This is a bit self serving, but I’m very proud of what my grad students did for the final projects in my science documentary course. It’s a very demanding class, and a fair amount of it involves throwing the students into the deep end of the pool, and then making sure they have enough invisible scaffolding to climb out OK on the other side.
One of the key lessons I try to get across is that fine films — and this is especially important for science documentaries, which are always at risk of falling into the cod-liver-oil trap (i.e., watch them because they’re good for you) — have to operate on at least two levels. There’s whatever happens — the plot — and then there’s what the film is actually about.
In the sample below, this team of students really got that. Their film documents work within the Laboratory for Ultracold Atoms at MIT (which simply sounds awesome, doesn’t it) — and it’s about…well you can watch it yourself if you’ve a mind. I’ll just add that the work was good enough that the Nobel laureate it featured told them that they had gotten all the science right within a depiction that he now wants to use in some of his presentations. Not bad.
Note: the file is large and playback stutters a little, especially in full screen mode. Watch small, and maybe let it load a bit for best performance. Apologies.
<div align=”center”> <object name=”ttvplayer” id=”ttvplayer” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowScriptAccess=”always” allowNetworking=”all” allowFullScreen=”true” height=”288″ width=”437″ data=”http://www.kaltura.com/index.php/kwidget/wid/_203822/uiconf_id/1898102/entry_id/1_qc2kx54r/”><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always” /><param name=”allowNetworking” value=”all” /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”bgcolor” value=”#000000″ /><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.kaltura.com/index.php/kwidget/wid/_203822/uiconf_id/1898102/entry_id/1_qc2kx54r/”/><param name=”flashVars” value=”autoPlay=false&streamerType=rtmp”/><a href=”http://ttv.mit.edu”>MIT Tech TV</a></object></div>
And yes, I’d say this would be a very chilly open thread.