“The incident at Tower 37”: Wonderful film making, and amazing student work

“The incident at Tower 37” is a wonderful example of the splendid student work we saw when Tom and I visited Hampshire College last month. Great animation and storytelling, and highly recommended.

The Incident at Tower 37 from bitfilms.com.

Hampshire College was one of the schools Tom and I visited on our big tour of New England colleges last month, and we saw a bit of student animation as we passed through one of the buildings. While we were visiting with Lee Spector (a friend of mine who teaches at Hampshire), the film came up and he told us we could find it online at bitfilms.com. One of the things that most impressed us both about Hampshire was the incredible quality of the student work there, and the videos at bitfilms are wonderful examples. These animated shorts are directed by professor Chris Perry, who came to Hampshire from Pixar. You can definitely see his Pixar background, as the animation (which is truly splendid) is always in service of an interesting story, and the characters have wonderful depth despite the brevity of the films.

As well as “The incident at Tower 37”, I also definitely recommend their other two bitfilms shorts (“Catch” and “Displacement”), as well as the 2010 Hampshire student animation demo reel and independent Hampshire student films such as “Nick the Shoes” by William Colón. All really impressive stuff that sets the bar awfully high for everyone in academia.

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You have to either laugh or cry (and I’ll help you do both)

Lacking the time or neural function to generate any new content, I’ll instead pretend to be engaging in some sort of hip new mash-up by dropping two wildly different videos on you. Connections? Nope. Cool synthesis that comments on the post-modern state? Doubt it. Worth the time? Probably.

The first is a really fine piece of election season film making (thank to Pharyngula for the tip):

Favorite quotes: Cheney reminding us that “Some people lie” (speaking from experience there?) and Pat Buchanan saying that McCain will “make Cheney look like Gandhi”. Wow – that’s something I really don’t want to see.

Then, after you’ve found the tissue box or finished smashing the crap out of the couch cushion in anger and frustration, you can lighten up with this bit of silliness courtesy of Joe R.:

I think it’s arguably a bit long (they felt like they had to get the whole lecture into one song), and watching the “dancers” gets a bit painful in places. Still, it’s well written and fun, and I like the chorus. It’s cool to see people trying different ways of getting the word out and, for better or worse, I suspect that more people will learn a little physics from this sort of thing than from “normal” sources. There are 34,925 people following the Mars Phoenix lander on Twitter, and over 4,000 (as of today) following CERN. Hopefully all this is a cool sign for the future of a populace engaged in science!

And this sort of stuff really makes certain academics nervous — they worry that somehow the only way they’ll keep their job is to do this kind of thing in class — and that’s gotta be worth something.

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