30 December 2017

What Is PEE And How Do I Use It?

One of the things that I have to explain every year to a new intake of students is PEE.  It is a technique whereby learners can explain their ideas through a process.  The first question is usually what does PEE stand for? First of all students have to find the point about which they wish to write.  That is the P in the process.  The two Es come next – and in order to find out what they are and how to use them, you will have to sit through the video above.

I created this video as I teach GCSE English in the UK (it’s the “Gold Standard” English Language exam and everyone is expected to attempt it).  So, enjoy.  The PEE tool can be easily transferred to other subjects too, so it you are a teacher of, say, history and have discovered this video, then why not give it a shot in the classroom and then adapt it to your own curriculum.  Have fun!

21 December 2017

Architectures around Las Vegas

While the city of Las Vegas is for the most part known for its casino gambling as well as its other forms of entertainment, there are other interesting aspects to the city. One of these is the architecture that is featured in many of the city’s buildings.

The New York, New York Hotel
Image Wikipedia
One of the most noticeable features is the transformation of the skyline over the hotel into a miniature New York City. Visitors to Vegas can see replicas of the iconic monuments including the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and even the Statue of Liberty. The hotel was first opened twenty years ago and is a popular point of interest for travellers wishing to view the unique aspects of the hotel.

The Stratosphere Tower
Image iambents on Flickr
Built as part of the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino, the tower has more to offer than a breathtaking view. The upper floors of the tower include a special chapel where weddings can be held. Another popular part of the tower is the amusement ride which takes riders up 160 feet and then dropping them at a speed of 45 miles per hour. The tower holds the distinction of being the tallest concrete structure in all of North America.

Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts
Image Marletz on Flickr
This art deco building was first the site of the Las Vegas High School and has since become a magnet school drawing in students from all over the county. The building has some unique characteristics include stucco friezes. The detailing in the design is intricate as evident in the medallions and animals.

The next time you find yourself visiting the City of Las Vegas, you may wish to take a break from your casino gambling sessions. Taking a stroll around the city and taking in the magnificent architecture provides another manner in which to appreciate this exciting city.

First image credit tripbucket on Flickr

20 December 2017

Adolfo Farsari – The Man Who Shot Japan

In the 1880s at a time when most Europeans were denied access to the Japanese interior an Italian photographer managed to capture many images of Old Japan. These were then beautifully and realistically hand painted and serve as a remarkable record of a world long since disappeared.

19 December 2017

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Florence, You Will After You Watch This

Florence is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world and once you have watched this you will understand why (that is, of course, if you are not already of that opinion).  Kirill Neiezhmakov, whose work we regularly feature on Kuriositas, has pulled off another genius timelapse/hyperlapse which takes in all the sites of Florence, a city simply brimming with churches, museums and palaces.

18 December 2017

Skywalker vs Starkiller: A Star Wars Mashup

What might have happened if Luke Skywalker and R2D2 had been whisked through a wormhole, arriving 30 years in to the future.  Before them lies the Starkiller – already under attack from the resistance – and a huge battle lies ahead.  You may well ask what on Tatoine is going on but fear not.  This is another of Fabrice Mathieu’s amazing Star Wars mashups.  Let’s just hope the studio executives don’t see this and start getting ideas..!

16 December 2017

The Amazing Longsheng Rice Terraces

Village elders have a saying in Longsheng: where there is soil there is a terrace. Two hours ride from the city of Guilin in Guanxi province the problem of growing rice on steep hills was long ago solved. From the Yuan Dynasty at the end of the thirteenth century the colossal task of terracing the Longsheng hills to provide a rice harvest began.

3 December 2017

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

Budapest is the largest city in Hungary and its capital.  It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with a history that goes back to well before the Christian era.  This timelapse (with hyperlapse sections in there for good measure) was created by Sergey Tatarinov, a photographer from Moscow, Russia.  You can see why Forbes ranked Budapest as Europe’s 7th most idyllic place to live.


Even a day by the lake on an idyllic summer’s day is little respite for young Felix from his melancholic life.  His overprotective mother chooses completely the wrong spot and the fact he is a wheelchair user disbars him from the short wooden pier and the welcoming waters of the lake.  He spots a pretty young girl and things begin to look up but when tragedy threatens to strike it is up to Felix to save the day.

Weightless is about that time in your life when you long to break free of the apron strings, when love comes calling for the first, breathless time and about achieving independence through your own actions, regardless of the cards you may have been dealt. I have been meaning to feature this charming short by Bobin Film for some time – and watching it again I have no clue why I haven’t – it’s just lovely. 


Take a trip around a nature reserve with something of a difference: all the animals within its walls are hybrids.  Above you can see the killer whale penguin hybrid, just one of menagerie caught on camera by a pair of intrepid French journalists (in truth students at ArtFX). However, things do start to get a little worrying when their guide leaves them and they stray where they shouldn’t…

The Spotted Lake of Osoyoos

A short ride northwest of the small Canadian town of Osoyoos there is a body of water which has come to be known in English as Spotted Lake.  It is believed to be the most mineralized lake on the planet with 365 ‘circles’ – one for each day of the year – in a myriad of shapes, sizes and depths. It is an extraordinary natural phenomenon.

It is called by the Ki lil xw (pronounced Kliluk) by the Okanagan, one of the aboriginal peoples in Canada collectively called the First Nations.  For them, it is a sacred medicine lake and their people have been coming to the lake in search of cures for various ailments for centuries.  There are hundreds of ceremonial cairns surrounding the lake, many of which are so old that they have been buried by time.

26 November 2017

The History of the Tulip

The Himalayan mountain range was the original home of the tulip even though most of us associate the flower with the Netherlands.  How it got there makes for a fascinating story, from the courts of the Turkish dynasties to its Dutch arrival, this animation gives us the whole history.  That shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise as it was created especially for the Tulip Museum in Amsterdam by Stepahne Kaas, an independent Dutch maker of film, documentaries, short fiction, music videos, commercials and this.

When the tulip got there it was considered such a rare and interesting flower that it sparked something of a social frenzy which would eventually lead to the down fall of an entire economy (known as the tulip bubble).  It’s amazing to think that a single flower could be responsible for all of that, but watch the video and discover the truth for yourself!

The Sim Chung Story

This is a rather lovely animated version of a traditional Korean myth.  It tells the story of a dutiful daughter, Sim Chung, whose mother died when she was young and whose father is blind.  Promised that his life will be restored if she sells herself to sailors for sacrifice, Sim Chung does so and as she hits the waves her adventures are barely beginning.

You do have to bear with the first minute or so of this animated short by M9 as it does take time to tell the story before the full visual treat gets underway.  But do stick with it – the underwater sequences are quite lovely.  Plus the denizens of the deep put Gershwin to good use!

Bismuth: Beautiful Diamagnetic Chemical Element

Until the 18th century it was often mistaken for tin or lead. Yet once refined in to its purest form it becomes a thing of great beauty. About twice as abundant as gold, the chance are you have come unwittingly in to contact with it if you have ever had a minor digestive upset. As a bismuth oxide core structure with salicylate ions attached to the surface (uh huh) you probably know it as Pepto-Bismol. What you see here is the chemical element bismuth in crystalline form.

Paris Hyperlapse

The time-lapse is dead, long live the hyperlapse!  This is perhaps not a completely truthful statement but one which could be argued over a glass of wine or two.  And where better to do that than the city of lights, Paris?  This remarkable hyperlapse by Kirill Neiezhmakov shows the city in all its spectacle.

The video shows some of the best examples I have seen of the hyperlapse techniques which involves moving the camera while still shooting at a speed normally associated with time-lapse.  It’s a new(ish) technique and one that has been evolving at some speed recently - Neiezhmakov and his ilk are comfortably taking it to the next level with some huge, sweeping shots that make you wonder exactly how they were done.  They  certainly make me scratch my head.  Have a gawp and see if you can work it out yourself.

12 November 2017

The Dandelion - Whimsical World-Wide Weed

The humble dandelion. From your garden to almost the ends of the earth this small but conspicuous plant flourishes. Gardeners do not appreciate its presence, considering it a weed, even though its flowering usually indicates the beginning of the honey bee season and could be seen as a welcome sign. Its simplistic looking structure hides a few surprising secrets and its cultural resonance, especially in Europe is strong. Here is a short but sincere homage to one of the small wonders of our botanical world.

Let’s start with the names, both common and scientific. In English, dandelion is a corruption of the French. Originally it was called ‘dent de lion’ and the name came over in 1066 with a certain William and his Conquerors. It means ‘lion’s tooth’ and many people mistakenly believe it refers to the orange colored flower head, confusing the words beard and tooth.


A woman decides that she wants a child and goes about getting one in quite an unconventional way.  She decides to go mail order and grow one in a plant pot.  Although this is not quite what one might expect to have delivered using Amazon et al, this animated short by Anne Breymann could prove one day to be a cautionary tale!  Be careful if you were going to click the play button expecting a happy ending!


Is it the things that you can’t see that terrify you the most?  Perhaps you had better not watch this, then, for there are ways to see behind the corner of your eye in to a different world.  Written, produced and directed by Joey Greene this is not for the faint-hearted especially if you are not a big fan of those made me jump and I’m still clinging to the ceiling by my fingernails moments.

5 November 2017

Spain on the Edge

For many, Spain is and forever will be associated with its beautiful coastline and beaches and that is certainly where most tourists head.  However, there is an altogether steeper side to this larger than you might have thought country on the Iberian Peninsula.  This is Spain on the edge.

Our first stop is Malaga to the town of Ronda which dates back to Neolithic times.  The town of over thirty thousand people is built either side of a dizzying ravine.  There are three bridges which span the gap between the sides.  First there is the Puente Romano or Roman Bridge. There is the Puente Viejo or Old Bridge, and then comes the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge – which is the name it was given when it was completed in 1793).

I Am Here

Alone in an aging cosmos, a traveler's pilgrimage comes to an end.  He has a story to tell but who to tell it to at the end of time and space?

This enigmatic animated short was created by Eoin Duffy, whose work we have featured a number of times on Kuriositas.

Stick with it to the end…

The Last Time

Have you just quit smoking or are on the verge of giving up? Then this is for you.  One woman struggles with trying to finish with cigarettes forever but, like some sort of destructive relationship, she is just drawn towards them again and again (and includes some strong language).  The Last Time, directed by RCA graduate Christine Hooper and narrated by Charlotte Ritchie of Fresh Meat fame, captures just how hard it is for smokers to stub out love’s flame.

4 November 2017

Hollywood Zombies

This new movie imagines a Hollywood overrun by a zombie virus, where all of your favorite stars are turned in to the living dead and stalk the world in search of flesh. Well, sounds like a great idea but this is a fake trailer by the super-talented Fabrice Mathieu.

Once more, Fabrice has put his very clever film editing techniques in to full-throttle – I for one would pay to see this movie!

Mistletoe – Festive Favorite on the Decline

Kissing under the mistletoe has been a tradition since Victorian times in England and before that in other countries. When the railway arrived in the UK, this yuletide habit spread from southern England to the north and beyond. The chances are if you are offered a seasonal kiss then the person making the offer may well be waving a bunch of it over your head.

The legends around mistletoe go back further than a few centuries – it has always been associated with fecundity and the winter solstice. The white fruit has a parallel with human reproduction which is impossible to avoid – and one of its favorite hosts, the apple tree, is also a favorite among people.

29 October 2017

The Devil in the Cathedral: the Lucifer of Liège

Cathédrale Saint-Paul (Liège 2017)
The Cathedral of Saint Paul in the Belgian city of Liège was founded in the tenth century.  As one might expect from a Catholic place of worship it is full of representations of the men and women from the history – Biblical and otherwise – of Christianity.  Yet as the pulpit is approached, a striking white marble sculpture arrests the eye: a beautiful young man in an agony of thought. Which venerable icon of the church might this be?  A martyr? A disciple? Or even an angel? It is the latter but this angel is notorious, despised, fallen. It transpires that there is a sinner – and a significant one at that - in the midst of the saints.

The Lucifer of Liège

28 October 2017

Amazing Aerial Tramways of the World

Let’s start with the highest. To do that we must go to Venezuela and the Cableway of Merida. This is a system of four aerial tramways that connect the city of Merida with Tip Mirror. The tramway itself goes from 1640 meters to 4765 meters and that makes it both the highest and longest tourist aerial tramway in the world. The views from the cabins are almost like being in a plane.

Strange how most people do not mind being enclosed in what, according to physics, is not much more than a navigated catapult – that is a passenger plane. However, a good percentage of those who will blithely escape to the sun in a 747 will not step on to an aerial tramway, suspended at most a few hundred meters above the ground, for fear of their lives. However, even though aviation is much safer than many other forms of transport, being a passenger in an aerial tramway is, in turn, safer than being taking a flight in a plane.

27 October 2017

Mont Saint-Michel as Seen by a Drone is Amazing

More than 3 million people visit Mont Saint-Michel each year yet none have seen it quite like this.  The island in Normandy, France is famous for the magnificent abbey which overlooks the town below.  It’s a stunning sight but this video by Freeway Productions goes one step further.  Using a NHK Tokyo drone their team captured Mont Saint-Michel in a way that has never been done before.  You even get close up and personal with the golden statue of Saint Michel at the very top of the abbey’s spire.  Simply amazing.


Here’s something that is visually stunning but so open to interpretation you can make of what you will (and I love it when storytelling is clever enough – or perhaps vague enough – to allow for that).  This is a self-initiated project by EGYD Studio.  The visuals are amazing and I have to add that my speakers had a lot of fun with the sound design too.  Altogether, Beyond is something to watch with the lights off and the sound up!

The Laws of Symmetry Explained

Symmetry is vital to understanding and predicting how our universe works. The relationship between symmetry and the mechanics of the universe is fundamental to physics. From Noether’s theorem to the new and exciting world of local symmetries being revealed by modern day physics, Tara Shears explores the physics of symmetry. This animation was produced by Rosanna Wan, part of the 2016-17 animator-in-residence programme at the Royal Instutition, supported by the Sfumato Foundation.

26 October 2017

The Most Unique Casinos in the World

Casinos with a unique design catch the eye

With over 4,000 registered casinos across the world aiming to offer their patrons the ultimate gambling experience, luxury is the main attraction for many visitors. However, it's often the most unique establishments that stand out from the crowd, rather than the most opulent. There are a few casinos off the beaten track that allow gambling fans to experience something completely different to the usual look and feel of slot games, roulette wheels and poker tables. Casinos are constantly becoming more quirky, inventive and ultimately different to try and create a unique selling point for new customers, one of the key attractions is often the design and layout.

25 October 2017

Moon Hill: The Hill with a Hole Through It

The Chinese province of Guangxi, on the border of Vietnam, is renowned throughout the world for the beauty of its karst landscapes.  One of the more unusual features the province has to offer is Moon Hill.  It has a large semi-circular hole which goes right through it.

As such it struck the imagination of those who first came across it and it has been forever known as Moon Hill.

24 October 2017

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit the Dolomites, You Will After You Watch This

The Dolomites are one of those places that once seen are never forgotten.   Located in northeastern Italy, they form a part of the Southern Limestone Alps and they were recently visited by filmmaker Michael Shainblum.  The aerial shots are by shot by Andrew Studer.  Together these very talented men perfectly capture the changing weather conditions around these most mystical, enigmatic of mountains.

Sweet Sugar Candyman

Paris, 1900 – but not quite as we remember it from the black and white photos!  It is a world brimming with color and populated by candy people.  However, their sweet life is interrupted when a crazy anarcho-gumdrop disturbs the peace. His new goal: destroy the Eiffel Tower.  This wonderful animated short was created by Camille Haumont, Michaël Mac, Audrey Mille and Julie Vanandrewelt during their studies at Supinfocom Rubika.


You might well understand this if you have a friend who is an artist.  In this short film by DessyMak Productions, the artist in question invites his non-artist friends for a sneak preview of the project he has completed for his university master’s degree.  It isn’t quite what they expect and they try to find ways to interpret the masterpiece they see before them.  This short movie is as much about the nature of friendship than that of modern art and has a low-key charm all of its own.  Masterpiece was written and directed by Runyararo Mapfumo.

15 October 2017

Haw Par Villa – Unusual Singapore Theme Park

In 1937 two brothers from Singapore had a dream – they wanted to help people to learn, remember and pass on traditional Chinese values as expressed through myth, legend and the tenets of Confucianism.  They already had a small venue – the Tiger Balm - but wanted to broaden the appeal to a wider audience.  So was born the idea of extending the place to incorporate a garden in which Chinese legends would come to life.

Let the monkey warn you, however.  If you are of a nervous disposition, perhaps it is time to consider whether you wish to continue on this particular journey.
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