Outside The Frame - COFS

Come take a look at one of Perth’s hidden gems of scientific research and engineering in another new Outside The Frame. Join us behind the scenes as we create a video for the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems.

The Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems is one mighty fascinating place. It’s a hub of experts; a diverse collection of minds that occupy themselves daily with problems literally not of this earth.

The center exists to test, design and research the ways in which manmade structures interact with the deep sea floor. They help serve the engineering design of offshore oil, gas and renewable industries but also support a variety of pure research that attracts experts from all over the world. It’s deeply complex stuff involving model making, microelectronics, computer and physical simulation, physics and high-level mathematics of which us humble photographers could never begin to understand.

Then there’s the centrifuge. The primary centrifuge used in the lab is a monster – imagine hundreds of kilograms of steel, water and seafloor mud spinning at such a speed that it reaches 200G (200 times earth’s gravity). There’s a good reason this beast is kept encircled in foot thick walls when it’s running. The pressures that these G loads exert on the experiment within the centrifuge allow the researchers to scale time and perform their experiments and collect data in hours rather than years in the field.

Here, there’s a wealth of visual interest for us. We love that our craft allows us to gain access to places like this. Humans doing incredible things together. There’s a sense of a tightly knit community of individual experts in their own respective fields and departments that fit together for a common outcome.

There’s the electronics lab – bristling rich with colourful wires, racks and racks of components, flashing lights, oscilloscopes, indecipherable computer displays and the ever-present whiff of soldering iron smoke. Across the hallway from electronics and down a corridor is the control room – the nerve center for centrifuge operation.

Many screens, all the data you could wish for, a whiteboard with stream-of-consciousness mathematics sprawled across it. Outside of here lies the centrifuge behind a heavy wall, itself behind a thick steel door above which is a screen that informs us of the speed at which the centrifuge is spinning – either zero, or terrifyingly rapid.

Pass through pallets of seafloor mud simulant through to the rear of the center past more rooms of experts, walk past another smaller centrifuge with respective support staff and you reach the area where miniature models are crafted by an expert machinist with extremely tight tolerances for use in simulations within the centrifuge.

We’ve worked with COFS for several years now and love that they see and understand the value in having quality images – images that allow outsiders to get a glimpse of their fascinating world, its people and the excellence in what it does. These aspects can be successfully communicated especially well as we are fascinated in environments such as this ourselves – whether we’re on the job or not.

We had the fortune lately to put together an ‘about us’ video for them. We didn’t need to show formulas, data or figures of any sort to communicate the most valuable aspects of the organisation. Being curious outsiders, we could see for ourselves what makes this a special place. We were able to successfully distill the notion that COFS is a world leading success in its field through video – something we believe can tell so much more than images and words alone.

It’s not hard to see how COFS is quoted as being the most productive facility of its type in the world. We very much look forward to working with COFS in the future and look forward to seeing them expand into their brand new facility soon, complete with a bigger and bolder centrifuge.