31 December 2013

10 Great Happy New Year 2014 Videos

Thank you so much for being a Kuriositas reader in 2014.  By way of thanks I would like to wish you a Happy New Year for 2014 – it has been a year for the site with as many downs as up but I am looking forward to taking it on its next steps over the coming year.  In the meantime, here are 10 short videos which celebrate the coming of 2014.  May your year be a wonderful one with you and yours all healthy and happy!

21 December 2013

Twin Peaks Illustrated

It’s been a while since we have been able to feature a personal project by Martin Woutisseth – he has been a busy guy.  However, today it’s great to see that after many months in stop-start production his illustrated take on the Twin Peaks universe has finally made it!  If you think his illustrations are simply photos with an instant Photoshop filter applied, think again.  Each is lovingly crafted with up to 250 layers – watch the video and see!

19 December 2013

Gaia’s Mission: Solving the Celestial Puzzle

The Gaia spacecraft has now been launched and an amazing project has begun.  Ambitious is hardly the word – altogether over a billion celestial objects will be mapped by Gaia – and in 3D in to the bargain.  What is even, perhaps, more astonishing is that these billion objects constitute only one hundredth of those over 20 G magnitudes brightness in the Milky Way.  Our galaxy is vast.

Professor Gerry Gilmore from Cambridge University’s Institute of Astronomy and the Principal Investigator for UK involvement in the mission says that Gaia "will revolutionize our understanding of the cosmos as never before."   The university has created this twenty minute film exploring the mission and its challenging.  I found it compulsive viewing.

Oh and it is narrated by Sean Pertwee, a wonderful British actor who we have seen recently in Camelot and Elementary among other things.  As the son of the third actor to play Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee, this is more than an appropriate choice for narrator of this wonderful short documentary.

16 December 2013

Thin White Gelato

Inspired by The Snowman, Trunk Animation’s Christmas offering is an enigmatic animated short.  Introduced by David Bowie (where did they get that footage? A Bing Crosby Christmas Special?) Gelato Go Home is a loving homage to the ice cream van in its communal quest for a little time away from it all.  Altogether this left me slightly befuddled but nonetheless happy; so quite close to how I used to feel each Christmas during my childhood.


Christmas is coming and in many place all over the world that means that the winter is producing the weather most associated with the time of year – snow.

However, if you are wishing for a white Christmas then you may think again after watching this short short by Eoin Duffy.  You may never see that beauty of nature, the snowflake, in the same way again!

15 December 2013

Reaping for Dummies

You never know when the Grim Reaper is going to come knocking – so if you don’t want to accompany him to the afterlife then it is best to take a few precautions.  When a trainee reaper visits an almost abandoned Wild West town he thinks it is just another ordinary soul collection but he gets more than he bargained for.  Reaping for Dummies was created by a group of five students from the 3D design and animation course at Idèfagskolen in Tønsberg Norway.

8 December 2013

The Portuguese Water Dog: From the Russian Steppes to The White House

The Portuguese Water Dog is something of a survivor.  The breed was rescued from extinction in the last century and, despite over half of the current specimens being descended from a single male, seems to be going from strength to strength.  Plus it has an unusual feature that you might not expect, even though the clue is in its name.  Find out what that is and enjoy a feast of photos of this adorable dog on the Ark in Space.

Image Credit

What is Wrong with Atlantis?

The new BBC series Atlantis, based very, very loosely on Greek mythology is doing well in the Saturday night ratings war.  Starring Mark Addy and Jack Donnelly, the show follows the adventures of young Jason and his friends; it's a three way bromance located in an alternate, unsunk Atlantis. However, one writer at least finds that there are a few things missing from the show which makes it less than wholly enjoyable.  Perhaps you may agree – pop over to 2wenty4se7en to discover what (one person at least) believe is wrong with Atlantis.

Dry Grass in a Blue Vase

For centuries a secret guild has kept a door locked, its secret hidden away for so long that no-one remembers what was kept behind it.   Now only one old woman remains out of the group and she decides to do the only thing she can before she dies.

This enigmatic and beautifully made animated short was written, directed, animated and sound edited by Maria Ivanova.

7 December 2013

Potsman Miner

As time goes on it must be more difficult for imaginative minds to dream up new, future dystopias.  I think you may well agree that the four Supinfocom students who created Factuer Mineur (in the original French) have done just that.  A lone postman carries an incredible burden both literally and metaphorically.  What effect will the news that he carries have on its intended recipients?

5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela: A Tribute in Art

Nelson Mandela: 18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013

When I was a teenager in the early 1980s I think my first encounter with the name Nelson Mandela was probably through a badge.  Although my memory is a little fuzzy about exactly when, it was most likely 1983, the year before the Special AKA band released what is still in most Top 20 Political Songs lists – Free Nelson Mandela.  The song made it in to the top ten in the UK hit parade. The badge, though, with its typically 80s font, was ubiquitous.

Image Credit Flickr User Ben Sutherland
As well as being worn to protest the on-going incarceration of the South African politician by his own government, the badge was also another way for us to show our displeasure with our own: Maggie Thatcher and her cohorts were currently smashing their way through UK industry like a wrecking ball.  The only pictures we got to see of Nelson Mandela were those taken before his trial and imprisonment – and that had been in 1962, over twenty years previously.   The man could already be representative of causes other than his own – a kind of marker of general political and personal duty: this transference from individual to universal symbol is something that few others have achieved.
Image Credit Flickr User Vilseskogen
The potency of this charisma was bound to find outlets through artistic expression both of the monumental and the personal kind. After his release and his inevitable rise to political power, Mandela’s face became (and I do not use the word without hesitation) iconographic, even in life.  He became a living, breathing symbol of the struggle for personal liberty, for freedom of speech, for universal education and suffrage – and more: I could probably leave a space here and each of you could fill in the gap with your own reason for admiring this man, surely one of the most pivotal in contemporary world history.

4 December 2013

850 Meters

A not-so-brave knight is on a quest for Fame and Fortune - legend says rescuing a princess is the way to go. And in those same fairy tales, there's only one way to slay the dragon that holds the fair lady captive: find the invincible sword. To reach his goal, the knight is ready to go far. Maybe even as far as 850 meters. This marvelous animated short was created by Thuristar.

Our Anthem (American Made)

Last month the town of Washington, Illinois, was virtually flattened by a tornado but its citizens are not those for giving up.  Green Shoe Studio has produced this song and video, by Jacob Colgan and Aileeah Colgan as a tribute to the community and to help restore what has been lost (certainly not their spirit!).  You can buy the single on iTunes or donate directly to the Washington Tornado Relief Fund here.

2 December 2013

Lovely Laptops: How Would You Customise Yours?

A few years ago I thought a good proportion of the world had gone mad as they seemed to have started talking to themselves in the street and on public transport – and answering back too. Of course, I soon realised that they were using discrete mobile technology to talk to their friends (not imaginary ones!). I am having the same ‘shock of the new’ with the multitude of tablets and Laptops that are now available. They are getting slimmer and slimmer and once or twice I have spotted people using them before I actually spot the laptop.

The VAIO laptops from Sony are ‘guiltier’ than most. The latest is the slimmest Windows 8 tablet PC in the world. Not only that but they come with a range of features that are super useful, whether you are working, playing or just chilling. Take a look at this infographic. Which feature of the VAIO Inspiration Suite do you think you would use the most?

How to use VAIO Inspiration Suite - Infographic
Courtesy of Sony

When you get over the sheer amount of tools you can use on the VAIO Laptops there is probably something else you might notice. I really hate it when glare gets in the way of me getting on with things on my laptop (OK, so it’s usually watching movies). However, there is a VAIO Display Premium feature on selected laptops which have anti-reflection and wider viewing angles which are fantastic for people like me.

Talking of selection, that is completely the name of the game with VAIO laptops. You can select from a great range of colours which will really make your own laptop stand out – and there are a number of finishes available too so that you will have your own bespoke laptop. Now, here’s a question for you! If you could have your laptop look any way you wanted, what indeed would it look like?

Let me know – perhaps we might even be able to persuade Sony to adopt your ideas!

Sponsored Post

1 December 2013

Red Squirrels Show Signs of Recovery from Deadly Poxvirus

The red squirrel is one of the most popular wild animals in the United Kingdom, which considering so few people have seen one is something of a surprise. They have been marginalized by an American interloper, the grey squirrel, for more than a century and they number only just over 100,000. Moreover, a disease carried by the grey has reduced the population of reds to a fraction of what it was a century ago.

Now, however, red squirrels in an enclave in Merseyside (in the north east of England) have been found to be carrying antibodies which means they have had the dreaded poxvirus but have since recovered. Perhaps there is hope, after all. The Ark in Space has the full story plus a plethora of pictures of this uber-cute animal in action.

Image Credit Peter Trimming

Wooden Boy – for World Aids Day

Today (1 December) is World Aids Day when we remember all those lost to this terrible disease of the human immune system.  It also gives an opportunity to drive home the message that the war against Aids is far from over. Directed by 2AM, this short video has adult themes for a serious message but a great ‘reveal’ at its end which is full of ironic humor. Don’t get caught out, folks, always stick one on!

29 November 2013

Five Knives: The Future

One of the hottest acts to come from Nashville recently is Five Knives – and considering their home town, they are not quite what you might expect. This video, directed by Lance Drake, is set in a future dystopia where cloned schoolboys are brought up by android teachers. One rebels and what ensues is a kind of solo Battle Royale that will have you transfixed till the end.  This kid has some moves.

28 November 2013

History of Telecommunications

By Teresa Meek

When did telecommunications begin?

It depends on what you mean by tele, the Greek word for long distance, and communications, which can take many forms.

The ancient Greeks used signal fires in their armies and sent out carrier pigeons to transmit the results of their Olympics.

Much later, in 1791, Claude and Ignace Chappe, a pair of French brothers attending separate schools close enough to be visible to each other, created a large mechanical device with arm-like rods that they manipulated to communicate with each other. Somehow, they were not expelled, and went on to help France develop over 500 of these semaphore message-relay systems, which Napoleon used to coordinate his military campaigns.

Semaphore systems, many of them using flags instead of metal arms, developed all over Europe and parts of the U.S. and were a major form of government communications systems.

When we think of modern telecommunications, however, most of us think of electricity.

People noticed early on that metals were magnetic. In the 1700’s, Henry Cavendish and others discovered that this meant they carried an electrical charge.

Electrical impulses were very interesting to scientists because of their lightning speed. (In fact, Benjamin Franklin later demonstrated in his famous kite experiment that lightning is electricity.)

Intrigued by the transmission possibilities, a French scientist in 1746 somehow talked 200 monks into standing in a very large circle, connected together by pieces of iron wire. He then used leyden jars—early forms of capacitors, which store and release current—to send out a current and measure its speed. He was pleased to note that all the monks reacted at the same time to the electric shock that resulted.

Proving that electricity does indeed travel fast—and perhaps also that monks are indeed protected by God, as none of them are reported to have died.

In the 1800s, electricity was used to create the electric telegraph, developed most successfully in the U.S. by Samuel Morse, famous for inventing the code that went along with it. With a telegraph, an operator sets up an electrical contact using a telegraph key, producing a signal that is heard at the receiving end, where another operator decodes it.

It worked great until 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell supplanted it with the telephone, which lets you hear the message voice-to-voice, with no coding and decoding involved.

Telegraph companies, however, were not impressed. The Telegraph Company had its investigators look into the new technology and write up a report, which said: We found that the voice is very weak and indistinct, and grows even weaker when long wires are used between the transmitter and receiver. Technically, we do not see that this device will be ever capable of sending recognizable speech over a distance of several miles.

Messer Hubbard and Bell want to install one of their "telephone devices" in every city. The idea is idiotic on the face of it.

But voice transmission grew stronger and better, eventually retiring the telegraph to the world’s museums.

Businesses became big users of the telephone, and some of them wondered if it could be possible to connect more than two users and exchange information without holding a physical meeting.

To attempt to meet that need, Bell Labs invented the first conference call system in 1956, and from its research, AT&T developed the Picturephone, introduced at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.

The Picturephone sent both visual and audio information across three phone lines. It was very advanced for its time, but complicated and expensive. And only three people could participate. AT&T eventually abandoned the product, after sinking a billion dollars into its investment.

Later, other businesses entered the field. Conference Calls Unlimited, formed in 1998, was one of the first to become widely successful, and is still in business today.

The next big milestone was the internet, which began as a project of the U.S. Army’s Advanced Projects Research Agency (ARPA). Then Leonard Kleinrock at MIT published papers and books pointing the way toward computer networking.

Internet protocol was standardized in 1982, and computers began to spread at universities and colleges. In 1995, the internet was allowed to be commercialized, and began its journey to becoming the behemoth it is today.

17 November 2013

Snow Hare

If Snow Hare seems, when you watch it, to be a particularly poignant animated short it may be that its creator, Shawn Branden, was working through the grief triggered by the loss of a friend at the time.  As the work progressed it became almost a form of therapy for him and one can only hope a type of catharsis too.  Branden completed Snow Hare during his last few semesters at CSU. As his senior film it shows great promise for the future – and what better tribute could that be to the friend that he lost?


It’s hard enough to imagine fighting cancer when you are an adult, let alone a two year old but that is just what Miles had to do. Now 5, Miles had beaten Leukemia and no gets the opportunity to show the San Francisco community just how strong a fighter he is. The Make-A-Wish foundation granted his wish to become Batman for the day (well, Batkid at least which I think is even cooler). This video courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

16 November 2013

The Kelpies: Mythological Horses Power Again through Scotland

Kelpies 13 007
An extraordinary work of art has just been completed in Scotland.  The Kelpies by figurative sculptor Andy Scott surge upwards in steel, whinnying and snorting alongside the banks of the Forth and Clyde Canal near the town of Falkirk.  These fantastic beasts from Gaelic mythology have risen again as monuments to the horse-powered industrial heritage of Scotland.

Song of the Knight

Once upon a time there was a knight who owned the most irritating magical sword in the world – it just wouldn’t stop singing!

However, there might just come a time when this infuriating habit has its advantages. 

Song of the Knight was created by Steven Ray at the Ringling College of Art and Design.

10 November 2013

Surf City Surf Dogs Catch the Waves

Wipeout! Now in its fifth year the Surf City Surf Dog event, held in Huntington Beach, California brings together over forty surf fans together with their human companions who are there to ensure that all the fun is safe for the surfer dogs.  This fund-raising event helps to raise awareness of various dog related causes, including animal rescue and medical care.  The Ark in Space has a feature on these surfing canines accompanied by some fantastic photos.

Image Credit San Diego Shooter

Barbican: Microcosm Of London

A barbican is a fortified outpost or gateway, such as an outer defense to a city or castle and although London’s doesn’t serve that purpose anymore it has a history stretching back 2000 years.  This collaborative project, between the Barbican and Persistent Peril was based upon an article by novelist and historian Peter Ackroyd and is a great four minute animated overview of London’s Barbican.

9 November 2013


In the future, a team of astronauts are sent on a ten year journey to a distant planet to find new life. On their way, they encounter a large, abandoned spaceship that is drifting in the orbit of a mysterious planet. They board the ship with anticipation of the great discoveries to uncover inside. However, they do not know what terrible secret this spacecraft keeps - a threat which is far bigger and scarier than anything they could have imagined. Azarkant is a film by Andrey Klimov.


Sigurdr is a legendary hero of Norse mythology, as well as the central character in the Völsunga saga. Here a group of ESMA students take on the legend with wonderful results. Directed by Ludovic Begue, Thomas Enjalbert, Mathieu Gebauer, Boris Rodrigues and Charlotte Vallet it is a another great example why Toulouse based ESMA is one of the places animation students put at the top of their to-go lists.

3 November 2013

I Need Some Space

Would you like a quick tour of the solar system?  Then look no further because Shane Gehlert (aka Blue Dog Flims) has created this wonderful introduction to its wonders.  Using NASA stock, together with After Effects and Element 3d Gehlert has created something rather special here.  He has even roped in his sister Belinda as part of the Zephyr Quartet to provide the music. Sit back and enjoy the tour but remember that all these worlds are yours except Europa!

2 November 2013

Sathorn Unique: Bangkok’s Ghost Tower

The Sathorn Unique was supposed to be another glistening addition to Bangkok’s ever growing skyline, a luxury residential skyscraper of over 600 homes and shops.  Yet the building work came to a drastic halt in 1998.  The towering building has stood abandoned and incomplete from then on.  Only urban explorers venture in now: many of the local population believe the skyscraper to be haunted and call it the Ghost Tower.

The early 1990s was boom time for the Thai economy. The country was experiencing its most rapid development ever and hundreds of construction projects were started in the capital of Bangkok.  As the wealth of the nation’s people increased it was envisioned that they would demand new, luxury apartments in which to live.


When you were a child, were you ever told that the bogeyman would come and get you if you were naughty? This short and incredibly dark, animated, fairy tale by Flipbook centers on a modern re-imagining of the mythical bogeyman that has in many cultures been used by adults to scare children into compliance and submission. This would make a great, spine-tingling start to a full feature…

30 October 2013

WLTM – Would Like To Meet

Have you ever had a date with a stranger you have met online?  Chances are that if you are under a certain age then you have.  This short film, however, might put you off internet dating for life or, alternatively, give you a few ideas...

Either way this entertaining short DOPd by Daniel Trapp has a twist in the tale which you might not expect. Watch it to the very end.

29 October 2013

Bodies in Urban Spaces: Human Sculpture in the City

If you live in a town or city then you are probably quite used to seeing young people lounging about in hoodies and tracksuits.  Yet over the last few years the inhabitants of Paris, Vienna, Seoul, Montreal, New York and Bangor (North Wales) have woken up to something of a surprise.  These Bodies in Urban Spaces have taken hanging around to a new level.

The brainchild of Austrian artist Willi Dorner, the project began in 2007 – and its aim is rather more than an impressive show of contortionist skills by young people in brightly colored clothes.  Bodies in Urban Spaces (I am going to call it BiUS from now on) is intended to provoke thought – and possibly even annoyance.  Its aim is to motivate and prompt its audience to reflect on their urban surroundings and ultimately to question their own behavior and habits, in terms of their movement.

28 October 2013

What is Cinema?: Alfonso Cuarón and the Cinematic Precipice

Here is a wonderful compilation of excerpts from seven wildly different movies which all share something in common – amazing and thought provoking visuals as well as the directorial talents of Alfonso Cuarón.  There are a number of my personal all-time favourites in here: Children of Men and Y Tu Mamá También.  The compilation has been lovingly put together by Jorge Gonzalez Diaz with Quartet for the End of Time as the soundtrack.

27 October 2013

Step Forward

A father and daughter team of scientists attempt to conquer time travel in this very self-contained two minute steampunk short film.  It is directed by Ben Jacobson, written by Martyn Deakin and stars Holly Jacobson and Jon Campling.  It was filmed at the amazing Abbey Pumping Station in Leicester – a perfect setting.  If you have a precocious child who always does something before you give permission, show them this.

26 October 2013

Celebrating Crystallography

It is a century since the father and son scientific team of William Henry and William Lawrence Bragg developed Bragg’s Law which gives the angles for coherent and incoherent scattering from a crystal lattice.

It doesn’t sound like much of a breakthrough until you realize that their work in x-ray crystallography would lead to a Nobel Prize in 1915. Not many people have heard of it but it is arguably one of the greatest scientific developments of the twentieth century. We would not know much about the structure of DNA without it, for a start.

The answers to many problems have come from this method of structural analysis, pioneered by the Braggs a hundred years ago. Take a look at this video, commissioned by the Royal Institution and created by 12Foot6.

25 October 2013

In A Forest

This is a very clever three minute animated short with an unexpected twist.  Directed by Fons Schiedon and produced by Submarine, it opens with an exciting pursuit through a forest that ends in... not a forest.

A film about believing in an illusion, In A Forest is part of an initiative by the Dutch government to reintroduce short films in to cinemas.  If this is anything to go by, they are on to something!


This is something of a visual treat. It was created by Murat Sayginer, a visionary artist who works in the fields of art photography and computer graphics, and is also known as a digital artist.

 I can’t admit to understanding what is going on (I am not sure we are meant to) but it is a remarkable piece of work. The way that the marble balls create the sculptured head is something to behold...

20 October 2013

Run (You Clever) Boy Run

So, just over a month to go until the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.  The BBC showed a specially made one minute plug for the show, which will be broadcast simultaneously throughout the known universe on 23 November.

However, if you are any sort of fan you will have seen that.  Here, then, is a clever compilation of clips held together by Run Boy Run – by Woodkid. Vid by Eva Rechi.

The Suit of Light

A humble janitor becomes a matador for a day and finds himself face to face with his ferocious opponent in the bullring.

Yet there is something about the animal which sparks a memory – will the bull remember too?  This rather affecting animated short was created by a very talented group of students at the George Meliès School, Damien Duprat, Paul Lavau, Gonzalo Graca and Frederic Juvigny.

Windy City Nights: Chicago Time-Lapse

This is a wonderful six minutes of time-lapse footage, created by Max Wilson and featuring his home town of Chicago.  Altogether he shot over 200,000 exposures of raw digital files, creating a need for 6 terabytes of storage!  Although a number of sequences have been left out, what you see are these hundreds of thousands of still images condensed in to just over six minutes capturing the amazing sights of one of America’s most exciting cities.

Belfast Unveils Wish: AKA The Face from Space

An incredible eleven acre land art installation has been unveiled in Belfast, Northern Ireland.   The piece shows the face of a little girl, anonymous said to be from the city, smiling rather enigmatically. Although the work, by Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada is formally entitled Wish, locals have already given it a new name: The Face from Space.

Wish has been months in the planning and is part of the Belfast Festival which started on 17 October and lasts for ten days.  This world class piece of land art is made up of 30,000 pegs.  Add to this 2,000 tonnes of soil and an equal amount of sand and you begin to realize the titanic scale of this project.  All told, it covers eleven acres of Belfast’s old docklands. Although the International Space Station is yet to take any pictures of Wish, this Face from Space is a thrilling sight for visitors to the city flying in and out of George Best Belfast City Airport.