Why do Boats Float?

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License: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike Why do Boats Float? Floating Physics
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27 Jan, 2009


Archimedes’ Principle, and why boats float.

Director's Notes:

In this film, we explain Archimedes’ Principle — a fundamental law of physics — before demonstrating it and also exploring its wider applications and implications on society.

SciCast Notes:

One of the biggest challenges in film-making is working out how to film something you can’t point a camera at. Either because it doesn’t exist, or it’s too horrific to show, or whatever. In this case, there’s a clear problem: how do you show a naked man running down the street, when frankly, we don’t want to see that?

This team have picked absolutely the correct solution: they’ve shown peoples’ reactions to the (imagined, off-screen) action. It’s a huge cheat, but it really is the best way of doing it. Partly because it’s funny.

This is a very accomplished film all-round, in fact. It’s well constructed, and the sound is very clear. It sounds to me like they’ve reconstructed the location sound, in fact, which is a complex job to do this well. The pacing of the film is good, too. Lots of material is crammed in, but it never feels rushed.

Gripes? The shot of the boat near the end isn’t the best, it’s not quite clear what I’m supposed to be looking at. Also, the film is just a little serious. The Archimedes reenactment is funny, and played for laughs, but then the rest of the film takes it very seriously indeed, so the viewer isn’t sure if they’re supposed to laugh or not.

Minor quibbles, though — when you get into discussing mood and tone, you know the major stuff is sorted. So, this is an extremely well-planned film, executed with admirable attention to detail.

— Jonathan.