So I’ve been spending a huge amount of time trying to generate awareness among the students and faculty about the newly launched film competition. I don’t know how much traction I’m getting, but we shall see. Lots of poster posting, and giving packets of postcards to colleagues in College departments such as Physics, Chemistry, and the Writing Program, and over in Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, and of course the Cinematic Arts School. I need to figure out a way of getting a foothold over in the various areas of the Keck School of Medicine, on the other campus… It’s open to all students at USC, but I need to make sure I target certain concentrations to maximize chances of getting interested students’ attention.
On Monday I did an interview with a student reporter for the Daily Trojan and that appeared this morning. (Have a read.) I’m a bit embarrassed that they missed out mentioning my colleague and collaborator Anna Krylov, but the main thing is that more people will learn about the initiative though the article. It was fun talking to Jasmine, the reporter. The key thing, for me, is that the collaborative aspect of all of this is forefront, since that’s the most important aspect. As I said in an email to another reporter this morning (which may or may not result in an article, we shall see):
Continue reading ‘Reaching Out’
End of the first week of semester. I’m already tired, I must confess. I think it is mostly a combination of running around doing various things for various projects including another big shoot this week for the science documentary series, and prepping all the publicity for the science film competition, which is now rolling along and gathering momentum, and through it all… the heat. It is just so very hot, and not using air conditioning much and walking and cycling in it to boot does mean that I’m tiring out a bit more. I’ve been waking up with those low level headaches from time to time that signal that I’ve not been cool enough during my sleep, despite having several windows open for throughput. Might have to give up and cool things down a bit with the air conditioning on a thermostat setting of some sort.
So through all that, (and not counting other things like steady progress with a research project, and the drawing here and there that I’ve told you about… oh! and the garden) I’ve also been teaching a course. It is on introductory quantum field Continue reading ‘From C to Zee’
I made a bit of time last night to drop into a studio (where there’s a model doing various poses) and do a bit of drawing to get my hand back in. She’s a great model who understands her body and uses the light well, so one sees forms quite readily through her work. I decided to try something I’d not tried before, given the strong subject matter. (It is a known technique I’d read about before, but I’d yet to deploy it.) I took a soft pencil and darkened the paper first (rubbing with a tissue to smooth a bit) and then did my sketch on top of that. (In future I’ll use those graphite sticks I have sitting in my desk and never use.) I built the layout as I usually do, needing to use a softer pencil this time to see the lines, leading to a lot more fluidity in my strokes… Then I began to refine shapes and form in two ways…. darkening a bit here and there with a slightly softer pencil and -most importantly- lightening shade by using an eraser (sharpened pink mostly… blue kneaded more rarely).
The point here is that I do a lot of subtraction in the later parts of my sketches anyway, but in the 25 minutes of the pose, especially when I am rusty (as I am now) I Continue reading ‘Subtraction’
One of the other things I love about public transport is that you get to look at a range of people, and do quick (and preferably discrete) sketches of them. sometimes you only get a few minutes before things change, and you’ve got to deal with the bumping bus or train messing with your line choices. Fun!
Today I felt in the mood, and had two pages left in my current moleskine to fill, and so I decided to go for the subway instead of the bus, in search of prey. (Er, prey=faces/bodies/gestures/poses.) I’m careful to try not to make people aware I’m staring at them, and so pick a good distances, and preferably hide the book and pen, or try to pretend to be writing a shopping list, and looking off into space…
It does not always work, and certainly is sort of hit and miss and depends upon my mood. Most results are awful, since I either don’t have time, or get jogged, or am too chicken to take a good look to get a line right. But it’s good practice for holding things in my head… Anyway, guess what? I got on the train and – hey! There was a Continue reading ‘Grabbing Faces’
Ok, so here is the announcement I promised last week. Science Films USC! It is a film-making competition! The first of its kind at USC, I think. Right now, all there is to say is that we welcome teams of USC students from Cinematic Arts, Communications, Science, Engineering, and beyond, to enter the competition. They will present a short film that explains and/or illustrates a scientific concept, principle, or issue, for a wide non-expert audience. The first prize will be $2500. Yes, we are giving a serious prize for what we hope will be a serious competition with some wonderful entries. We’ll have a film festival in January, some prize-giving, and maybe some interesting people connected with the film world at the award ceremony. Of course, we’ll have it early in the award season, in January.
You can learn more at sciencefilms.usc.edu and for those of you who can’t bear to be away from facebook for long, also at facebook.com/sciencefilmsusc.
By August 31st, we will announce the details of the eligibility requirements, rules, and opportunities for those who are not well-resourced to get a small grant to help out with developing their film.
Teams, said I? Yes. As you know from many of my posts here and the work I’ve done in the past, I think that the future of better presentations of science in the media and entertainment, etc, is to get communicators and scientists working together and Continue reading ‘Announcing: Science Films USC!’
One of the great things that greeted me upon my return to Los Angeles was a varied Continue reading ‘Red, Gold, and Green’
Feels like a crazy week so far. Not sure why. I’m sort of recovering from a bamboozling amount of sunlight yesterday, so maybe I’m a bit addled in the head, compromising perspective. I was up in the brown hills somewhat North of LA on an old disused airstrip, shooting a very interesting segment for a TV show. I’ll tell you more later, but it involved being in the unforgivingly intense sunlight from 10:00am to 6:00pm… with only my hat to protect me between takes… long, sunbaked, takes. I’ll tell you more a bit later. It was very worthwhile. The whole thing is what can definitely be thought of as a great “teaching moment” which will be lovingly done in HD, and well-edited and so forth. More later.
Had to find some time today to email and chat with a couple of other writer directors for two other TV episodes that will appear. I was trying to get an idea of what science story they are trying to tell and help shape the kinds of questions and answers we might be able to explore in the (minor) contribution I’ll make to their shows. Tomorrow morning I will have to make myself presentable again in order to discuss the material on camera… one a 3D HD show, the other just garden variety HD. We’ll shoot until well after lunch, and then hopefully I can get back to other projects for the rest of the day once that has done. I’m behind on a number of things.
I’m supposed to be able to point you to the websites where we announce the Continue reading ‘Crazy Week…’
Sunday: What to do with a lot of nectarines and very soft plums obtained in the farmer’s market?
Make an upside-down cake of course!
It was delicious… and makes great (sinful) breakfast food in following days too (a slice goes very well with an espresso).
Been a long time since I did a face study of a real face. I mean one that exists out there in the world. This is not a live portrait, but instead a face from a magazine. I just thought it’d be a nice change from the face studies I’ve been doing (see several recent posts) that involve making them up completely, or turning them through various angles…skills I’ve been interested in a lot for The Project… A passable copy from a photo propped up in front of one is not so hard, with a little practice, since (among other reasons) the subject is very still and most of the 2D translation is already done. These are different skills from portraiture, I think, or pure expression of a face from the imagination, but useful and instructive to keep sharp, all the same. A close study of a real face from whatever source helps one remember what real faces look like when designing them from the Continue reading ‘Colour Face Study’
As you may know already there’ll be a new NOVA series on PBS in the Fall, based on one of Brian Greene’s books, The Fabric of the Cosmos. Last Fall I did some a shoot with them for my role in it (I’ve no idea how much they will use), and I learned a short while ago that they’ll be using some of it on the NOVA website too. They extracted some parts of the on-camera interview segments I did concerning the idea of multiple universes and transcribed them into something you can read online. Have a look here. I touch on the idea in a fragmented way, mostly being led by the questions I was asked, but it’s a fun topic to chat about, and may lead you in interesting directions should you wish to learn more, so have a look.
A word on the picture they are using (er…see above left). It seems to be one that the Continue reading ‘Multiverse Musings’
So, here’s yet another project I’ve been working on. I forgot to tell you about it. After the success of the short films I produced and directed (etc) two Summers ago (remember? Shine a Light and Laser), the next step was to get more people involved in the film-making, to learn more about how it is done, and what is involved, both on the science side and the film-making side. Specifically, I want students from both sides of the divide (science, and film, journalism, communications, etc) to have to work with each other to learn more about communicating science.
So, Anna Krylov (Chemistry dept., and a collaborator on an NSF grant) and I wrote a Continue reading ‘Science Film Logo’
A quick sketch during the Winter phase of the LA Phil’s performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, last night, at the Hollywood Bowl.
Why? Well, Mr Double Bass player was more still than Mr. Joshua Bell, over to my left on solo violin…
Three inches tall in my little notebook. Pencil for quick layout then ink with ballpoint pen… (I had to fix the lower left corner in PS, since my drawing ran into the fold…)
In addition to the CMC staff handbook, I also got the mechanical crew handbook, which was originally drawn by Jim McEleny, and then revised in 1974 by Ted Mullings, who I told you about in the earlier post. The pages are more sparsely done in this one, but there’s still some great humour here and there… (Click for larger views….)
Ah. First morning back in LA, and I see that the fig tree at the front is under attack by lots of small birds. I managed to rescue some, picking a few maybe a day or two earlier than I’d prefer, for optimal flavour, but they’ll still be great. Of course, the ripe ones bursting their skins with flavour are wonderful.
I’ve left some of the half-eaten ones on as a distraction to the feathered visitors. The Continue reading ‘Fig Goodness’
This is is part of Lake Powell, formed from the Colorado river. It is just off route 95 in Continue reading ‘En Route’
Not long ago I was in Leadville, a mining town you get to from Aspen by going over Independence pass and then down into the valley. (It is apparently North America’s highest -in elevation- incorporated town, being at over 10K feet… Its roots are in gold and silver mining, starting back in the mid 19th Century.) I love visiting the big store that sells all sorts of curiosities and antiques there, and then after wading through lots of bits and pieces, going to the saloon bar for Irish coffees.
This time I actually bought something. Two things in fact – Some old handbooks for mine crew personnel of the Climax Molybdenum Company, from 1978. They are quite small, about 5 by 4 inches, but they are packed with delightfully presented dos and don’ts about how to do the job, including safety practices, and warnings about what might go wrong if you do things the wrong way. I particularly love the fact that the pages are Continue reading ‘Handbook Extract, 1′
After just having walked down a few minutes from Electric Pass Peak back towards the Pass (the peak is a fun 13635 ft / 4156 m elevation), I remembered to take this short panorama to show the surroundings. You can see the peak just descended in the middle of the film, and just before you’ll see Cathedral Lake in the distance, along with the meadow of wild flowers through which the hike to the peak takes you.
The 15 seconds of film is after the fold: Continue reading ‘Peak’
We had a really interesting discussion of the quantum physics of de Sitter spacetime yesterday here in Aspen, starting with a review of the behaviour of scalar fields in such a background, led by Don Marolf, and then, after lunch, an open-ended discussion led by Steve Shenker. This is all quite difficult, and is of course quite relevant, since a piece of de Sitter is relevant to discussions of inflation, which seems (from cosmological observations) to have been a dominant phase of the very early universe. As the most symmetric space with positive cosmological constant, de Sitter may also be relevant to the universe today, since dark energy (first recognized after 1998′s observations of the universe’s accelerating expansion) may well accounted for by a positive cosmological constant.
So we need to understand this type of spacetime really well… and it seems that we don’t. Now there’ve been a lot of people looking at all this and doing really excellent work, and they understand various issues really well – I am not one of them, as I’ve not worked on this in any detail as yet. Do look at the papers of Marolf, and of Shenker, and collaborators, and references therein, and catch up with what’s been going on in your own way. For what it is worth, the sense that I get is that we’re trying to solve very difficult issues of how to interpret various quantum features of the spacetime and getting a lot of puzzles by trying to make it look a lot like things we’ve done before.
Now, we may solve all these puzzles…. but my current take on this all is that we’re Continue reading ‘Heretic…?’