Last night I had planned to record and upload a video of my talk for the ESA 2021 virtual meeting. My plan was to do what I did last year: record my talk in Zoom and then upload it as an mp4 file. I was all ready to go when, on a whim, I decided to first click the link in the email from ESA, labeled “Guidelines for preparing a talk for upload“.
Am I glad I did! Because it turns out that they’re not guidelines for uploading your prerecorded talk. They’re rules for creating and recording your talk. You can click that link to see the rules, but here’s a summary:
- You first have to upload your slides in PowerPoint or pdf format. Your slides cannot have any animations, or any audio or video embedded.
- Wait 5 minutes or so for the uploaded slides to be processed.
- Record a voiceover for whichever slides need voiceover, using the ESA’s meeting platform. This means that there won’t be a window in the corner with a video of you speaking; it’s voiceover only. And as best I can tell, you can’t record any pointer or cursor movements either (remember, no animation). You have to record voiceover for one slide at a time.
- Not required but strongly recommended: copyedit the AI-generated closed captioning, using the text editor within the ESA’s web interface. The ESA’s website warns you that the text is likely to need a lot of editing. AI-generated closed captioning is bad with technical language.
- If you don’t want to do the above, and prefer to record your own mp4 and upload it, you have to ask permission from the meeting organizers. The organizers then have to make special arrangements for you to do your upload. Also, apparently you can’t upload an mp4 video instead of your slides? It sounds like you can only upload a video as a way to provide a voiceover for your slides? I infer that because the meeting website says that you have the option to upload a video “instead of recording audio within the system”, and warns that your video “will not automatically sync with your slides”.
I wish I’d realized this sooner. I shared this news with a couple of colleagues as soon as I found out, and they were both shocked to hear it. So based on that admittedly small and non-random sample of ESA meeting presenters, I bet a lot of presenters have no idea that they can’t just upload an mp4 video of their talk, like they did last year. And I bet a lot of them have not blocked off the considerable extra time that will be required to use the ESA’s online system to record their talks.
I’m afraid I don’t have that time myself. I budgeted enough time to prepare my talk in my usual way, record it in Zoom, and upload an mp4. I didn’t budget time to strip the animations out of my slides, learn to use the ESA’s online recording system, and copyedit AI-generated closed captioning. I’m out of time now. I’m traveling today, to finally see family I haven’t seen in 18 awful months. I won’t be back until after the July 15 deadline to upload talks. So I’ve pulled my talk from the meeting. I feel bad about that. I’ve never pulled out of ESA before, and I’ve been presenting pretty much every year for over 20 years. So I’ll probably record the talk on Zoom as I originally planned and post it on the blog for anyone who wants to see it.
But hopefully you still have time. For those of you who are giving oral presentations at ESA 2021, I hope that you found this heads-up useful.