First Dog to Fly a Drone
Drones from Exyn Technoloies can fly around and figure out where they can fit, then explore through those spaces.
One industry they are targeting is mining, making mapping the mines safer and faster. They wanted to get the word out to potential customers. So they called Worldview Films.
Their original idea was to make a funny video where a turtle would "fly" the drone. The idea was to show how easy it is, even a turtle could do it. We found a professional turtle actor with a handler.
As we scouted the mine the evening before the shoot, we got a call from the turtle handler. She had tested positive for COVID.
So we scrambled. Obviously, the handler couldn't come, and the turtle wasn't comfortable performing without her there.
We tried to find another turtle anywhere we could - but not luck. My brain went into overdrive - could we think of another slow animal to take the turtle's place? Rachel Appel, Exyn Marketing Director, got on the phone with Nader Elm, Exyn CEO. I overheard Nader say something about an old dog one of the engineers had. Something clicked.
The engineer was coming the next morning with the drones and we asked him to bring his dog along. That evening at the hotel I sketched out a new storyboard with the dog. I was excited - it felt like it was going to work.
The next day, filming went beautifully. Shot by shot, I went through my storyboard. Kody the dog was a rockstar, even with no formal acting training or experience.
When we released the video, Forbes Magazine was impressed enough to publish an entire article about the video and the importance of the new Exyn technology.
Bio of a Vaccine Scientist
SIAM was one of my earliest clients. We work together to tell stories of how important math is to the world. We had big plans for 2020 but then the coronavirus hit and changed everything. But it also revealed a unique story for math: the importance of math in developing vaccines. I suggested we find a scientist involved in the process, and they found Jeff Sachs, who leads math modeling for Merck's vaccine research. One of my main ideas for SIAM has been to do profiles on mathematicians that build them as characters that viewers can connect with emotionally. Talk about what they do outside of the office, what makes them human, what gets them out of bed in the morning. Show their human side and their passion.
Jeff was a perfect character, he's brilliant but laid back, passionate and fun and plays in a rock band.
Production was tricky during a pandemic, but in the end we got to do the interview in person once we were all vaccinated. Thanks to math.
As you can imagine, it was a busy time for Jeff as a vaccine scientist, so we are eternally grateful for the time he took for this.
Some reviews from the SIAM team:
"It is captivating and hits lots of great points! Jeff’s passion for math and his successful career in vaccine research is very compelling, especially today, and he does a good job explaining the importance of applied mathematics. He is a great role model – persuasive as students think about pursuing a career in applied math and in industry. He also does a great job at conveying the impactful and important role SIAM has had on his career."
"I wanted to tell you how much I really enjoyed that great new video on the SIAM YouTube channel you did. You did a wonderful job and I especially appreciate that you shared a little bit about your own life and how education/math/science makes you feel. Apart from my role at SIAM, I’m very thankful you did this video."
That’s pretty cool!
This is just fantastic!
And from scientists in the pharmaceutical industry:
"Very nice video. i enjoyed listening. its really good. i can hear your passion for science, and your knowledge too."
"Very inspiring video! This clearly took great effort – thank you for spreading the vaccine (and math) message!"
This is the most viral video I've ever made so far. It appeared on the CNN homepage for over a week, as well as all the major news sites: NYTimes, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NBC, BBC, The Atlantic and thousands of others. When it was played at the main TED Talks of the year, it got a standing ovation.
It sparked years of television requests to film the robots and conduct interviews with its inventors (they were so inundated, they had to turn everyone but the most high profile away).
I made it for the University of Pennsylvania, to highlight their Engineering program. No one dreamed it would have the result it did.
It even ended up in exhibits in two museums. It was a bit of a cultural moment; it showed the capabilities of robots in a fun way. This was years before drones had become so popular (Penn helped invent them).
The two students I worked with on the video graduated and started their own robotics company. Their company hired my new video production company to make more videos of their robots, getting millions of views. They were eventually acquired by one of the world's preeminent tech companies.
Making videos about drones doing incredible things is still close to my heart. I now do work with another robotics company with a history intertwined with Penn: Exyn Technologies.
Swarthmore College is one of the best around - it's harder to get into than many Ivy League schools. When I had my first meeting with Swarthmore, we talked about their goals and started brainstorming ideas.
As we spoke, someone threw out the idea of how cool it would be to ask seniors one question: "Why would you recommend Swarthmore to incoming Freshmen?" Don't prompt them at all, just get the raw, unvarnished truth and the authenticity will shine through in the video.
We spent a few days hanging out with students, filming and interviewing. It was the first of many videos we've done for Swarthmore, and they loved it. I came away genuinely convinced that Swarthmore was a great school.
Swarthmore has used the video widely in recruiting, admissions and even some fundraising. When potential students hear authentic stories straight from the mouths of students who went to Swarthmore, they get a true sense of how special the school really is. That's something that's hard to capture any other way.