15 January 2018

Snow Rollers: Nature’s Winter Treat

If you live in one of world’s colder, snowier regions you may have seen them – but even then the chance are remote.  A rare and seemingly mysterious treat of nature, the snow roller is a natural phenomenon created without human intervention.  They are known by other names too: snow donuts, snow cylinders or even snow bales. Whatever you prefer to call them, it seems that nature, at least, is trying to make the most of the snow and have a little fun.

14 January 2018

Einstein-Rosen


One reviewer has called this short an enjoyable blend of complex quantum physics and good old family banter.  That is so true. Let's set the scene. It is the summer of 1982. Teo claims he has found a wormhole. His brother Óscar does not believe him - at least not for now.  It may take a few decades, but...

This charming short film was written and directed by Olga Osorio.  It’s a delight to watch from start to finish, not only for the script and pace of the action but the excellent performances, particularly from the two youngsters.  My feeling is that they didn’t have much of a clue what they were saying, but they certainly give the impression that they do!
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Happiness


It is riven with his usual joie de mourir and I couldn’t take my eyes off it throughout – so how did I miss the new Steve Cutts animation by a month?  Perhaps I was going through my own particular version of this old metaphor given coruscating new life.  After all, I do refer to my real world job as akin to being a hamster on a wheel.  At least I haven’t ended up like the young every-rat featured here. Yet.
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Nazi VR


Virtual Reality is a fairly new technology and the crimes committed by the Nazis in Europe are further in the past as each sun sets.  So how can the two possibly be connected?  , Germany deployed VR technology to re-create Auschwitz, and proved that an SS guard would have seen the atrocities taking place all around him.  

In what turned out to be (currently) the last ever World War Two nazi trial, virtual reality was pivotal in ensuring that some justice was victorious over one of the perpetrators of the greatest evil of the twentieth century.  This incredible short documentary was made by MEL Films.

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Cough: The Australian Flu Movie


The British media is at full throttle at the moment, spreading fear and panic about Australian Flu. So, it's great to see that Cough, a rather prescient short film has recently been made available for wider audiences. It is set in Australia and one can easily imagine that this is just a few short months down the line from today.

This is a post-infectious society on the verge of a collective breakdown, Cough (directed by Jason Kempnich) features the social effects of a deadly virus on just a few individuals.  When food shortages during the pandemic force recently widowed George to drive far from home to survive in search of food,  a simple purchase of rations derails when he stumbles upon a Shopkeeper's secret, placing all of them in mortal jeopardy.
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13 January 2018

The Golden Hour: Magical Photography

Have you ever taken a photograph that seems to have a magical quality to it, because of the way in which the light has been captured in the shot?  The chances are that you took the picture during the two times of day that photographers know as the golden hour.

The first hour of sunlight of the day makes the first golden hour.  As the sun rises the light is softer than later in the day when the full and harsh rays of the sun shine down upon us.  Likewise at the end of the day in the hour before sunset, the sun is close to the horizon again.  As in the morning, the light travel in an oblique manner and so, instead of hitting objects straight down, hits them at an angle.

7 January 2018

What Are Those Things on Giraffes’ Heads?

Perhaps we spend so long looking at the main creature feature of giraffes – their elegant, incredibly extended necks – that we miss other interesting bits.  That may be the case with those things on the top of their heads (and we don’t mean their ears!).  So, what are they and what are they used for?  The Ark in Space, our sibling site, has a new feature on this most interesting anatomical oddity with a cool gallery of giraffes to boot. So, nudge nudge, wink wink, pop over and take a look!
They certainly have the most fascinating of faces…

First Image Credit Second Image Credit

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6 January 2018

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit New Zealand, You Will After You Watch This


New Zealand is an incredible place to visit and if you have five months, as Man and Drone did, then you will be able to take in a great deal of this fascinating country.  Here you have a combination of drone footage and timelapse which showcase the simply gobsmacking beauty of the place.  If you are planning a visit to New Zealand you  might want to read the accompanying article to this incredible piece of film.

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Donny the Drone (Starring Guy Pearce)


Featuring the voice of Guy Pearce, Donny the Drone is an interesting short film about a drone which, when fate intervenes, gains self-awareness. Directed by Mackenzie Sheppard and written by Andrew 'Oyl' Miller it focuses in on the moment that Donny receives the “Person of the Year” award and is given an opportunity to tell his story. I’m going to leave the philosophy to you but I found this an interesting take on the nature of humanity and the occasionally fine line between altruism and megalomania.
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Stephen King on Childhood


Many people think that something awful must have happened to Stephen King when he was a child, something that translates itself in to his work.

Here he explains in an interview why childhood is, to him, a different state of being, a culture of its own divorced from the realities of adult life.  This animated short was created by Patrick Smith as part of the PBS series Blank on Blank.

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Frost Flowers: Beautiful but Rare Wonders of Nature

Frost Flowers
Back in 2012 we published a feature about frost flowers - you can read the original here (which includes all the science!).  Created in the autumn or early winter, the frost flower is a morning phenomenon.  Ice is pushed through in extremely thin layers through the stems of plants, creating and astounding whirl of beautiful patterns.  We thought we would take a look and see whether any new frost flowers had been caught on camera since then.  We weren’t disappointed.  So here is a collection for you, embedded from the photographers' pages on Flickr.
Ice Flowers

4 January 2018

Aquatic Human


Put two athletes at the bottom of the sea and give them a seabob each and the likelihood is that you won’t end up with something like Aquatic Human. However, take a team like Behind the Mask and then it’s another story altogether. You will probably have to watch this a few times – I know I did – as it’s a pretty amazing piece of film – I’m not even going to start thinking about how some of the shots were done as it might make my head explode.
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Dream Child


Intelligent animation allows your imagination to take flight and this is exactly the case with Dream Child (Rêve d’enfant in French), produced by Papy3D Productions.  The animation is simply but exquisitely done.  The animation tells the story of the relationship between a troubled mother and her son.  This may sound somber and it probably is but I guarantee you won’t forget this short in a while.
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30 December 2017

What Is PEE And How Do I Use It?


One of the things that I have to explain every year to a new intake of students is PEE.  It is a technique whereby learners can explain their ideas through a process.  The first question is usually what does PEE stand for? First of all students have to find the point about which they wish to write.  That is the P in the process.  The two Es come next – and in order to find out what they are and how to use them, you will have to sit through the video above.

I created this video as I teach GCSE English in the UK (it’s the “Gold Standard” English Language exam and everyone is expected to attempt it).  So, enjoy.  The PEE tool can be easily transferred to other subjects too, so it you are a teacher of, say, history and have discovered this video, then why not give it a shot in the classroom and then adapt it to your own curriculum.  Have fun!
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