28 February 2016

The Tulous of Fujian Province

Around the 12th Century the people of the Fujian Province in China decided that their homes did not offer them sufficient protection in times of civil strife and from the armed bandit gangs which plagued the area for hundreds of years.

Groups of families combined their incomes to provide their community with something more substantial – a tulou - that could safeguard their property and their lives in this mountainous area on the southeast coast of China.

Like any good idea, the idea of large, enclosed fortified buildings had already been around for centuries.  Yet advances in technology enabled communities to create a safe space, encircled by thick load bearing walls and up to five floors high.

Why Science is NOT ‘Just a Theory’

Oh for a unit of currency for each time I have had to explain the difference between an everyday theory and a scientific theory.  Elvis is still alive? Theory.  Darwin and evolution? Theory!  So what’s the difference, say people, they’re both just theories! However, the time of raised eyebrows and explanations is over – now I will just plonk them in front of this animation where Jim Al-Khalili puts the record straight for the Royal Institution.

Otto Lilienthal’s First Film

Back in 1891 Otto Lilienthal became the first person to make well-documented, repeated, successful gliding flights.  However, film was not an option (it was in its infancy to say the least) but he was certainly photographed from many angles. Now, finally, we can get a real feeling of what his flights looked like. Johannes Hogebrink saw something special, used a very modern version of cut and paste and created this amazing record of Lilienthal’s ‘first film’.  Extremely cool.

I'll Hold

Come on, admit it. You’ve done it yourself. You have been put on hold and when you overcome the initial mild irritation you find that you’re listening to something that makes you want to slip in to the groove.  So it is with Daniel who finds that a blast from the past proves irresistible.  I’ll Hold was written, directed and danced by Daniel Cloud Campos (and if there was any more polymathy on display we would probably have to order a hit instead of a pizza…)

The Temples of Angkor: A Glidecam Tour

New York based videographer, cinematographer, photographer and editor Tyler Fairbank shot this over three days during a trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia. He and his companions visited the temples and ruins of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Preah Khan, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, Ta Keo, Banteay Srey, and Thommanom. Thanks to glidecam technology he was able to shoot and edict this visually stunning piece of film.  Enjoy!

24 February 2016


Ed is an extraordinary rabbit, as you will see.  He has lived, he has loved: he has gone to war and discovered ancient cities.  Yet Ed wants to end it all.  You will want to know why after the first few seconds of this amazing animated short by hype.cg, a studio specialising in digital content that uses forefront technology to create art, images and animations.  Thought-provoking animation at its very  best.

Las Lajas Sanctuary: The South American Church that Looks Like a European Castle

If you take the immediate exterior of the Las Lajas Sanctuary in Colombia it doesn’t look too much like an atypical South American Catholic church. Yet it retains many of their qualities: it is ornate, richly elaborate and, to many eyes, beautiful.  Just another minor basilica church in a country dotted with them, you might think.  Yet take a few steps back from the door of the church and look down. You are in for a surprise.

Boldly Gone

Boldly Gone is the tale of two estranged brothers who come together to launch their father's ashes into space. It stars Sean Biggerstaff (The Harry Potter Series), Dimitri Leonidas (The Monuments Men) and Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century).  It was directed by Mark Buchanan.  It deals with the issues of mortality in a way we think Kuriositas’ regular readers will find engaging!

21 February 2016

Should the United Kingdom Leave the European Union? Take Part in our Poll

Should the United Kingdom leave the European Union?  That’s going to be the major question asked up and down the constituent parts of the country in the run up to the referendum in June.  However, we don’t have to wait that long.  Our friends over at Teaching and Learning Resources for Me have set up this little poll thanks to a new-ish feature on YouTube.

It’s supposed to be a student poll but we won’t tell if you don’t! Plus, even if you don’t live in the United Kingdom you can vote.  As for age – pah!  Get your two year old to click yes or no if you like!  We’ll give you the full results in a few weeks.  As of the first day, however, 60% are saying we should leave and 40% staying.

20 February 2016

A Dandelion Going To Seed - Carl Sagan on Space Travel

In 1977 Carl Sagan gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures Lectures on space travel. In his final lecture, he spoke about the human race venturing out into space; his words are as relevant now as they were then.  

A wonderful simile that Sagan used when imagining the human race venturing out in to space was ‘a dandelion going to seed’.  Once can only wonder if, as we look to send people to Mars and then beyond, are we finally realising Sagan’s vision?

This clip was animated by the Ri animator-in-residence Andrew Khosravani. Although I love the pale blue dot animations I have seen it's great to see another set of Sagan's memorable words brought to life again through the medium of animation.

Every Best Visual Effects Winner. Ever.

The folks at Burger Fiction can always be relied on to come up with something special and this is no exception. If you want to see how visual effects have improved over the decades then you need to look no further than this – a glimpse of each and every Oscar winner since the Award for Special Effects (under its various guises) was first started way back in 1927.

19 February 2016

The Lucky Old Mill of Vernon and its Less Fortunate Bridges

The old town of Vernon nestles at the side of the river Seine about 75 kilometers away from Paris.  It has, as you can imagine, a long history and has been through periods of momentous change both in France and Europe as a whple.

When change happens there are always winners and losers. In Vernon, architecturally speaking, perhaps it is the old bridge which could be considered most unfortunate – it no longer exists.

In fact it has been rebuilt and destroyed often enough for us to consider it perhaps the unluckiest bridge in the world.

The lucky survivor, in that case, is the old mill house (le vieux moulin) which straddles the first two piers of the ancient bridge. Vernon itself is first mentioned in the archives of the Frankish King Pepin the Short (or the Great, depending on which history books you read) around the 750AD mark.  Vernon as a city was founded in 950 and the first wooden bridge was built at some point in the early twelfth century (though there is argument there among historians too).

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

This is a stunning example of aerial motion photography at its very best.  The beautiful Russian city of Saint Petersburg is captured in all of its glory by Timelab, who enable us to see the place from heights and angles probably not captured on film before.  The result is an enchanting – hypnotising even – tour through this amazing city which the company call White Nights in Saint Petersburg.  Simply stunning.

The Shepherd

Formerly a streetwise orphan, Asmita has her world turned upside down when she meets Isaac, a reclusive shepherd who lives with a flock of very peculiar sheep deep in the Himalayan mountains. As they spend time together, Asmita begins to see hints of a deeper secret, and before long she finds herself swept up in a battle between worlds that will put her face-to-face with an extraterrestrial invader.

Tuba Atlantic

How on earth does a short film about a dying old man and his enormous (musical) instrument get to be Oscar nominated.  By being Tuba Atlantic, that’s how.  Directed by Hallvar Witzø, it tells the story of 70 year old Oskar.  By that age we all know that the end is nigh-ish.

However for Oskar it’s in six days, according to his doctor.  The old Norwegian only has this time to make things up with his brother who he last heard from three decades previously.  To make matters more complicated he is visited by a well-meaning angel of death, Inger.  And then there’s the seagulls…

14 February 2016

Lake Kaindy – Kazakhstan’s Sunken Forrest

Lake Kaindy is situated near the village of Saty in the Kungey Alatau Mountains (a range in the North Tien-Shan) in the central Asian country of Kazakhstan.

There wasn’t always a lake there: the trunks of pine trees jutting out of the water provide testimony to that.

So what happened here?

The lake is only 400 meters length but in some places it is over thirty meters deep.  It was formed as a result of the massive 1911 Kebin earthquake.  There was a huge landslide which blocked the gorge and a natural dam was formed – and endured.  As the waters rose and it submerged the Schrenk's Spruce (the place means lots of spruce) growing in the area.

The Life of Death

It must be a lonely existence, being death – and although this topic has been covered in numerous films and TV shows, I really think it’s worth your while watching this touching animated short by Marsha Onderstijn.  Death is ever-present in the forest but he is halted in his tracks by the exquisite beauty of a young deer.  A tentative friendship ensues but can death ever escape his nature?

Takeshi Kitano - a Filmography

Takeshi Kitano is known in Japan as many things – primarily as a TV host and comedian - outside of his home country he is best known as an actor.  He had a major role in one of my favourite Japanese movies, the controversial Battle Royale.  However, his film career has significant depth, as you can see in this amazing animated filmography by freelance graphic/motion designer and art director Martin Woutisseth.

7 February 2016

What are the Advantages of RFID Chips?

Radio Frequency Identification chips embed processor in to everyday objects but what are their advantages? Here we take a look at 8 advantages in a short video I put together for my students (I’m a teacher in the ‘real’ world).  This is aimed at Level 2 BTEC students so is more of an introduction than an in-depth look and works towards their Online World exam.

 Although there are also many disadvantages to RFID (which I hope to go in to in another video as people get truly het up about these things!) this only puts one side of the story across!
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