The world that we live in, is one of constant innovation and change. That fact has drawn more and more Scientists out of the lab and into other industries. Their skills are needed everywhere, including some more surprising types of work, like the film industry. We all know on some level that what we see on screen isn’t exactly what is happening in front of the camera but here are 5 of the top ways that a scientist can work behind the scenes to make the silver screen sparkle. The very first place a moving picture camera was devised was at Kew Observatory in 1845 by a scientist. Astronomer, Francis Ronalds, invented a time-lapse camera to watch the night sky. Things on the big screen have come a long way since then.
Scary movies wouldn’t be the same without a creepy blanket of fog, rolling across the screen and it wouldn’t be possible or safe to light a fire for every scene that includes smoke. It takes a chemist to manufacture and execute an answer to the problem. The most popular way to produce smoke is using dry ice, the solid form of carbon dioxide. When water is poured onto the freezing cold solid, the result is the immediate production of vapour. To the eye of the viewer smoke. This fact means chemical technicians are a common sight on a film set.
Scientists are also drafted in to add realism to films that dabble in the fantastical. For example, the team behind the Watchmen hired a Professor in Physics to consult on their production and consult on the theoretical frameworks that would affect their characters, in order to guide their artistic direction.
Paleontologists were brought in to give their academic opinions on the production of the Jurassic Park films. They were needed to make sure that the range of dinosaurs was wide and the realism of their presentation was up to scratch. They gave advice on which dinosaurs were feathered, which are believed to have worked cooperatively and their gait as part of the production process.
Animation teams may sound like they would be full of artists and creatives but the reality is that these days, they are usually packed with computer scientists and programmers. The days when animation was a flick through of thousands of drawings alone are gone. Algorithms are programmed to give characters their walk, edit in hundreds of horses for a new battle scene or make a swarming horde of aliens appear to ripple. That means programmers and physicists and plenty of them.
As high tech crime dramas like CSI have become wildly popular, forensic scientists have been pulled in to consult on them. The public demands greater and greater realism as the genre gains traction and science graduates are drawn in as advisors onset and at the storyboard stage. The need for scientists in the film business does not come from the need for precise accuracy but the desire to make a fictional reality plausible and consistent to the audience is very real.