RSS

Tag Archives: animation

Science on Screen

You know, I’m pretty happy with the present state of science on the small screen. This week, we had the opportunity to choose between three excellent shows with real scientists explaining fundamental principles to a wide audience. These shows are:

Cosmos with Neil Tyson

Your Inner Fish with Neil Shubin

Wonders of Life with Brian Cox

 

ImageOf the three, I think Brian Cox is probably the best spokesperson for science – meaning he has a very casual and unassuming presence and speaks in a slow, measured pace that draws the listener in, eager to hear what’s coming. The camerawork in the Wonders of Life series is also good. It’s more artsy than you would expect from a science show, often putting the Sun behind Dr. Cox’ head to create moments of strong flares that’s muted post-production (I suspect). This technique works wonders when properly utilized. It creates drama and a bit of mystique because it flies in the face of one cardinal rule of photography. In many ways it reminds me of the cooking show Nigella Bites. Besides its production value, the science is solid, well presented and clearly explained. Here Dr. Cox explains the apparent retrograde motion of the planets (wanderers).

 

Image

Cosmos works well because it is a reprise of a previously well-received series by the much-beloved Carl Sagan. How could it miss? So much is done well. I especially like the simple animations that bring history alive for us. People are hardwired for storytelling, so I firmly believe that science is learned best when it is part of a well-crafted story – and the stories told in Cosmos are right on. And one last word: wow. This is on Fox! Frankly, I’m amazed. Maybe Neil can teach O’Reilly why the tide goes in and out.

 

ImageYour Inner Fish was initially a book that I use every semester I teach General Biology. As a book it functions well, the story is clear and filled with examples – although we do get lost in the details from time to time. Overall, I like it and think it’s a great introduction to scientific thinking. As a series, the same story is told, but with a greater clarity and excellent use of digital effects to complement the story without getting in the way.

 

All three are excellent – and more than anything, I just enjoy knowing that popular television, reaching a wide audience, is seeing a surplus of high quality, entertaining, educational material that is not soft on science.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cellular robotics? A cute video summarizing cellular functions from TedEd

Check out this video. I think I like it, but I’m not positive yet. It’s so well done that I’m kind of taken by the aesthetics, however, I’m not sure that this makes cell biology easier to understand. What’s your opinion?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Titans

imagesI have an inexplicable love for mythology, even bad… very bad retellings of it.

I feel like I needed to open with some sort of explanation for even watching both Clash of the Titans (2010) and Wrath of the Titans (2012). Because these are not good movies. I admit to having loved the original Clash of the Titans (1981). I was young –  It had some of the last stop motion animation by Ray Harryhausen, the man who did all the effects from Jason and the Argonauts (1963), 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), etc. – and, there were some great moments in that film. Admittedly, these great moments are nestled between a lot of terrible acting.

So, there it is, that’s my excuse for even considering watching these films. What did I think? Well, #1 both Clash of the Titans films bastardize a lot of mythology, but frankly, that doesn’t bother me. After all, they’re just stories. People have been reshaping them for hundreds of years in order to make them their own. #2, despite all the money, the 2010 film undermines our concern for the characters by giving us only spectacle. If I did care about a character, it was Hades. A slow moving medusa in the ’81 version draws you in infinitely more than than the lightening swift one in the remake. I don’t have a lot of film-making cred, but I do know that pacing generates tension, and sometimes it’s what you don’t see that is scariest. #3 Thanks for the cameo of Bubo. He was a great device in the first film, but would never have worked twice. All in all, 2010 the remake was watchable if you already knew it wasn’t going to be that good and you just want to spend an evening with your brain off.

Wrath of the titans makes me with that the the world did end in 2012 so I would have died without watching this crap. What the hell was it supposed to be? A buddy movie? Zeus and Hades test their filial bonds over a power struggle and learn that they always did love each other deep in their hearts? Ares and Perseus learn that being half brothers isn’t quite good enough to not want to bash each other’s heads in? And am I supposed to know this bastard whelp of Poseidon? This film fails on so many levels. #1 Everything that was wrong with the 2010 film was more wrong here. #2 this film actually tries to make us care about the characters that they spend about 17 seconds developing. If you budget for special effects and just assume the script will write itself as you film, then don’t even try to have dialog. Just have 90 minutes of action and let us go on our way.

Awesome. Clash of the Titans 3: Revenge of the Titans is in development.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Inner Life of the Cell Link

Here’s a link to the ‘Inner Life of the Cell’ animation. Unlike the original version that I knew several years ago – and unlike the one I played in class today, this one had a monologue to guide the student on what is going on. A lot of the description is too technical for intro students, but the generalities are what I think is important.

I would love to get a version of this video to embed into my general bio handbook, but I’ve got to research the copyright permissions on that first.

biology, school, education, cell, animation, molecule, diapedesis, motor, actin, microtubule, vesicle, transport, membrane, protein

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,