The science communication competition “Fast Forward Science” is an award funded by different public and private entities in Germany. I made a first contribution in 2019, when I made a video about some core principles of neuroscience. This year, the focus of the award was broadened so I could submit a podcast episode, an Instagram video I collaborated on, and a video (in German) on YouTube which I published under my podcast name. The video is about a topic not close to neuroscience: De-Extinction.

I came up with the topic while creating my upcoming online video course on Science Communication. Parts of the course I recorded in the Ice Age Animal Park in the Neanderthal valley – not far from where I live. In that park they have a herd of Heck cattle – a curiously primal looking breed. It turns out they are the result of an attempt to back breed the aurochs, the ancestor of domesticated cattle by crossing modern breeds and selecting for fitting traits. It is an interesting story.

Starting from there I wanted to talk about modern de-extinction attempts. I found a TEDx-video-series on the topic and I remembered a couple of projects from memory. This allowed me to create a story that leads from the 1920s to today, from traditional breeding to modern gene editing, and from De-Extinction for spectacle to cloning long-dead animals for serious conservation issues. I finish the video with a critical look on the proposed programs.

I had looked into literature while I wrote the script, of course, but while I was searching for fitting illustrations I found additional literature which led to several corrections. I had a colleague look over the script and she gave me some good hints to clarify the steps I was taking the viewer through.

One of the challenges was to set up the green screen. I had to improvise to make sure that on the one hand I wouldn’t have to stand close to the screen while also not have the screen be too small on camera, so I would not extend beyond the screen. And it took four lights to illuminate the screen and myself well. The set up did not allow me to move around a lot, while I was reading from the teleprompter.

Overall I am happy with the outcome. And I will make a second version in English that I will add to the online course.

Wish me luck for the award!