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Redstones Top Prize Goes to Movie about Alien Abduction Aspiring filmmakers celebrated at COM’s annual film festival

The big winners at the Redstones Friday night: Allyssa Swearingen (COM’18) (from left), for her screenplay John Doe; Taylor Zaccario (COM’18) for his script DiMaggio; Melissa Bennett (COM’17), second place for directing Butterflies; Luke Catena (COM’17), best cinematography, best editing, and third place for directing, for The Shepherd; Luke Shields (COM’14), for The Boswell Incident screenplay; and for The Boswell Incident, first-prize-winning director Wes Palmer (COM’17). Photo by Lexi Pline (COM’19)

The 38th annual Redstones celebrated the best COM film and TV undergrad and grad work

Winners took home Canon cameras, Avid and ProTools software, and MacBook Pro computers

The festival, sponsored by media mogul Sumner Redstone (Hon.’94), next travels to Los Angeles

This weekend Wes Palmer (COM’17) nabbed top prize at the 38th annual Redstone Film Festival for directing The Boswell Incident, a science-fiction comedy about a young deputy sheriff forced to launch an investigation after her ex-boyfriend’s brother is abducted by aliens. The film, which drew the most laughs of the evening, also won best screenplay, by Luke Shields (COM’14), and best sound design.

Palmer raised more than $11,000 from a Kickstarter drive to finance The Boswell Incident. The 25-minute film, with a crew and cast of about 30 people, took eight months to produce, Palmer said after the ceremony. It was his second first-place Redstone win in three years: he also won in 2024 for directing You Are Here, a feat enjoyed by only two other alums over the past 16 years. “I like to think every film I make gets better, that I’m always improving,” Palmer said.

Second prize was awarded to Butterflies, directed by Melissa Bennett (COM’17), a Black Mirror-esque short film about a young woman’s struggle to reclaim her life after a shooting leaves her with PTSD.

“I suffer from depression and anxiety, and have since elementary school,” Bennett said after her win. “I wrote the film after a really horrible panic attack I had that left me out of commission for a full 24 hours. I don’t feel like we talk about mental health issues, and whenever we do, it’s in the wake of something like a mass shooting. Anything can trigger you. What I wanted to do with this film was showcase what that feels like.”

The documentary The Shepherd, directed by Luke Catena (COM’17), took home third-place directing honors, as well as awards for best cinematography and best editing. The film follows a shepherd in the ancient Yongtai Village in China’s Gansu Province.

Catena shot The Shepherd while he was abroad with Looking China, a collaborative program between Boston University and Beijing Normal University, which sponsors aspiring filmmakers on two-week summer trips to China. During his acceptance speech, he thanked Geoff Poister, a COM associate professor of television, who accompanies the BU students on the trip. “It was an incredible experience,” Catena said.

All of the works shown in the festival, which is sponsored by media mogul Sumner Redstone (Hon.’94), were originally created for a COM film, television, or video production class or as a graduate thesis project. This year’s finalists were first chosen by a committee of production, screenwriting, and film-studies graduates, with a panel of film industry professionals as final judges. Among the competition’s prizes were Canon cameras and accessories, Avid and ProTools software, and MacBook Pro computers.

Other festival finalists were Thomas Cross (COM’18), Ethan Cappello (CGS’18, COM’18), and Alex Benitez (CGS’18, COM’18), who directed Amontillado, about a man who can’t overlook a friend’s grave sin; James Logan Alexander (COM’17), whose film Breakdown is about a couple en route to a wedding who run over the runaway bride; and Jeffrey Palmer (COM’17), director of the Nesting Doll, about two grown brothers searching for a missing family keepsake.

The winners of the Fleder-Rosenberg short screenplay contest, sponsored by screenwriters Gary Fleder (COM’85) and Scott Rosenberg (COM’85), were also announced at the festival. First prize of $1,500 went to Taylor Zaccario (COM’18) for DiMaggio, second prize of $1,000 was awarded to Rachel Thomas (CAS’16, COM’19) for Rappa, and third prize of $750 was won by Allyssa Swearingen (COM’18), for John Doe.

“I’d like to express how proud I am of our students, both undergrad and grad,” said Scott Thompson, a COM assistant professor of film and director of the screenwriting program. “When the industry needs inclusion binders to force companies to do the right thing, I believe our next generation of writers and filmmakers are doing what’s right in setting the standard. And they’re doing what’s right because it’s the right thing to do.”

The Redstones are a two-part festival and conclude in Los Angeles on April 12. The finalist films from Boston compete again, judged by a West Coast panel of industry experts. The Los Angeles festival also holds a short competition for alumni.

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Metcalf Cup And Prize Winner: Stormy Attaway

Metcalf Cup and Prize Winner: Stormy Attaway Teaching that always evolves, like technology

Devotion to students and ever-improving teaching has earned Stormy Attaway the 2014 Metcalf Cup and Prize. Photo by Mike Spencer

Nature gave Stormy Attaway (GRS’84,’88) an intellect capable of grasping complex concepts. She wrote a textbook about a sophisticated programming language called MATLAB used in research labs, and she has worked to develop online education through BU’s Digital Learning Initiative.

Yet the College of Engineering assistant professor of mechanical engineering admits that one simple mathematical conceit has always stumped her: the bell curve.

“I have never understood why anyone in the education profession would create a system in which students are destined to fail,” she wrote in a statement of her teaching philosophy, adding her wish that all of her students could master all class material and thereby earn As (and, it goes without saying, abolishing the bell curve). That concern for students isn’t just wishful thinking on her part: when the ENG curriculum couldn’t accommodate a course in a vital programming language, she offered students free Saturday tutorials, which have become half-credit, supervised research courses.

Attaway (real name Dorothy—her parents nicknamed their newborn Stormy for her frequent bawling) is this year’s winner of the Metcalf Cup and Prize, the University’s highest teaching honor. Her drive to help ENG students thrive is a big reason why: the theory of evolution is no theory to Attaway, whose deliberately evolving teaching style incorporates new approaches to better reach students.

By evolving, Attaway doesn’t mean merely accommodating new technologies, but also experimenting with alternatives to traditional classroom lectures. “One of my main concerns is evidence-based teaching,” she says, “trying things in a systematic way to find out what works and what doesn’t.”

For example, she has shifted in recent years to brief talks of no more than 10 minutes, followed by practice problems that students tackle in teams for a more active learning approach. Last fall, she abolished lectures outright in one of her classes. Instead, students in that section received lecture slides online before class and devoted in-class time to problem-solving. “It wasn’t entirely successful,” she says, as many students weren’t adequately prepared before class.

This semester, she modified the approach, putting lecture videos online, complete with embedded quiz questions. “Students needed to bring the answers to class, which meant they had to watch the lecture videos. This has been much more successful,” Attaway says. Dispensing with traditional lectures makes it easier to assess how she’s doing as a teacher, since “I can walk around the room and engage the students one-on-one.”

She was “dumbfounded,” she says, when President Robert A. Brown and Provost Jean Morrison invited her to the president’s office to inform her about receiving the Metcalf Cup and Prize. “It has been very motivational to me. I feel more urgently than ever the need to help students learn basic coding concepts.”

“I can think of no one who has touched more BU engineering students during the last 30 years,” one colleague wrote to the Metcalf selection committee. An unsolicited note to Attaway from a former student raved, “Your class was the first programming class of my life. After the first few lectures, I was hooked. It wasn’t just the material I liked, but the presentation was unsurpassed by any subsequent class I took in my college career.…There are countless numbers of other students just like me whose life you’ve transformed.”

Attaway, who has taught at BU since 1986, has been instrumental in ENG’s administrative life as well. She is director of curricular assessment and improvement, she works with colleagues to improve instruction, and she uses upper class undergraduates in her courses as learning assistants, training them to lead groups in this team-dependent discipline.

A gift from the late Arthur G. B. Metcalf (SED’35, Hon.’74), a BU Board of Trustees chair emeritus and former professor, funds the Metcalf awards, created in 1973 and presented at Commencement. The Metcalf Cup and Prize winner receives $10,000 and the Metcalf Award winners receive $5,000 each. A University committee selects winners based on statements of nominees’ teaching philosophy, supporting letters from colleagues and students, and classroom observations of the nominees.

Terry Everson, a College of Fine Arts associate professor of music, and Alan Marscher, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of astronomy, are the recipients of this year’s Metcalf Awards.

More information about Commencement can be found at the Commencement website.

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New Pluto Images Hint At Alien Weather Cycle

New photos of Pluto’s surface show an icy planet that looks a lot like Earth. Close-ups taken by the New Horizons spacecraft show the mountains surrounding a plain named Sputnik Planum. Unlike those on Earth, the glaciers are made of nitrogen, not water.

For all intents and purposes, Pluto and Earth don’t have a lot in common. One is a planet, one is not (or at least not officially). One is an ice world, while the other is mostly water. One is red, the other blue. But black and white photos can obscure a lot of those differences. In the latest batch of images returned from the New Horizons spacecraft, Pluto looks a lot like home.

Do not be deceived, though. Those mountains aren’t rocky like our own, they’re made of solid ice. The dwarf planet can barely hang on to that thin, hazy atmosphere. And those smooth glaciers? They’re made of nitrogen instead of water.

Closeup On Sputnik Planum And Mountains

New photos of Pluto’s surface show an icy planet that looks a lot like Earth. Close-ups taken by the New Horizons spacecraft show the mountains surrounding a plain named Sputnik Planum. Unlike those on Earth, the glaciers are made of nitrogen, not water.

However, the most recent pictures provide new evidence that Pluto and Earth may be similar in more interesting ways—including having weather that changes from day to day, and something like a hydrological cycle. Only, instead of water, Pluto’s hydrogen cycle would probably revolve around nitrogen.

Close-ups reveal flowing glaciers that carve out patterns in the icy plains informally named Sputnik Planum. The activity may come from the evaporation of ice from Sputnik Planum, which gets deposited on the mountains to the east and later streams back into the plains.

Sputnik Planum looks like Antarctica

Lines indicating the flow of glaciers on Sputnik Planum

“We did not expect to find hints of a nitrogen-based glacial cycle on Pluto operating in the frigid conditions of the outer solar system,” said New Horizons’ Alan Howard in a press release. “Driven by dim sunlight, this would be directly comparable to the hydrological cycle that feeds ice caps on Earth, where water is evaporated from the oceans, falls as snow, and returns to the seas through glacial flow.”

A new view of Pluto

Looking back just after flying past Pluto, the New Horizon’s spacecraft captured this shot of the informally named Norgay mountains and the large, flat Sputnik Planum.

What Kind Of Content Goes Where?

Orientate content around people at different stages of purchase intent

Since I’m always pushing the importance of content marketing and creating infographics about how to use content marketing, it’s interesting to see the questions marketers ask about them. This week a client asked me a great and simple question this week…

“I understand creating content, but where do I put all this content… what kind of content goes where”?

That’s a fair question that I think many will have.

Information that sells your expertise and builds trust

The core aim that we all have is to ultimately sell something, so let’s start here. By definition this content is going to be on your website in the most-part. So you’re going to need a place to place content in a way that can be related to what you want to sell – important!

Categorise great content in a content hub such as a blog, online resource centre, customer magazine or resource centre so that you can easily relate it to product/service information – you need a home for it, we say this all of the time of course but not just any home. Making the “next step” obvious is absolutely crucial, even if this is just some form of data capture. Often blogs or social media outposts are disconnected from the place to purchase. Make the customer journeys seamless

Make the content valuable, we hear this a lot and it sounds vague? Simple, solve problems that people have at the related stage in purchasing your kinda stuff! If you don’t know, go find out. Content that “talks to me”, that empathises, is what matters. Great sales is solving problems not selling for selling’s sake

Use a range of content types otherwise it gets boring, this also allows you to put a different spin on very similar topics – doing an infographic one week and then a SlideShare or video the next engages much more and encourages people to come back, in the very least it has the potential to hook different types of people. See our content marketing matrix infographic for ideas and think how they relate to the buying process

Design in a reason for me to give you my data, this way you earn the right to follow up. Placing your content into interactive tools such as quizzes might also be a smart move

The goal is to help! Of course we hope that content in a blog is information that gets indexed by Google, content that in turn is good enough to warrant sharing by you.

Content that engages and nurtures a fan-base

You need content that is built to nurture a community or fan-base. That community is most-often virtual, spread everywhere, but you’re on their radar because you create valuable stuff. Smart Insights do this via our blog, but in most commercial cases you still see this done well in emails, especially in the B2B space. It’s not that you can’t sell to the community, an effort to be valuable is sales in it’s softest sense, but the intent is to be valuable first and foremost, which is what makes it different. So forget about the money off banners here 🙂

So as not to lose that privilege of having a strong fan base – here are a few tips for managing your content marketing:

Create great stories that are interesting on the topic of choice, since the goal is entertainment and/or education content curation works really well here

Keep on topic and on-trend 80% of the time, be useful – and 20% of the time try being entertaining (I’ve wondered if we should try this on Smart Insights too!?)

Combing email and social media is pretty key now, these are the key customer communications channels, Dave’s written good stuff on this before

Consider content that’s easy to digest in short periods of time and that content is similarly dead easy to re-share on your behalf

I’m a big fan of ebooks and guides in this area, they’re great to demonstrate a credibility and thought leadership, if you plan ahead they also break down easily into multiple blog posts and webinars too, as an example

Content that’s placed to hooks new fans

Here we’re talking about outposts, something we’ve covered before in infographic form. What should you create for those places? The key again is in recognising that your audience are already present in multiple locations, this “new business” (if we’re thinking B2B as example) maybe don’t know you exist or even care so much at the moment. Putting content in their lap therefore makes great sense.

How might you get a regular gig, guest blogging or sharing content to an important outpost for your industry?

From a B2C perspective you might be doing anything from game creation and video virals to running fun quizzes and contents in Facebook (though keep it valuable – we’re primarily hooking fans, earning the permission, not trying to coupon our way to more sales)

Don’t forget to invest your time where the questions are being asked, demonstrate your value. Whether LinkedIn Groups (B2B) or sites like Lonely Planet’s Thorntree (if you were B2C travel, for example) – it’s not just Facebook and Twitter, though of course they matter

Image courtesy of Kevin Thom photography

Nokia Goes Global With Free Navigation

SAN FRANCISCO — Nokia is leveraging its considerable portfolio of navigation services to become the first company to offer free navigation worldwide on its handsets. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) shook up the nav market earlier when it announced free maps and navigation on Android-based handsets in the U.S., but Nokia has considerably more reach.

The new offering, Ovi Maps, has its roots in Nokia’s multi-billion purchase in 2007 of navigation leader Navteq. Nokia previously charged for the services, which include turn-by-turn navigation in 74 countries, it’s now offering for free.

“Google’s in the U.S. only, while Nokia via Navteq offers the best coverage in the world from Africa to China, Europe and elsewhere,” Dominique Bonte, practice director at ABI Research told chúng tôi “What’s unexpected about this is that when you get something for free, it’s not usually the best in the market, but this is.”

But where Google’s Android OS is appearing on a growing number of smartphones, Ovi Maps is, for now, only available on Nokia smartphones. The Nokia 5800 and E72 are among the ten the Finnish mobile phone giant it’s available on now with more to follow. Starting in March, Nokia said it plans to preload phones with Ovi Maps. Lonely Planet and Michellin Travel Guide content is also being made available free to Nokia users.

Christof Hellmis, vice president of location services for Nokia, said the company is definitely interested in getting its mapping services onto competing handsets. “Why not? Yes, eventually we’d like to see these services on other devices, not just Nokia’s,” Hellmis told chúng tôi at a media event here.

Bonte said he fully expects Nokia to offer navigation to other handset makers. “The whole Ovi service platform is like a separate business unit and that’s always been the master plan to offer these services to others,” he said. “Otherwise they are limited to their own devices, but what they really want to do is offer navigation, music and money/payment services to a variety of handset makers.”

Hellmis said Nokia is actively pursing distribution and support of a software development kit (SDK) designed to help developers bring out new location-aware applications. The company already offers a level of integration with Facebook with and Twitter, which lets users keep in contact with friends by letting them see where they are geographically.

Hellmis said that as maps are entering a new 3-D world that allows for a lot more information and geo-tagging to be embedded in buildings, historical monuments and the like.

From a competitive point of view, Bonte said Nokia has a deeper offering than Google which he calls “offboard” navigation in that all the information resides on a remote server. Nokia’s “onboard” software runs locally on the device letting users download maps and, for example, work out travel plans offline.

“I just spent 11 hours on a flight coming out here and I was able to figure out everywhere I needed to go and how to get there when I was in the plane without an Internet connection,” said Hellmis.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at chúng tôi the news service of chúng tôi the network for technology professionals.

Google Earth Goes Under The Sea

View Photo Gallery

Google Earth broke new ground (new water?) when they took the world of virtual-earth-exploring into the oceans. Of course, the oceans are kind of big. They fill up nearly three-quarters of the earth’s surface area, and most of that area hasn’t been mapped out. But now you can tour roughly half of the known area without pulling on any SCUBA gear, thanks to Google’s new underwater terrain explorer.

Seeing the sea floor is just the beginning of the fun. Along the way, Google Earth points out eruptions, sea animals and other scientific points of interest from Hawaii to New York, all in nicely clear high resolution. (You can take a virtual tour through some highlights if the entire ocean world seems overwhelming.) This imagery represents nearly two decades of collected data from research ships that travelled about three million nautical miles and a partnership with scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Google Earth

The Other 71 Percent

While large parts of the undersea terrain remain a delightful mystery for scientists, armchair deep-sea divers can now use Google Earth to explore an area slightly larger than North America. Oceans cover more than 71 percent of the earth.

Watery Sky Above

The seafloor highlight tour plunges the viewer into the sea from the sky. Disappointingly, there’s no huge splash, but that doesn’t diminish from giving you the feeling that you’re swimming above ocean terrain.

Zooming In

Google Earth provides more than a fly-by look at the undersea mountains and trenches. Viewers can zoom in on the geographical features, visiting the well-known Marianas Trench or touring the Pacific Ocean’s rocky floor.

Deep Sea Vents

Skeptical about how much entertainment this could provide? A second highlight tour video, appropriately called Deep Sea Vents Google Earth Tour, contains videos of volcanic eruptions. The several magma-filled minutes might make you an avid (virtual) sea explorer yet!

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