When we were asked to create a short film to communicate the world changing research at UEA we quickly realised that 60 seconds is not long to describe the huge breadth and depth of research undertaken by our researchers.

We began by asking ourselves what the phrase ‘UEA research’ really means?

Speaking to researchers across the campus we were struck each time by the passion with which they described not just what they research but why. It seemed to us the central importance - the tipping point, or spark if you like - of research is the moment where it deepens our understanding and actually changes lives.

To that end, our film doesn’t set out to describe the faculties or even disciplines in which our research lies but more the global context in which we are trying to make a difference.

1. DISCOVERING THE STORY

Once we knew how we wanted to approach the film we invited ideas from film production companies and asked them how they would tell our story. The agency we chose seemed to really understand what we were trying to do: tell more people about our high impact research while creating curiosity and inspiring a new generation of students and researchers to discover UEA.

At it’s core, the film represents the leap of faith a person must sometimes take into the depths of education and research to realise their future. We then follow our main character through different stages of an abstract journey as they explore how UEA is contributing to the world.


A great deal of time was spent working with the agency making sure the storyboard was right - and that it represented the broad sweep of research that we do.

2. WHAT'S WITH ALL THE EYES?

Your eyes. Your windows to the world...

We chose eyes as a central image for the film as we wanted people to look again at UEA and see our brilliant research in a new light. It’s not the first time we’ve taken a long look at eyes: UEA has a long tradition of ground-breaking eye research including discovering a potential cure for Cataracts.

The agency put a call out for people with ‘interesting eyes’ to come forward for the shoot. They used a piece of optician’s equipment to ensure the models’ stayed still while their eyes were filmed in 6K definition detail on a RED Dragon camera.


3. TAKE THE PLUNGE

Where people see limits and people see problems, we see leaps to be taken and boundaries to break.

The film shows a figure standing alone in a white room (an abstract representation of boundaries) where they are left with the decision to plunge into the opportunities that lie before them. In order to show our actor taking a leap into the unknown, we filmed live action in a white infinity cove studio with digital artists later creating a 3D hole in the floor.

Then it was off to an underwater shoot at a film studio with a specialist tank. Here, we discovered it’s the finer details that can make all the difference – if you are going to plunge someone into a water tank its best to check they can swim!

Happily, our actor could - which was lucky as they were plunged into cold water over 30 times to achieve the perfect shot.

4. ON LOCATION

"The team behind Breaking Boundaries faced a challenging schedule of shoots that spanned across four days including a water tank studio and cliff top locations. The visuals captured were striking.” Billy Burgoyne, Epiphany Solutions Ltd

Spoiler alert: we didn’t really film a whale in the sky! To show how we tackle the research challenges facing the world today, we filmed across several locations, suggesting how we carry out research, breaking boundaries on a grand scale. Once again live action footage was mixed with digital technology to create an intriguing visual designed to suggest you may think you know UEA, but perhaps you should look again.

We chose a whale because of course, our researchers are at the forefront of understanding the critical interactions of air and sea and the vital role ocean and atmospheric science plays in the functioning of the Earth.

Our actor is shown exploring an ancient forest and discovering a (real) forgotten door into another world (a later digital addition). 
 
A shot of the Ponte Tower, once seen as an extremely desirable address but latterly known as Johannesburg's 'shanty town in the sky', symbolic of societal  breakdown and urban decay.

This is our vision, the questions is: what's yours?

Finally the team were up at dawn in the rain to catch the sunrise for the perfect lighting of that last shot, suggestive of witnessing the birth of a 'better, healthier world'.

So, that’s our vision – the question is, will you take the plunge and discover UEA?

Watch the film here

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