31 December 2013

10 Great Happy New Year 2014 Videos

Thank you so much for being a Kuriositas reader in 2014.  By way of thanks I would like to wish you a Happy New Year for 2014 – it has been a year for the site with as many downs as up but I am looking forward to taking it on its next steps over the coming year.  In the meantime, here are 10 short videos which celebrate the coming of 2014.  May your year be a wonderful one with you and yours all healthy and happy!




30 December 2013

Salina Turda: Romania’s Amazing Salt Mine turned Museum

The historic region of Transylvania has long been associated with vampires. Yet there is something in Transylvania which predates even the legends of blood-sucking fiends: salt mining has been going on in the area since Roman times.

Salina Turda is an ancient and wondrous example of a salt mine, now a museum and center for halotherapy - with a distinctively modern twist.

Yet as well as the preservation of historic mining facilities, Salina Turda holds some unexpected pleasures. It now looks as much like the lair of a James Bond villain as a salt mine – albeit a very playful Bond villain.

29 December 2013

Attack of the Giant Vegetable Monsters


They're coming in bunches...... They're mad cause we ate them with our lunches!!!

A meteor lands on top of a farm growing vegetable for the consumption of a nearby city.  The strange radiation makes the once harmless vegetables come to life and wreak an unholy revenge of the citizens of the town.

A marvelous piece of animation in the spirit of the B movies of the fifties by Ken Turner with more than a twist in its tale.  Marvellously evil!

Kichwa


This isn’t so much the butterfly effect as the pop up tent effect.  A group of time travelers realize that they have left something important behind when they return from the past and must return to retrieve it before the time continuum is changed forever.  However, a young Aztec warrior has got there before them.  Can they retrieve their tent without changing history?

This is a whole lot of fun and is the end product of a great deal of work by four students at ESMA in Montpelier, France.  They are Francois De Morangies, Arnaud Jourdan, Thibault Stoyanov and Julie Barthel. Well done - and thank you!

Hazed


Do you remember the story of the scorpion and the fox? Sometimes things are simply in your nature. So, what happens if you happen to be a factory, belching out smoke and noxious fumes? If you have anything approaching a heart then you might begin to feel a little guilty about what you are doing to the environment, despite the fact that it is what, essentially, you were created to do.

So it is with this animated short by Matt Hammill. Hazed was initially created as his grad film from Sheridan College. One thing before you click play – make sure to watch this to the very end, you may not quite get what you were expecting! We guarantee that you will laugh, however!

22 December 2013

Harley


Poor little Harley.  This hapless fantail goldfish has not been a success down at the local pet store.  People just keep returning him as damaged goods.  Another day and another return – Harley seems to be the fish that no-one wants to keep.  This charming animated short was created by Tom Teller for his Intermediate Production class at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

Goodbye Mister De Vries


Mr De Vries is old – terribly old and he sits alone in his house awaiting his inevitable departure from this world. Yet one morning a mysterious package arrives and he realises that there is one more thing he must do before he leaves.  This very touching animated short was directed by Mascha Halberstad and won the international short and animation film award at the Schlingel Film Festival in Germany.

21 December 2013

Twin Peaks Illustrated


It’s been a while since we have been able to feature a personal project by Martin Woutisseth – he has been a busy guy.  However, today it’s great to see that after many months in stop-start production his illustrated take on the Twin Peaks universe has finally made it!  If you think his illustrations are simply photos with an instant Photoshop filter applied, think again.  Each is lovingly crafted with up to 250 layers – watch the video and see!

19 December 2013

Gaia’s Mission: Solving the Celestial Puzzle


The Gaia spacecraft has now been launched and an amazing project has begun.  Ambitious is hardly the word – altogether over a billion celestial objects will be mapped by Gaia – and in 3D in to the bargain.  What is even, perhaps, more astonishing is that these billion objects constitute only one hundredth of those over 20 G magnitudes brightness in the Milky Way.  Our galaxy is vast.

Professor Gerry Gilmore from Cambridge University’s Institute of Astronomy and the Principal Investigator for UK involvement in the mission says that Gaia "will revolutionize our understanding of the cosmos as never before."   The university has created this twenty minute film exploring the mission and its challenging.  I found it compulsive viewing.

Oh and it is narrated by Sean Pertwee, a wonderful British actor who we have seen recently in Camelot and Elementary among other things.  As the son of the third actor to play Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee, this is more than an appropriate choice for narrator of this wonderful short documentary.

18 December 2013

Frost on Glass: Ice Flower Art

When a pane of glass is exposed to very cold air on the outside while inside the air is reasonably moist, frost can form.  Known as ice flowers or fern frost, it is remarkable for the intricate patterns it creates.  The surface of the glass influences the way that the ice is formed so that the first process of crystallization, known as nucleation, is randomized.  The patterns, then, are almost infinite in variety.  Science aside, ice flowers are a source of wonder, things of elegance and beauty.  They are nature’s art at its most exquisite.

16 December 2013

The Bizarre Hammerhead Worm

Have you eaten recently? If so, then perhaps it’s not a wise idea to visit the Ark in Space today which has a feature on the bizarre hammerhead worm. It is an extraordinary predator which preys on mostly earthworms but the way that it attacks and feeds is, well, potentially quite disturbing if you are a gentle soul. For those of you brave enough to screw your courage to the sticking place (as Lady Macbeth said) then go take a look at this most bizarre of creatures. But expect carnage.

Image Credit Wikimedia

Thin White Gelato


Inspired by The Snowman, Trunk Animation’s Christmas offering is an enigmatic animated short.  Introduced by David Bowie (where did they get that footage? A Bing Crosby Christmas Special?) Gelato Go Home is a loving homage to the ice cream van in its communal quest for a little time away from it all.  Altogether this left me slightly befuddled but nonetheless happy; so quite close to how I used to feel each Christmas during my childhood.

Tis the Season


Have you ever wondered what Santa does with his time off? What about the reindeer, the presents and the Christmas trees? Not spared a second thought?

Well, perhaps it’s time for you to look in to the secret lives of these yuletide characters, take a peek through the proverbial keyhole as it were.  This marvelously silly animation comes courtesy of Jens and Anna of Animate Me.

Snowflake


Christmas is coming and in many place all over the world that means that the winter is producing the weather most associated with the time of year – snow.

However, if you are wishing for a white Christmas then you may think again after watching this short short by Eoin Duffy.  You may never see that beauty of nature, the snowflake, in the same way again!

15 December 2013

Reaping for Dummies


You never know when the Grim Reaper is going to come knocking – so if you don’t want to accompany him to the afterlife then it is best to take a few precautions.  When a trainee reaper visits an almost abandoned Wild West town he thinks it is just another ordinary soul collection but he gets more than he bargained for.  Reaping for Dummies was created by a group of five students from the 3D design and animation course at Idèfagskolen in Tønsberg Norway.

14 December 2013

Stone Angels


We have featured the Cemetery of Staglieno in Genoa, Italy previously on Kuriositas and it remains a place of fascination and meditation.  It is filled with an incredible variety of outstanding sculptures that leave us with questions about our own mortality, our relationship with death and in what possibly lies ahead.  This wonderful black and white short by Nicola Bozzo captures this unfathomable place marvelously.

Rain Dance


Again we have been neglecting dance on Kuriositas (if anyone would like to be our dance correspondent, please drop us a line!).  However, we hope that this will more than make up for it.  Rain Dance features the talents of Tuomas Määttä and was filmed by Flatlight films.  I love the concept – a frenetic dance slowed down so that every twist and turn is shown in detail.  You understand then why dancers must be so physically fit!

Waiting for Santa


Did you ever have a sleepless night on Christmas Eve waiting for you-know-who to arrive with your presents?  This young man is certainly finding the land of nod a difficult place to reach but will his dreams of a new red bike be realised?

This charming silent short by J Palmroos answers that question but it left me with another! Who really enjoys Christmas the more – the child or the parent?

8 December 2013

The Portuguese Water Dog: From the Russian Steppes to The White House

The Portuguese Water Dog is something of a survivor.  The breed was rescued from extinction in the last century and, despite over half of the current specimens being descended from a single male, seems to be going from strength to strength.  Plus it has an unusual feature that you might not expect, even though the clue is in its name.  Find out what that is and enjoy a feast of photos of this adorable dog on the Ark in Space.

Image Credit

What is Wrong with Atlantis?

The new BBC series Atlantis, based very, very loosely on Greek mythology is doing well in the Saturday night ratings war.  Starring Mark Addy and Jack Donnelly, the show follows the adventures of young Jason and his friends; it's a three way bromance located in an alternate, unsunk Atlantis. However, one writer at least finds that there are a few things missing from the show which makes it less than wholly enjoyable.  Perhaps you may agree – pop over to 2wenty4se7en to discover what (one person at least) believe is wrong with Atlantis.

Dry Grass in a Blue Vase


For centuries a secret guild has kept a door locked, its secret hidden away for so long that no-one remembers what was kept behind it.   Now only one old woman remains out of the group and she decides to do the only thing she can before she dies.

This enigmatic and beautifully made animated short was written, directed, animated and sound edited by Maria Ivanova.

7 December 2013

Servo


A bored young businessman acquires the latest technological advancement – Servo.  The robot servant, however, isn’t quite up to the job but nevertheless an unlikely friendship is struck up.  Yet the company plans to rectify the fault and it looks as if the fun might be over… This sweet and funny short was created by students at the Kaywon School of Art and Design in Korea for their moving image graduation project. And altogether, it all adds up to a rather fine bromance.

Me or the Dog


Tom believes that his dog, Dudley, is talking to him.  Not only that, the dog sets out to prove that Tom’s girlfriend is cheating on him.  Me or the Dog is a both a bittersweet comedy drama and a thought provoking short film.  It was funded by the Wellcome Trust with the aim of a positive portrayal of schizophrenia and to raise public awareness of the condition.  Starring Edward Hogg, and Kemi-bo Millar it features Caddy as Dudley and Martin Clunes as his voice. 

Potsman Miner


As time goes on it must be more difficult for imaginative minds to dream up new, future dystopias.  I think you may well agree that the four Supinfocom students who created Factuer Mineur (in the original French) have done just that.  A lone postman carries an incredible burden both literally and metaphorically.  What effect will the news that he carries have on its intended recipients?

Chester - Voted Europe's 5th Prettiest City by Readers of USA Today

The readers of USA today recently voted the city of Chester in England as Europe’s fifth prettiest city.

While this may have come as a surprise to many (it beat Prague, Budapest and Venice for starters), for those acquainted with this historic city, founded by Roman invaders almost 2,000 years ago, it came as a long overdue recognition of one of the UK’s best kept secrets.

While Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and York hog the spotlight as England's premier historic towns, Chester is sometimes overlooked.  As someone born and brought up there I believe I can help explain why this city came so surprisingly high in the USA Today poll.

Chester is tucked away about twenty miles under Liverpool on the map of England and it is true that it is often overshadowed by its larger, more famous neighbor. It is difficult to compete with The Beatles, after all. However, Chester has charms that are all its own so I would like to invite you to a short tour of the city.

5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela: A Tribute in Art


Nelson Mandela: 18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013

When I was a teenager in the early 1980s I think my first encounter with the name Nelson Mandela was probably through a badge.  Although my memory is a little fuzzy about exactly when, it was most likely 1983, the year before the Special AKA band released what is still in most Top 20 Political Songs lists – Free Nelson Mandela.  The song made it in to the top ten in the UK hit parade. The badge, though, with its typically 80s font, was ubiquitous.

Image Credit Flickr User Ben Sutherland
As well as being worn to protest the on-going incarceration of the South African politician by his own government, the badge was also another way for us to show our displeasure with our own: Maggie Thatcher and her cohorts were currently smashing their way through UK industry like a wrecking ball.  The only pictures we got to see of Nelson Mandela were those taken before his trial and imprisonment – and that had been in 1962, over twenty years previously.   The man could already be representative of causes other than his own – a kind of marker of general political and personal duty: this transference from individual to universal symbol is something that few others have achieved.
Image Credit Flickr User Vilseskogen
The potency of this charisma was bound to find outlets through artistic expression both of the monumental and the personal kind. After his release and his inevitable rise to political power, Mandela’s face became (and I do not use the word without hesitation) iconographic, even in life.  He became a living, breathing symbol of the struggle for personal liberty, for freedom of speech, for universal education and suffrage – and more: I could probably leave a space here and each of you could fill in the gap with your own reason for admiring this man, surely one of the most pivotal in contemporary world history.

4 December 2013

850 Meters


A not-so-brave knight is on a quest for Fame and Fortune - legend says rescuing a princess is the way to go. And in those same fairy tales, there's only one way to slay the dragon that holds the fair lady captive: find the invincible sword. To reach his goal, the knight is ready to go far. Maybe even as far as 850 meters. This marvelous animated short was created by Thuristar.

Our Anthem (American Made)


Last month the town of Washington, Illinois, was virtually flattened by a tornado but its citizens are not those for giving up.  Green Shoe Studio has produced this song and video, by Jacob Colgan and Aileeah Colgan as a tribute to the community and to help restore what has been lost (certainly not their spirit!).  You can buy the single on iTunes or donate directly to the Washington Tornado Relief Fund here.

2 December 2013

Lofoten – Amazing Arctic Circle Anomaly

The archipelago of Lofoten in Norway is north of the Arctic Circle.  Yet throughout the year it has temperatures which belie its position.  

This is because of the largest positive temperature anomaly in the world relative to latitude.  

It makes Lofoten an unexpected delight – its early settlers must have thought they had stumbled across an arctic paradise.

Prepare to have your breath taken away.

What they found there was a sea teeming with life and the largest deep water coral reef in the word.  There are literally millions of sea birds with many species represented, such as the sea eagle, the cormorant and the puffin.  Otter are common in the area and on the larger islands of the archipelago there are moose.

Lovely Laptops: How Would You Customise Yours?

A few years ago I thought a good proportion of the world had gone mad as they seemed to have started talking to themselves in the street and on public transport – and answering back too. Of course, I soon realised that they were using discrete mobile technology to talk to their friends (not imaginary ones!). I am having the same ‘shock of the new’ with the multitude of tablets and Laptops that are now available. They are getting slimmer and slimmer and once or twice I have spotted people using them before I actually spot the laptop.

The VAIO laptops from Sony are ‘guiltier’ than most. The latest is the slimmest Windows 8 tablet PC in the world. Not only that but they come with a range of features that are super useful, whether you are working, playing or just chilling. Take a look at this infographic. Which feature of the VAIO Inspiration Suite do you think you would use the most?

How to use VAIO Inspiration Suite - Infographic
Courtesy of Sony

When you get over the sheer amount of tools you can use on the VAIO Laptops there is probably something else you might notice. I really hate it when glare gets in the way of me getting on with things on my laptop (OK, so it’s usually watching movies). However, there is a VAIO Display Premium feature on selected laptops which have anti-reflection and wider viewing angles which are fantastic for people like me.

Talking of selection, that is completely the name of the game with VAIO laptops. You can select from a great range of colours which will really make your own laptop stand out – and there are a number of finishes available too so that you will have your own bespoke laptop. Now, here’s a question for you! If you could have your laptop look any way you wanted, what indeed would it look like?

Let me know – perhaps we might even be able to persuade Sony to adopt your ideas!

Sponsored Post

1 December 2013

10 Things to do With Nettles When You’re Bored

Normally, nettles are associated with that nasty sting that they give you should you be foolhardy enough to examine them with bare hands or unfortunate enough to have a brother or sister willful enough to want to push you in to them.  However, they have many more uses than a tool in the escalation in to nastiness of sibling rivalry.  So, what exactly can you do with nettles when you are bored?

Push Someone in to Them
We may as well get this one over with now. There are any number of people who have contemplated throwing (sometime) loved ones in to a forest of nettles. We wouldn’t advise this course of action. Unless you know you can get away with it. Nevertheless, when dealing with annoying family members it must be noted that a cliff is a more effective – not to mention permanent solution.

Red Squirrels Show Signs of Recovery from Deadly Poxvirus

The red squirrel is one of the most popular wild animals in the United Kingdom, which considering so few people have seen one is something of a surprise. They have been marginalized by an American interloper, the grey squirrel, for more than a century and they number only just over 100,000. Moreover, a disease carried by the grey has reduced the population of reds to a fraction of what it was a century ago.

Now, however, red squirrels in an enclave in Merseyside (in the north east of England) have been found to be carrying antibodies which means they have had the dreaded poxvirus but have since recovered. Perhaps there is hope, after all. The Ark in Space has the full story plus a plethora of pictures of this uber-cute animal in action.

Image Credit Peter Trimming

Caminandes: Two Very Funny Llama Dramas


Caminandes is about as hapless a llama as you are ever likely to meet.  Yet through adversity our Patagonian friend makes it through – often by the skin of his teeth.    Of course, in the spirit of classic animation, you have to root for the guy! The first episode is above but I do have to say that the new episode below is my favorite of the two! Both episodes are Open Movies produced by the Blender Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

There Will Be Blood - Through Numbers


You may never see the art of film direction in quite the same way after you watch this. I knew there was a lot more to it than simply pointing a camera in a certain direction and shouting action but what this video by Ali Shirazi reveals is somewhere in the category of mind blower.

Shirazi takes There Will Be Blood, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and shows how film techniques, some derived directly from art through the centuries, are used to amazing effect. Included are the golden ratio, one point perspective and tracking shots. It just goes to show how science (specifically here, mathematics) and art are intrinsically entwined.

Wooden Boy – for World Aids Day


Today (1 December) is World Aids Day when we remember all those lost to this terrible disease of the human immune system.  It also gives an opportunity to drive home the message that the war against Aids is far from over. Directed by 2AM, this short video has adult themes for a serious message but a great ‘reveal’ at its end which is full of ironic humor. Don’t get caught out, folks, always stick one on!
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