EP Ch4 Hollywood Physics


Your challenge for Chapter 4 will be to use the tools learned about forces and motion in Chapter 4 to analyze a movie clip and show how Hollywood violates (or doesn't) the laws of physics.

Mr. Osowiecki's Example Project

Superman's Eyeball

Finding a Clip

Finding a video may be the most challenging part of this project. Action movies are often the most fun to work with since they take many liberties with physics. Use the following criteria when selecting a video.

  • Your video must exhibit just 1-dimensional motion.
  • The video needs to be slow enough for you to make accurate estimates of distances and times. (But, if it’s in slow motion you’ll need to account for that.)
  • Since you looked at acceleration in this chapter, the video must include an acceleration event (No floating in the air, or moving at constant speed situations).
  • Avoid the real obvious violations of physics, such as Superman flying.

Once you have a clip, submit it to your teacher for review before proceeding with your analysis.


Teachers: We have found that students need guided practice to be successful in this project.

Here are a few presentations we developed with videos for student practice.

EP Ch4 Video Practice 01 ‎(Trash Can)‎
EP Ch4 Harry's Bus Ride

Technical Information

Creating your presentation:

  • Once you have approval, get going on the next steps of the analysis, research and presentation creation, following the steps in Energizing Physics Activity 4.8. Remember that PHYSICS is the center thing here, not fancy presentation appearance or tricks. No need for fancy power-point animations, etc. What would be useful are force diagrams, equations.
  • You can insert the video ("insert"..."video"), if its youtube, right into a slide of our presentation. This will be a useful thing for others to be able to watch your video. Indicate the time period you want people to focus on.
  • You can also insert screenshots of specific key moments in your clip. See below for more detail on how to get a screenshot on Mac or PC. Once you have screenshots it might be nice to draw arrows (like force diagrams), measurements, numbers, etc. on the screenshots.
  • The sections (see 4.8) are A. Estimating Physical Quantities, B. Modeling with Physics and C. Evaluate
  • Make sure to list sources of information, with URLs, on the last slide.

Trim YouTube Clips: To show just a part of the video

    1. Open One of these Links: TubeChop, Tech Tips
    2. Select “Just the link”
    3. Enter the youtube url and enter the starting time and ending time for your scene.
    4. Say “Yes” to autoplay.
    5. Get your link.
    6. Set up a hyperlink in your Google Presentation (you won’t be able to directly insert the video into the presentation).

Slow down youtube:

Here is a tool to slow down youtube videos, almost to frame by frame:


Taking a screenshot:

In order to analyze your clip and estimate distances, velocities, times, and accelerations, it is highly recommended to take SCREENSHOTS of your clip to compare and explain. Later, you will be incorporating these screenshots into your presentation.


  1. Press Ctrl-Shift-F5 (the screen icon) and then select the part of the window you want.
  2. Go to the "apps" icon on the bottom of the scree, then choose "Files." The screenshot you took is there, in PNG format. When you insert the file into your presentation, that file folder will be where you find the file.

Follow these steps to TAKE A SCREENSHOT WITH A MAC

  1. go to "applications" and choose the "utilities" folder
  2. in the utilities folder, choose the "grab" application
  3. at the top of the screen, you should now have the "grab" menus.
  4. in the "Capture" menu, select either screen, if you want your entire screen captured, OR selection if you want just a part of your screen.
  5. IF you chose "selection" then make a box around the area you want to be in your image. Once you release, the picture will be taken, and the file should show a preview immediately.
  6. SAVE the image as a JPEG or PNG file (TIF files will not work in google presentations)

NOTE: you can also quickly take a screenshot of a selection with the keystroke: Command+Shift+4 This will save the image directly to your desktop as a PNG file.

Follow these steps to TAKE A SCREENSHOT WITH A PC (windows) windows VISTA, 7, or 8

  1. open the start menu, go to "all programs", find the "accessories" folder, and choose the "snipping tool" application. you can also just search for "snipping tool" after you open the start menu.
  2. a small window will pop up. Make sure the "New" button is selected (if it is the screen goes washed-out).
  3. You may now drag your cursor to make a box over the area you wish to take a picture of, the area will be outlined in red.
  4. once you release the mouse button, the picture will be taken and appear as a preview in the "snipping tool" window.
  5. You can SAVE the image you just took by selecting the save icon (it looks like a floppy disk ,for all you young people) which is located just ot he right of the "New" button.
  6. The standard saving window will appear, chose the save destination and file type (the default is PNG, but you can also save as a JPEG or GIF.

NOTE: if you have windows XP or earlier, the snipping tool does not exist. You will have to use the "print screen" button on your keyboard. This will essentially copy your entire screen, so that you can PASTE it in a word doc, in paint, or in some other picture viewing application. There you can crop and save as necessary.

NOTE: If you are having trouble, there are many "how to's" online, and your peers are also an excellent resource for getting information on how to do various things on computers.