Category : Technology

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.

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Destination: Jupiter + The Year of the Rooster

February 2nd will mark one of NASA’s Juno space probe’s closest flybys to Jupiter.  We are celebrating by sharing what we’ve learned along the way since Juno first set out to Jupiter with a newly released episode in our original series Destination: Jupiter!  Then, travel to China during the peak of this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations with our newly curated content collection, China.  It’s a busy week for curious minds and we’ve got you covered with content spanning the globe and the Universe.

Destination: Jupiter

Seven months since the Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on July 4th, 2016, the mission has started to lift the veil on the largest and most mysterious planet in our solar system.  Since its initial approach, the craft has been on a 53-day orbit around the gas giant.  Thus far, there have been three close flybys in August, October, and December of 2016.  During that time, Juno has flown a mere 2600 miles above the Jovian clouds, employing eight cutting-edge space exploration instruments to collect images and peer below the thick atmosphere of the planet, hoping to reveal its inner most secrets.

As the next flyby approaches on February 2nd, the Juno team will be tasked with making an unexpected and critical trajectory decision, impacting the future of the carefully-planned mission.  Review what has been uncovered so far in Mission Update, the second episode in our exclusive, original Destination: Jupiter series, and learn how you can become an active participant in the Juno Mission to Jupiter!

 

Chinese New Year

The most anticipated global event in China’s calendar is in full swing, when people take to the streets to ring in another year.  Unlike the festivities of many countries, which always take place at midnight between December 31 and January 1, Chinese New Year is a moveable festivity.  This year, the celebration began on January 27 (New Year’s Eve) and continue for around two weeks (ending on February 2) and the year will last until February 15, 2018.  This year is the “Year of the Rooster” – those born in 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993 and 2005 are known as Roosters.

To honor the occasion, we have created a new content collection, full of our most fascinating and informative documentaries about China.  The collection contains 11 programs and spans over 12 hours, guaranteeing that you can become an expert on all things China by the time this year’s New Year celebrations come to a close.

Find the collection in its entirety here.  Happy New Year!

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Mars: The Red Planet

If you have been following NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover, then you know it has had quite an eventful couple of months!  It has recently discovered an odd-shaped iron meteorite that some likened to “an alien egg,” viewed spectacularly layered rock formations and, just last week, slabs of rock cross-hatched with shallow ridges were discovered that likely originated as cracks in drying mud.  This makes it a perfect time to explore our new collection, Mars: The Red Planet.

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury.  Named after the Roman God of War, it is often referred to as the “Red Planet” because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance.  50 years of space exploration have brought us closer to understanding Mars, but is it as hospitable as many experts think?

This newly curated collection is made up of eight programs, totaling just over six hours of content all about Mars.  Perfect for all age ranges, the content covers everything from whether or not there is water on Mars to the likelihood of life on Mars to what it would take for humans to colonize Mars.

So, why not make it a night of star gazing and dreaming of far away galaxies?  Grab some popcorn and get ready to binge on facts and speculations about the Red Planet.  Find the full collection here, only on CuriosityStream.

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Stay curious in 2017

Happy New Year!

Part and parcel with a new year arrives both reflection on the past and excitement (hopefully) toward the future.  Here at CuriosityStream, we are very much looking forward to 2017 and to helping you become more curious about the many wonders in science, technology, history and nature.  Our team has been hard at work over the holidays putting together a release schedule of original and exclusive titles debuting on CuriosityStream over the next few months.  Take a look at some highlights below and stay tuned for their official premiere dates.

 

January 2017

New year, new you!  Hosted by Dr. Michael Greger, MD, author of the New York Times best-seller How Not to Die and editor of the world renowned website NutritionFacts.org, explore the dramatic health benefits of plant-based diets and the amazing revolution in how we approach our relationship with food.  New episodes will be released bi-weekly beginning in early January.

February 2017

Travel back in time to visit the three most powerful extinction events in Earth’s history.  This original series explores the major events that wiped out between 70-90% of Earth’s species developed during the Permian, Triassic and Cretaceous periods.

March 2017

Join former astronaut Chris Hadfield – a YouTube sensation for his performance of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the International Space Station – along with hitchhikers Michio Kaku and more on a joyride across our Solar System, scaled down to the size of the continental United States.

April 2017

You will be captivated by this epic story of our origins told through the story of one extended family.  This group of men, women, and children are your guide to over 15 million years of human history, including the trials, drama and joys of being human across the ages.

May 2017

Can a team of scientists reveal unknown chambers in the Great Pyramid using special muon detector plates beneath the pyramid?  In this expedition, experts use high-tech drones, thermal cameras, laser scanning to create a 3D map of inside and out of the famous Giza plateau tombs.

Stay curious!

Cheers,

Elizabeth Hendricks North
President & CEO, CuriosityStream

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

 

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Top 10 Curious Moments of 2016

As we look back on 2016, we want to take this opportunity to thank you for being a part of our curious community.  This past year has been monumental for science and technology and CuriosityStream been there every step of the way with documentaries that explore key moments in science, history, space, technology, nature and the human spirit.

Journey down memory lane by binge-watching our top 10 curious moments of the year.  Who knows what 2017 will have in store?

               

               

               

               

               

 

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Looking back at Pearl Harbor and tales of survival

Pearl Harbor: Into the Arizona is available now in ultra HD 4k, HD and standard definition on CuriosityStream.  In this powerful documentary, an expedition team explores the inside of the USS Arizona 75 years after it was destroyed at Pearl Harbor, exposing never-before-seen artifacts and stories of survival.

Resting on the murky ocean floor of Pearl Harbor is the USS Arizona, one of the most sacred war graves known in the world.  When the seasoned battleship was destroyed by a surprise Japanese attack 75 years ago in Pearl Harbor, over 1,000 men aboard the ship lost their lives in the blink of an eye.

America was forever changed by the events of this day, a day that has lived in infamy throughout time.  The attack on Pearl Harbor was the single incident that pulled America into World War II, changing the course of history.  Today, the remains of the USS Arizona serve as a memorial to the American people, and is a stark reminder about the consequences of war.  Each year, thousands upon thousand of tourists visit the USS Arizona to see a glimpse of our nation’s past.  But to the survivors of the attack, the USS Arizona represents something much deeper.  It’s a symbol for all those who paid the ultimate price for their country, an event which should never be forgotten.

Donald Stratton

Donald Stratton, USS Arizona Survivor

Survivor Donald Stratton was one of the few men stationed on the Arizona to survive the attack.  For the past 75 years, he’s been waiting for the opportunity to see inside the ship he was once stationed on.  Its current state remains a mystery to him, and to the world.  There isn’t a day that goes by where Don doesn’t think about what happened on December 7, 1941.  While the USS Arizona has changed drastically over the years, Don relives key moments of his life as he explores inside the sunken wreckage, a sight he never thought he would see again.  Don gets one last chance to see items from his past:  a desk stationed in the admiral’s quarters; a well-preserved suit hanging in a closet of a sailor’s room; and even glimpses of the ship’s teak deck, which Don walked on during the attack.  The discoveries made during the expedition are moments that makes Don’s journey complete.

“Some of the personnel did survive, and I was one of them. I think about it every day…how many people didn’t make it that day.”

– Donald Stratton, USS Arizona Survivor

The expedition isn’t just for survivors of the attack.  It’s for the families who lost loved ones as well.  A woman who’s uncle died aboard the ship gets a chance to see the final resting place of her beloved family member…a moment of recognition that her family won’t soon forget.

 

Watch the trailer below and watch the full documentary here.

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A New Kind of Capitalism

Conscious Capitalism is an exclusive, original CuriosityStream documentary that explores a new twist on the system that fuels wealth and industry in America and for many countries around the globe. Thought leaders, along with the leaders of two corporations — Whole Foods Market and Waste Management — provide an insider’s look at the new face of capitalism.

It used to be that business was about profit, no matter the cost to employees, community and environment.  In our newest documentary, producer Dan Birman asks viewers to imagine a world where a different model operates.

Birman is shining the spotlight on conscious capitalism, the idea that companies can do things differently.  “If a company starts with a purpose, then all other things start to fall in place,” Birman said.  Businesses that subscribe to this idea would choose to reduce the disparity in wages between their managements and employees, be more environment-friendly, and charge fairer prices.  Thus, they build sustainability by gaining the trust of consumers and the community.  Birman admits, “It sounds utopian in some respects, but it’s a great model to at least discuss.”

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“If a company starts with a purpose, then all other things start to fall in place.”

Let’s put this into context.  Have you ever paid a visit to your local Whole Foods and noticed that the employees seem happy and knowledgeable about their product?  That could be attributed to the fact that Whole Foods has revolutionized employee relations by focusing on team member engagement, empowerment, job satisfaction and fair wages, driving down its turnover rate to just 14%, compared to the 47% grocery industry average, according to John Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market, who is considered by many to be one of the fathers of the conscious capitalism movement.  Plus, get a behind-the-scenes look at how Waste Management, North America’s leading provider of comprehensive waste management and residential recycling services, is protecting the environment while also generating $13 billion in revenues from lines of business that include recycling, landfill renewable natural gas projects, landfill gas-to-energy projects and carbon sequestration in landfills.

The film not only highlights these success stories, but also gives viewers insight into the four pillars of conscious capitalism and why this new way of doing business works in the modern economy.  I think you’ll find it particularly timely, given the upcoming transfer of power in the U.S. administration and the big question of what is going to happen with the economy.

Watch the trailer below and watch the full documentary here.  Stay curious, everyone.

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You’ll Never Look at the Internet in the Same Way Again

DIGITS is available now in ultra HD 4k, HD and standard definition on CuriosityStream. The worldwide exclusive, original 3-part documentary series takes viewers on a journey into the history of the Internet with exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes insight into the remarkable technology that now permeates our lives.

Today marks a very exciting day for CuriosityStream, with the release of our groundbreaking new documentary series, DIGITS. We have been anticipating this series since it was included as part of our suite of original 4K content when our founder first announced CuriosityStream to the world. But today, the show’s relevance is even higher.

“DIGITS is a perfect example of the smart, deep dive programming we offer.  The series takes the time to delve into the past for context, and then it examines the present for implications affecting us now.  And finally, it taps into expert predictions to help shape our thinking for the future.” – John Hendricks, Founder and Chairman of CuriosityStream.

 

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Originally described as “a history of computers and the Internet,” the final product delivers on that front, plus it has evolved into something heavily influenced by one major issue that we all face in today’s online world: cyber security. Viewers are taken on a fascinating look at the Internet, exploring the potential applications—and risks—of innovations like virtual reality, artificial intelligence and 24/7 surveillance. The series is hosted by Derek Muller, who knows a little something about digital media and online engagement, as the creator of the YouTube science channel Veritasium, followed by close to 4-million subscribers. In DIGITS, Muller leads the conversation, which features interviews with co-founder of the Internet Vint Cerf and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“When you think about the fact that your washing machine is a computer and can be used to attack other computers within your own home network—your laptop, your tablet, your phone…or better yet, when your toaster gets connected to the Internet, think about who has the capability to turn that on. This brings us to this big question of, ‘well what do we do about it?’” – Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor

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With today’s headlines of hacked emails and cyber security attacks becoming the norm, it’s almost impossible to keep up with what is private and what is personal anymore. Just think about it. What if someone was able to recover a decade’s worth of private information and documents that you’ve submitted online? What could they do with it? Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that we are now relying on the Internet for everything – from our phones, to our entertainment viewing, to our watches, to our fitness trackers to our household appliances.  So, what happens to all of that information that we provide when we register and engage with these devices? And, how might the laws in different countries protect their citizens’ rights to privacy in different ways?

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DIGITS isn’t all dark – in fact, many moments in the series are quite fun and even humorous. But it also provides valuable information that we hope will spark conversations by everyone who tunes in about what it means to be an informed and responsible digital citizen in the 21st Century. Welcome to 2017, folks.

Watch the trailer below and experience the entire 3-part series here, only on CuriosityStream.

Michael Hammerstrom is CuriosityStream’s Manager of Marketing and Engagement. Follow him on Twitter @mhammerstrom.

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In the Classroom with CuriosityStream

As back to school season gets underway, we were curious about how teachers are engaging with our content. We had to look no further than our members to learn that many students just might get a taste of CuriosityStream in their classrooms this year. Today, we hear from Todd Johnson, a Teacher and Media Specialist from Winnipeg, Canada about how CuriosityStream might make an impact in his school this year. And we like what we’re hearing!

Being a teacher, I am always looking for up to date/engaging media material to share with my students. I teach Social Studies and Science in the middle years (grades 6-9).

Upon first discovering CuriosityStream, I must admit that I wasn’t really thinking of it as a tool for a classroom. I was just more excited to explore and discover on my own, and then to share that knowledge during our science and history discussions. I tweeted out a few links to videos and it was mentioned to me on Twitter that maybe CuriosityStream might be valuable in the classroom, so I started thinking about what that might look like.

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Now, from my teacher lens, I have a whole new perspective. Many of the subjects that we explore in class are covered on CuriosityStream with relevant, HD, high quality programming. Typical videos in a science catalog are expensive and can become outdated quickly. Videos on YouTube have ads, not to mention may not be credible and/or appropriate. CuriosityStream provides an ever-growing catalog of high quality videos – many that align to science and social studies – covering topics that our 15-year old textbooks have yet to discover.

“CuriosityStream provides an ever-growing catalog of high quality videos – many that align to science and social studies – covering topics that our 15-year old textbooks have yet to discover.”

One of the great parts of CuriosityStream is that there are lots of shorter videos. I think the days of rolling in a TV and having all students watch a video for the entire class are gone. First of all, most students use this as a time to check out, asking questions like: “Do we have to take notes?” Really what they mean is: “Can I take a nap?” Instead of the old way, students can sit down with their own device in a corner of the classroom and watch a video that is relevant to their studies. Or we can project a quick video using my device or laptop and projector. I see these videos as inquiry starters. Instilling a literal “curiosity stream” in our students is what we are trying to do as educators any way, and from what I’ve seen, the quality content available in CuriosityStream could become a significant part of a classroom environment.

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More and more these days, as a teacher, I find myself searching for ways to get students more involved in their own learning. To get students active, I often have my class set up in centers and students will rotate through to investigate topics that interest them. This is where I see CuriosityStream fitting into a classroom environment. It could be a resource in a center where students watch a pre-selected video, or search through the library to find a video related to their topic of research. Perhaps instead of having a worksheet of questions, a potential idea would be to have students generate five questions from one of the videos and then carry out research afterwards to answer some of them. Or they could create a quick presentation using an app on their own device, summarizing their learning from what they explored. CuriosityStream allows students the opportunity to browse an engaging library of short clips that are relevant to their subject area. I often use apps such as Socrative, Kahoot or ISpring Quizmaker, I could see it being a fun activity to show a quick clip followed by questions using one of these educational apps. Admittedly, I’m really just brainstorming ideas, but I’m excited to try this year and see where it leads us. I look forward to integrating CuriosityStream content this year and I’m positive that new ideas for how to leverage this service will generate from my students and fellow educators.

In just a few minutes of searching, here are a few CuriosityStream documentaries that line up with our curricular outcomes here in Canada:

Deep Time History

Deep Time History – Grade 8 Social Studies

InsideTheHumanBody_Final

Inside the Human Body – Grade 8 Science

JourneyOfTheUniverse_rev

Journey of the Universe – All Grades/subjects

Dark Matter

Cosmic Front: Dark Matter – Grade 9 Science/Astronomy

RebuildingAncientRome

Rebuilding Ancient Rome – Grade 8 Social Studies

 

This is just beginning to scratch the surface for how CuriosityStream might be used in a classroom. I will make it a goal this new school year to provide some more concrete examples of how CuriosityStream could become an invaluable classroom resource. Join me by starting a free trial if you’re not yet a member and exploring the content.

 

Todd Johnson

Todd Johnson is a Teacher, Media Specialist and proud CuriosityStream member from Winnipeg, Canada. Follow him on Twitter @mrj_rwp.

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A Rendezvous With The King Of Planets

NASA’s Juno orbiter is speeding toward Jupiter with a flyby expected on July 4th.  Leading up to that rendezvous, CuriosityStream is giving viewers an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look into the story behind the mission to the gas giant.  Destination: Jupiter is a new, short-form documentary available now on CuriosityStream, in ultra HD 4K, as well as HD and standard definition.

The Juno Mission is one of the most highly anticipated planetary explorations to date.  Scientists hope it will help reveal the mysteries of Jupiter’s violent storms, its composition and formation, as well as uncover some secrets about our own planet Earth.

Destination: Jupiter chronicles the inside story behind the ground-breaking mission, featuring interviews with its chief scientists, as well as captivating CGI produced by NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.  Also, get a sneak peek at some of the state-of-the-art technology on board the spacecraft that will help it power through and survive Jupiter’s severe high-radiation environment—the harshest in the solar system.



 

And stay tuned in with CuriosityStream.  On July 4th, Juno is expected to officially catch up to Jupiter and enter its orbit.  Mission scientists will be anxiously awaiting the first signal of success… a communication that will take 48 minutes to travel back to Earth.  And in the coming days, CuriosityStream and Destination: Jupiter will bring you the nail-biting action from mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

If we’ve peaked your curiosity about other destinations in our solar system and you’re ready to dive deep into the mysteries of the galaxy, you’ll enjoy CuriosityStream’s Destination: Pluto, an original, 13-part series following the New Horizons mission from its inception to its close encounter with the dwarf planet, as well as Destination: Mars, a 5-part series chronicling a bold plan to land humans on the red planet.

Enjoy the adventure, and stay curious!

 

 

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