30 June 2012

Get Wild!


Do you ever daydream while at work? The young man here certainly does – and before very long he is whisked back in time to 1968 or a version which his imagination provides for him at the very least.  A combination of French joie de vivre and chockablock with Americana, this is something of an international hybrid – a kind of United Nations of Fun.  It also has some very interesting CGI!

You may not believe this, but this is a graduation film.  It was created by four students at ArtFX (which is becoming regularly featured on Kuriositas such is its quality output), namely Valentin Astier, Joseph Catté, Olivia Leonetti et Geoffrey Vattan. From start to finish it required a whole year of work. It shows- Get Wild! is one of the best graduation movies I have seen for a long time – and is certainly the most fun.

Star Wars Droids: The Jawa Adventure


Ah, fan films.  You have to love them – after all, everyone has to start somewhere. Yet they can often vary from poor to really really poor, quality being outweighed by enthusiasm and lack of experience. And then sometimes (just sometimes!) they actually turn out to be really rather good. That’s the case with Star Wars Droids: The Jawa Adventure – but when you have a whole class of future animation and special effects professionals behind you, that’s hardly surprising!

C-3PO and R-2D2 embark on a rollicking adventure when the Jawas hijack an experimental Mon Calimari starship. As ever with Jawas, chaos ensures. This Star Wars fan film was written and directed by Brad Murphy and created in three months by the June 2012 graduating class of the Digital Animation and Visual Effects School - otherwise and usually known as DAVE. Located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida in Sound Stage 25, the DAVE School's 35,000 square foot facility includes 3 labs, a shooting stage with a massive 65'x 25' green screen, and a state of the art motion capture system.

There is a very neat little twist in the tale – you might see it coming, but that won’t detract from your enjoyment of this rather super animated short!

Reverso


Barney lives with his father in suburbia.  They rub along together, sharing the household chores, watching TV (old episodes of Doctor Who) and generally leading a quiet life.

Barney quietly mourns the loss of his mother and goes to work every day doing menial work for Megacorp. In other words, nothing unusual in this father-son set up that you might not find anywhere in the world. Yet there is something extraordinary about Barney.  He was born with an inverted sense of gravity and so everything he does is done upside down.

This is a subtle and nuanced work which bears more than one viewing.  It has plenty of little extras you might not notice first time (look at the poster in the screenshot, as an example!). Despite (or perhaps because of) its wordlessness it is both profound and occasionally Keaton-esque.  Please, please – stay on it until after the credits have finished otherwise you will not get to see the end!

This wonderful animated short was directed by Kimberly Honma, Clément Lauricella and Arthur Seguin at ARTFX, a higher education provider and training center for 3D computer graphics, 3D animation and digital special effects. Located in Montpellier (south of France) the school was created by professionals from the film, animation, video games and visual effects industries.

Neatoshop Competition Prize Winner

The wonderful Neatoshop recently gave us a prize to give away – a fantastic tentacle doorstop.  We ran through the competition through our Facebook page and had a record number of reader responses there – thanks Neatoshop!  The winner, chosen by a random number generator was Ben Henderson.  Ben was kind enough to send us a picture of himself with his prize which we couldn’t resist sharing with you!  It’s good enough to use for a caption competition, but we will try to resist that temptation!

We are glad you are (self evidently) enjoying your prize, Ben! Thanks, too, to the folks at the Neatoshop.  If you think this tentacle doorstep is cool, use the link here or simply click on Ben’s picture to take you to a cornucopia of fabulous fun fings (sorry, just had to run with the alliteration there – besides, we’re based in London).

Oh Brother!


I think I will dedicate this animated short to any of you girls and women who have experience of that strange contradictory beasty – the older brother.  If you were fated to have such a creature in your household as you were growing up then what happens in this will definitely resonate.  He seemed to be born to tease you, mock you, and drive you as crazy as a big crazy thing.

Of course when you think you have his number absolutely he goes and does something brave and fearless and completely and utterly for you – and then you are back to square one.

This funny short was created by Kim Julien as part of her studies at Vancouver Film School. Whether this is autobiographical I cannot say – but I have my suspicions that it is!

27 June 2012

Olympic Rings Adorn Tower Bridge

There is just a month to go now until the Olympic Games come to London. So, one of the major gateways in and out of the capital was today adorned with the Olympic rings.  As hundreds of thousands of Londoners plan to leave the city during the games this served as a reminder that time is running out to book those flights and train journeys,  I for one will spend as much time outside of London as is humanly possible even though I must admit that Tower Bridge looks pretty cool like this...


All images by Flickr User Joel Meadows1

23 June 2012

Backwater


(Warning: If you are at work then please note there is some artistic nudity in this animation)

A man awakes alone and in a place he does not recognize. Where is he and what is he doing among these strange new surroundings? And is he truly alone? This beautifully put together animated short is as beautiful as it is sensuously enigmatic.

It was developed by Susanne Herzog, Sabine Koops, Sebastian König, Janina Putzker and produced by the Hammer Animation Team. I particularly like the use of color in this animation and the way it does not answer any of the obvious questions that we may ask. Mysterious, and unfathomable it may be, but it looks and sounds wonderful!

Vote for Vicky!

Vicky Scott is an up and coming British artist who has contributed to Kuriositas on a number of occasions.  We have seen her own personal artwork and the design that she created for last year’s Big Egg Hunt. Now she has entered a logo competition – to create a logo for the International Advertising Association (UK) Games.  And she needs votes! It would be wonderful if you could support a Kuriositas contributor by voting for her design which you can see above by clicking here or on the design above.  I have just done it and it just takes a few seconds – thanks!

Suckablood


Just a quick warning first – this may not be for the faint hearted or very young!  It is a cautionary tale for adults – if you have offspring refusing to stop sucking their thumbs then try not to take your aversion therapy too far! There must be a less bloody cure for thumb sucking than this, after all!

This is the story of Tilly who, like any pretty girl in a gothic horror fairy tale, has an evil stepmother.  The stepmother threatens her with the monster Suckablood if she insists on sucking her thumb again. What happens next is, well, that’s up to you to find out!

Written and directed by Ben Tillett and Jake Cuddihy and produced by Ben Franklin (yet another American President founding father in on the horror act, it seems), Suckablood is the fifth and latest of what is planned to be thirteen installments in a horror anthology known as Bloody Cuts – and you can find the previous four on the team’s eponymous website. You can also join their Facebook Page if it takes your fancy!

Just in case you feel disinclined to go and see the rest of them (and have got this far without watching the short film), take note! None other than Stephen Fry has donated to the making of this short horror. Fry, who was impressed with the previous four installments (which all work as standalone shorts), put something in to the hat of the filmmakers to help them get through the production costs of such an ambition series (full story here). Nice one Stephen! So, go on, watch the rest and scare yourself (or younger persons of the household) silly.

Rising


This is an enigmatic piece to say the very least and something I am still trying to completely fathom despite having decided to share it with you within the first twenty seconds! A caterpillar (or is it?) circumnavigates a globe (or is it?) and then undergoes a metamorphosis (OK, I am pretty sure of that) before emerging in adult form and flying away. That’s pretty much it – but the way it is done is something quite different and profound.

Created by Michaël Moercant et Jean-Yves Parent and a team at Mikros Image, this animated short is spell binding. I’ve watched it twice now and am still not sure what it signifies but I think that is part of its allure.  I have to admit, though, I would like to see what these extremely talented guys would do with a certain Kafka novella!

Alan Turing - Celebrating the Centenary of a Genius


Today sees the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing – one of the most remarkable human beings of the twentieth century. A mathematical genius, hero of the World War II code breakers of Bletchley Park, and father of modern computing, Turing was a mathematician, cryptographer and pioneer of computer science who possessed one of the greatest brains of the 20th century. His life was one of secret accomplishments shadowed by public misfortune.

He was a bright child - condensing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity for his mum at the age of 15. He received a scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge and it is to that august university that we turn to learn more about Alan Turing’s life. In his twenties he turned his attention to one of the most important mathematical problems of the twentieth century – the Decision Problem. He conceived of a machine which would read symbols on a strip of tape – 0s and 1s and showed that dark areas in mathematics would always pose a barrier to the complete truth. This machine model became one of the cornerstones of computer science. He did this when he was only 22.

He then went on to his code breaking work, for which he is rightly famous. Here, Dr James Grime, Enigma Project Officer at Cambridge University's Millennium Mathematics Project explains the code and tells the life story of this remarkable man born 100 years ago today. It concludes with his death in 1954 – betrayed by the British Government and with only a single escape route – suicide – Turing bit from an apple he had previously laced with cyanide. This tragic end to a brilliant life was thirty years before most of his work would become public; the Official Secrets Act meant his true brilliance was not to be acknowledged until many years after his death.

Today, however, we can lift a glass to this most brilliant of men, celebrate his life and his achievements and perhaps speak softly an apology for the sins of our fathers.

22 June 2012

One Small Dish for Man


It is important to eat well wherever you are and if your home is the International Space Station then this importance becomes vital. So, when it comes to dinner time it is essential that everything is just so! After all, one small dish for man...

This entertaining short was created by Onectin (Corentin Charron) for his third year short-film at Supinfocom Arles. The assigned topic was simply The Kitchen so there is some ingenuity here.

The software used was 3ds Max 2012 (scanline only), After Effect, Premiere and Photoshop. After watching this I have to say I am feeling a little peckish!

21 June 2012

Turnikmen – Street Gymnastics – Ukraine Style


I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said that youth is wasted on the young. Well, not these boys, that’s for sure. I haven’t seen so much youthful joie de vivre on video for quite a while but I do have to add the caveat that I suspect these boys are all mad bonkers.

Many of the stunts that these boys pull off here will slacken your jaw. Setting the scene, both of these videos were shot in Ukraine. The first was taken at school #1 in the town of Sambir (whence SoN who shot this hails). 

The boys all identify as Turnikmen – street athletes who perform strength exercises of varying complexity in an outdoor setting.  They combine acrobatics and gymnastics using a conventional horizontal bar.   Some of the things that they do here look dangerous to say the least but it is done with such swagger and confidence that it makes you hold your breath but still believe in their ability to pull off yet another spectacular move. They did, however, have to learn how to perform these amazing moves.  I suspect their mother’s probably live in constant fear and expectation of another trip to the local hospital!


See what I mean about mad bonkers? As an educator in the UK, who teaches the age group depicted here I have to say that the management of my institution would have three fits and a faint if anything like this was attempted on site – health and safety regulations would simply not allow it. Yet here the bars and straps seem to have been provided by their school. Different strokes for different folks I guess!

The second video above is once more filmed in the Ukraine – from Sambir again but also the towns of Drogobych and Kalyniv.

Mantra-Hatton – Times Square Taken Over by Yoga Fans

It may only be in a place like New York that over a thousand people can get together and calmly start to follow a yoga class. Yet there they are, pictured yesterday (June 20). 1600 mats were given out for the occasion, which marked the Summer Solstice and fairly soon you could not move for yogis keen to practice their moves. The skills on display were varied – from beginners to veteran but one thing was for sure – tourists and yogis alike seemed to be enjoying it!

Attendees were instructed to try and find stillness, harmony and transcendence in the middle of the world's most commercial and chaotic place, Times Square. The yoga enthusiasts commemorated the longest day of the year (June 20th) by taking part in hour long sessions which took place all day.

First Image Credit Flickr User The Rachel Maddow Show

20 June 2012

Waltz for One


In this alternative 1960s the space race is going strong but private enterprise has prematurely got in on the act. Arthur Whitman, an affluent and unconventional businessman has launched himself in to space on his own ship. His aim is to claim the record for the longest single-manned space mission – he intends to stay in space for an entire week.

Yet not everything will go as he planned.

This very cool short movie was directed by John Merizalde and produced by Takashi Doscher with cinematography by David Torcivia. Together they make up Intellectual Propaganda. It was released on June 19th, 2012 to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the longest solo space flight in history. The record was set by Valery Bykovsky with a total flight time of 4 days and 23 hours.

Much Better Now


This animation has what you might call a slow start, but don’t go anywhere – you are about to have the ride of your life!  It tells the story of a little bookmark, who has been caught between the pages of a book for way too long.  One day the wind blow more than usual and all of a sudden the bookmark is free – and boy oh boy is he going to make the most of it!

Much Better Now was produced by Salon Alpin with direction, script and animation by Philipp Comarella and Simon Griesser. Sound and music was provided by Silvio Canazei, the gaffer was Thomas Welz and animation by Christoph "Kris" Staber. Surf’s up!

18 June 2012

The Gate


If you are of a delicate nature then take heed of the picture and don’t press play! The Gate is a science fiction short written and directed by Matt Westrup, produced by Spencer Friend under the auspices of Joyrider films.  It is, like much science fiction, a warning of what might be not what is inevitable. The scenario is that London in the near future has witnessed the deaths of a number of people who have inexplicably mutated. Yeah, like him on the left.

The CGI rendering is (without sounding like too much of a fanboy) awesome and the pace of the short film is brisk and carries you along with it - these eight minutes will go quickly, you will be so wrapped up in the situation.  I could easily imagine this being made in to a full feature or a TV series whereby a small but elite crew has to deal with mutations of the human genome on a weekly basis.  They might just want to tackle most of the UK government's current Cabinet first of all. Something strange has been happening there for a while now...

Seriously, though, I really think that Joyrider Films should contact the BBC very soon (if they have not already done so!).

17 June 2012

Kobra Mural in New York's Chelsea

The Brazilian artist, Eduardo Kobra, has long has a fascination for vintage images. His new work, dazzling onlookers in New York’s Chelsea has as its focal point an interpretation of the photograph VJ Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt. The new take on a decades old image is just a short walk from where the original kiss took place.

It is startling to say the least and is typical of Kobra’s kaleidoscopic treatment of older images. His aim is to preserve the historical aspect and to evoke a certain cultural memory which evokes certain emotions.Other parts of this significant piece of street art include interpretations of other images from the city's past.

Kobra’s fascination with art started when his mother gave him some colors and paints when he was about nine years old. It was in his late teens that street art and graffiti beckoned the burgeoning Brazilian talent. He had started work at a bank, and was studying at the same time, but he then left everything (against his family’s wishes) to take his own direction.

In his early years he would exchange paintings for food, clothes – even a place to stay. He was certainly not the first nor will he be the last artist to do that in his early days. However, with work like this, it cannot be long before Kobra is a recognizable global brand in the same way as Banksy.

I have to say I find the combination of the old and the new – the mix of the vintage, iconic photography with the undoubtedly hip hop feel to Kobra’s work nothing short of exhilarating. It makes me want to dash to an airport and grab a flight for New York. Unfortunately, one must work for a living so that will have to wait. How about London next, Kobra?

All images by Flickr Photographer Garrett Zeigler

Swelter


In the (not so distant?) future a man and his child go in search of the most precious substance on the planet – water.  Unfortunately for them they are not the only ones out on the sweltering streets that day. This is a beautifully crafted animated short which was made by Jacob Streilein as part of his studies at CalArts.

What I particularly like about Swelter is that Jacob has not made any attempt at realism either in the characters or their environment. As such a new world is, effectively, created and one which suits the sparse story exceptionally well. In terms of style it and design has an almost European feel to it but its wordlessness makes it universal.

Star Trek Alternate Title Intro


You might say it is the last thing we need – the original title intro to Star Trek is so embedded in the collective subconscious that it makes any attempt to create an alternative redundant. But then you think…  one of the more enjoyable aspects of the TV series was to boldly go (see how I split my infinitive there?) in to alternate realities. With that in mind, then an alternative set of titles if not only desirable but compulsory!

It’s great fun too.  Created by the Quintek Group, their particular mission was to try and capture the essence of what they found most enjoyable from the series for building this faux opening to this classic show.  I love it – and although I would never, ever replace the original, this is certainly what I would expect were I to do some alternate traveling! If you are a fan there are some rather nerdy easter eggs in this - I won't give any away but see how many you get!

Veggie Propaganda


I have to point out here and now that I am not a vegetarian so the inclusion of this animation by Kristen Palana is not my attempt to convert you to vegetarianism. However, it does ask some interesting questions which are worth considering.  Even if animal welfare is not at the top of your agenda, perhaps the environment and living longer are. Veggie Propaganda makes the point (very well) that by cutting down on meat (or, of course, cutting it out altogether) you are probably going to live a healthier, longer life.

So, by all means throw your weight in to the debate by making reasoned comments below – no abuse please!  I like to think I give voice to all sorts of opinions here at Kuriositas, so if you have made an animated short about the wonders of eating meat, please send me the link and I will consider putting it on the site too!

Kristen Palana is an American/Portuguese multimedia artist based in Rome, Italy. Her work has been exhibited internationally and online and has won a number of awards. She has taught undergraduate and graduate college students for over eleven years, as well as offered art and multimedia courses in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Kristen is currently a tenured Associate Professor of Digital Media at The American University of Rome.

16 June 2012

Telephone Boxes Invade London

The UK has just had the Queen’s Jubilee which was a great success (albeit a rather soggy one) and the celebrations continue. The London Olympics are just around the corner and to anticipate that and simply to keep the flag flying (as it were) British Telecom have launched an art project the aim of which is to revitalize that most British of icons, the telephone box. And, of course, to raise an awful lot of money for charity!

Known as the ArtBox Project, replicas of the famous Gilbert Scott box have been placed all over London.  There is something of a throng of them (we’re not sure what the collective noun is for telephone boxes!) at the moment at Trafalgar Square in the heart of the city’s West End.

After the Olympics these telephone boxes will then be auctioned off for charity. The organisation which will benefit is ChildLine, a service for young people which helps them get help and advice about a wide range of issues.  The charity is celebrating its own silver jubilee (twenty five years) this year and is a very worthy recipient of the monies which will be raised.

You certainly don't see this sort of thing often. Here we have Big Ben in the shadow of, well, Big Ben!

So here is a selection of the ArtBox boxes. We’ll be bringing you more as we seem them! If you would like to see all of them or register your interest in participating in the auction for one of them, click here.



First Image Credit Flickr User CTRL-F5
Amung Feedjit
Follow Kuriositas on Facebook