29 March 2011

Intelligence Test

Douglas Adams was right. More often than not we discover that we are not necessarily the brightest of animals on the planet. Here a scientist tries – somewhat vainly – to get a chimp to perform a few tests in order to measure his intelligence. He gets a little more than he bargained for. There is a moral to this story, somewhere!

This short but very funny animation was created by Lee Daniels, an independent Illustrator, animator, and all round graphic design professional with a sense of humor. It was created using the Adobe CS5 Master Collection, After Effects, Premiere, Illustrator, and our old friend Photoshop.

A Survival Guide to the Post Apocalypse

Ducked and Covered: A Survival Guide to the Post Apocalypse is an instructional public information film designed to assist the general population with surviving life in Australia after a nuclear war. Produced by the Australian Board of Civil Defence during the early 1980s, this previously unseen, dusty print was uncovered deep within a university film archive.

Broken into four chapters, the film guides wary survivors through the trials that will await them in the post apocalypse. From post-apocalyptic fashion and unique uses for surplus human skulls, to becoming a local warlord and avoiding radioactive mutants, there is something for all dwellers of the wastelands. With its dry methodical narration, brooding synthesizer, minimalist animation and erroneous guidance, Ducked and Covered is a dark humored parody/loving homage to the late cold war era, early 1980’s public information films, as well as a reminder… OF WHAT STILL COULD BE.

27 March 2011

Store in a Dry, Cool Place


It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!  ~Mark Twain

Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.  ~W. Earl Hall

April is a promise that May is bound to keep.  ~Hal Borland

Is it so small a thing To have enjoy'd the sun, To have lived light in the spring, To have loved, to have thought, to have done...
~Matthew Arnold

An optimist is the human personification of spring.
~Susan J. Bissonette

Sweet springtime is my time is your time is our time for springtime is love time and viva sweet love.
~e.e. cummings

A little Madness in the spring
Is wholesome even for the King.
~Emily Dickinson

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today; And give us not to think so far away As the uncertain harvest; keep us here All simply in the springing of the year."
~Robert Frost

All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.
~Helen Hayes

No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring.
~Samuel Johnson

If spring came but once a century instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change. "
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment.
~Ellis Peters

Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring An experience in immortality.
~Henry David Thoreau

Fled now the sullen murmurs of the North,
The splendid raiment of the Spring peeps forth.
      ~ Robert Bloomfield

Spring hangs her infant blossoms on the trees,
  Rock'd in the cradle of the western breeze.
      ~ William Cowper

All flowers of Spring are not May's own;
  The crocus cannot often kiss her;
    The snow-drop, ere she comes, has flown:--
      The earliest violets always miss her.
      ~ Lucy Larcom

O, how this spring of love resembleth
  The uncertain glory of an April day,
    Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
      And by and by a cloud takes all away!
     ~William Shakespeare

Image Credit Flickr User monkeyc.net

The Girl & the Horse

A small girl is crying because there is a hole in her stomach, suddenly a mysterious horse appears and things begin to change…

This lovely animation was created by award winning director Rebecca Manley who was with Slinky Pictures from 2003-2010. She works in a variety of areas including TV, film and commercials and is also an experienced art director, animator, designer, and model-maker.

Her films have been screened at countless national and international festivals including The New York Children's Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Indie Lisboa Portugal, Sputnik Kino Berlin, The Big Cartoon festival Moscow, Rushes Soho Shorts and the Edinburgh festival.

The Girl & the Horse was also shown at the National Gallery London, in conjunction with the 'Stubbs and the Horse' Exhibition. The film was nominated for Best Music and the Public Choice Award at the British Animation Awards 2004. Her first commercial, for Carte Noire coffee, 'Steam' was long-listed for Best Craft and nominated in the Public Choice category at the British Animation Awards 2006.


This short animation represents a very personal project for its creator, Freek van Haagen, dealing with a subject matter that has been part of his life for a long time.  It represents an abstract dream – or perhaps memory – of a boy and his mother.

I think that perhaps of the multitude of expensive (and often tiresomely repetitive) road safety films that we see, a major channel should take this animation and show it at prime time.

I am almost certain it would have a huge impact.

26 March 2011

Leonard Nimoy is 80 so Let’s go Back to the Eighties!

Happy 80th birthday Leonard Nimoy!  To celebrate the entry of one of the planet’s most recognisable actors in to his eighties, we are happy to take you back a few years to show you an interview Leonard Nimoy had with the legendary Bobbie Wygant. 

We thought it would be a good idea, now that Nimoy is in his eighties, to take you back to the future, as it were - to 1982.  This interview was conducted on the release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  This was at the point when the whole is Spock dead debate was goint at full throttle.

It is quite an eye opener at some points - but what makes our eyes really open wide is the amazing suit and tie combo that Nimoy is wearing.  Super cool eighties guy!  The world may have been a mess but Mr Nimoy’s tailoring was perfect!

Mechanical Sympathy

When Tom McDermott was given a brief for his dissertation to create, using stop motion animation techniques, a short movie which would breathe new life in to an inanimate object. So, then he almost perversely chose to capture the last minutes of life of the inanimate object of his choice. The result is Mechanical Sympathy, created in five weeks and using 6,300 individual photographs.

Creating something like this is something of a knack – as it is difficult to judge whether or not the inanimate object will truly have a life of its own until it is almost too late to go back and start again. Fortunately, the risk pays off marvellously here with the use of an old reel to reel tape recorder a complete blinder. The story too is told with great pathos so that by the end you are almost ready to get the hankies out. Well, perhaps not but this is still a sterling piece of stop motion animation - and you just can't beat a soundtrack by the Electric Light Orchestra!

Skellig Michael – Mysterious Monastery in the Atlantic

Nine miles off the coast of County Kerry in the west of Ireland there are two small rocky islands peeking out of the Atlantic Ocean.  The larger of the two, Skellig Michael, is home to something quite extraordinary – a 1400 year old monastery which only a handful of people get to see each year.

As you approach the island there is little, seemingly, to notice.  Yet closer inspection reveals the tell tale criss-cross of manmade paths.   Who could possibly have wanted to live here – and when?

It is thought that the monastery of Skellig Michael was founded at some point in the seventh century and monastic life persisted there for over 600 years.  Why it was abandoned is lost in the sands of time but because of the sheer inaccessibility of the island what the monks left behind remained, through the centuries, remarkably intact.

The name of the island is taken from the Irish language and means Michael’s Rock.  It is some rock, too, rising to 230 meters at its summit.  Atop this the Gaelic Monastery has become well known globally but very few make the journey to visit the site – not many are allowed. This very fact has meant that because its remoteness necessarily discourages tourists that the monastery is, for its age, wonderfully preserved.

It is easy to imagine the early Irish Christian monks leading their extraordinarily spartan day to day existence here – to say that life would have been harsh for them is something of an understatement.  Their huts, in the shape of beehives and called clochans, indicate the bareness of life on the rock.  These monks would have shrugged off all of their earthly possessions before they came to live here. Although it is not by definition a hermitage it must surely have been a lonesome existence for the monks, despite the faith which initiated their decision to move there.

The monastery itself was terraced – a necessity because of the sheer sides of the rick.  Three flights of stairs (perhaps reflecting the Holy Trinity) lead up to Christ’s Valley which is the small depression between the peaks of Skellig Michael at 130 meters.  The visitor is not disappointed when greeted by the sight of six intact clochans.

Neither are they disappointed with the sight of the two oratories, graves and the monolithic cross which are to be discovered there.  There is more recent addition too – a church which was built as late as the thirteenth century.  The construction must have been a labor – the walls are almost two meters thick.

Although Skellig Michael was not intended as such there is a hermitage on the island, distinct from the monastery.   As if a rock in the Atlantic was not isolated enough this extreme form of retreat afforded those monks who wished to contemplate the divine in complete isolation the opportunity to do so.

Daily life and its demands also had to be taken in to account and there is a latrine on the island which is situated over an enormously yawning gap in the rock to ensure that waste matter was thoroughly disposed of.  There are also the remains of a garden which the monks would use to grow essential vegetables.

There is evidence that Skellig Michael suffered several Viking raids, though quite what the visitors from the north would have hoped to pillage is questionable.  However, these raids may have caused the monks to decamp to the mainland in the twelfth century even though the later chapel was built at around the same time. One can only attempt to imagine the dread that the isolated and virtually defenceless monks must have felt at the sight of an approaching Viking longship.

As a result of the deterioration of the monastery due to the tramp of tourists’ feet, the decision was taken to severely restrict the number of visitors to the island.  13 licenses are given to tour operators annually and each may only make a single trip to the rock.

It is thought that there were never more than a dozen or so monks on the island at any one time plus an abbot.  The mystery as to the abandonment of the rock is never likely to be satisfactorily solved but in many ways the monks did the rest of the world a favor.  It is unlikely that what we see now on the island would have remained intact if the island had continued to be populated.  Its very abandonment ensured its survival.
Amung Feedjit
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