22 February 2014

The Musketeers: Locations Revealed

The BBC series The Musketeers got off to a shaky start, review wise, but audiences and critics alike have warmed to the show as it has got properly underway. Viewing figures are healthy and a second series has already been commissioned. The Musketeers is quickly garnering a huge fan base. Something which has come in for praise has been the locations chosen to portray the Paris of the seventeenth century. Yet if you want to see them for yourself, don’t go dashing off to the French capital – you won’t find them there. Instead head for Prague - the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic.

 Why the Czech Republic rather than France? It seems that Paris has just become too built up and modern for filming to be done there without anachronisms popping up all over the place. Strangely, Dublin was also considered before the production team settled on Prague which has weathered the centuries (not to mention the Second World War) extremely well. Plus the city’s environs has some of the most beautiful period chateaus in Europe, including Dobris (above). Situated about 40km from Prague this gorgeous chateau was given to the German House of Mansfeld in 1630, who had it rebuilt in a Rococo style from 1745.

18 February 2014

Wind Up Bots

Imagine a world where all the wind up robots of your childhood suddenly came to supersize life. Well, no need really when you have this fun video from Fernando Livschitz of Black Sheep Films.  This is great fun – and gave me a number of nostalgic moments.  Plus it’s all beautifully wrapped up in a summertime feel and when you add the perfectly chosen soundtrack it is quite enough to chase away those winter blues…

It Doesn’t Get Better

While many teenagers continue to be bullied at high school there will be those who extend their support and sympathy – and ensure that they get the message across that it will get better.  Yet what about those people for whom high school is the apogee of their lives?  This thought provoking short by Jason Headley takes a look at the adult lives of four of those people: it should be shown in every high school classroom in existence.

The Roving Typist

Many writers choose to self-publish these days and although CD Hermelin is no exception he has taken it to a certain extreme.  He sits in public spaces with an old typewriter and waits for people to approach him, writing any stories for them that take their fancy.  It’s an unusual career path but one which gives both Mr Hermelin and his readers great satisfaction.  Mark Cersosimo has created this very tender portrait of a very gentle man.

17 February 2014

Giant Hedgehog Arrives on Clapham Common

The locals close to London’s Clapham Common are used to some odd happenings on their triangular area of grassland situated in the south of the city.  Yet few were prepared yesterday for the arrival of a gigantic hedgehog.  Could this finally be the proof that GM crops are having a rather strange effect on British wildlife?

16 February 2014

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about DNA but were Too Overawed to Ask

DNA is a complex subject.  Yet if you ever wanted to have all the important facts about DNA squished in to three minutes, then look no further.  This animated short by Territory Studio takes a look at the history, biology and concerns around DNA.  Reminiscent of textbook diagrams and old science documentaries, this will enable you to understand not only DNA’s form and function but how our understanding of these discoveries has affected the wider world.

14 February 2014

Statue of Charles Dickens Unveiled Despite Author's Prohibition

If you have ever wondered why there are no statues of Charles Dickens in the UK, the simple fact of the matter is that the country’s ,most celebrated novelist expressly forbade it in his will.  His very words were "I conjure to my friends on no account to make me the subject of any monument, memorial or testimonial whatsoever. I rest my claims to the remembrance of my country upon my published works."  However, the good citizens of his birthplace, Portsmouth, have risked a Jacob Marley-type visitation by unveiling a bronze statue of the author on what would have been his 202nd birthday.

However, the statue has the approval of many of Dickens’ descendants including one of the youngest, Oliver Dickens (one can only wonder how often he asks for more) who you can see in two of these pictures, an obvious talent when it comes to a photo opportunity!  In fact, two of the novelist's great-great grandchildren, Ian and Gerald Dickens, helped to raise the £150,000 (US$250,000) cost of the statue. 

9 February 2014

The Musketeers – Opening Titles Sequence of the New BBC Show

If you live in the UK then you may, as I am, be enjoying the new Sunday evening show broadcast on BBC 1.  The Musketeers is an elaborate re-tread of the Alexandre Dumas novel The Three Musketeers and it’s proving popular with its audience with an engaging cast, fast-paced stories and lots and lots of swashbuckling!  One thing the BBC is getting very right just now are its title sequences and the one for The Musketeers, by Momoco is spot on.

Academy Awards: Best Visual Effects Oscar Winners

Back In 1977, a specific award category for visual effects was reintroduced with the current name, Best Visual Effects at the Academy Awards.  Here are those Oscar winning movies. Which will win this year? No idea, but looking back thanks to this montage (by Nelson Carvajal) it will have to be great to compare to these amazing movies. I can’t believe some of them are as old as they are – it’s making me feel downright ancient!

7 February 2014


In 2062 the planet Catyph and its moons are discovered, thanks to a new technology, Blue Matter, derived from an extra-terrestrial source.  A single astronaut is dispatched to explore and comes across something quite extraordinary.

This is very cool animated science fiction from short film and indie video game maker Simon Mesnard.

2 February 2014

Dead End

Three people all covet the same thing – and they will do anything to get their hands on it. Their search reaches its climactic conclusion in the searing heat of a desert motorway.  This inscrutable short was created by four students at the Utrecht School of the Arts, Ruud Coenen, Luc Thijssen, Frank van Vugt and Stein Louisse.  You can read more about the making of Dead End at their website.