Leading factual TV producer Films of Record has just launched its latest work on Google and YouTube, rather than a traditional broadcaster like the BBC or Channel 4.

Cern People is a Google+ page and a YouTube channel, which features short films about the scientific activities at Cern, the world’s largest physics lab that’s famous for its multi-billion pound research into particle physics and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

There’s currently two short films two view, directed by film-maker Liz Mermin, with three or four a month set to be uploaded. These will eventually be compiled into a feature documentary.

Films of Record chief executive Roger Graef unveiled the films today at a press event at Google’s offices in Victoria.

Google are providing funding for the short films, running into the tens of thousands of pounds. Google has previously provided backing for other projects such as Kevin Macdonalds’ Life in a Day and Jamie’s Dream School.

Google’s head of public relations Peter Barron said that the funding did not signify a deliberate move by the search engine giant into creating and commissioning content, but instead was to “demonstrate the possibilities of our platforms.” He described Google’s contribution as “seed money and technical support.”

The films will follow a handful of physicists throughout 2012, which promises to be one of the most important years for physics in a generation. The Google+ page and hangouts are designed to offer a chance for users to comment on and interact with real people at Cern.

As such, the films are acting like an extended – and funded – development process for the final feature documentary which will be made next year and is likely to be backed by the BBC’s Storyville and the Irish Film Board.

Graef was offered access to Cern last January.  But although he had the access, he struggled to find a place for a documentary about Cern on television when it was unclear what the results of the experiments there would yield.

He said platforms like Google and YouTube offered the perfect platform for a complex story, one that is constantly developing and that has multiple different angles and routes to explore.

“Conventional TV is linear, new media is not,” said Graef.

He added: “This isn’t about answers. It’s about questions and provoking conversations.”

Tim Dams

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