders read the script and make sure it is free of factual and grammatical errors and reflects the latest science and true facts. They discuss any potential changes with the producer and researcher.
- Voicing 1-2 hoursNow that the script is well-written and fact-checked, it is ready to be voiced by Peter, the voice of What If (he is, in fact, much more than just the voice: Peter runs our entire video production team). He then records his speech in our sound-proof VO booth in our office (or his basement during social-isolation) and voices the episode in his distinct exciting way. After that he cuts and masters the audio recording so that it sounds as clear and epic as possible.
- Video-editing 2-4 daysNow that the script has been turned into an audio recording, it goes back to the video producer that brings it all together. In this step our video producers turn a voiceover into a video episode and it includes creating original animations with Adobe After Effects, shooting scene in front of a green screen, sourcing footage, sound effects and music, adding transitions and captions (the text overlaid on the video) and making creative decisions for you to enjoy the episode to the fullest. Peter and the publishing team then check a first version of the episode to make sure it is the best we can do. Final changes are made.
- Publishing 2-4 hoursOur social publishing team writes the text that goes along with the video and selects a day and time to publish the episode. They also work with concept artists to create a compelling thumbnail for the video. After that, they read your comments and respond to as many as they can. We love it when you start meaningful discussions and suggest more What If ideas that then spark new What If episodes, so thank you for being part of this workflow.
It is our mission to educate you in a fun way. By boiling down complex scientific ideas, we are able to reach everyone: from a kid who loves science in school to an adult who comes back from work and takes our journey to the impossible. So, keep on suggesting your ideas and stay tuned for another What If.