Sara Merino-Aceituno

‘Describing Patterns’ short video


I recently produced a small video (10 minutes) for broad audience about my research with the filmmaker Sameer Patel.

This is part of ‘Cambridge Shorts‘; a programme run by the Public Engagement Office of the University of Cambridge that gives to young researchers funding to work with filmmakers and artists.


It is a kid’s dream to discover the world, to unravel its mysteries, to understand its secrets laws. The good news is that we humans are inherently equipped with the tools and mechanisms to do so; Mathematics. Be amazed at how good Mathematics are to describe the patterns in our world.

The premiere took place on the 20th of October in the Arts PictureHouse of Cambridge, where other 5 more videos were shown.


With Sameer at the Shoreditch House, 2014.

 The good thing of working with someone who does not belong to the Math Department (yes, this does not happen often for me) is that he or she can tell you when non-mathematical people are not going to understand what you are saying. Sameer did not shy away when he had to tell me: ‘People are not going to understand that.’, it did not matter how many times my answer would be ‘Really?’.

Our goal was to communicate an idea and we did it as a team. Sameer’s job was to first understand what I wanted to say and then we had to find together a way of saying it… that it was not boring. Not only it had to be engaging, but also artistic!

The bigger the challenge the more you learn from it. I had no idea at the beginning of how the final product would be, but I trusted in Sameer. I learned that you cannot put a hundred ideas in a video,… actually very few. That it is important to tell a story, to make people related to it. (That is a hard one: try to answer ‘How does fractional diffusion equations relate to people?’; fractional diffusion equations are the central topic of my dissertation). I also learned that for 6 seconds of video you need to shoot for 3 hours!

Giving voice and face to the video was not easy. I felt exposed to the world and evaluating the first cut objectively was an impossible task at the beginning. Sameer guide me through that.

I am very happy with the journey of producing the video and its final product. I am specially happy to have worked with Sameer, who has such a different background and perspective from me. It was a true collaboration between us; nobody imposed on the other. I hope you will enjoy it.


A big thanks goes for Sameer Patel, he has been extraordinary throughout the process of filmmaking. From the very beginning, Sameer made a great effort to understand what I wanted to communicate (which was not easy!). He is a perfectionist, always looking for the best shots and edition. He went with me through the process of writing 6 versions of the script and always encouraged me to be myself, to speak from the heart. Sameer has been very supportive; difficult moments happen when producing a video for the first time, especially if it is a video in which you are featuring, it can make you feel exposed. Sameer is a great professional and I look forward to keep seeing his videos. It was a pleasure to work with him.

Visit Sameer’s profile and watch some of his videos in vimeo.

Finally, I want to thank all the workers at the Public Engagement Office of the University of Cambridge, specially Dr. Lucinda Spokes, and the people who helped me to produce this video in one way or other.


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