30 June 2012

Get Wild!


Do you ever daydream while at work? The young man here certainly does – and before very long he is whisked back in time to 1968 or a version which his imagination provides for him at the very least.  A combination of French joie de vivre and chockablock with Americana, this is something of an international hybrid – a kind of United Nations of Fun.  It also has some very interesting CGI!

You may not believe this, but this is a graduation film.  It was created by four students at ArtFX (which is becoming regularly featured on Kuriositas such is its quality output), namely Valentin Astier, Joseph Catté, Olivia Leonetti et Geoffrey Vattan. From start to finish it required a whole year of work. It shows- Get Wild! is one of the best graduation movies I have seen for a long time – and is certainly the most fun.

Star Wars Droids: The Jawa Adventure


Ah, fan films.  You have to love them – after all, everyone has to start somewhere. Yet they can often vary from poor to really really poor, quality being outweighed by enthusiasm and lack of experience. And then sometimes (just sometimes!) they actually turn out to be really rather good. That’s the case with Star Wars Droids: The Jawa Adventure – but when you have a whole class of future animation and special effects professionals behind you, that’s hardly surprising!

C-3PO and R-2D2 embark on a rollicking adventure when the Jawas hijack an experimental Mon Calimari starship. As ever with Jawas, chaos ensures. This Star Wars fan film was written and directed by Brad Murphy and created in three months by the June 2012 graduating class of the Digital Animation and Visual Effects School - otherwise and usually known as DAVE. Located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida in Sound Stage 25, the DAVE School's 35,000 square foot facility includes 3 labs, a shooting stage with a massive 65'x 25' green screen, and a state of the art motion capture system.

There is a very neat little twist in the tale – you might see it coming, but that won’t detract from your enjoyment of this rather super animated short!

Reverso


Barney lives with his father in suburbia.  They rub along together, sharing the household chores, watching TV (old episodes of Doctor Who) and generally leading a quiet life.

Barney quietly mourns the loss of his mother and goes to work every day doing menial work for Megacorp. In other words, nothing unusual in this father-son set up that you might not find anywhere in the world. Yet there is something extraordinary about Barney.  He was born with an inverted sense of gravity and so everything he does is done upside down.

This is a subtle and nuanced work which bears more than one viewing.  It has plenty of little extras you might not notice first time (look at the poster in the screenshot, as an example!). Despite (or perhaps because of) its wordlessness it is both profound and occasionally Keaton-esque.  Please, please – stay on it until after the credits have finished otherwise you will not get to see the end!

This wonderful animated short was directed by Kimberly Honma, Clément Lauricella and Arthur Seguin at ARTFX, a higher education provider and training center for 3D computer graphics, 3D animation and digital special effects. Located in Montpellier (south of France) the school was created by professionals from the film, animation, video games and visual effects industries.

Neatoshop Competition Prize Winner

The wonderful Neatoshop recently gave us a prize to give away – a fantastic tentacle doorstop.  We ran through the competition through our Facebook page and had a record number of reader responses there – thanks Neatoshop!  The winner, chosen by a random number generator was Ben Henderson.  Ben was kind enough to send us a picture of himself with his prize which we couldn’t resist sharing with you!  It’s good enough to use for a caption competition, but we will try to resist that temptation!

We are glad you are (self evidently) enjoying your prize, Ben! Thanks, too, to the folks at the Neatoshop.  If you think this tentacle doorstep is cool, use the link here or simply click on Ben’s picture to take you to a cornucopia of fabulous fun fings (sorry, just had to run with the alliteration there – besides, we’re based in London).

Oh Brother!


I think I will dedicate this animated short to any of you girls and women who have experience of that strange contradictory beasty – the older brother.  If you were fated to have such a creature in your household as you were growing up then what happens in this will definitely resonate.  He seemed to be born to tease you, mock you, and drive you as crazy as a big crazy thing.

Of course when you think you have his number absolutely he goes and does something brave and fearless and completely and utterly for you – and then you are back to square one.

This funny short was created by Kim Julien as part of her studies at Vancouver Film School. Whether this is autobiographical I cannot say – but I have my suspicions that it is!

29 June 2012

Namaqualand – South Africa’s Daisy Sensation

Namaqualand is dry for most of the year, an arid almost desert landscape which extends along South Africa’s western coast for 600 miles. Yet when the rains are good, something like a miracle happens.  Water, the driving force of all nature, soaks in to the parched earth.  An uncountable host of flowers materialize as if from nowhere, creating an extraordinary eruption of color, transforming the countryside and dazzling the eye.

From the west coast of South Africa’s turbulent Atlantic coastline up to the little town of Garies in the south and the Orange River in the north Namaqualand languidly stretches. Justifiably the area is protected: famous for this cornucopia of flowers, daisies in particular, Namaqualand is home to exactly zero accommodation for tourists.  However, the towns and camping sites on its periphery form a fine springboard in to this incredible phenomenon.

There are more bulb flora here than in any other arid region on earth.  Over three and a half thousand plant species live here and it is thought that more than a thousand of those are found nowhere else on the planet. Little wonder that the insect life goes in to something of a breeding frenzy during the time of the daisies.

It certainly does not happen every year. The rains must not only fall but fall in the right way.  Soaking winter rains in early May and June are vital.  This must then be followed up with plenty of showers, at least one each week, through July and August. It is in the later part of that month that the explosion of life happens.

This certainly does not happen every year.  Sometimes there is hardly a bloom to be seen throughout the area.  Other times, promising arrays can be decimated by an icy cold wind blown in off the Atlantic for days on end, withering the emerging flower heads. Locals and visitors alike must cross their fingers that the elements provide and nourish but do not destroy these delicate blooms.

Of course, in this feature, you only get to see what happens in a great year. So, sit back and take part in a riot – one of vibrant almost blinding color.


First Image Credit Martin Heigen Unless otherwise stated all images by Martin Heigen

27 June 2012

Olympic Rings Adorn Tower Bridge

There is just a month to go now until the Olympic Games come to London. So, one of the major gateways in and out of the capital was today adorned with the Olympic rings.  As hundreds of thousands of Londoners plan to leave the city during the games this served as a reminder that time is running out to book those flights and train journeys,  I for one will spend as much time outside of London as is humanly possible even though I must admit that Tower Bridge looks pretty cool like this...


All images by Flickr User Joel Meadows1

23 June 2012

Backwater


(Warning: If you are at work then please note there is some artistic nudity in this animation)

A man awakes alone and in a place he does not recognize. Where is he and what is he doing among these strange new surroundings? And is he truly alone? This beautifully put together animated short is as beautiful as it is sensuously enigmatic.

It was developed by Susanne Herzog, Sabine Koops, Sebastian König, Janina Putzker and produced by the Hammer Animation Team. I particularly like the use of color in this animation and the way it does not answer any of the obvious questions that we may ask. Mysterious, and unfathomable it may be, but it looks and sounds wonderful!

Vote for Vicky!

Vicky Scott is an up and coming British artist who has contributed to Kuriositas on a number of occasions.  We have seen her own personal artwork and the design that she created for last year’s Big Egg Hunt. Now she has entered a logo competition – to create a logo for the International Advertising Association (UK) Games.  And she needs votes! It would be wonderful if you could support a Kuriositas contributor by voting for her design which you can see above by clicking here or on the design above.  I have just done it and it just takes a few seconds – thanks!

Suckablood


Just a quick warning first – this may not be for the faint hearted or very young!  It is a cautionary tale for adults – if you have offspring refusing to stop sucking their thumbs then try not to take your aversion therapy too far! There must be a less bloody cure for thumb sucking than this, after all!

This is the story of Tilly who, like any pretty girl in a gothic horror fairy tale, has an evil stepmother.  The stepmother threatens her with the monster Suckablood if she insists on sucking her thumb again. What happens next is, well, that’s up to you to find out!

Written and directed by Ben Tillett and Jake Cuddihy and produced by Ben Franklin (yet another American President founding father in on the horror act, it seems), Suckablood is the fifth and latest of what is planned to be thirteen installments in a horror anthology known as Bloody Cuts – and you can find the previous four on the team’s eponymous website. You can also join their Facebook Page if it takes your fancy!

Just in case you feel disinclined to go and see the rest of them (and have got this far without watching the short film), take note! None other than Stephen Fry has donated to the making of this short horror. Fry, who was impressed with the previous four installments (which all work as standalone shorts), put something in to the hat of the filmmakers to help them get through the production costs of such an ambition series (full story here). Nice one Stephen! So, go on, watch the rest and scare yourself (or younger persons of the household) silly.

Rising


This is an enigmatic piece to say the very least and something I am still trying to completely fathom despite having decided to share it with you within the first twenty seconds! A caterpillar (or is it?) circumnavigates a globe (or is it?) and then undergoes a metamorphosis (OK, I am pretty sure of that) before emerging in adult form and flying away. That’s pretty much it – but the way it is done is something quite different and profound.

Created by Michaël Moercant et Jean-Yves Parent and a team at Mikros Image, this animated short is spell binding. I’ve watched it twice now and am still not sure what it signifies but I think that is part of its allure.  I have to admit, though, I would like to see what these extremely talented guys would do with a certain Kafka novella!

Alan Turing - Celebrating the Centenary of a Genius


Today sees the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing – one of the most remarkable human beings of the twentieth century. A mathematical genius, hero of the World War II code breakers of Bletchley Park, and father of modern computing, Turing was a mathematician, cryptographer and pioneer of computer science who possessed one of the greatest brains of the 20th century. His life was one of secret accomplishments shadowed by public misfortune.

He was a bright child - condensing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity for his mum at the age of 15. He received a scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge and it is to that august university that we turn to learn more about Alan Turing’s life. In his twenties he turned his attention to one of the most important mathematical problems of the twentieth century – the Decision Problem. He conceived of a machine which would read symbols on a strip of tape – 0s and 1s and showed that dark areas in mathematics would always pose a barrier to the complete truth. This machine model became one of the cornerstones of computer science. He did this when he was only 22.

He then went on to his code breaking work, for which he is rightly famous. Here, Dr James Grime, Enigma Project Officer at Cambridge University's Millennium Mathematics Project explains the code and tells the life story of this remarkable man born 100 years ago today. It concludes with his death in 1954 – betrayed by the British Government and with only a single escape route – suicide – Turing bit from an apple he had previously laced with cyanide. This tragic end to a brilliant life was thirty years before most of his work would become public; the Official Secrets Act meant his true brilliance was not to be acknowledged until many years after his death.

Today, however, we can lift a glass to this most brilliant of men, celebrate his life and his achievements and perhaps speak softly an apology for the sins of our fathers.

22 June 2012

One Small Dish for Man


It is important to eat well wherever you are and if your home is the International Space Station then this importance becomes vital. So, when it comes to dinner time it is essential that everything is just so! After all, one small dish for man...

This entertaining short was created by Onectin (Corentin Charron) for his third year short-film at Supinfocom Arles. The assigned topic was simply The Kitchen so there is some ingenuity here.

The software used was 3ds Max 2012 (scanline only), After Effect, Premiere and Photoshop. After watching this I have to say I am feeling a little peckish!

21 June 2012

Turnikmen – Street Gymnastics – Ukraine Style


I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said that youth is wasted on the young. Well, not these boys, that’s for sure. I haven’t seen so much youthful joie de vivre on video for quite a while but I do have to add the caveat that I suspect these boys are all mad bonkers.

Many of the stunts that these boys pull off here will slacken your jaw. Setting the scene, both of these videos were shot in Ukraine. The first was taken at school #1 in the town of Sambir (whence SoN who shot this hails). 

The boys all identify as Turnikmen – street athletes who perform strength exercises of varying complexity in an outdoor setting.  They combine acrobatics and gymnastics using a conventional horizontal bar.   Some of the things that they do here look dangerous to say the least but it is done with such swagger and confidence that it makes you hold your breath but still believe in their ability to pull off yet another spectacular move. They did, however, have to learn how to perform these amazing moves.  I suspect their mother’s probably live in constant fear and expectation of another trip to the local hospital!


See what I mean about mad bonkers? As an educator in the UK, who teaches the age group depicted here I have to say that the management of my institution would have three fits and a faint if anything like this was attempted on site – health and safety regulations would simply not allow it. Yet here the bars and straps seem to have been provided by their school. Different strokes for different folks I guess!

The second video above is once more filmed in the Ukraine – from Sambir again but also the towns of Drogobych and Kalyniv.

Mantra-Hatton – Times Square Taken Over by Yoga Fans

It may only be in a place like New York that over a thousand people can get together and calmly start to follow a yoga class. Yet there they are, pictured yesterday (June 20). 1600 mats were given out for the occasion, which marked the Summer Solstice and fairly soon you could not move for yogis keen to practice their moves. The skills on display were varied – from beginners to veteran but one thing was for sure – tourists and yogis alike seemed to be enjoying it!

Attendees were instructed to try and find stillness, harmony and transcendence in the middle of the world's most commercial and chaotic place, Times Square. The yoga enthusiasts commemorated the longest day of the year (June 20th) by taking part in hour long sessions which took place all day.

First Image Credit Flickr User The Rachel Maddow Show
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