Thursday, April 12, 2007

String Theory

Cool news! I have been selected as a finalist in a video competition!

Discover Magazine, a magazine I have blogged about in the past, recently ran a video competition. The idea was to create a video, 2 minutes or less, explaining String Theory (or M-Theory) to a moderately scientifically-minded audience. They gave about a month to produce the video and submit it. I received the email Sunday morning that I, along with seven others, have been selected as finalists.

Three things, two cool and one worrying have occurred as a result of being selected. First, simply for being chosen as a finalist, I get a year’s subscription to Discover Magazine for free. This is really cool because now I can save the money I would’ve spent on a renewal.

The second cool thing is Brian Greene will be choosing the winner. Greene is a Nobel Lauriat who wrote The Elegant Universe, one of the most complete and compelling books on String Theory I’ve read. Well, it’s actually the only book I’ve read on String Theory, but it is good. Not only do I recommend it, I’ll even let you borrow my copy if you ask nicely and bring me a bribe of cheese and bacon. If you’re not into the whole reading thing, but are interested in the idea that the physical universe is fundamentally comprised of tiny vibrating strings, there is a mini-series about the book made by Nova available on Netflix.

The one worrying aspect about being selected is I’m not overly happy with the final video, and now there is a 1 in 8 chance that it will win. If it happened, it would mean the millions of Discover readers I greatly respect will, if they have any sense of production value, think it sucks.

Like so many college essays, 1/3rd of the project was finished the night before it was due. The few parts of the piece I really like were designed by Mandy. Being the wonderful, amazing, and intelligent woman she is, Mandy came to my aid in an hour of need. She designed several of the sequences and helped with overall flow the piece. If you every get around to watching it and find yourself thinking, “That part was pretty good.” It’s likely that that’s the part she designed.

I really wanted to rework the audio using an M-Audio preamp I borrowed from Chad. I also wanted to redo most, if not all, of the animation sequences to make them more entertaining and less like, uh, a planetarium show. Years of planetarium design have created and reinforced the unfortunate notion that the only way to present educational content is with simple animations and low, monotonous voice-overs. Ah well. We make time for what’s important, and I apparently didn’t find this important enough to finish up to the expectations I set for it. Lesson learned: Don’t procrastinate when it comes to competition deadlines.

Sadly, due to the draconian click-wrap contract I entered into to be eligible to compete, I cannot post the video here. I technically don’t own it any more; they do. According to the congratulations email I received, I do know it will be put up on Discover Magazine’s site soon. When that happens, I’ll provide a link to the page so everyone can see the finalists’ videos.


Anonymous said...

I'm very excited for you! You're amazing at what you do whether you win this competition or not.


Matt said...

Amazing, eh? Well... gosh. I think you're pretty swell too, Bingo.

BTW, do you have a blog or myspace page? I'm trying to link people up to the blog to facilitate communication.

-sis and co. said...

way cool, baby bro, way cool. He is lucky to have you, Mandy! :-) and of course visa versa!
hugs and love Team Forton