May 4, 2012, by Fraser

University’s Periodic Table of Videos beats out big boys for top internet award

The Webby Awards are billed as the internet’s Oscars – they are about as prestigious as it gets. And the University’s Periodic Table of Videos has punched above its weight to bag the award in the reality online film category, over the stiffest of competition.

The videos series, which has hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube, beat out Getty Images Music, Discovery Communications, Yahoo! and National Film Board of Canada. This year’s other winners include internet giants Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Surprise win

University film-maker Brady Haran – the man behind the camera – was more than satisfied just to be nominated for the prestigious awards.

He said: “The other nominees were very impressive and, to be honest, I’m surprised we pipped them to the post. It’s a little bit surreal to see a university win this sort of award up against the likes of Discovery and Yahoo!”

The series – as the name suggests – originally intended to produce a video about each of the elements in the periodic table. Brady and company completed this task long ago and now the team is pushing the boundaries further and further to bring chemistry to life.

The Webby Awards has a highly prestigious judging panel, including Twitter co-founder Bix Stone, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom and musician David Bowie. And the panel – like those who tune in week after week to see the latest Periodic videos – were won over by what they saw.

YouTube sensation

“I don’t think we ever expected the videos to be so popular,” said Brady. “But we all have so much fun making them, and I guess that comes across in the films – it makes them fun to watch. I think people really like the human quality to the films. The chemists know their stuff, but they’re also not afraid to have a laugh, admit their mistakes and share their personalities. The videos are very real – they show chemistry as it really is… I guess that is why we won the reality category?

“And, of course, people also like the fire and explosions.”

Etching the Queen’s portrait on a diamond

There are videos on all sorts of subjects on the series’ YouTube channel, from etching the Queen’s portrait onto a diamond ahead of the Jubilee to explosive scenes of Professor Martyn Poliakoff demonstrating the reactivity of Chromium Trioxide. But will there be any time to break out the video camera in New York for a new Periodic video when Brady collects the award at the glitzy Webby Awards ceremony on Monday 21 May?

“There’s so much work to be done, I’m not sure we’ll have much time to film in New York – but if there are any chemistry tales to be  told, we’re open to suggestions.”

The Periodic Table of Videos has its own website and YouTube channel. You can also follow them on Twitter via @periodicvideos.


See how the team managed to etch the Queen’s portrait onto a diamond:


Posted in Awards and accolades