31 August 2014

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Los Angeles, You Will After Watching This


This amazing time-lapse photography project, TimeLAX, by iVideoMaking shows the Greater Los Angeles area from many angles. It covers views of Downtown Los Angeles from skyscrapers, the super moon, the strawberry moon, the Vincent Thomas Bridge, the Hollywood Sign, the StubHub Center, the Staples Center, and Downtown Glendale.  It just makes me want to get on a plane right now… taxi!

Are We There Yet?


Are we there yet? On a long car journey, do you have any idea how to stop the kids from saying those words twenty times a minute? Kinder-rocker, Joanie Leeds, sings about family vacations on the road and makes a few suggestions along the way about how you might placate those sweet little angels of yours who for some reason turned in to monsters at the start of the journey. It is accompanied by animation in a juvenile style by Glen Blitz.

If You Live with Someone Who Just Will Not Answer the Phone - This is for You


My grandmother used to maintain that my grandfather has something called selective hearing, meaning he hid behind the partial deafness he developed in his later years and only chose to hear what he wanted to hear.

From the evidence presented in this gentle and funny short movie by Morbid Films, she wasn’t alone. Starring Anka Bevc and Zlatco Bevc (surely, they must be married in real life too?) this shows the life of quiet irritation that many women go through for decades. If you are in your thirties, female and still single this may persuade you that yours is not entirely a condition about which you need or should worry.

30 August 2014

Elgin Park – Remarkable American Town Frozen in Time

Imagine a town as time capsule, where nothing has changed since the 1960s. Certainly, there are examples the world over but for the most part these towns have been abandoned, left to their own devices due to the ravages of war, nuclear pollution or simply changing demographics.  However, there is one town in America that still looks just as it would have in the decade that gave birth to rock and roll.  Welcome to Elgin Park.

The minutia of everyday American life is there to be seen. The Top Toys store is there on the corner, pristine and just how it was all those decades ago.

The Mystery of Death Valley’s Sailing Stones Finally Solved to the Satisfaction of All


You have probably heard of the sailing stones - rocks which move and inscribe long tracks along a smooth valley floor seemingly without human or animal intervention.  Well, forget all that scientific gobbledegook that you have heard: there is an obvious explanation to this mystery which has been staring us in the face all this time.  Thanks to Po-Chen Chia of The University for Creative Careers all is now clear.

You Probably Won’t See Mallakhamba on America’s Got Talent but it Will Amaze You


Mallakhamba is a traditional Indian sport in which a gymnast performs amazing contortions on a tall wooden pole. In fact the word also refers to the pole used in the sport as well as the sport itself.  Here, two experts of this very dangerous pastime, Mayur Vilas Dalal and Narendra Gade show us their moves on their first ever tour of Germany.  One of the gymnasts does admit that the sport can be very dangerous – and it is easy to say why!

29 August 2014

This Drone Video of the High Arctic is Spectacular


Peter Cox, a landscape photographer, recently visited Svalbard and the High Arctic with his cameras and his DJI Phantom 2 drone.  The result is what you can see here – some breath-taking footage of the high arctic wilderness captured with the drone as well as some remarkable camera-captured wildlife photography.  For me the highlight was the incredible Brasvellbreen ice wall and its otherworldly waterfall.  Find your own by watching the video.

ROA – Mysterious Belgian Street Artist

You may not be aware of the distinctive art of ROA but the first thing you will acknowledge is that this mysterious Belgian street artist likes animals. No, let’s put it in a better way – there is an obsession here. Growing up in Ghent, Belgium in the eighties the artist had modest artistic beginnings, with art under bridges and walls.

25 August 2014

Porcelain


We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed, for our safety, to its security and peace. Preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and the love we give our fragile craft. Adlai E. Stevenson

Porcelain was created by Erik Andersson of Teal and Orange.

Niako: Child of Rhythm


Michael Lamarre, best known as Niako, is a multidisciplinary dancer who started dancing Hip Hop in 1998. He took to the stage in 2001 with the Dalton Posse.  He incorporates many styles in to his dancing, from capoeira through to salsa, and after a diverse career in the arts is recognized internationally.  Here are some of his voyages around the world, continually evolving his dance through his travels.

This Animation Brings Home Just How Much We Expose Ourselves to the Media


Do you Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? Do you surf for funnies? Do you watch sport, reality shows and the news?  It’s amazing just how much we are bombarded by the media – or perhaps allow ourselves be bombarded is the correct way of saying it.  Until something like this animation by Cesar Cepeda is placed under our noses it is easy to imagine that it isn’t too much and that we control it. I think I might go and read a book today…

Death of a Nation: This Poetic Spoken-Word Response to Ferguson Will Blow Your Mind


Almost a 100 years ago in 1915, the film Birth of a Nation shocked America with its portrayal of black men (particularly) as unintelligent and sexually aggressive towards white women.

Death of a Nation, a powerful, eloquent response to the events in Ferguson by Matt Berry (featuring Julian Walters, Ngijol Songolo and Koko Songolo) usurps the movie’s title and asks us some difficult and perhaps uncomfortable questions.  It also reaches out to a generation of young black Americans - and the nation to which they should by all rights feel integral - in crisis. A dream deferred (from the poem and a melancholy echoing Martin Luther King Jr's most famous speech) makes a good subtitle for this extraordinary piece, filmed by the poet and his friend Sachin Dharwadker. I am guessing you will watch this more than once. It speaks not just to young, black Americans but to all of us.

24 August 2014

Saturn’s Amazing Six-Sided Hurricane


At four times the size of our pale blue dot, there is a storm raging over Saturn’s north pole – and it is six-sided. That's right - a hexagonal hurricane. How did this geometric shape come to be, what caused it? This and other questions about Saturn (great footage of the planet’s own version of the northern lights) are answered in this great video, produced by: Dennis Overbye, Jason Drakeford and Jonathan Corum.

Here are some images of this incredible phenomenon.  First, a raw Cassini image acquired on Feb. 26, 2013 which shows the planet's hexagon structure around its polar latitudes, as well as the central spinning vortex over its pole.  There is an old Latin saying -  ordo ab chao - out of chaos, comes order.  Whoever it was who first said that probably didn't have Saturn in mind.

Marbles


Roberta lives alone with her cat Marbles.  Old and increasingly in poor health she bumbles through her days with a somewhat perplexed good humor.  Everyday  mistakes are becoming more regular and it seems that old age is finally taking its toll.  What future for souls like Roberta? This gentle comedy drama, directed by Anna-Marie Ramm, addresses some of the issues facing the elderly in the UK today. 

I must say, too, that the performance by Abigail Hamilton as Roberta is top notch. If her face is familiar it may be you have seen her as Mrs Cosgrove in the James Corden vehicle One Chance or her numerous other appearances in British TV and film.

True Family Story


Sometimes parents have to make difficult decisions and this little story is a great example.  What would you do if your son is bitten by a squirrel which may or may not be carrying rabies?  This is what one family did – and it’s based on a true story.  Written, directed and animated by Chris Walsh of Mad Lab Productions it shows that, perhaps, children are concerned, the absolute truth is not always the right thing to adhere to.

23 August 2014

Survive: New Zombie Short Film


Jon Chu’s production company offers second unit directors (who were stunt Coordinators) the opportunity to direct their own short films which matches story and action.  However, there is a catch: they are only allowed one day to prepare and a second to shoot their short.  That’s quite a tall order by any standards – and these are high.

This is Ben Bray’s project – and it is extremely good indeed.  Survive features three people on the run from a new breed of zombie (including one whose sheer height will make you wince).  Holed up in a cabin, one of them inadvertently draws the zombie horde to their hideout.  As you might expect from what is effectively a showcase for Bray’s talents both as a storyteller but as a stunt coordinator, the action starts right away and doesn’t stop.

 The project managed to attract a great cast, too.  Harry Shum Jr (from Glee) and Caity Lotz (from Arrow).   Having seen another short with Shum – the excellent 3 Minutes (watch it here on Kuriositas) I can’t help but think that he would make a pretty good go at an action lead given the opportunity.

22 August 2014

What This Little Boy Draws in Chalk will Have You in Bits


This is a very simple, short film by Navin Kumar but despite its brevity it packs an almighty punch at the end.

A little boy searches for chalk and proceeds to draw in the playground.

However, what he draws may well have a slightly lachrymal effect on your eyes.  Hankies out, folks...

The Swimming Pool that Turned into a Museum

In the last few years of the twentieth century the Mayor of Lille in northern France had a quandary. The old swimming pool in the small town of Roubaix had been closed in 1985 due to safety problems. 

So, why not simply knock the old building down? What was the problem?

The swimming pool just happened to be a stunningly beautiful example of Art Deco architecture. Time for a peculiarly French solution.

Doctor Who - A Visual History - 1963 – 2014: From Hartnell to Capaldi


As we get closer and closer to seeing just what Peter Capaldi will do with Doctor Who I thought it might be a good idea to present this video to you, lovingly put together by Joe Siegler. I originally shared it a few years ago but Mr Siegler has now updated it, up to and including the introduction of Peter Capaldi.

Although it is over an hour long (which means slightly longer than your average modern episode) it gives a whistle-stop tour of each and every single adventure the Doctor has had on the television. As there are so many you will only get a brief glimpse of each but it is enough to give even the newest of Who neophytes a taste of what has been happening to our time traveling Time Lord over the last fifty and a bit years.

Each and every regeneration is included plus you get to see all of the companions, old and new. Of course you will get to see how your favorite monsters looked in the 60s, 70s and 80s too – before CGI and the BBC bothered to give the show an effects budget.  What is interesting is the way that Joe has bent the timey wimey thing so we see McGann regenerating in to Hurt in the order in which is (should have) happened - all the doctors are in their correct order (if there can be such a thing when it comes to time travel!). 

My advice is go get your preferred beverage and snacks and settle in for a real treat! In fact, for people like me (and you too I hope), this is heaven!

21 August 2014

Abiogenesis


Abiogenesis is the natural process of life arising from non-living matter such as simple organic compounds.

In this breath-taking science fiction spectacle, a strange mechanical device lands on a desolate world and uses the planet to undergo a startling transformation, that has profound implications for an entire galaxy. It was created by Richard Mans.

When a Cartoon is Called Kung-Fu Crab, You Just Know You Have to Watch It


I make no apologies – the minute I saw the title Kung-Fu Crab I knew it was pretty much inevitable that it would find its way on to Kuriositas.  This little crustacean believes that his owner is just about to make him in to crab cakes.  Cue a metamorphosis in to the new martial arts superhero – Kung-Fu Crab!  This entertaining animated short was created by Kim Newman at Ringling College of Art and design (yes, them again!).

20 August 2014

The Sedlec Ossuary - The Art of Human Remains

The suburb of Sedlec is a quiet, everyday place, just another part of the small but historic town of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic.  The town has never had a huge population – even today the number of souls there number just over twenty thousand.  Yet this calm suburb is home to the Sedlec Ossuary a place which could well send a shiver up your spine.  This small chapel under the Cemetery Church of All Saints houses the skeletons of around 70,000 people.  And they are not exactly tucked away in a crypt, either.

19 August 2014

The Cat that Time Forgot

Have you ever wanted to take a trip through time to see what animals looked like millions of years ago? When it comes to cats there is little or no need.  This beautiful specimen is a Manul, otherwise known as a Pallas Cat and it is featured today over on our sibling site, the Ark in Space.  About twelve million years ago it was one of the first two modern cats to evolve and it hasn’t changed since. The other species, Martelli’s Cat, is extinct so what you are looking at here is a unique window in to the past of modern cats. Click the links or the picture to read the full piece and see many more wonderful photographs of this beautiful cat.

How Do Beans Cause Gas?


You know when you tuck in to those beans on toast that there will be a consequence – every action having a direct reaction, as it were.  So, just how and why does an innocent snack become such a fart fest?  This animation by Giant Ant (created originally for Men’s Health) takes us on that journey from hole to hole as it were.  There you go, something else you really didn’t care to learn imprinted forever on your brain. Ta da.

Feeling Lazy? Then Try Out the World’s First NON-Interactive Video Game


If you like video games but sometimes just can’t muster up the energy to power up the playstation then Journey Alpha may be just for you.  As the world’s first non-interactive video game all you have to do is sit back and watch the action as it progresses – simple as that.  Created by Patrick Poelchau at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, this may well be the answer to so many prayers.

The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno

One of the largest cemeteries in Europe, the Cimitero monumentale di Staglieno in Genoa, Italy covers more than a square kilometer.  It opened in 1851 and since then has gained a reputation for its monuments to those buried there. And what monuments they are.  It is a place for contemplation, for reflection on human frailty and the short-lived nature of our time on earth. Today we will let the pictures speak for themselves...

18 August 2014

If You’re a Thirty Something Single Woman with Kids, You Should Watch This


…because even if this isn’t your particular dream you can at least take heart that in this case it came true.  This is Beverly.  She gets a little wrapped up in her thoughts when it comes to getting the man that she wants – but that’s cool – we get to share them.  Yet will she or won’t she get the man? It won’t be for the want of trying, that’s for sure! Directed by Eliaz Rodriguez and starring Wanjiku Kairu this is based on the true story of a woman called Beverly Scott.

17 August 2014

Girl #9 – A Dark Short about Perils Online


Every actor has to have a showreel and Eme Essien is no exception.  However, when she approached Studio Hansa for a little assistance they politely declined- but offered instead to collaborate with her in creating Girl #9.

It certainly shows that Essien can portray a wide range of emotions and maintain a narrative story and she held my attention throughout in this chilling 8 minute short film (watch till the end for the reason why the film has the title it does). As showreels go, this is one of a kind – I suspect we will be seeing a lot of Ms Essien in the future. It sets a new benchmark for showreels too - and before you ask, unless your is better than Girl #9, no, Kuriositas will not...

Sitting Comfortably? Then Relax and Watch All the Quentin Tarantino Movie Deaths Together


Relax? Unlikely but can say what you like about Quentin Tarantino – he knows how to kill people on screen. That said, Guildenstern has put together this montage of all the deaths from all his movies: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Death Proof, Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained.  I for one was surprised it lasts under five minutes but there you go. Which one is your favorite?

16 August 2014

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Paris, You Will After Watching This


Paul Richardson recently spent three weeks in Paris, capturing it in all its quintessentially French gorgeousness and the result is this incredible time-lapse (with an amazing hyperlapse up to the Arc de Triumphe being my favorite part as I drove that road at about the same speed as a teenager).  While he was there, Paris experienced some massive storms, so if you like photography which captures lightning, you are going to love this.

The Golden Hour: Magical Photography

Have you ever taken a photograph that seems to have a magical quality to it, because of the way in which the light has been captured in the shot?  The chances are that you took the picture during the two times of day that photographers know as the golden hour.

The first hour of sunlight of the day makes the first golden hour.  As the sun rises the light is softer than later in the day when the full and harsh rays of the sun shine down upon us.  Likewise at the end of the day in the hour before sunset, the sun is close to the horizon again.  As in the morning, the light travel in an oblique manner and so, instead of hitting objects straight down, hits them at an angle.

15 August 2014

Wilfred Owen: Futility


Just a few short weeks before his death on the battlefield, Wilfred Owen wrote Futility. As he fought in the First World War, Owen was no stranger to death and he thought it almost inevitable that he would meet his own on the fields of France. 

The poem tells of the discovery, by a group of soldiers, of one of their comrades. He has died and although no reason is given, one might surmise that it was the cold which killed him or perhaps (if you want a more colorful story) a German sniper.  The narrator exhorts his comrades to move him in to the sun – perhaps that which originally stirred life on earth can prevail and bring their friend back to life. 

The poem saw something of a departure for Owen in as much as it is not as angry as many of his others.  I personally feel that the red heat of his fury at the enormous carnage inflicted on ordinary men has not cooled – rather it had been tempered in to something icily blistering instead.  Owen by this point in his life may have learned how to restrain his language but there is a sense of hopelessness in the final lines which thrusts his point home in a profoundly moving well.

In my real world life I am a lecturer and it is my pleasure each year to teach some of Owen’s poems (I mostly teach IT – it’s a long story) – and I always try and include Futility. This video is something which took me a little while to create (a very off and on process) but I hope you ‘get’ what I have done with the poem.  Perhaps it is best to allow people to imagine the visuals for themselves when it comes to poetry but if this enables anyone to more deeply appreciate or understand Owen’s poetry, then job done.

If you happen to be a teacher or student of Owen's work, you can find more of my resources around him (including the original PowerPoint of this video with additional notes on each line) on my site Teaching Resources For Me.

14 August 2014

Where Do Fish Come From? This Animated Short Explains All


When the harvest of the sea fails, a fisherman goes in search of the origin of fish.  What he discovers is something quite magical.  This hugely enjoyable and beautifully crafted animated short is the work of five students who studied at – you guessed it – Supinfocom.  This marvelous school continues to produce world class animators and animation fans like myself greatly anticipate the release of the films each year. Enjoy!

Watch 1 World Trade Center Rise Over Three Years in this Amazing Time-Lapse


Benjamin Rosamond must be a very patient man. He began this time-lapse in February 2011 and completed it in 2014. It shows the tallest building in the western hemisphere, 1 World Trade Center as it slowly but surely comes to dominate the Lower Manhattan Skyline. If you can draw your eyes away from it, you can also see the construction of the Barclays Center Arena in the lower right corner. Shot in the golden hour, this is renaissance in motion.

Jorge and the Running of the Sheep


Jorge is part Spanish and has always dreamed of running with the bulls in Spain. When Jorge hears about a similar event in Australia called the Running of the Sheep in a little country town called Boorowa he instantly sets out to take this opportunity to pursue something close to his dream. However this little country festival is not all what he expected it to be... A very funny mockumentary by Sam Matthews and team.

Watch the Brilliant New Alien: Isolation Game Trailer


Alien: Isolation is the upcoming first-person survival horror stealth game and it looks like it might be the best of the year.  

These days, of course, everything has to have a trailer and so Axis Animation and director Ben Hibon have created this intense glimpse into SEGA and Creative Assembly's new game featuring Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda (it is set in 2137, 15 years after Alien but 42 years prior to Aliens).

The Ripley women just can't seem to get away from alien threats.  One can only imagine how her mother would have felt had she known her daughter shared her own fate.  That said, the trailer is so beautifully made it really bodes well for the game..!

Soylent Green Returns to Shelves in UK Supermarket War: Unemployment Drops

Great to see that Soylent Green, so rarely seen these days on shop shelves, is back and being promoted by all the discount supermarkets. A tasty and inexpensive snack is once more being made available to the great British public which is great news for all of us who need to feed a family but watch the pennies at the same time. 

True it isn’t to everyone’s taste but this alternative to the other processed foods on the market gives the customer more choice and it can be cooked using a variety of delicious recipes (if you haven’t tasted it, most say it is like a cross between pork and chicken). Now it has returned the question many are asking is why has it been away so long?

So, just why has it made a return now? If you live outside the UK then you might not be aware that there is something of a war going on between the supermarkets there.  As the economy has stubbornly resisted efforts to recover (in my opinion a country spends itself out of a recession, making cuts doesn’t work and only drives people in to poverty) the top four supermarkets have discovered that their once loyal customers are going to cheaper supermarkets who have rather cleverly rebranded themselves through an appeal to the innate inverse snobbery of British shoppers.

Soylent Green fell out of favour as British tastes developed in the seventies and eighties (coinciding with the massive reduction in the number of mine workers in the UK and the return to a booming economy).  It simply disappeared off the shelves. However, it’s marvelous to see the choice made available again, even if it was a recession that caused it. A household staple returns! Already a number of economists have pointed out a possible correlation between the return of Soylent Green and the recent drop in unemployment figures.  Whether this trend continues is yet to be seen of course, but any positive news about the economy should be welcomed.

It’s great to see, too, that the makers haven’t tried to update the image of this once cherished product.  Retro is very fashionable these days and this will no doubt appeal to the baby boomers out there.  After all, who of a certain age, can fail to be nostalgic about all those happy memories of settling down in front of the TV on a Saturday evening to watch Doctor Who with Soylent Green on toast, hoping the lights were not going to go off because of the miner's strike? It seems almost like a kind of wonder comfort-food for these recessionary times.

For more information about Soylent Green, you can visit the homepage of Id-Iom, currently the only supplier in the UK.

Lake Natron – Tanzania’s Amazing Salt Lake

Here you can see two amazing photographs of the Lake Natron taken recently by Valentin Rüst of Don't Complain Travel.  This incredible salt lake is located in northern Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border. Here is a taster from Valentin's feature.
What had started off as a short message from a friend, quickly turned into my newest obsession: Lake Natron in Tanzania. I just could not believe it. It had to be fake. It had to be photoshopped. A lake so bloody red, so desolate, so hostile and yet so little known.
Click on either of the pictures to go to Valentin's in depth report on this amazing place. 
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