SERIES PREMIERE: CALCULUS

Socratica has just started a new math series on Calculus.

Our first episode is an overview, called  What is Calculus :

This series stars our co-founder, Michael Lee Harrison.  Michael is a mathematician, who has a lot of valuable experience under his belt.  He got his BS in math at Caltech, and continued his studies at UC Berkeley and University of Washington . He holds an MS in math from UW and is ABD on his PhD…we’ll see if we can round up some more abbreviations for our next profile!

Michael taught math at the college level for several years, where he was a good-humoured and encouraging instructor.  He next went into finance, working as a “quant” (quantitative analyst).  He then worked at Google as a developer for five years before leaving to start Socratica.

You’ve seen Michael’s work on Socratica for years now, but this is the VERY FIRST TIME he has stepped in front of the camera.  More to come soon!

KHH

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Our Fab Music Videos with Kat McDowell

You hear a lot of advice as a small YouTube channel.  Make more videos!  Tweet every day!  Shareability!  Longer videos!  Likes! Annotations!  Ask them to Subscribe!

But the big piece of advice we never took was: COLLABORATE. 

rising tide lifts all ships

A rising tide lifts all ships, the saying goes, and the idea is that if your channel can help out another, you should do it.  And don’t worry about contacting a channel with more subscribers than you – you could be bringing in a brand-new audience to the bigger channel.  Everyone wins.

It’s easier said than done, of course.  We’ve tried to pull of collaborations before, but something always got in the way:  schedule conflicts, too big of a difference in style, lack of funds.

But this year, with the help of the YouTube NextUp program, we finally did it.  We made two videos with our friend Kat McDowell – one for her channel, and one for ours!

This time, everything went right, the stars aligned, and the fates smiled on us.  We met Kat at an event at YouTube Space LA, and we recognized her from one of our favourite music videos – her cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” She’s a singer-songwriter from Japan and New Zealand, who makes “positive surf-pop” that will bring a smile to your face.

We knew we wanted to collaborate with Kat, but it was just a matter of finding a time and place to make it happen. Amazingly, we were both selected to take part in the YouTube NextUp program!  This meant we were in the same place at the same time for an entire week, with beautiful filming studios and tons of equipment at our disposal.

SUCCESS!

We hope you enjoy the videos as much as we enjoyed making them.

Here’s the video about Musical Harmony we made for our channel:

 

And here’s the music video “Human” we made for Kat’s channel:

 

 

Remember to tell your friends about Socratica Studios, and encourage them to try our videos and subscribe!

KHH

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Don’t forget to check out Kat McDowell’s channel  for more beautiful music! 

 

 

Related Post:

Game Changer: YouTube NextUp

Our YouTube NextUp Classmates

 

Game Changer: YouTube NextUp

A miracle occurred at Socratica Studios last month. Actually, it happened in Playa Vista, which is about an hour east of Socratica Studios.

Playa Vista is the location of YouTube Space LA (YTSLA).  We spent an entire week there, because Socratica was chosen to be in the 2016 class of YouTube NextUp.

YTSLA blue sky

What is YouTube NextUp?  It’s a program run by YouTube to identify and support promising up-and-coming YouTube channels.  Hundreds of YouTube channels applied, and 16 of us were brought to YTSLA for an intensive week-long course in filmmaking and growing your channel. Each channel had an experienced mentor,  and we worked all week with experts in the fields of cinematography, lighting, sound design, set design, greenscreen work, etc. etc.

It’s sort of like finding the golden ticket and being adopted by Willy Wonka.

willy-wonka-golden-ticket

 

Previous winners include ASAP Science (we’re big fans), Ingrid Nilsen, and Cassey Ho (who we actually got to meet and hear about her experience).   So many of them are now well over a million subscribers. It really seems like this is a turning point for the channels in the program.

One of the best things about the NextUp was getting to meet and work with other YouTube creators.  Working by yourself can be a kind of an echo-chamber, where you ask yourself, “Self, is this a good idea?” and you answer, “of course it is!” and you don’t question it. You always do things your way, in your comfort zone.  Watching the other creators work and helping them with their shoots was an incredible education in how many ways you can go about getting great videos.

Our 2016 Class of YouTube NextUp:

YTNextUpClassof2016

Next time, I’ll include videos from my classmates and tell you more about their channels.

Remember to tell your friends about Socratica Studios, and encourage them to try our videos and subscribe!

KHH

Subscribe to Socratica Studios

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Have we been sucked into a black hole? YES!

Black holes have captured imagination since they were first proposed as “Dark Stars” – massive objects with so much gravitational pull that nothing can escape – not even light.

the-black-hole-lp1

At the time, the most expensive Disney movie ever.

Did you see the Disney movie back in the day? We saw it as children, and that might have had something to do with why we HAD to make this video. That and our physics professors in college describing the process of “noodling out” – stretching and stretching as you are sucked in to a black hole.

One of our much-admired professors from Caltech, Kip Thorne, served as the science advisor for the film Interstellar.  This movie gave the best visual description to date of a black hole, and it inspired our work here.

Kip Thorne helps Jessica Chastain with her boardmanship.

Kip Thorne helps Jessica Chastain with her boardmanship.

We’ve been working on this one for quite a while. It’s our most ambitious video yet. Please share it with all the stargazers you know.

KHH

Click here to subscribe to Socratica Studios!

We recommend:

ScienceofInterstellarMech.indd

The Science of Interstellar by Kip Thorne

Socratica Backstage is coming.

We’re starting a new YouTube channel: Socratica Backstage.

Claudiabackstagephoto

It’s a little peek behind the scenes at Socratica Studios.  This is where you can find “making of” videos, gear tests and reviews, and some out-takes.

claudiabackstagephoto2

If you’re interested in what it takes to make one of our videos, or if you’d like to learn how we go about carefully picking our gear, or if you’d just like to see our goofs, do visit our new channel.  Socratica Backstage.

KHH

Don’t forget to subscribe to our main YouTube channel,  and share with your friends!

And please do check out our FREE educational apps on the Google Play Store.

For COSMOS lovers: What are neutron stars?

All of us at Socratica grew up watching Carl Sagan and his groundbreaking series Cosmos.  Most people think of it as a series on astronomy, but it was really more about our place in the universe as thinking, exploring creatures looking to understand who we are and how did we get here.

When I taught biology, I regularly showed Sagan’s episode about evolution as an introduction to the topic. My students would laugh about his pronunciation of “yooman” and his odd speech patterns with unexpected….PAUSES. But by the end of the episode, they were completely won over and wanted to see more of this fascinating man.

Sagan and his tree

This line always got a big laugh.

Carl Sagan’s enthusiasm and broad knowledge of so many subjects made us want to learn almost everything from him. The work we do at Socratica is maybe best considered an homage to great teachers like Sagan.  There’s no way we could ever capture his special sauce – but we do get inspiration from his candor, his love for teaching, and his quest to know.

We’re over the moon to start a new playlist on Astronomy. Our first video:  What are Neutron Stars?

 

Over the moon, see what I did there? I crack myself up sometimes.

 

We recommend, obviously:

 

Cosmos DVDs

Cosmos: Carl Sagan
This is the 13-hour set of DVDs – one of the best programs in television history.

 

 

Cosmosbookcover

Cosmos

And this is the companion book with a new foreward by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

 

KHH

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Free Android Apps from Socratica on the Google Play Store

Socrates. Put to death for corrupting the youth of Athens. Our hero.

Socrates is considered one of the founders of Western Philosophy, and the inventor of the Socratic Method which is still widely used in classrooms today. He’s something of a mystery, though, because what we know of him comes from second-hand accounts. What?! It’s true, the great teacher left behind no writings of his own.

Our hero and namesake is the star of our latest “Great Thinkers” video.

 

We recommend the following works from Socrates’ students, Plato and Xenophon:

 

Plato

The Last Days of Socrates (Penguin Classics)

 

Xenophon

Conversations of Socrates (Penguin Classics)

 

And just for fairness, we’ll include Aristophanes (although Plato called the account of Socrates in the play “The Clouds” slander):

Aristophanes

Lysistrata and Other Plays (Penguin Classics)

 

KHH

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Free Android Apps from Socratica on the Google Play Store

 

Video

You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

 

 

 

Can anything be sweeter than the chance to honour your heroes?  Our latest “Great Thinkers” biography is about Jane Austen. Darling, brilliant Jane.  Jane Austen (1775- 1817) was the author of six novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion.  Despite Austen having little formal education and enjoying only limited exposure to society, Austen’s work is renowned for its keen social commentary and sparkling wit.  And we love her, unabashedly.

KHH

 

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor

English: Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss our next Great Thinkers video.   Let us know in the comments whom you’d like to see us feature next!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quote

Great Thinkers: Louis Pasteur

Chance favors the prepared mind  – Louis Pasteur

 

Louis_Pasteur_experiment

Louis Pasteur at work in his lab.

Our latest “Great Thinkers” video is about Louis Pasteur. Everyone recognizes his name because of pasteurization, a process he invented which we still use today.  But did you know he was the first chemist to demonstrate molecules could be chiral (left- or right-handed)?  When he developed a rabies vaccine he was hailed as an international hero.

Watch our video to remember his other invaluable contributions – and why we call him “The Father of Microbiology.”

Don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss a new video!

KHH

Hotter Than the Sun

arri hot light

arri hot light (Photo credit: roger_ipa)

We’ve been filming our Socratica videos at night after the sun goes down, thinking it would be cooler.  And it is, of course, but even the darkness and the cool of the desert night can’t compete with the fierce fiery fury of our ARRI lights.

We film in a small green-screen studio with enough light for an entire house – the entire green background must be evenly lit in order to be able to digitally remove it and put in whatever background we want later – so that means using very large, very bright lights – two giant ones for the green screen, another couple big ones in front on the actor, a little one in the back (the “hair light”) .   I knew lights were inefficient, and gave off a lot of heat as well as light – I’ve known this since I was a kid, doing plays under hot lights on a stage – but this is the first time I’ve been trapped in a room with so many of them shining right close to me.

One of the perks of growing up in LA is access to movie studios.  Remember when you used to hear “filmed in front of a live studio audience” all the time?  That was me. I used to go watch TV shows being filmed for fun, and I could never understand why the sets were freezing.  Now I get it, I really get it.

Next job:  looking into properly sealing our garage-studio and installing industrial-strength air-conditioning.

KHH