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

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…