31 October 2013

Machu Picchu: Diverse Perspectives

For most people, this view is the one most associated with Machu Picchu, the broad mountainous prominence dotted with ancient buildings, sharp peaks towering above them.  It is little wonder this place is the most instantly recognizable icon of Inca civilization for so many. Yet a closer look gives a greater insight in to how it must have felt to live there, its thick stone walls echoing to the sounds of everyday life. Take a look at Machu Picchu from different perspectives.

Machu Picchu
The walls are perhaps the most remarkable thing about the place.  They are known as dry stone and as such there was no mortar holding them together.  Their structural integrity came entirely from the forces of compression and the way that the stones interlock with each other.  At Machu Picchu this interlocking is an art from in itself. 

30 October 2013

WLTM – Would Like To Meet


Have you ever had a date with a stranger you have met online?  Chances are that if you are under a certain age then you have.  This short film, however, might put you off internet dating for life or, alternatively, give you a few ideas...

Either way this entertaining short DOPd by Daniel Trapp has a twist in the tale which you might not expect. Watch it to the very end.

Danza de los Muertos


On Dia de los Muertos, a young boy named Tomás visits his grandmother’s grave. But this enchanted day of celebration brings his grandmother back from the afterlife where she attempts to share a dance with her grandson. 

This is Cassie Urban’s Senior film which she made at Savannah College of Art and Design 2013.

243 Titles of Animated Feature Films


If you love animated movies then this is going to be an absolute treat for you.  Put together for the first (and probably last) time are 243 titles of animated movies.  Just the titles, one after the other – so blink and you will miss them.

This uber cool compilation was put together by Irina Neustroeva – and if you want to see the whole list, click here.

Welcome to London - A Short Hyperlapse Film


Take a trip around London without getting out of your chair.  This wonderful hyperlapse by Mattia Bicchi features a number of the English capital’s well-known architectural features including a stunning shot of Tower Bridge.

Hyperlapse really is a labor of love so many thanks to Mattia for this superb example of a fairly new form.

29 October 2013

Bodies in Urban Spaces: Human Sculpture in the City

If you live in a town or city then you are probably quite used to seeing young people lounging about in hoodies and tracksuits.  Yet over the last few years the inhabitants of Paris, Vienna, Seoul, Montreal, New York and Bangor (North Wales) have woken up to something of a surprise.  These Bodies in Urban Spaces have taken hanging around to a new level.

The brainchild of Austrian artist Willi Dorner, the project began in 2007 – and its aim is rather more than an impressive show of contortionist skills by young people in brightly colored clothes.  Bodies in Urban Spaces (I am going to call it BiUS from now on) is intended to provoke thought – and possibly even annoyance.  Its aim is to motivate and prompt its audience to reflect on their urban surroundings and ultimately to question their own behavior and habits, in terms of their movement.

28 October 2013

Table Manners


It is said that we are only ever three meals away from anarchy, so when hunger strikes in the Big Wood it is important that three friends find something to eat as soon as possible.  Created using live action puppets by Rebecca Manley, this darkly comic short goes to show two things: firstly, without food we’re pretty much done for. Secondly, that even when civilization is crashing down around us, we should never forget the importance of table manners.

What is Cinema?: Alfonso Cuarón and the Cinematic Precipice


Here is a wonderful compilation of excerpts from seven wildly different movies which all share something in common – amazing and thought provoking visuals as well as the directorial talents of Alfonso Cuarón.  There are a number of my personal all-time favourites in here: Children of Men and Y Tu Mamá También.  The compilation has been lovingly put together by Jorge Gonzalez Diaz with Quartet for the End of Time as the soundtrack.

27 October 2013

Step Forward


A father and daughter team of scientists attempt to conquer time travel in this very self-contained two minute steampunk short film.  It is directed by Ben Jacobson, written by Martyn Deakin and stars Holly Jacobson and Jon Campling.  It was filmed at the amazing Abbey Pumping Station in Leicester – a perfect setting.  If you have a precocious child who always does something before you give permission, show them this.

Zalipie: Poland’s Painted Village

The secluded village of Zalipie in southeastern Poland is home to a charming tradition.  Over a century ago the women of the village began to paint their houses: however, it was not the single, uniform color one might expect from a traditional and conservative society.  The village, through the intricate and vibrant paintwork of its womenfolk, bloomed.

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Although no one is completely sure how and when this tradition began, it dates from when the smoke from stoves escaped through little more than a hole in the ceiling of the house.  Women would paint over the spots of soot with whitewash.  Yet the spots would still be partially visible and it is believed that the women, in order for their house to appear immaculate for religious festivals, took to covering the remnants of soot stains with paintings of flowers.  Once modern cooking and better ventilation came in to practice, these cover-ups were no longer necessary.  Yet instead the flower patterns became gradually more and more sophisticated.

26 October 2013

Celebrating Crystallography


It is a century since the father and son scientific team of William Henry and William Lawrence Bragg developed Bragg’s Law which gives the angles for coherent and incoherent scattering from a crystal lattice.

It doesn’t sound like much of a breakthrough until you realize that their work in x-ray crystallography would lead to a Nobel Prize in 1915. Not many people have heard of it but it is arguably one of the greatest scientific developments of the twentieth century. We would not know much about the structure of DNA without it, for a start.

The answers to many problems have come from this method of structural analysis, pioneered by the Braggs a hundred years ago. Take a look at this video, commissioned by the Royal Institution and created by 12Foot6.

25 October 2013

Mission


When the first mission to Mars takes place one of the astronauts not chosen to go has to face up to the prospect of being left behind.  It is his young son, however, who must carry the greatest burden.  This moving character-driven piece, strikingly shot with great performances slides through its 20 minutes gracefully and engagingly.  It was directed by Mark Buchanan and stars Emun Elliott, Peter Strathern and Siobhan Redmond.

In A Forest


This is a very clever three minute animated short with an unexpected twist.  Directed by Fons Schiedon and produced by Submarine, it opens with an exciting pursuit through a forest that ends in... not a forest.

A film about believing in an illusion, In A Forest is part of an initiative by the Dutch government to reintroduce short films in to cinemas.  If this is anything to go by, they are on to something!

Ratio


This is something of a visual treat. It was created by Murat Sayginer, a visionary artist who works in the fields of art photography and computer graphics, and is also known as a digital artist.

 I can’t admit to understanding what is going on (I am not sure we are meant to) but it is a remarkable piece of work. The way that the marble balls create the sculptured head is something to behold...

20 October 2013

Run (You Clever) Boy Run


So, just over a month to go until the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.  The BBC showed a specially made one minute plug for the show, which will be broadcast simultaneously throughout the known universe on 23 November.

However, if you are any sort of fan you will have seen that.  Here, then, is a clever compilation of clips held together by Run Boy Run – by Woodkid. Vid by Eva Rechi.

The Suit of Light


A humble janitor becomes a matador for a day and finds himself face to face with his ferocious opponent in the bullring.

Yet there is something about the animal which sparks a memory – will the bull remember too?  This rather affecting animated short was created by a very talented group of students at the George Meliès School, Damien Duprat, Paul Lavau, Gonzalo Graca and Frederic Juvigny.

Windy City Nights: Chicago Time-Lapse


This is a wonderful six minutes of time-lapse footage, created by Max Wilson and featuring his home town of Chicago.  Altogether he shot over 200,000 exposures of raw digital files, creating a need for 6 terabytes of storage!  Although a number of sequences have been left out, what you see are these hundreds of thousands of still images condensed in to just over six minutes capturing the amazing sights of one of America’s most exciting cities.

Belfast Unveils Wish: AKA The Face from Space

An incredible eleven acre land art installation has been unveiled in Belfast, Northern Ireland.   The piece shows the face of a little girl, anonymous said to be from the city, smiling rather enigmatically. Although the work, by Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada is formally entitled Wish, locals have already given it a new name: The Face from Space.

Wish has been months in the planning and is part of the Belfast Festival which started on 17 October and lasts for ten days.  This world class piece of land art is made up of 30,000 pegs.  Add to this 2,000 tonnes of soil and an equal amount of sand and you begin to realize the titanic scale of this project.  All told, it covers eleven acres of Belfast’s old docklands. Although the International Space Station is yet to take any pictures of Wish, this Face from Space is a thrilling sight for visitors to the city flying in and out of George Best Belfast City Airport.

15 October 2013

Runaway


If you are like me, you keep hold of household appliances until they are not just virtually but really falling apart.  This is the case with the young man in this animation by Ringling students Emily Buchanan, Esther Parobek and Susan Yung.

His fridge, Chillie, is more like his best friend than a common household appliance consisting of a thermally insulated compartment and a heat pump.  One day Chillie’s handle falls off and he jumps to some conclusions about the consequences which force him in to a heart-breaking decision.

13 October 2013

The Darth Vader Ant with Superhero Gliding Skills

Meanwhile over in South America, an ant that looks like Darth Vader has evolved superhero gliding skills.  OK, that may be a case of hyperbolics but the Ark in Space today features Cephalotes atratus which has more than just a trick up its sleeves if it falls from the canopy.  When falling, the ant utilizes posture to perform maneuvers which enable it to glide back on to the branch.  Take a look at this fascinating creature over at The Ark in Space.

Image Credit Wikimedia

PeckPocketed


We all dream of a better life through our own hard work but occasionally temptation drops by and says hello.  Such is the case for our feathered antihero here, who sees an opportunity and proceeds to go for it.  As with most animated crimes and misdemeanors, this will not go unpunished for too long!

Peckpocketed was created by Kevin Herron for his animation theses at Ringling College of Art and Design.

Patriarch


I always find it a wonder how people can make such short films yet make them so moving.  Patriarch focuses on three generations of a family, showing the very different relationships between the fathers and sons in a very intimate (and I suspect very personal) style.  There is a genuinely heart-stopping moment when the voices between the generations are blurred so I do have to warn you that a hanky may be needed.

Patriarch was written and directed by Reggie Yates and aired on UK TV’s Channel 4 as part of its Random Acts strand.

The Oranges


A blind girl drops her bag of oranges and is unable to retrieve them.  Her unlikely rescuer is a street photographer who is unable to speak or hear.  How will they communicate with each other?  This short and sweet tale is brought to you by Yannick Pecherand-Molliex, a director based in Paris where the short film was shot.

I am not altogether sure this should have been called The Oranges, however. Watch it – you will see why!

10 October 2013

Leaving Home


This is dedicated to all of you reading this who may have grown up children still at home and so haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience the joys of empty nest syndrome.  It’s a beautifully paced piece by Joost Lieuwma which really does capture the frustration felt by many parents when their offspring are reluctant to make their own way in the world.

It must be said as an addendum, however – sometimes we have to be careful what we wish for…

9 October 2013

The Ennedi Plateau: Secret Stones of the Sahara

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Rising from the sands of the great Sahara Desert, the Ennedi Plateau is a revelation.  Situated in the north east of Chad and surrounded by sand on all sides, this extraordinary, other-worldly place presents vista after vista of stunning rock formations.
Ennedi is little visited – there is nothing you could realistically call a road for many miles. The plateau is frequented only by local nomads and a handful of foreign visitors in their 4x4s.

Yet even though the landscape resembles somewhere the crew of the Enterprise might find themselves on an away mission, these rocks – as you will see - hide something perhaps even more astonishing.

8 October 2013

Harrison Ford: Always Cool


Ender's Game - someone in that movie looks very familiar. He is doing the rounds - selling a film - and doing it with as much grace as he can muster. Yet in 1977 a little known actor by the name of Harrison Ford got his big break when Star Wars was unleashed on the world.

Here a remarkably fresh faced Ford is interviewed by Bobbie Wygant, the legendary NBC 5 reporter who is still going strong today.  Wygant questions Ford about the film and his role within it - neither particularly hiding the fact that they don't really get it - that much - at all.  He does, however, wax lyrical (or as lyrical as he gets) about the opening shot.  And who wouldn't? You won't hear him saying anything like this about Ender's Game - that's for sure.

Ford is famous not only for his acting but his dislike of the publicity machine which surrounds movies and in particular the interview treadmill.  What makes this particularly special is that the interview was conducted just after the premier when Harrison Ford could still walk the streets without being recongnized by one and all.

What comes across here (apart from his general disinterest in science fiction as a genre) is how laid back Ford is with the whole issue of fame.  He is certainly thankful for Star Wars in terms of opening doors for him as an actor - in his own inimitable and unforced way.  A very cool blast from the past.

The Lifecycle of a Mushroom


This very cool animation is by Thomas Beg, a digital artist currently studying CG Arts and Animation at UCA Rochester.  If you ever wondered how mushrooms reproduce then look no further! Sure, Wikipedia will have all the necessary animation but will it have animation?

This animation forms part of Spectacular Science, a collaborative project between the University for the Creative Arts and the University of Kent which aims to provide a wide audience with access to scientific knowledge and support the education of students in science subjects.

You may have spotted a nod in the direction of 1920's animation such as the Silly Symphonies series and other early Walt Disney shorts and you would be correct in thinking that Mr Beg was inspired by the animation of yesteryear in order to explain the science of today, in this case the lifecycle of a mushroom.

Complete History Of The Soviet Union, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris


This is hugely clever, highly entertaining and extremely funny – and you don’t get that often, on or off the internet - and this one never gets old.  It is directed, animated, and edited by CHRIS LINCÉ and the music is supplied by Pig with the Face of a Boy.  In the space of just over six minutes you will get a précis of the entire history of the Soviet Union –all done to a marvelously melodic Tetris soundtrack.  What an unbeatable combination!

You will find yourself tapping your feet as the decades whiz by, from Lenin to Gorbachev and, as I did, wincing a little at the ironies of history.  Unsurprisingly, this short film has won two awards, both at the Super Shorts International Film Festival where it garnered the prizes for Best Animation and the Low Budget Award.

You may find yourself, as I did, watching it several times and catching something new on each repeated viewing.  Enjoy!

Bigger Can Be Small After All

If you travel a lot then wherever you go there will be one thing that you have seen. Whether it’s the Eiffel Tower, the shores of Lake Titicaca or even the far flung reaches of the poles, you will have come across people lugging around large carry bags containing their super-huge DSLR cameras.  Of course, big is sometimes better even though the Sony Nex series of Compact system camera has something of a surprise for you.  Big in to small.  It may sound like something from a sci-fi show but take a look at the infographic below and all will be explained.


So, you have a small camera – certainly small enough to carry around comfortably without having to resort to a suitcase-sized hold all.  The NEX Compact system camera series (there are four great models) uses state of the art technology to do the seemingly impossible – put the big in to small.  These cameras may be small but their image sensor is DSLR-sized.  That means one thing – your pictures will look fantastic even when you blow them up and super-size them. If you want to share this infographic with your friends take a look here: http://presscentre.sony.eu/imagelibrary/detail.aspx?MediaDetailsID=266557

Not only that, the depth of field will be as striking as any pictures you took on your DSLR and the results – even if you are just on a family day out – will not let you down.  This amazing series of compact cameras will also allow you (with the help of an adaptor) to use you’re A-mount DSLR lenses from a variety of vendors.

If you don’t have a selection of lenses already, there is no need to worry.  The huge image sensor of the NEX series means that you will be able to use this camera on its own and take photographs that you, your family and friends will treasure for years.  Plus, you won’t have to ask anyone to take their turn carrying your super-heavy camera bag ever again!

Sponsored Post

6 October 2013

The Babylon Freefly Team: Amazing Bodyflight You Must See to Believe


This is going to make you do a double take more than once.  Founded in 1998, Babylon Freefly Team has won seven gold medals in Freefly Skydiving at World Class Level; the highly skilled team is made up of professional skydivers, freefly coaches, experienced aerial photographers and cinematographers, base jumpers and speed riders.

Here, watch the team and their friends participate in training (fantastic indoor parachuting which is about as far, to be frank, that they would get me and I would still probably break my neck) before going out on a stupendous freefly that will simply take your breath away.  It is so spectacular that some of it looks as if it had to created using CGI - these guys fly like superheroes.  However, I can assure you, all this is real!

Doctor Who Peter Capaldi Title Sequence


Peter Capaldi is set to take over from Matt Smith on Christmas Day 2014 and – as ever – a million and one questions are unanswered until that day.  However, if the BBC takes the cue from Billy Hanshaw, a motion director, based in Leeds UK - they should really create a title sequence somewhere along these lines.

As well as incorporating the features that we are used to, some of the additions here (including Gallifreyan hieroglyphics, cog-wheels of time and an unashamedly steampunk aesthetic) would make the perfect title sequence for Peter Capaldi’s new Doctor.  Come on BBC... can you do any better?

5 October 2013

The Pygmy Goat - Not So Gruff

The Ark in Space today has a feature on Pygmy goats. These adorable little chaps are not kept as farm animals as they don’t provide either enough milk or meat for that. That means that they are kept as family pets – and they do make a great addition to the family as long as you have the right facilities.

Altogether, it’s something of a cute-fest so head over to the Ark in Space and see how many times you go aaaaw in the space of a few minutes.

Image Credit Flickr User Esscaa

Crease


They say that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones, but what do you do if you live in a world made of paper?  This animated short by students of the Georges Méliès School gives us the answer – be very, very careful.  And if not, then the consequences may not be quite what you would like.

As an extended visual metaphor about the human condition this concept bodes very well for the future careers of its young animators, Natacha Brohan, Anne-Claire Leroux, Ron Polistchuk and Anthony Stedman.

To London


A young Spanish woman falls in love and visits her grandmother to tell her that she is leaving to go and live in London.  When your grandmother is as beautifully foul-mouthed as this one, getting your intentions across can be something of a struggle. 

This short movie (with imperfect but nonetheless quite understandable subtitles in English) says a deal about family relationships as well as having a little surprise in store for you too.

To London was made by Producciones Alderbaran with script and direction by Alberto Gallego Ortiz.

Bath in Motion - A Hyperlapse of Bath


Anyone who has ever visited the ancient city of Bath in the English county of Somerset will tell you just how lovely a place it is. It is so precious, in fact, that the entire city with a population of just over 80 thousand has been declared a World Heritage Site.

This hyperlapse by Jack Fisher, a 21 year old filmmaker from the city, gives you a great impression of Bath. Although you have to visit to truly appreciate a place, this wonderful piece of film, consisting of over 6,000 individual photographs, is a pretty good substitute if you can’t make it in person.

4 October 2013

Dead Famous


I have always felt somewhat ambivalent about taxidermy and I doubt this short by RGM will change that position.  However, with stunning cinematography and a marvelous narrative Dead Famous does the unexpected (for me at least).  It wrapped me up in its world completely.

Dead Famous was commissioned by London Taxidermy for the launch of Thames & Hudson's new book 'Taxidermy'.

Vanity Fair Decades - The 1940s


It was the end of the Second World War, the beginning of J. D. Salinger’s literary career, and the golden age of tattoos for men in service. Take in the decade of the 1940s from a slightly different perspective than usual. Some of this you will find on school curricula, other parts not!

This great animation was directed by Nick Hooker and Drew Christie and written and narrated by Starlee Kine.

2 October 2013

That Walter White Mask Sells on Ebay for $41,400

Bryan Cranston may have had no idea what he was starting back at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. He ambled through the crowds in that Walter White mask, specially made for the occasion by Denver based artist Landon Meier. Now the mask, autographed by the actor has been sold on Meier’s ebay page for a substantial sum - $41,400.00 to be exact. How much? You may well do a double take.

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