Category : Community

CuriosityStream Wins An Emmy

2017 has been a big year for streaming services.  Following epic wins for Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix at this year’s Primetime Emmys, CuriosityStream picked up its first Emmy award at the News and Documentary Emmys for Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places (Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction).  Our factual streaming service was also honored with two other category nominations for another CuriosityStream Original, David Attenborough’s Light On Earth.

 

The idea for the Stephen Hawking film arose back in April of 2015 over coffee with Bigger Bang producers, Ben Bowie and Iain Riddick, outside of CuriosityStream’s first MIPCOM in Cannes, France.  They pitched my husband Peter North (Chief Operating Officer), Steve Burns (Chief Programming Officer) and me about a fantastical journey through the cosmos with Ben’s friend, Stephen Hawking.  We knew the idea had potential and a few months later in London, we officially signed CuriosityStream on to fully commission the film.  I remember hesitating over the heavy use of CGI and special effects (which can be costly and sometimes may disappoint) but a revered host like Stephen Hawking, who we already knew our audience searches for, paired with an accessible concept like “Top 10 Travel Destinations,” was sure to resonate.  Of particular appeal was when Ben shared that it would all end up in Santa Barbara, which was really Stephen’s favorite spot on planet Earth and of course the cosmos.

When I finally had the chance to preview the first rough cut of the film, I was completely astounded by the level of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) that Ben, Iain and their team at Bigger Bang had produced.  It looked so much like Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, one of my favorite science programs featuring Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  Yet here was Stephen Hawking touring the Universe in his own S.S. Hawking spacecraft, taking viewers on a wondrous journey from the known world’s inception to showcasing the majesty of Saturn’s rings to the potential habitable life on Gliese 832C.  As a sci-fi fan from an early age, Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places was everything I’d ever hoped it could be.

Peter North (COO of CuriosityStream), Ben Bowie (Co-founder of Bigger Bang TV) and Elizabeth Hendricks North (CEO of CuriosityStream)

 

Obviously, I’m thrilled by this Emmy recognition for CuriosityStream but more importantly, it is exciting to imagine what this means for the industry at large.  The economics of the streaming television revolution enable viewers to ‘sponsor’ directly the programming they want to see.  We’ve witnessed with the successes of HBO, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and CuriosityStream that this sponsorship is unleashing quality content like we’ve never seen before.  CuriosityStream’s first Emmy award for Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places (of which we have a Part 2 and 3 coming soon) is following this wave of outstanding programming supported directly by the viewer.

Most importantly of all, I want to express my heartfelt thank you to the incomparable Stephen Hawking for sharing your favorite places with CuriosityStream.  This program and its Emmy win would not have been possible without you and your vision of the indelible impressions worth sightseeing across the cosmos.

I look forward to CuriosityStream continuing its leadership role in the future of quality factual television, with the S.S. Hawking leading the way!

Best,

Elizabeth Hendricks North
CEO, CuriosityStream
@ehendricksnorth

Read More

Moments Before the Eclipse

An eclipse is far and away the most powerful and stunning of all the celestial phenomena.  Seeing the sun’s corona is a life-changing experience.  But in the seconds leading up to totality, there will be plenty more to see… if you know where to look.  In anticipation on the August 21st solar eclipse, I sat down with Mark Bender – filmmaker, eclipse chaser, and director of our original series, Eclipse Across America – and asked what advice he would give to our readers before the event.

Mark Bender, Eclipse Chaser

Train your eyes for darkness

It may sound crazy, but if you are looking to heighten the experience even more, blindfold yourself for an hour before totality.  Remember, the totality only lasts for just over 2 minutes.  It would take your eyes more than that to really adjust to the darkness.  Think of walking into a dark movie theater: at first, you can’t see a thing, but as your eyes adjust, the steps and seats become more clear.  Imagine having your eyes fully adjusted to darkness for the entire time of totality.  What you see will be even more stunning!

Look out for shadow bands

Right before totality, some very lucky eclipse watchers may see the shadow bands.  I thought they were just a myth, until I got lucky one time.  Right before a total eclipse, little snake-like shadows from the moon crossing the sun appear to be slithering and shimmering across the ground.  But they are so faint, the contrast has to be just right to see them.  Some people will lay down a large white sheet to try to catch sight of them.  In 2015, I saw the eclipse in Svalbard, Norway, just 800 miles from the North Pole.  I was standing on a landscape covered with ice – just like an enormous white sheet.  And there they were!  It’s all about being at the right place at the right time.

Keep an eye on the forecast

Some of the biggest surprises are often weather-related.  During the eclipse of 1999, I was watching in Cornwall, England.  It was a completely overcast and rainy day.  Leading up to the eclipse, you couldn’t see the sun at all.  Three minutes before totality, the sun started to peak though, and with one minute to go, clouds dissipated and the entire sky opened up.  We lucked out, but the best was yet to come.  Even though the rain had stopped, there was still so much water vapor in the air.  When the sun eclipsed, the corona was full of tiny rainbows!  Imaging seeing the stunning corona in full color!  I have never seen that since, but anything is possible.  You just don’t know how it will play out.

Stay aware of wild animals

Animals in the wild take their behavioral cues from the Sun and the Moon, and the eclipse will affect that for sure.  Watching the 2012 annular eclipse in West Texas, wolves started howling as darkness fell…and I won’t admit to joining in!  Just remember, if they think it is nightfall, then you’re a visitor in their space until the Sun re-emerges.

It may get emotional

Above all, I am most fascinated by human behavior during a total eclipse.  Tears, shouts of joy, stunned silence, experienced astronomers and scientists stuttering with a total loss of words.  There is truly no way to describe it.

 

Watch the Eclipse Across America series trailer here:

All four episodes of Eclipse Across America are available now in Ultra HD 4K, only on CuriosityStream.

Read More

Beyond the Black Disk

On August 21st, 2017, the United States will be treated to an event that hasn’t been seen in 99 years: a coast to coast total solar eclipse.  By that night, photographs of the blackened sun and its extraordinary corona will fill the Internet, but for those looking for something a little different, there are more eclipse day wonders to look out for ‘beyond the black disk.’

Enter our exclusive, original 4-part series, Eclipse Across America In anticipation of the once-in-a-lifetime event, our film crew teamed up with leading eclipse chasers, astronomers, and NASA scientists to travel and explore the path of the August eclipse.  What they returned with is a preview of the different eclipse phenomena that
will be on display that day and an inside look at how scientists are using this event to help us understand not only our home star, but the countless others in our Universe.

Inside an approximately 70-mile wide track stretching from Oregon to South Carolina (known as the path of totality), millions of lucky people will have a chance to witness the fully-eclipsed sun and its corona glowing around its edge.  This view of the sun’s outer atmosphere is truly one of a kind in our Solar System, making this August’s eclipse a “can’t miss” event for citizen scientists and astronomers alike.  But in the seconds leading up to the corona coming out, there will be plenty more to see… if you know where to look.

The experience of a total solar eclipse is really the experience of being in the shadow of the moon.  As serene as those moments of totality may appear, this shadow is actually traveling more than 1000 mph!  That motion may be difficult to sense from ground-level, but from a high point within the path of totality–a mountaintop, a butte, or even a hill with a clear, wide view of its surroundings–you will have a chance to look down and witness that shadow racing across the surface…weather permitting, of course!

As that shadow speeds toward you on the ground, the so-called ‘diamond ring’ phenomenon will be revealed up in the sky.  The moon’s cratered surface yields a bumpy, uneven silhouette so when it passes in front of the sun on August 21st there will be a moment when one final beam of light finds its way through one of these imperfections on the moon’s edge.  From Earth, this beam will glow like a sparkling gem on
the edge of a dimly lit ring.  But even this tiny fraction of the sun’s light will be far too bright to observe with bare eyes.  Make sure you’re still wearing your eclipse glasses for this one.

While the diamond ring will only be visible from inside the path of totality, Baily’s beads will be best experienced just along the edge of that path.  One example–at the Gateway Arch, in St. Louis, Missouri, the alignment between the observer, the moon, and the sun will be ever so slightly shifted off center.  Looking up from the base of the Arch, the moon will cover more than 99.95% of the sun’s surface, and similar to the diamond ring effect, trickles of light will find their way through the moon’s canyons and imperfections.  But instead of a single gem of light, the result here will be the appearance of a luminous, beaded edge that you will be able to see through your eclipse glasses far longer than anyone stationed near the center of the path of totality.

And then, for those in the path of totality, comes the corona.  It will be stunning, guaranteed.  Even seasoned eclipse chasers don’t always have the words to describe the power of the experience. Will you?

 

Watch the Eclipse Across America series trailer here:

 

All four episodes of Eclipse Across America are available now in Ultra HD 4K, only on CuriosityStream.

Read More

Thank You, Teachers

Remember that teacher who made you love learning?

Remember the first time you figured out that one math problem that had been impossible up until now?  Remember that college recommendation that your high school teacher wrote for you that almost brought a tear to your eye?  Well, now is your chance to say “thank you” to teachers everywhere.

The first full week in May is celebrated as Teacher Appreciation week in the United States and we are thrilled to join in the praise for our nation’s educators.  Nobody instills curiosity in a young learner’s mind like a good teacher does.  We are partial to many teachers, like decorated “Mathemagician” Arthur Benjamin – the math teacher everyone wishes they had.  Watch Benjamin in action below and fall in love with math all over again.

 

So, take a little time to #ThankATeacher this week.  Whether it’s your child’s teacher, your own childhood teacher, or your family member who works in education, let teachers know how appreciated they are.  Stay curious with some of our top content about education here:

 

Read More

A day in the life of a filmmaker: Working with Commander Chris Hadfield

We are just one week away from the premiere of one of our most exciting original documentaries to date, Miniverse.  The film features the always wonderful CuriosityStream advisory board member Michio Kaku, as well as astronomers Derrick Pitts and Laura Danly, and is hosted by former astronaut Chris Hadfield.  All of you space fans out there may remember Commander Hadfield as a YouTube sensation for his performance of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the International Space Station.  Well, it turns out he’s just as fun and creative to work with as you might imagine.  We sat down with Doug Cohen, executive producer of Flight 33, to live vicariously through him about working with one of the world’s greatest astronauts.

Q: What was Chris Hadfield (CH) like to work with?

A: Chris is a former fighter pilot and an astronaut, so the things that felt like challenges to the rest of us were no sweat to him.  To quote one member of our crew, “Chris Hadfield is the best human being I’ve ever met.”  It’s not just that he’s charming, curious and tireless; it’s also that he sings, plays guitar, tells great stories and, of course, he’s been to space!

Q: What was the funniest thing that happened while shooting Miniverse?

A: Chris had spent the whole day driving at about 40 miles per hour through the Mojave Desert while chatting with astronomer Laura Danly.  We kept his speed down to reduce the amount of road noise during the conversation.  As the sun set, we prepped to shoot beauty shots of the car driving down the lonely desert highway.  I radioed to Chris that he should drive past the camera, and since we weren’t rolling sound he was now free to go as fast as he wanted.  When I called “action”, he put the pedal to the metal and whipped past us at 122 miles per hour with poor Laura Danly holding on for dear life!  That’s the last time I tell a former fighter pilot to drive as fast as he wants!

Q: Describe the dynamic between CH and Michio Kaku.

A: They were excited to meet each other!  It was fun to watch the contrast between astrophysicist and astronaut. Michio made it clear that despite his fascination with space, he had no interest in doing something risky like traveling to Mars.  Chris, on the other hand, said that the danger is precisely what makes him want to do it.

 

Q: Between CH and Derrick Pitts?

A: Derrick would have liked to be an astronaut himself, so he was thrilled to be Chris’ guide for the outer planets.  The two of them bonded over some packets of freeze-dried “astronaut ice cream.”

 

Q: Between CH and Laura Danly?

A: When we asked Laura if she wanted to participate in the program, she said “you had me at Chris Hadfield”.  They had a lot of time to talk as we drove from the mountains to the desert, and it was amazing how many things they saw reminded them of Star Trek episodes.

 

Q: What’s the hardest part of shooting so much inside of a car?

A: We had five cameras rolling inside the car at all times, plus cameras affixed to the exterior and to a chase car.  That’s a lot of cameras that need a lot of tending.  You are constantly stopping to troubleshoot misbehaving gear.  We studied how James Corden does it for Carpool Karaoke and how Seinfeld’s team does it for Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and took the best ideas from both.  The difference with our show is that we were really traveling from place to place, so we couldn’t just stake out a route on a local road and keep circling.  The entire country was our “set”.

Q: Why did the cops keep pulling CH over?

A: We had no problems in most of the country, but in New York and Washington, D.C. the police were extremely “curious” about this car with cameras all over the windows.  Sometimes, we would neglect to remove our prop license plate that said “ROCKET”.  That also drew the attention of the police on a couple occasions.  One officer removed the license plate and cut in half!  Luckily, we had made an extra one.  In general, when we would tell the cops that we were making a science documentary with an astronaut and a bunch of astrophysicists, they let us go with nothing more than a confused look.

Q: Are there any funny stories from shooting in NYC near the Freedom Tower?

A: We shot at the Brooklyn Bridge across the river from Freedom Tower just before sunset, and as we were shooting, people were lining up to meet Chris and Michio.  This actually happened almost everywhere–hotel lobbies, the steps of the Washington Monument–people from all over the world would show up and ask for an autograph or a selfie.

Miniverse premieres the week of April 17, only on CuriosityStream, and will be available in standard, HD and Ultra HD 4K resolution.

Read More

Celebrating Two Years of Curiosity

Two years ago today, we launched CuriosityStream under the leadership of my father, John Hendricks (Discovery Channel Founder & Former Chairman).  Since its debut on March 18, 2015, CuriosityStream has evolved into the premiere destination for quality, factual programming in 196 countries worldwide.  I am delighted to share these anniversary accomplishments with you, our fellow curious minds.

In the SVOD universe, content is king and CuriosityStream has some of the best science, nature, history and technology programs available anytime and anywhere.  Our subscribers have gravitated toward the more in-depth programming, in contrast to the trends we see in linear television.  While nonfiction documentaries about space and physics topics are hard to come by on broadcast and cable television, CuriosityStream subscribers have ready access to top performing CuriosityStream Originals like Deep Time HistoryDigitsPrescription: Nutrition, Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places and many more.  In the years to come, we will continue to invest in quality, original productions that will ensure CuriosityStream remains the world’s top streaming destination for on-demand documentaries.

Over the past year, our library has grown to over 1,700 titles and our focus on original content has taken some incredible strides.

Exclusive CuriosityStream Originals debuting on the service in 2017 include the science series Ancient Earth, available now, about extinction events in Earth’s history, as well as the space exploration special, Miniverse, coming in April, where viewers will tour a version of the Solar System scaled down to the size of the continental U.S., hosted by astronaut Chris Hadfield and featuring guest Michio Kaku.  Later in the year, look forward to new episodes from our hit special Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places, which debuted in September 2016, and the groundbreaking search for life on exoplanets in Living Universe.  These are just a few of the titles our busy team currently has in production.

We have also made significant advancements in CuriosityStream’s platform design and function, based largely on what we’ve heard from you, our very valued subscribers.

  • Our interface design has been completely overhauled and replaced with a sleek back-end and front-end system that makes it easier for you to find the content you love.
  • Our new rating system and recommendation engine provide a smooth process for sourcing the best documentaries, geared specifically for each member.
  • We have layered our API into a CDN (Content Distribution Network) that serves content much more quickly and efficiently, enabling CuriosityStream to deliver some of the world’s best HD and 4K documentaries cost-effectively, keeping monthly and annual plans affordable to our members.
  • On the accessibility front, we recently launched CuriosityStream on Xbox One and have imminent app releases set for LG, Sony and Samsung Smart TVs in Spring and Summer of 2017, adding to our existing availability on Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Android, iOS, mobile and desktop.

With all of the progress and innovation achieved over the past two years, we have never lost our curiosity about the world around us. We know that you share our belief that curiosity is the lifelong driving force that fuels our passion to learn, create, understand and explore. As we move forward together on a journey to better comprehend our Universe, our civilization and ourselves, I want to personally thank you, our “curious at heart” subscribers.

With your support, this new quality revolution in television is now a reality.

Cheers,

Elizabeth Hendricks North

President & CEO, CuriosityStream

 

Follow me on Twitter @ehendricksnorth

 

Read More

Reflecting on Past U.S. Presidents

This President’s Day, join us in reflecting on past leaders whose legacies are still felt today.  What can we learn from how the United States has been governed in the past, and how did personal crisis, love, and politics play a role?  The documentaries highlighted here will take you on a presidential journey to the past that feels extremely relevant in today’s modern political landscape.

#GeorgeWashington

George Washington was the first President of the United States and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.  He served as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and presided over the 1787 convention that drafted the United States Constitution.  Widely admired during his time and still today, Washington was unanimously elected by the Electoral College not once, but twice.

With all of these accomplishments, it got us thinking: “How would President Washington’s communication style have differed if social media existed when he was in office?”  Politicians in the 21st century are now expected to communicate to the masses through social media – sometimes to the point of scrutiny.  Their every word is sent to millions and instantly fact-checked and analyzed across the world.  Would the original “father of our country” have been viewed any differently if he communicated in tweets?

Our original, exclusive documentary #GeorgeWashington plays out that exact scenario, as historians analyze George Washington’s voluminous correspondence.  Setting out his contacts and letters in the modern framework of a Facebook profile gives Washington’s busy and productive career a new transparency.  Watch the film today and tweet about what you think using #GeorgeWashington!

Additional Featured Content

Presidents in Crisis – What can we learn from history about presidents in crisis? Before they led America through national crises, Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson were all transformed by personal trauma. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin reveals the all too human men who became legends.

 

Lessons from the Presidents: Balancing Work, Love and Play – Doris Kearns Goodwin is back again to share her unique understanding of some of our greatest presidents. In this engaging lecture, she provides leadership lessons we all can learn from in our never-ending pursuit to live our fullest and most successful lives.

 

Lincoln’s Last Night – Through dramatic reenactments, this powerful documentary takes you on Abraham Lincoln’s journey from his early years as a rising politician through his presidency, the Civil War, to his untimely death.

 

JFK: Fact & Fable – Television made Jack Kennedy the ultimate celebrity during his presidency. However, the JFK we remember is the one his wife, Jackie, created after his death. From Air Force One to the Oval Office to the Rose Garden, Jackie Kennedy designed the symbols of presidential power still used today.

Read More

Love is a curious thing

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we are featuring a wide variety of content that looks at intimate relationships, both human and animal, from scientific and historical perspectives.  Sit back and share these touching programs with someone special tonight!

Leaps in Evolution: Creation of Motherly Love

Episode two of our three-part series Leaps in Evolution examines the unique bond between mother and child, across all species, and how it has evolved.
Most human mothers raise fetuses inside their wombs and breast feed their babies for a long time after birth.  Have you ever stopped to wonder what made humans evolve so that we raise our children so affectionately?  The latest research reveals an unexpected origin of mothers’ affection toward their children.  Scientists believe that our ancestors experienced unforeseen dramatic changes in DNA under threats of extinction.  These DNA changes caused humans to be devoted to raising children.

Learn about the scientific interpretation of the evolutionary roots of our affectionate bonds with our kids in this heartwarming documentary, Leaps in Evolution: Creation of Motherly Love.

 

Additional Featured Content

Curious Minds: Sexual Selection – Explore why males and females behave the way they do across the animal kingdom when they select their mates.

 

JFK: Fact & Fable – The world is captivated by the love story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy. Our original film outlines how she cemented his legacy in the name of love.

 

Science Shorts: The Love Hormone – Oxytocin is believed to be responsible for human intimate relationships. But how exactly does it affect the body and mind?

Read More

Programs to Honor Black History Month

This Black History Month, we are shining a spotlight on content that explores history, culture and storytelling across the globe, from Africa to the United States.  Our marquis featured program is Ebony: The Last Years of the Atlantic Slave Trade, arguably one of the most beautifully filmed and directed films ever made about the transatlantic African slave trade.  One of the top production companies in France, Les Films D’ici, along with Senegalese director Moussa Touré shot much of this tragic story in Africa, giving it shocking authenticity.

Ebony: The Last Years of the Atlantic Slave Trade

Slavery is the shared dark side of the history of many nations around the globe.  But apart from the accounts of our schoolbooks and a few memorable dates, what do most people really know about the struggle to put an end to the Atlantic Slave Trade?

During the second half of the 19th century, slavery and the trade linked to it were theoretically forbidden.  The concept of abolitionism was spread out all around the colonies of various empires.  However, the slave trade continued and brought even more injustice and violence, in a world that was at the dawn of a major change.

Through realistic dramatic recreations, and authentic drawings and documents of the time, Ebony follows the tragic lives of Africans who were sold into slavery in Guinea and transported across the ocean to work under brutal slave owners in the French West Indies in the early 1800’s.  Watch the powerful story here.

 

Additional Featured Content

Ray Charles: If You Can Sing – Iconic musician Ray Charles shows how “easy” it is to sing from the heart, explaining how he beautifully executes his craft.

 

Butterfly Effect: Martin Luther King, Jr. – What would the Civil Rights movement have been like if Martin Luther King, Jr. had not been motivating change?

 

Lessons Learned: Time In Africa – Henry Crumpton, a former CIA covert operative, tells a story from his post in Africa that changed his way of thinking.

 

Read More

Prescription: Nutrition

As we settle into the routines of the new year, many of you (like me) might be striving to improve upon everyday habits, including diet and exercise.  Inspiration and motivation — difficult to find in dreary winter weather — are there for you on CuriosityStream starting today, with our new January feature, Prescription: Nutrition.  In this original and exclusive CuriosityStream series, Dr. Michael Greger (bestselling author and world-renowned public health expert) shares the latest scientific research behind the prevention of most chronic diseases, based on his and his team’s ongoing review of thousands of medical studies each year.  His wealth of knowledge is distilled into practical advice on his non-profit website NutritionFacts.org, as well as in this captivating CuriosityStream original series.

The impetus behind this exclusive program came from my personal struggle at the beginning of last year to contend with some unnerving health scares.  After attending a book reading for The Humane Economy written by our CuriosityStream Advisory Board member and my friend, Wayne Pacelle, I gave the vegan diet a try.  Soon after, the nearly immediate benefits of my new fruit and vegetable diet unleashed my curiosity.  I realized astounding improvements in my health (and surprisingly, my fitness) from eating so many fresh fruits and vegetables.  Not only did I start consuming mass quantities of plant-based foods, but I also began consuming books, from The China Study to Dr. Greger’s How Not to Die.   The authors had differing perspectives on diet, but all experts agreed that adding more fresh fruits and vegetables is the first step to improving your nutrition and your overall health.


When we polled our subscribers for their thoughts on potential CuriosityStream series, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Prescription: Nutrition had support from our member base.  I wasn’t the only one fascinated by the power of plants.  So I must thank our subscribers for their enthusiasm in bringing this series to fruition.

 

Broccoli Floating on a Shiitake Dashi – get the recipe and learn more about the series by clicking on the image!

 

While we might be searching to understand the complex physics underlying our Universe with dark matter, we have dark matter (or unknowns) in the form of the nutritional make-up of our food as well.  Scientists have only identified (at most) 10% of the vitamins, phytonutrients and micronutrients bio-available in our food.  When we opt for orange juice instead of a whole orange, we may think we are getting nutritional excellence with Vitamin C, but that Vitamin C may have been much more bio-available if it came with the glucose-slowing properties of pulp fiber and the other 90% unknown nutrients readily available in the unprocessed orange.  There are many questions to be asked and more to be answered in Prescription: Nutrition.

Watch the trailer below and tune in bi-weekly for new episodes of Prescription: Nutritiononly on CuriosityStream.

 

To your health and unbridled curiosity…

Elizabeth Hendricks North

President & CEO, CuriosityStream

Elizabeth Hendricks North is President and CEO of CuriosityStream. Follow her on Twitter @ehendricksnorth.

Read More
1 2 3