Studio work

Socratica Studios is taking a little break from filming. We needed one desperately, after a filming blitz with our old friend Louise, who came into town from Texas for a few days. We monopolized her mercilessly and managed to get 39 videos in the can!  Stay tuned for new kids’ videos featuring the letters of the alphabet, as well as  some videos for bigger kids, too, about geometry.

In our down time, we decided to buckle down and replace one wall of our studio, covering it with high-grade acoustic panels,


Echoes are sucked into the monolith, never to re-appear.

and a whisper-quiet ductless air conditioner.


And with the press of a magic button, cold blue air emerges.

I mean it’s AMAZINGLY quiet.  We’ll be doing sound checks this week to make sure we can remove the noise with our audio software, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to film and keep the air conditioner running.  This is a game changer!


A new video series: Great Thinkers

Euclid is associated with geometry (as in “Euclidean Geometry”), but he was also the author of the most successful math textbook of all time:  The Elements.  It has been in fairly continuous use (not counting the Dark Ages) to this day.  His book  – really a collection of 13 books – started with basic principles and taught not only geometry, but the whole of mathematics as known by the ancient Greeks.  We don’t know exactly when he was born or died, or what he really looked like (despite this fetching statue in Oxford):

English: Statue of Euclid in the Oxford Univer...

English: Statue of Euclid in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do we know about this most influential fellow?  Here’s a video we made about him, the first in our “Great Thinkers” series.


Next up in the series is Galois, a French mathematician with such a tragic story, he really deserves his own opera.



My first screen-cast for Socratica: “Balancing Chemical Equations”

I’ve been writing and editing and producing videos for Socratica for a little over a year now.  That’s been all behind-the-scenes work.  It’s been gratifying to see my ideas take form and finally appear as a finished little movie on YouTube.  Every now and then, however, I think maybe I have been a little too behind the scenes.  We get comments on our videos sometimes – that are being performed by actors – “You’re so smart! How do you know all these things?”  Errmmm.  Our actors are very bright and thoughtful people, but it is a bit of an ego blow to think that the audience doesn’t realize there is a whole production team writing and editing that material for our actors to perform.  I guess I know how most screenwriters feel.  When was the last time someone fawned over the brilliant minds behind our most beloved movies?  We give all of the attention to the faces on the big screen.

Not that I want to be signing autographs or anything. I think, for instance, that the cult of ego is taken to the extreme in some cases on online personalities.  Look at Sal Khan, for instance, who Bill Gates called “the best teacher I’ve ever seen.”  I guess he doesn’t know many teachers. That’s what happens when someone becomes an online celebrity instead of – well, instead of what I’m trying to be – a maker of beautiful, quality educational materials.  It’s really okay if people don’t know my name, as long as they have found the best videos that help them learn.

This week, I made my first attempt at a screencast video, on one of the most common problems for chemistry students, “balancing chemical equations.”  In this video, I work through 5 examples using the “inspection” or “trial-and-error” method.  In a follow-up video, I’ll demonstrate solving the same examples using the algebraic method.

My latest foray into educational videos is still somewhat anonymous – I won’t appear in these screencast videos except for my voice.  Maybe one of these days I’ll actually show my face in a video.  And then WATCH OUT WORLD!