UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


UCL Physics and Astronomy to launch new PhysFilmMakers Programme

6 June 2016

Phys FilmMakers Screening

The Phys FilmMakers Programme is a new initiative to showcase the amazing discoveries and breakthroughs being made within UCL Physics and Astronomy.
While there are many visitors to the department, it is a struggle to show all of the research that takes place within it, due to health and safety risks or space limitations.

Many of the experimental laboratories are not large enough to allow people access as part of a tour or are only accessible when no experiments are running. This means that visitors rarely get to see the department in action or understand the scale and scope of the enterprises that UCL Physics and Astronomy is involved with. With this project, the department aims to produce a range of resources that allow people a glimpse at the exciting and dynamic world of UCL Physics and Astronomy.

The course has been developed by Dr McKemmish, UCL Physics and Astronomy and Rebecca Coates, Twinkle Space Mission. As part of this course, students have learnt how to shoot narration and B-roll footage, edit together videos, research and write scripts. They were taken on lab tours by PhD and post-doc members of the research group in order to develop ideas into something easily captured on film. The students received instruction on the production of the first video, then they independently took charge of the second video which will be shown in a special screening at UCL on June 7th.

Short, informative videos are used by a wide range of people across the world as a study aid for school or to learn a new hobby. YouTube is the most popular forum for these videos. The fact that these videos can be watched anywhere with internet access means that films available online have the potential to reach over half of the world's population including audiences under-represented in Physics (girls, underperforming or geographically remote schools and BME students). Videos and vloggers are also the preferred medium for 12-24 year olds to learn about new ideas and is often their first port of call to look for information on a topic.

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The new Phys FilmMakers course was funded as part of the UCL ChangeMakers program which promotes collaboration and innovation to enhance the UCL learning experience. It supports students and staff working in partnership with each other on educational enhancement projects at UCL. It is also heavily linked to many of the UCL Connected Curriculum objectives.

Dr McKemmish said, "The Phys FilmMakers program fits perfectly with the UCL Connected Curriculum Objectives. It allows direct contact between students and cutting edge research to the mutual benefit of both."

The Phys FilmMakers project aims to produce a new range of continuously updated outreach resources that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. These resources can be used in a wide variety of ways from explaining a particular physics concept to presenting a day in the life of an experimental PhD student.
What is especially exciting about this project is the aim to take this one step further by ensuring that all content on the YouTube channel is produced by members of the department either as part of a Phys FilmMakers course or once they have become a successful graduate of the programme. 

The Phys FilmMakers course will be open to every member of the UCL Physics and Astronomy department. Film is a great medium to encourage intra-departmental interaction, communication and collaboration across different experience levels from UG, PG, post-docs, academic, technical and professional services staff across the different research groups in UCL Physics and Astronomy. It will provide a fantastic range of online resources that will be available for years to come and create a more open and collaborative culture within the department with research, outreach and communication at its heart.

"Science can be seen as a boring subject and it is important to ensure people realise ... how it affects everyone's daily lives," said Harriet Robertson, Phys FilmMakers student.

Phys FilmMakers 2.0 for undergraduate students will start in October 2017. Dr Phys FilmMakers for PhD students and other staff members within UCL Physics and Astronomy are also currently under discussion.