18 May 2015

Stellar Moves: The Story of Pluto


The hottest dance group in the universe, The Planets, has eight members but they might begrudgingly allow another entry in to the team if they can be suitably impressed.  A competition is held to find the missing planet so that eight might become nine. At home, young Pluto does not think he has what it takes, but receives encouragement from his best friend, one of his satellites you might say! 

Charmingly made by the creative team of Millivette Gonzalez, Tabia Lees and Valerie Sattazahn this will have you rooting for the little guy of the solar system all over again. Stellar Moves is – and you may not believe this such is the high standard of animation - their senior thesis short film. It was produced at Ringling College of Art and Design (if you want to study computer animation in the USA, then this is always in the top three places to go). No doubt they will be inviting the trio back to give talks to their undergraduates in a few years.
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The 10am


There are some times in life that you need help from external sources. Step forward the Great British Workman – and his apprentice son of course. Together, Senior and Junior make up Auron & Son Ltd and they are ready to take on a range of commercial residential contracting services.

The first job of this particular day – their “10am” is something special – the first time that Junior will take the lead on a job. And it’s some job. Written, directed and produced by Colin O’Toole this is idiosyncratic short British film-making at its entertaining best.
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Bokor Hill Station – Cambodia’s Abandoned Town

The history of Cambodia in the twentieth century is one of almost continual struggle and conflict. One place which encapsulates the traumatic events which the country persevered is the Bokor Hill Station. This eerie ghost town has been abandoned not once, but twice in its history.

Even its birth was savage. Designed as a resort for the French colonists of the early twentieth century, the construction of Bokor Hill Station was complete by 1925. Built by indentured Cambodian laborers it took nine months to build. Almost a thousand men perished during that time.

17 May 2015

Pale Blue Dot


I think I have lost count of the number of times I have seen animations of Pale Blue Dot, possibly the most seminal words of Carl Sagan. However, I had to include this new version because it is simply outstanding.  Using an eclectic combination of art styles woven seamlessly together through music and visuals, this short reminds us of the significance of our insignificance. The animation and screenplay is by Chin Li Zhi with the music and sound design by Leo Frick.
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The Sounds of Star Wars


Sounds can evoke memories in a way only rivalled by our sense of sight and smell.  If you enjoyed the Star Wars films as a child then this feast of sounds from the original three movies will transport you back in time as effectively as a Tardis!  This video is a celebration of those iconic sounds that have been rattling around the head of Rishi Kaneria since childhood which are, indeed, ingrained in our collective pop culture psyche.
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The Way Home


A mouse needs a house.  And when you have a house you need things to put in it.  The Way Home is a very sweet combination of live footage and animation which tracks the journey of our new murine friend as he gathers new belongings with which to decorate his humble abode.  The animation was created by students of Liu Song, a tutor at Hangzhou Normal University in Zhejiang Province, Eastern China.
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And Then I Vanish


Have you ever looked in to somebody’s dreams? And Then I Vanish, created by Cornel Swoboda may be as close as you get to doing that for a day or two – at the very least.  This surreal motion poem started life as a spare time project for Swoboda but, as these things do, it evolved in to something quite different. It is also one of the most visually different videos I have seen in an age – so apologies if it keeps you awake tonight!
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A Conversation About Growing Up Black


In this short documentary, young black men explain the particular challenges they face growing up in America.  It makes for sobering viewing when you appreciate just how much the society in which they should feel in their element has effectively excluded them as full citizens.  Yet it is also a noteworthy tribute to the human spirit that these boys and young men refuse to conform to the stereotypes with which they have been assigned.
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15 May 2015

Incredible Crepuscular Rays - Sunbeams Caught on Camera


Sunbeams are everywhere – yet when they are caught on camera they are often unwanted additions to a photograph. They cut swathes through the picture, chopping off heads and obscuring detail in a burst of light. However, when they are deliberately captured the results can be nothing short of magical.

10 May 2015

VE Day 70 in 70 Seconds


Friday 8 May 2015 was the anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), marking 70 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe.  If you have been visiting another planet over the last few days and want to know what all the fuss is about then here it all is – VE Day 70 in 70 seconds. It was created by Raw 
Productions for the Royal British Legion.
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The Cruel Mother


The Cruel Mother is a murder ballad which has been doing the rounds for centuries.  It tells the story of an unmarried mother who kills her twin boys after they are born and buries them deep in a wood.  Yet this is not the last time that she will meet her sons… Animated by Gavin C Robinson and beautifully sung by Fiona Hunter, one of Scotland’s foremost traditional singers, this is entrancingly dark.
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The Hedgehog


A young boy wanders a deserted urban landscape dressed in a home-made Sonic the Hedgehog outfit.  On a superficial level this film is very simple but is in fact an extended metaphor about how life can run away with itself once one is caught in a rut and by the time one realises, it’s too late.  Written and directed by Chris Lee and Paul Storrie, Hedgehog was nominated for the British Council Best UK Short Film at London Short Film Festival 2015.
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9 May 2015

Gargoyles – Glorious Gruesome Grotesques

Gargoyles – they are strange, bizarre, unpleasant or just plain ugly. They have been hovering around our towns and cities for centuries, for so long that it can be forgotten that they have meaning and purpose. Take a tour of the weird world of the gargoyle.

A gargoyle is a carved stone grotesque statue, and they were designed to convey water away from the roof and the sides of large buildings. We associate them mostly with medieval times thanks to a certain hunchback but they have been around much longer than that. They are more than just scary statues as if they were not there then the mortar between the stones of their buildings would, in time, erode away and the building would fall over. Many gargoyles take the shape of animals and – lost to our modern minds – these creatures were chosen for a purpose. This is why...

4 May 2015

Blast it Biggs! Where are you?! - A Star Wars Day Doc


Biggs Darklighter was set to be a more prominent character in Star Wars than what we see when we watch the movie.  In fact, many casual Star Wars fans (isn’t that an oxymoron?) might struggle to locate the character at all.

However, actor Garrick Hagon spent weeks filming scenes in Tunisia for Tosche Station on Tatooine (left with Mark Hamill) and again at Elstree studios where he participated in the attack on the Death Star.  Documentary maker Jamie Benning interviewed Garrick Hagon and the result is a fascinating glimpse in to what might have been.  So, for Star Wars Day, here is the documentary – with the deleted scenes included. May the Fourth Be With You!


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Quiz: Name the 20 US City Skylines

Can you name these 20 US cities just from a picture of the skyline of each?  It may be a little more challenging than it sounds because although all of these cities are in the US Top 50 (at least in terms of population) we have restricted it to just one city per state, despite places like California being awash with places that have huge populations.  So, give it a go – and please pass it on!

If the answer you choose goes GREEN, then you got it right.  If it goes RED then you got it wrong.  You will also see how many other people chose the different answers (in terms of a percentage). Ready? Let's go!



Want a hideously hard quiz?
Do you know your Dali from your Dürer, your Goya from your Gauguin? Then try these 20 multiple choice questions.

You will take a back and forth whistle-stop tour through almost a thousand years of art history.  Yet which painters were responsible for the 20 masterpieces you are about to see?  Click HERE or on the picture to do the quiz.

Image Credits
1, 2a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
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3 May 2015

The Outings Project: Museum Paintings Experience Life on the Streets

Outings is a world participative project, initiated by Julien de Casabianca, a French visual artist.  The idea is for people to liberate portraits from their homes in museums and other municipal building and place them on the walls of their towns and cities.

You can see these paintings, of course, if you make the special journey to where the hang in their frames.  Yet they are surrounded by tens, often  hundreds of other paintings.  By placing the paintings in random streets and alleyways, de Casabianca hopes that their beauty will be fully appreciated once more.

Earth Song


If you have ever been to Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national parks in northern England then you will have been, no doubt, struck by their incredible natural beauty.  They have never looked so magnificent in this short time-lapse film about the ever changing light and beauty in nature made by Alex William Helin. The stirring music is Epic Journey by David Tobin, Jeff Meegan and Malcolm Edmonstone.
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Melody Gardot - Preacherman


Inspired by the tragic true story of Emmett Till who was killed in a racially motivated murder in 1955, this is a music video for Melody Gardot's single Preacherman. It was directed by Calum Macdiarmid and shot over 4 days in the Mississippi Delta. The film features performances from local characters and an appearance from Emmett Till's cousin (the woman who puts her hand up to the glass at the end).
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Pet Peeve


Pets die – that’s a fact of life.  Yet for one boy the death of his beloved goldfish is not followed by a year in mourning: it’s the green light for the start of the epic search for the next pet.  However, his choices are questionable.  This light-hearted and immensely enjoyable short (animated on paper and colored digitally) comes from Jared Liffreing who created it as his CalArts fourth year film.

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These are Magpies? You’re Kidding, Right?

No, we’re not.  There are a number of magpie species which confound the notion that the whole lot of them are black and white.  They come in a number of different colors. Yet, despite this gorgeous plumage they still seem to be rather thuggish members of the bird world, robbing nests and eating chicks and so on.  Our sibling site , the Ark in Space, has the lowdown on these quite different (appearance wise at least) species of magpies.
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