24 April 2016

Helping to End Oppressive Child Labor in the US – The Photography of Lewis Hine

The 1900 United States Census showed the population of America growing by over 20% since the previous census ten years before. Good news for a still expanding, young country. Yet there was another astonishing figure which appalled many. One in six children aged between five and ten were recorded as being in gainful employment.

May 1910: Bundle boy. St. Louis, Missouri.
Yet there was worse. This number, shocking in itself, represented a massive increase of 50% over a twenty year period in the number of children in this age group who worked, often in appalling conditions. America’s children were working in greater numbers than ever before - 1,752,187 of them all told between the ages of five and ten. With the country seemingly going backwards in its treatment of its children from poorer backgrounds, a group of people decided that something had to be done.

22 April 2016

From College Project to Award-Winning Animated Short Film

Written and directed by Gerard Seymour, Somnium won silver in the Student Film category at The New York Festival’s 2014 International Television & Film Awards. Now a full time animator with TopLine Comms, we caught up with this Cape Town-based creative to find out more about the film.

Gerard and his six-strong animation team took the better part of nine months to complete their third year project. With a running time of five minutes, the film tells the story of a young girl who uses her creativity to break free from the oppressive societal system she finds herself in.

What was the original brief?
We were asked to make a 3D animated short film that was anywhere between 2-8 minutes long. What really appealed to me is that there weren’t any story restrictions or limitations, which meant we could get as creative as we liked.

How did the idea come about?
As a creative child growing up in a school system that didn’t really cater for creatives, this story just felt very natural in my head. Almost like it was meant to be told. Around this time there was also a lot of tension around the topic of social control through a controlled media. (This was the same year Edward Snowden was indicted for leaking classified information.)

Who conceptualised it and what did that entail?
As the lead on the project as well as the one who came up with the original idea, conceptualising the story fell to me. A lot of it entailed researching topics I wouldn’t normally research, which was really interesting. But because the idea had been brewing for some time, it was mostly a matter of writing down what was already in my head.

What kind of research did you need to do?
I did a lot of Google searching and watched a bunch of conspiracy theory related documentaries as well as films that tackled the same topic. I also spent some time just contemplating life, which probably looked a lot like I was just lying on the couch doing nothing. Ha ha.

Can you take us through the character’s developmental stage?
The character was inspired by a collection of people in my life whose creative genius has left them largely misunderstood. I named her Wednesday, because just like the deadpan daughter in the movie, The Adams Family, she’s also nothing like other kids her age.

I knew from the outset that the main character needed to be female, perhaps because I find a woman’s emotions more believable. Creating her in 3D proved to be quite a technical challenge, especially because we decided to give her hair and clothes gravitational pull to make her more lifelike. None of us knew how to do this, so we ended up spending a lot of time learning. We ended up behind schedule because of this decision.

How did you piece together the elements to create the whole?
We split the pipeline into separate tasks and allocated them to each of the six members in the group. This gave us a better idea of how to accurately schedule our time and also ensured that the workload was spread equally among us.

Looking back on the production, are you pleased with how it came out?
I’m definitely pleased with what we accomplished in the limited time we had. But looking back now I can see how much more we could have done if we’d scheduled our time better and not used such complicated hair physics systems. All in all though, I’ve learnt so much from this experience and had a lot of fun working with (and learning from) my teammates.

When he’s not dreaming up movies to make, Gerard puts his talent to good use on TopLine’s various client and in-house projects.

17 April 2016

Pardon the Intrusion

Betty isn’t happy.  After a stroke has left her dependent on the morning and evening visits of carers her existence has dwindled to little but TV and soggy sandwiches.  However, one day an intruder enters her house and the status quo is at once threatened – but not quite in the way you might imagine.

Featuring a tour de force performance by Sarah Kestelman who has been a regular face on British TV screens since the 1950s, Pardon the Intrusion is a Cue Pictures film, directed by Louise C Galizia and written by Harry Chadwick.

The Beauty of Lofoten

If you are a regular reader of Kuriositas then you will already know that Lofoten is one of our favorite places in the entire universe not only because of its outstanding beauty but because it really shouldn’t be there.  However, thanks to a weather anomaly it is and Dennis Schmelz was lucky enough to visit northern Norway to capture its almost unspeakable beauty from the air. The result is jaw-slackingly gorgeous.


A launderette may not be the first place you would think of when it came to dance but Mietta Gornall makes it beautiful (80s film fans will see what I did there).

Directed by LAW this is a beautifully put together piece of film – where elegance collides with this week’s washing.

Victor Noir: Still Pleased to See You (Even in Death)

Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris contains the graves of many famous people, including Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. One person you may not have heard of, however, is Victor Noir. It is, in fact, his monument rather than his memory which draws people to his final resting place and for reasons you may not automatically associate with a cemetery.

You may have already noticed that much of his face is the familiar grey-green of oxidized bronze you would expect from a monument dating from 1891 (Noir died in 1870). However, the lips and the nose are unaccountably shiny. Victor Noir’s mouth and nose are regularly caressed and kissed. Yet the host of women who descend upon his tombstone have more than Victor’s face in mind when they visit. Despite only the faintest trace of a smile across it, Victor Noir is, it seems, still very pleased to see you.

16 April 2016

5 Fun and Interesting Facts about Tahiti and its Islands

Tahiti is a dream come true for many people who are looking for a place where they can enjoy perfect weather, beaches, and solitude (if needed!). But how much do you know about this amazing little part of the world?

Check your knowledge and learn new fact right away, because bellow you are going to find five best, funniest and the most interesting facts about Tahiti and its islands!

Fact One
The Tahitian alphabet is made up only of 13 letters. That includes such as vowels a, e, i, o, u and the consonants f, h, m, n, p, r, t and v. Noticed something missing? Apart from such missing letter like y, w, x or z, there is also no letter b in the alphabet. And that is why the infamous Bora Bora Island is actually pronounced Pora Pora by locals. Translated from Tahitian, that directly means “first-born”, but apparently because of simply human mishearing, early visitors heard it as Bora Bora and therefore named it officially.

Fact Two
The word tattoo originated in French Polynesia apart from the fact, that tattoos are pretty widely spread among many different nations and cultures. Tattoos have long been considered signs of beauty in Polynesian culture, and in ancient times were also a sign, of a person reaching adolescence. It is also believed, that the very first people who came to Tahiti and discovered people walking all covered with such body paintings, developed the English word ‘tattoo’ which directly originates from the Tahitian word ‘tatau.'  In fact, here you can also try to get a traditional Tahitian tattoo as well since there are many local masters who will love helping you out!

Fact Three
The Tiare flower is considered being the national symbol of Tahiti. So, it is very loved and used in many different ways. For example, both men and women wear these flowers as an accessory: either as a necklace, crown or behind the ear. There are also some traditions or ways of communication as well. Therefore, if you wear this flower on your left ear, you are showcasing that you are taken, while if you put it in your right ear - you indicate that you are free for romance.

Fact Four
Tahiti receives fewer tourists in an entire year than Hawaii gets in one day. That means that this paradise on Earth is one of the most exclusive destinations in the world. However, that doesn’t mean that it is somehow pricier or harder to afford. Just take a quick look at these best but cheap hotels in Bora Bora and see with your own eyes how cheap it is to get a room there!

Fact Five
While staying in many different Tahiti islands, you might get a chance to meet one of the friendliest men, women in the world and… the third sex. The latest – as locals call it mahuor rae rae – are men who behave and or just dress like women. However, they are not considered being some kind of outcasts. In fact, mahu were always considered as people who combined the best of both the male and female gender. It is also safe to say, that homophobia is uncommon in Tahiti and other islands. It indeed makes it a real paradise on Earth, where everyone can just relax and enjoy the sun!

High Velocity Aerial Filming Like You’ve Never Seen Before

This will probably make you dizzy so don’t so you weren’t warned! Aerial filming recently took a giant leap forward when Swedish aerial specialist, Peter Degerfeldt at Blue Sky  challenged Gyro-stabilized Systems in Grass Valley, US, to build a GSS 520 5 axis system that would produce rock solid images at a speed of more than 300 knots per hour. Blue Sky’s client, the Swedish company Saab Defence and Security, required high end motion and stills for their multirole fighter Gripen. Normally, all stabilization systems on the market are approved for helicopters, and thus a speed of maximum 125 knots per hour. Saab required at least 300 knots for their filming and stills projects. Here is the result – and it’s breathtaking.


Dan Warner has the job of nightmares.  He works as a desaturator in a world where color can be used as energy once it is extracted from any object.  Yet he also has a secret which is about to be discovered.  Directed by Jackson Miller, Prism presents a dystopic future which, when you examine the visual metaphor, is a statement about what large multinational companies are doing to our planet and its resources – right now.

The Story of Zero

Is zero a number or not? Yes it is but the debate has raged for centuries. This very educational and informative (as well as entertaining – a hard trick to pull off) video by the Royal Institution gives us a potted history of zero from the times it eluded capture (metaphorically) up to today where it is pivotal in most if not all of the mathematical breakthroughs of the last 50 years.  It was animated by Andrew Khosravani.

10 April 2016

Genghis Khan Rides Again: Huge Statue of Emperor Dominates the Mongolian Steppe

Just over thirty miles east of the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator the old Emperor, Genghis Khan, rides again.  Sat atop his horse, surveying his dominion (which was after his death to become the largest contiguous empire in history) a huge 131 feet statue of Genghis Khan dominates the steppes of Mongolia.

The sculpture, designed by D. Erdenebileg and architect J. Enkhjargal stands at the banks of the Tuul River.  It is here that the great emperor was said to have found a golden whip at the age of fifteen – though there is no exact evidence to support this.  It was, however, this whip that is said to have inspired the young Temujin (his birth name) to go on to conquer much of the known world.

9 April 2016

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Madeira, You Will after You Watch This

This short hyperlapse and timelapse combo by Kirill Neiezhmakov is short but amazing.  What I would like to know is how he got the fountain to appear as if by magic (you have to get to around the 40 second mark for that!).  This is technically amazing work – the timelapse equivalent of street magic, perhaps?  Whatever, we hope you will love the sights of Madeira presented in this remarkable way!


An old street musician, poor and lonely, finds that the one thing he needs to make a few pennies is stolen. Yet when he encounters a friendly street-wise dog his life is going to take an unexpected turn.  This charming and beautifully made animated short was created by a group of students at ESMA in France.  Amazing to think that this is a student film – one can only imagine what they will make when they enter the industry.

3 April 2016

A New Dawn: China Meets Myanmar

All too often we hear terrible news stories about enormous, faceless corporations trampling over the interests of local people who stand in the way of new and lucrative projects. So, for once, it’s refreshing to bring you the story of a coming together of one group of people and a large company, made all the more remarkable because it happened during a period of immense political upheaval.

Myanmar recently elected its first civilian president after half a century of military rule. This was the culmination of years of internal struggle with a regime which would make deals with overseas investors with little or no thought for its own population.  A few years ago the residents of Myo Kyo Pyin village were told, with no consultation, that their entire settlement was to be relocated to make way for a mine owned and operated by Wanbau.

Fifty years of being told what to do did not stop the villagers from taking matters in to their own hands, however.  They barricaded the company’s new premises, effectively blocking it from the outside world.  After ten days the government intervened.  Yet instead of sending the troops in it set up a commission which eventually decided that the mine could go ahead but with some conditions.

Myanmar Wanbau even went further.  It brought in a British risk management advisory British company, China-I, to identify the social risks and the main factors behind the company’s problems. This remarkable video shows how all of this worked – a lttle history in the making as this was the very first time a Chinese company had asked a British company for help in the resolution of an international reputational risk issue.

As I said at the beginning of this post, we’re so used to seeing multinationals trampling over the interests of local people.  However, as this video shows, perhaps the way forward is to deal with crises not through escalating the issue but instead by cooperating directly with the people whose lives are affected.

2 April 2016

The Best Star Wars Street Art We Could Find

Star Wars has embedded itself in to public consciousness throughout the world – these pictures serve as ample proof of that.   It has also served as inspiration for artists who have grown up with the movies and ultimately develop their own artistic take, not always it has to be said in a strictly legal manner.  Graffiti is loved by some and loathed by many but it would have to be a hard hearted Star Wars fan who didn't crack a smile when confronted with these. Here is a brief whistle stop tour of the coolest Star Wars graffiti we could find.

Brick Lane, London
Image Credit

My Stuffed Granny

Little Sofía loves her grumpy granny: even though she is always hungry and eats what little food they can buy. Her pension is the only thing keeping her and her father alive. To what extremes will they go to once granny is no more?

My Stuffed Granny is based on a story by Nina Kouletakis and directed and narrated by the wonderfully named Effie Pappa.


This short film gives a brief insight in to the work of an emergency call operator who has to deal with all sorts of issues.  Here Kate Dickey gives a tour de force performance as the operator who gets the kind of call they all must dread – the one where lives are at danger because a fire has broken out.  Operator was written and directed by Caroline Bartleet and edited by Yann Heckman.

The Hyrax - The Elephant's Cousin

Meanwhile, over at the Ark in Space they have cranked up the cute quotient to the max with a feature on the hyrax. This rather lazy looking example is doing what the hyrax loves to do the best - sun bathe!  Although they may look like an over-sized guinea pig, their closest living relative is in fact the elephant.  Sounds bizarre, perhaps - but there's nothing quite as strange as real life!

Image Credit
Image Credit No1

1 April 2016

The Tree of Life – Mexico’s Evolving Art Form

Everything must change, so the saying goes.  Art is no exception and folk art has always been particularly in tune with cultural shifts being, by its nature, by the people for the people.  So it is with the Mexican sculptural tradition of the Tree of Life or Árbol de la vida.  It has gone from an instructional tool of religious imposition to, contemporarily, something quite different. Yet it wasn’t itself an art form which sprang spontaneously in to being with the arrival of people from the Old World: its roots are much older.

Image Credit
A Biblical story is now considered traditional, but Árbol de la vida originates with the Olmec culture, which arrived in central Mexico around 800 AD. This, together with the huge cultural influence of the pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan (which at its height in the first centuries AD was at least the sixth most populated city in the world) brought about an age of intricate, sophisticated ceramics.  The Tree of Life embodied the four cardinal directions (north, east, south and west) for these ancient cultures as well as connecting the realms of the underworld and sky with the dominions of the Earth.
Amung Feedjit
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