Science In Motion

Behold… the glory and wonder of our stop-motion group project! Click on the ‘vimeo’ symbol to watch it in HD – it’s better!


We’re rather proud of it.

The message we were trying to convey was one of science as a craft, in which people can interact with and learn from reality by physically manipulating it. To do that, we used the hands of an anonymous scientist, working at a generic bench with abstract objects to do stylised science.

The project was shot in, effectively, a single 10-hour take using a Canon 7D digital SLR. Morag, with a bit of help from Nils and I, hand-crafted the ‘data bit’ paper pieces, which turned out to be very good for representing abstract scientific concepts. It was a very collaborative effort, and despite a few technical glitches, it worked out how we planned.

Questions, comments and such about the meanings or technicalities are welcome! And share it if you like it!

Categories: Science, Videos | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Science In Motion

  1. Very, very clever.

  2. I love it!!!! and our little friend the duck looks really good!!!! great job!! you must be very proud, congrats!

  3. John

    So different to a regular “day in the life of….” Now I want to be a scientist, not a red tape administrator!

  4. Thanks guys! Yes, I think the duck stole the show.

  5. Sweet video dave !

  6. DB

    Your aunt, I think, sent me the link to this, Christine Moffat (Queensland Academy for Health Sciences, selective high school back on the Gold Coast): we run the school environmental club. I like the video and I think it’s well composed from a technical perspective.

    The double entendre of science in motion vs. the stop motion nature of the video is rather clever. Echoing some of the previous comments, I too like the symbolism of the duckUSB and the ideas that you touch upon such as the frustration and effort required in science. However, I’m just not sure of what the intention of the duck is. The action of reaching into a picture and ‘picking the duck’ has unclear meaning: whilst cute I feel forced to reach into my understanding of science to interpret the video and as such lose some of what you were trying to portray. The symbolism is a little unclear as well: for instance, the last bit where lollies (?) appear seems like fireworks but then the ‘scientist’ eats one of the yellow dots. What is was your intent behind this? Moreover, I can’t help but feel that some of the tedium of life of as a whole is too well captured. Is it really necessary to show every single piece of cake being taken: perhaps you could have put some more disparate images relating to the social life of the scientist. I’m quite sure your choice of one setting for the movie was deliberate but it starts to drag: it’s also a very simplistic portrayal of the scientific process if I may say so. I’m not sure whether the music is really effective either.

    That said, there were many good aspects that you could capitalise on. For a start, motion of objects was excellently executed. The movement was quite professional: it’s just that you need to continue to engage the audience by changing the images constantly. Also, you appear to focus on the life of the ‘hard’ rather than the ‘soft’ scientist: i.e. chemistry/physics as opposed to the social sciences. Was this intentional? Making it clear would make the ideas more fluid. I was struck by the effective use of the paper model and the pictures! That was great but if you could come up with something more inspirational that’d be great.

    Aside from that, I have to say I’m impressed. I hope I’ve given you something useful. :) Don’t take the criticisms to harshly: I’m sure this is as much a learning process for you as it is a work in its own right (I suppose that holds for any ‘artist’). I reckon if you could engage the viewer more effectively there’s no reason why you won’t be able to reach a far wider audience. You should post it on youtube; here’s a quick guide to publishing on youtube:

    • Thanks for the detailed feedback DB, it’s great! A major reason the piece took the shape it did was the actual assignment criteria; we were expected to represent concepts from science, philosophies of science and Science and Technology Studies which we’d learned in the first term of our Masters degree.

      The latter of these fields specifically looks ‘at’ science from a quite detached perspective, as an activity, not a method. It therefore captures the mundane aspects and struggle, which may resonate with research scientists but usually remains hidden from outside viewers.

      The difficulty is that mundane daily activities are hard to make visually interesting!

      With the duck, it represents some kind of natural object. We wanted the scientist to draw on something from the outside world, hence the animation of a real life set, and he brings it back to the controlled environment of his work bench, generating data from it via the cable and computer. Also, it’s cute.

      The lunch scene was also a bit tricky; we tried to show that scientists were talking about money, sport and literature over the food – common themes not just for scientists but anyone – but we didn’t really have great objects to represent these.

      The simplistic portrayal of the scientific process was very deliberate. Many philosophies of science were quite naive (Bacon’s positivism and even Popper’s falsification) and fail to capture how science is really done, as a messy, nonlinear process with dead ends. However we also wanted to tell a self-contained story. There were enough abstractions and things happening that breaking from a simple narrative would have made it very confusing.

      Given our time and expertise constraints, with no budget, I reckon we did a pretty good job – but I agree with many of your points. There’s scope for such an animation to be quite spectacular, especially if it was detached from the necessity of representing academic concepts.

      Oh, and I published on Vimeo because I like the player better, though it might get less hits ;)


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