31 May 2015

Fight for Food

If you own dogs then this scenario may be familiar.  One dog will hog the food while the other has to wait patiently for his turn.  Not this dog-bot, however.  He will do whatever it takes to claim his fair share and if you can’t fight clean then you don’t give up: you just fight dirty instead.  A 3D by Californian teenager Preston Platt, Fight for Food was created as a personal project but it’s great to see it on the interweb too.

29 May 2015

Desert Yogi

You don’t see this in the desert every day – but then most of us don’t get to visit a desert on a regular basis. Dylan Werner, a world leader in yoga strength training and body weight movement is captured in the desert by director Russell Brownley. It combines a mixture of beautiful cinematography with the sight of how one man finds clarity, peace, presence and meditation.

27 May 2015


Interlude is a film that interprets time and its connection with life. The abstract notion of time is defined in this piece by the relationship between math, science, memories, and nostalgia.

It was created at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) as part as the Senior Motion Media Design B.F.A project. It was directed by Daniel Uribe and Chris Salvador.

26 May 2015

Black Square

Dancers Mikalai Radziush and Olga Lanceray give an emotive performance of Black Square, which I interpret as a couple on the verge of a pivotal moment in their relationship – will they stay together or will they part? That may not be what it’s all about (I often get these things wrong!) but see what you think.  With choreography by Elena Kuzmina and directed by Timo Zhalnin this is beautifully filmed contemporary dance at its best.

The SS United States

The SS United States was built in 1952 and held various records including the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic in either direction.  The ship was in service for seventeen solid years. Yet since 1996 she has been docked, abandoned, on Pier 82 in Philadelphia.  Take a look at this majestic ship (shot by Chris DeAntonio), surely too iconic to allow to rust away out of sight and out of mind?

23 May 2015

Rise Like A Phoenix - London Contemporary Voices & Kin Choir

The Eurovision Song Contest is upon us again.  However, here’s something a little familiar yet unusual.  Rise Like a Phoenix, sung by Conchita Wurst, won the competition last year.  Here is a rather different take on the song by London Contemporary Voices (London's leading alternative choir) and Kin Choir.   Jonathan Rippon of LCV gives a stirring solo performance with fantastic support from members of the two choirs.

22 May 2015

What Happens Next?

It’s a crying shame that over 17,000 children under five years of age still die each day from causes that could be easily prevented.  Diseases like pneumonia and malaria still claims so many who have hardly started their lives.

World Vision, who created the video above in partnership with Don’t Panic are having a Global Week of Action.  The hope is that many millions of people will show their leaders that an end to preventable deaths though hunger and violence against children can and should be stopped within the next 15 years.

Over the past 20 years, there has been amazing progress in ending the avoidable deaths of children and reducing extreme poverty on our pale blue dot of a planet. Strides have been made but 17,000 a day is 17,000 too many.  When you do the math it becomes even more startling a number – that’s over six million children under the age of five every year.

You might think that zero poverty is a pie in the sky idea.  However, over the last two decades the number of children under five dying has halved.  If use our influence on those who lead us this number can go down further, to the magical zero figure. For more information you can go to World Vision’s website.  However, please share this video on your social media sites with the hashtag #Stopatnothing.

17 May 2015

Pale Blue Dot

I think I have lost count of the number of times I have seen animations of Pale Blue Dot, possibly the most seminal words of Carl Sagan. However, I had to include this new version because it is simply outstanding.  Using an eclectic combination of art styles woven seamlessly together through music and visuals, this short reminds us of the significance of our insignificance. The animation and screenplay is by Chin Li Zhi with the music and sound design by Leo Frick.

The Sounds of Star Wars

Sounds can evoke memories in a way only rivalled by our sense of sight and smell.  If you enjoyed the Star Wars films as a child then this feast of sounds from the original three movies will transport you back in time as effectively as a Tardis!  This video is a celebration of those iconic sounds that have been rattling around the head of Rishi Kaneria since childhood which are, indeed, ingrained in our collective pop culture psyche.

And Then I Vanish

Have you ever looked in to somebody’s dreams? And Then I Vanish, created by Cornel Swoboda may be as close as you get to doing that for a day or two – at the very least.  This surreal motion poem started life as a spare time project for Swoboda but, as these things do, it evolved in to something quite different. It is also one of the most visually different videos I have seen in an age – so apologies if it keeps you awake tonight!

10 May 2015

VE Day 70 in 70 Seconds

Friday 8 May 2015 was the anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), marking 70 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe.  If you have been visiting another planet over the last few days and want to know what all the fuss is about then here it all is – VE Day 70 in 70 seconds. It was created by Raw 
Productions for the Royal British Legion.

The Cruel Mother

The Cruel Mother is a murder ballad which has been doing the rounds for centuries.  It tells the story of an unmarried mother who kills her twin boys after they are born and buries them deep in a wood.  Yet this is not the last time that she will meet her sons… Animated by Gavin C Robinson and beautifully sung by Fiona Hunter, one of Scotland’s foremost traditional singers, this is entrancingly dark.

The Hedgehog

A young boy wanders a deserted urban landscape dressed in a home-made Sonic the Hedgehog outfit.  On a superficial level this film is very simple but is in fact an extended metaphor about how life can run away with itself once one is caught in a rut and by the time one realises, it’s too late.  Written and directed by Chris Lee and Paul Storrie, Hedgehog was nominated for the British Council Best UK Short Film at London Short Film Festival 2015.

4 May 2015

Blast it Biggs! Where are you?! - A Star Wars Day Doc

Biggs Darklighter was set to be a more prominent character in Star Wars than what we see when we watch the movie.  In fact, many casual Star Wars fans (isn’t that an oxymoron?) might struggle to locate the character at all.

However, actor Garrick Hagon spent weeks filming scenes in Tunisia for Tosche Station on Tatooine (left with Mark Hamill) and again at Elstree studios where he participated in the attack on the Death Star.  Documentary maker Jamie Benning interviewed Garrick Hagon and the result is a fascinating glimpse in to what might have been.  So, for Star Wars Day, here is the documentary – with the deleted scenes included. May the Fourth Be With You!

Quiz: Name the 20 US City Skylines

Can you name these 20 US cities just from a picture of the skyline of each?  It may be a little more challenging than it sounds because although all of these cities are in the US Top 50 (at least in terms of population) we have restricted it to just one city per state, despite places like California being awash with places that have huge populations.  So, give it a go – and please pass it on!

If the answer you choose goes GREEN, then you got it right.  If it goes RED then you got it wrong.  You will also see how many other people chose the different answers (in terms of a percentage). Ready? Let's go!

Want a hideously hard quiz?
Do you know your Dali from your Dürer, your Goya from your Gauguin? Then try these 20 multiple choice questions.

You will take a back and forth whistle-stop tour through almost a thousand years of art history.  Yet which painters were responsible for the 20 masterpieces you are about to see?  Click HERE or on the picture to do the quiz.

Image Credits
1, 2a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

3 May 2015

The Outings Project: Museum Paintings Experience Life on the Streets

Outings is a world participative project, initiated by Julien de Casabianca, a French visual artist.  The idea is for people to liberate portraits from their homes in museums and other municipal building and place them on the walls of their towns and cities.

You can see these paintings, of course, if you make the special journey to where the hang in their frames.  Yet they are surrounded by tens, often  hundreds of other paintings.  By placing the paintings in random streets and alleyways, de Casabianca hopes that their beauty will be fully appreciated once more.

Melody Gardot - Preacherman

Inspired by the tragic true story of Emmett Till who was killed in a racially motivated murder in 1955, this is a music video for Melody Gardot's single Preacherman. It was directed by Calum Macdiarmid and shot over 4 days in the Mississippi Delta. The film features performances from local characters and an appearance from Emmett Till's cousin (the woman who puts her hand up to the glass at the end).

Pet Peeve

Pets die – that’s a fact of life.  Yet for one boy the death of his beloved goldfish is not followed by a year in mourning: it’s the green light for the start of the epic search for the next pet.  However, his choices are questionable.  This light-hearted and immensely enjoyable short (animated on paper and colored digitally) comes from Jared Liffreing who created it as his CalArts fourth year film.

2 May 2015

The Red Witch

Mars is slowly being terraformed.  As the planet slowly comes to life a geologist wanders the surface of the once barren planet, seeking answers.  Yet as the planet’s human-driven evolution outpaces her, she becomes myth.  The Red Witch is Aron Bothman’s fourth year film for the CalArts Character Animation program, made using a combination of stop-motion, CG, and drawn techniques.

The Misadventures of Chubzilla

Chubzilla is hungry.  This insatiable beasty is intent on devouring everything in his path.  Yet what to us is destruction on an enormous, extinction level event scale is to this young monster a hop skip and a jump in the park – and one which Willy Wonka would not be ashamed of, either.  The Misadventures of Chubzilla is a thesis film co-directed by Elizabeth Lee and Dominik Koscinski.- and its epic fun.

Office Kingdom

If you have ever been the victim of mindless, interminable bureaucracy where you simply want something seemingly straightforward but find obstacles in your path at every juncture, then spare a thought.  Those office workers who seem intent on denying you your wishes do so not out of sheer lazy malice but to avoid having to enter the kingdom.  Watch this short movie by Salvatore Centoducati, Eleonora Bertolucci, Giulio De Toma, Ruben Pirito and you will see why.