Moments of Innovation – A Stanford Virtual Experience

Watch the Film

Moments of Innovation is freely available for viewing online via Stanford University Libraries’ YouTube channel. Please note that the film requires a head-mounted display (such as a Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR) to view in 360°. Due to the size of the video, please allow content to buffer before playing for an optimal 360° experience.

Beginning in October 2016, the film will be on exhibit on an Oculus Rift at the David Rumsey Map Center, located on the 4th floor of Green Library’s Bing Wing on the Stanford University campus, and open weekdays from 1-5 PM. 

About the Film

Moments of Innovation is a virtual reality film that highlights 125 years of innovation at Stanford. A collaboration between the Stanford University Archives and three graduate students in Stanford’s documentary filmmaking program, the film seamlessly weaves together historical images and audiovisual materials from the Archives with 360° video footage of iconic Stanford locations and experiences.

Running Time: 3’51”

Created by Lauren Knapp (MFA Spring ’16), Dane Christensen (MFA Spring ’17), and Aria Swarr (MFA Spring ’17). Narrated by Lauren Knapp. Produced by Stanford University Archives. Supported with funding generously provided by Stanford University Libraries’ Payson J. Treat Fund for Library Program Development & Research, and by Stanford Arts’ SPARK! Grant.

About the Filmmakers

LAUREN KNAPP (MFA Spring ’16) is a non-fiction storyteller who is committed to telling true and compelling stories, regardless of the medium. She has been working in film, television, and radio since 2006 and her stories have been featured on the PBS News Hour, PRI’s The World, WQED, and The Atlantic Monthly website. In 2011, she moved to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia with the support of a Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship where she produced “Live From UB” (2015), an award-winning feature length documentary on rock music and national identity among Mongolia’s urban youth. Her work covers a wide range of topics from Mongolian rock to lockdown drills in elementary schools, from climate change to the death penalty. She joined forces with Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab to co-direct a short VR documentary on ocean acidification. “The Crystal Reef” will premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.

DANE CHRISTENSEN (MFA Spring ’17) is a visual storyteller with a panache for utilizing new media to tell compelling stories. He makes a point to be digitally creative and experiment with how technology enhances traditional forms of narrative. After receiving a BA in Communications, Dane traveled to Denmark to make a film about the intimate relationship the Danish have with nature. Some of his most recent work includes documenting the impact of education in rural communities in Southern Mexico as well as following the lifestyles of Surfista Cubanos in Havana. He also has extensive experience in professional drone cinematography which has been featured on, The Verge, Business Insider and SF Weekly. 

ARIA SWARR (MFA Spring ’17)is a filmmaker, producer and director who has lived primarily between the U.S. and Israel. She has worked internationally to capture stories featuring subjects that range from fishermen using solar powered audio tools in Zambia to time traveling donkeys in Nazareth. Her first sixteen-minute documentary about prostitution was selected for screening at the Israeli Parliament in 2012 as a part of an effort to change laws in the nation. She has a BA in interdisciplinary studies from Wheaton College where she combined sociology, communication, and English to study how stories can motivate social action.


All collection materials included in the film are from the Stanford University Archives unless otherwise noted.

Scene 1: Opening credits over Main Quad, 2016 (2 angles).

Scene 2: Palo Alto Stock Farm, 2016; Eadweard Muybridge photographs (1878). Muybridge developed innovative photographic techniques while studying animals in motion at Leland Stanford’s stock farm.

Scene 3: MRI brain scan, 2016. Professor Felix Bloch (1905-1983) was awarded Stanford’s first Nobel Prize (Physics, 1952) for his investigations into nuclear technologies used in the first Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Scene 4: Images drawn from the history of human anatomy, from the Norman E. Shumway Project records. Shumway was a pioneer of heart transplant surgery at Stanford, successfully carrying out the first adult heart transplant in 1968.

Scene 5: Film of the Stanford Cart, a precursor to the moon rover, developed by the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL), 1962-1971.

Scene 6: Photographs depicting Stanford’s participation in the women’s suffrage movement, 1896; African American campus student protests in the wake of the death of Martin Luther King Jr., 1968; South Africa divestment campaign, 1985, Chicana/o student hunger strike, 1994; and film of Martin Luther King Jr.’s The Other America speech, delivered at Stanford’s Memorial Auditorium in 1967.

Scene 7: Stanford Diving, 2016.

Scene 8: Hopkins Marine Station, Monterey Bay, 2016. Video footage courtesy of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Laboratory.

Scene 9: Institute of Design at Stanford (D.School), 2016. Includes an excerpt of remarks from former Stanford Provost Condoleezza Rice, 1988.

Scenes 10-11: Archival photographs and media, 1891-2016.

Scene 12: Closing credits over Stanford Oval, 2016.

Scene 13: Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, 2016.