31 January 2012

How to Blow Up a Ship

When the HMNZS Wellington had come to the end of its life the decision was made to scuttle the frigate. Yet this was no act of environmental vandalism on a grand scale. The controlled explosion, off the south east coast of Wellington, New Zealand, had a much more munificent objective. The aim was to blow up the ship in order for it to become a new reef on the ocean’s floor. It was quite an explosion, too!


Artificial reefs are being created in order to give a new habitat to coral and other small organisms. This in turn attracts larger animals and before too long you have provided local underwater wildlife with a great new home not to mention a cool new diving destination. The explosion is enough to bring out the excitable young kid in all of us too!

Down she goes!

As the frigate sinks only a cloud is left to show where it once was. Yet it is about to become home to a new set of inhabitants.


Image Credits
First Image Credit - Flickr User Philip C
Explosion images - Flickr User Pieter Pieterse
Last 4 pictures - Flickr User Phillip C

29 January 2012

Playing with Humans

Damon had to admit that playing with humans was much more fun than he had thought at first when Darrell had suggested it this morning.

Image Credit Flickr User David Blackwell - and plenty more in this ilk to be found at his Photostream!

Discobot


When the lights go off each evening in a factory the robot workers are left in the dark. Unbeknown to their human masters the machines have something of a life of their own and very soon the factory is bumping and grinding as the sometime obedient automatons become discobots!

They even have a very clever way of ensuring that the slow song necking can go ahead…

This is an amusing and engaging animation by Michel Doidic. It is amazing how something like a factory robot can acquire a personality when animated by someone who knows what they are doing!

I Watch You Paint


As a painting is painstakingly created a relationship is slowly being destroyed. This almost elegiac piece watches the man as he watches the woman, watches the woman as she extricates herself from the man.

It is almost painfully sad.

An animated short shot and rotoscoped based on the poem 'I Watch You Paint' by Albert Garcia (published by Prairie Schooner, a US national literary quarterly). It was created by Timothy Guthrie who you may also have heard about as artsyfartsytim.

28 January 2012

Introducing Skynet

Ninja vs Pirate


Surely the only thing better than a film featuring a ninja, is when it has pirates in it too.  Of course if you have a film with ninjas and pirates the logical thing to do is to set it in outer space. Pure nerd bliss.

So, Ninjas vs Pirates does exactly that – with a lone ninja on a mission to relieve the robot pirate captain of his most treasured item.

Ninja vs Pirate, a 3-minute animated comedy short by 7 graduates from The One Academy, Malaysia who collectively call themselves Fruit Punch Studios.

The Cursor's Curse


It is a truth universally acknowledged that an animator has the power of life, death or anything over his creations. So toons must often keep their fingers (paws, claws, et cetera) crossed and hope that the person who breathed (or sometimes clicked) life in to them is not a wicked sort – a little like Jafar the genie with a keyboard. Unfortunately, in this industry, so many animators go a little, well, mad (not to put too fine a point on it) that often their characters find themselves in a far from nurturing atmosphere. Sometimes giving an animator a computer is like giving a teenage Marilyn Manson fan a gun and asking him to polish it.

So, this poor chap doesn’t stand a chance under the gentle care of his maker, Richard Gillies, who created this animation while at the Vancouver Film School. I am sure his tutors remonstrated with him about cruelty to toons, but he obviously didn’t listen...! Now he has graduated - world (and toons particularly!) beware!

27 January 2012

Don't Believe the Pipe

Hiking the Northern Hills of Chiang Mai, Thailand:

By Guest Writer Matthew Nunn
Chiang Mai is a vital and popular node in the tourist network for Thailand and the greater South East region. Travellers come here to escape the tourist centric and crowded Bangkok as well as the picturesque and often lively Southern Thai Islands. Here you can expect to find a more culture rich atmosphere, whereby Chiang Mai trades on the traditional notions of Thai culture, the hustle and bustle of its markets and the historic nature of the ancient City’s walls and moat.

A heavily visited location, it doesn’t necessarily flaunt the jet setter scene of other popular destinations the world over, but thrives on the traveler atmosphere of those looking for a more authentic travel experience. Many enjoy being part of this transient community. For those who feel that Thailand has been pounded a little too much by the tourist footprint in the last 2 decades, the hills that surround Chiang Mai effectively combat this notion. Trekking this area will, aside from your guide, the host village, and your small group, remove you from civilization and any tourist influences.


The Northern Hills offer plenty of isolation for travellers looking to escape the crowd
The hills are well accessed by road, but this consists more of steep, solid solitary access roads rather than a sprawling road network. Consequently, once removed from transportation and heading into the jungle you are entering a stunning, isolated and remote region. This is hiking in its purest form; trails are minimal, there isn’t a sign post in existence and a willingness to clamber, slide, swim and grapple with the environment is required.

This is not to say the trek is unforgiving, but instead fairly challenging for anyone in reasonable condition. Although travel to here is easy, the ensuing time that you spend in the hills is not so effortless. Trekkers pack minimal provisions, focusing on essentials such as; a spare set of suitable clothing, insect repellant, sun screen and plenty of bottled water.

The Hill Region
There are 5 main hill tribes populating the area all with their own unique history and traditions. The Tribes are; the Lahu, the Akha, the Karen, the Lisu and the Hmong. Traditional art, dress and song will vary by each tribe, however they are not alone. There are many other villages and huts dotted around the hills that, due to the vast and remote nature of the location, manage to preserve their isolation. It can be a startling yet welcoming site to clamber over a rock or stumble through a bush and find a wooden hut nestled into the landscape, complete with pigs, dogs and sometimes agricultural land.

Periodically you will stumble across isolated settlements
The inhabitants of these dwellings are also known for having skilled Elephant herders. This is sometimes a contentious issue as degrees of animal cruelty occur in some people’s eyes, but the herders are dedicated to their trade, living and sleeping 24 hours with their animals. In the lower regions of the hills these elephants are often ridden by tourists on trails nimbly navigated by the animals. 

Scaling to the tops of these hills opens up breath taking views of dense lush jungle, allowing you to peek out of the canopy that envelops you at lower altitudes on the hills. If your trek takes you in the right direction you also have the opportunity to see the Thai-Burma border in the distance.

The Thai-Burma Border in the distance
Walking down from these heights will often involve slippery muddy slopes, rushing streams and may require grabbing onto the thin tall trees. Wildlife is pretty adept at concealing itself, but there are several large species of spider present which can often be seen around the villages when you stop to rest. The locals populate the area with their dogs and pigs, as well as the aforementioned elephants.

The environment is dominated by dense, lush vegetation that is only accessible on foot
Following the hills downwards takes you past conveniently located waterfalls for a cool down and as the landscape levels out more and agricultural farms start to pop up, many trekkers then head for a bamboo rafting session. The vastness of the region means you can venture around for an extensive period of time, but there is still the accessibility in place for a brief trip. Heading back to the city of Chiang Mai offers plenty, from tracking down the rich history of this region which has seen many a contest between Burma and Thailand over the centuries, to reveling in the modern Thai culture, something the city sells itself on as the unofficial second city of Thailand.

Author Bio – Matthew completed his first RTW trip in 2011 and has been travel blogging since. He plans to explore the Indian subcontinent in 2012. He is also a regular contributor to Top Travel Blogs.

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22 January 2012

The Elephant in the Room

The elephant in the room. If you speak English as a second language you may not have come across this metaphorical idiom before. What does elephant in the room mean? It is when an obvious truth is almost studiously ignored, or indeed a problem exists which everyone denies by silence.  If you have an elephant in a room, let’s face it, the prodigious pachyderm is impossible to ignore. Yet if you do then you choose to ignore a problem or issue which is looming over you like, well, you know!

Although it makes its first appearance in the Oxford English Dictionary as late as 1959 it was used in a British journal n 1915. Mark Twain also conceptually used the metaphor in The Stolen White Elephant. I recently came across this marvelous homage to the art of Max Ernst, created by Flickr User Seriykotik1970. You can find a number more at his extremely groovy photostream.

No Escape

21 January 2012

Ex E.T.


Life on this distant planet is sedate and ordered – everything is orchestrated for the maximum harmony.  And boy is it dull. Yet one small child seems more than a little different from the rest. Curious, mischievous and playful he just doesn’t fit in with the others.  Time to get him to the doctors!

This is the degree work of four students, Benoit Bargeton, Rémy Froment, Nicolas Gracia et Yannick Lasfas who attended ESMA Montpelier in France.  It is quite something for a student film – I laughed out loud a number of times and the denouement of this great animation, although a little anticipated, is more than satisfactory (and explains a legend of our own quite nicely!).

Star Wars Uncut: Director's Cut


There are times when even the words labor of love do not give justice to something. So it is with Star Wars Uncut: Director’s Cut.  Put simply it is Star Wars Episode IV in hundreds of fifteen second segments, each created by a fan or group of fans. They could re-film their claimed segment in any way that they wished – and so was unleashed a veritable death star of creativity. The various clips were available to watch on the Star Wars Uncut website.

Now, the director, Casey Pugh, has hand-picked his favorites and put them together in the first feature length movie of its kind – a complete reproduction of an original film for fans and by fans.  I simply cannot imagine the amount of hours that must have been put in to this project and fortunately Casey had help at hand in the shape of video editor Aaron Valdez and sound designer and mixed Bryan Pugh.  The result is something of an internet phenomenon – and just goes to show what might not be created in the future should certain laws come to pass.

Order a pizza, gather round you everything you will need for two hours of empirical wallowing and enjoy this in all its hand-made glory!

19 January 2012

Connectivity

Reading Kills


Can you imagine a world in which no one can read because if they do their death will be imminent? This is something the denizens of this particular world discover - and you can imagine the effects it has on their society...

It would certainly be a deterrent, perhaps even more so than in that most famous of dystopic illiterate societies featured in Farenheit 451.

Beto Gomez developed this idea for his thesis work at Vancouver Film School.  No one is safe, it seems – so you may well ask yourself why you are reading this!  Watch out! Behind you!

18 January 2012

Warm Wool Cycle

Hello


If you  remember the video for Lionel Ritchie’s Hello then you might wince a little at the memory – a deliberate and unapologetic attempt to pull the heartstrings and sell records. This puts the record straight a little – just over a minute of clever cutting gives you a new visual interpretation of the song which will hopefully vanquish the memory of the blind girl at home with all the lights on!

The fun is provided courtesy of ant1mat3rie.

A Good Wife


This is a rather sombre and quiet meditation on the nature of infidelity, juxtaposed with some of the most beautifully colored animation I have seen in some time. It also has a wonderful retro film and reminds one of the 1950s melodramas of Douglas Sirk.

We see the eponymous wife heading home after a meeting with her lover. There are no words, just reflection and music which enhances the mood of the piece.

This is a wonderful piece of animation by W Scott Forbes. Music is provided by Cyrille Marchesseau and sound by Julien Begault.

15 January 2012

Cwyfan – The Little Church in the Sea

Ynys Môn is an island perched at the top of Wales. Known in English as Anglesey, the island is connected to the mainland by only two bridges. In the seventeenth century, erosion of the coastline meant that an islet formed off the island – Cribinau. Yet there was only one problem – the cherished thirteenth century church of Saint Cwyfan was isolated on the newly formed tidal island.

Maps of Ynys Môn from the seventeenth century show the church on the mainland of the island - just. The situation worsened and by the 1800s all of the graves had already been washed away. It looked likely that the ancient church would be lost to the sea. The church was abandoned, roofless, to its fate.

Then, some devout locals, led by architect Harold Hughes, formed a cunning plan: to build a protective wall around the church to ensure its survival. It took a huge fund raising drive but the church was restored and the defensive walls were erected.

Saint Cwyfan’s is named after the eponymous saint who died in the sixth century and established the church here. To most, however, it is simply Cwyfan – or to the polysyllabically inclined Welsh, eglwys bach y mor (the little church in the sea) who can say that almost as quickly as just Cwyfan! If you say coo-ee-van  you are close enough to get away with it!

The church is only accessible at low tide and although its interior is basic to say the least it is still a popular and romantic choice for christenings and even weddings. Yet the church does not have as many visitors as you may imagine – its isolation demands both research and effort to reach it. Yet those who reach it all agree that it is a magical place.

Sospiro


Here’s a great example of art for art’s sake. This was created by Colin Rozee, who creates motion graphics for TV, theater, live events and is based in Bristol in the UK. He works almost exclusively in After Effects but here combines it with Optical Flares with Plexus (plus there’s a dash of Toonlt in the mix).  He created it simply because he enjoys working in Plexus. You would have to hate him if this wasn’t so brilliant!

There is no plot other than that which you may wish to imagine. What we do get, however, is just over two minutes of enigmatic coolness not to mention cleverness (which I am reliably told is the new sexy).  Sit back, full screen this – and enjoy!

..and before you ask, the ballerina is called Amber and the music is Sospiro by Bardo State.

Skip


What happens when two very different characters from two very different movies get caught up with each other as their celluloid world slips and slides (and skips!) around them? This is the question posed by Skip, a very cool animated short by Sarah Jolley who made this short when she was a student at the Vancouver Film School where the standards are always of an incredible quality.

I love the look of this animation, the character design and the clever use of colors, not to mention the (ever so slightly) knowing take on the various genres of movies you see here.  I suspect we have not heard the last of Ms Jolley!

14 January 2012

The Scream - Animated


I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

These are the words of Edvard Munch in 1893, after he had created one of the world’s best loved pieces of art, The Scream. Now Sebastian Cosor has taken the words of the artist and created this animation.  It may not be quite what you were expecting (replete with Pink Floyd soundtrack) but it is certainly a new take on the work.  Tell us what you think!

13 January 2012

Bike Earrings Made Out of Paper Clips

Back in April last year we hosted a feature called Things to do with Paper Clips when you’re bored – and it has proved surprisingly popular, and has attracted people ever since (usually through Google searches). So, we were absolutely delighted recently to receive an email from Kuriositas reader Mantas Narbutis who wanted to share with you their own creation.  Thanks Mantas – this really is something else! We are not sure that we have ever seen an earring of a bike made from paper clips before!

Can you do as well as Mantas?  Send us your pictures of your paper clip creations (or in fact anything unusual you have made and of which you are proud!) and we will feature it on our pages!
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