30 April 2017

Cassini's Grand Finale

Digital artist Erik Wernquist created this animated short for none other than NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) about the spectacular ending of the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. It is meant as an inspirational and informative piece about what happens in the last months of the mission, and as a celebration of all that this historic spacecraft has achieved from its launch in 1997.  The world will be looking to the skies in wonder on September 15 when Cassini becomes part of Saturn.

Have a Look

Animator and film-maker William Garratt calls these his bits and bobs which he usually posts on his Instagram account.  However, the spirit recently took him to put them all together and upload them to Vimeo.  I have to confess that some of these I just don’t ‘get’.  However, that is more than made up by the ones that I do.  My particular favorite is the snail – just wait, you’ll see…

28 April 2017

La Geria: Lanzarote’s Volcanic Vineyards

When volcanic activity caused the emergence of the Spanish island of Lanzarote 15 million years ago it was a desolate, lifeless place.

Settled only three thousand years ago, the island's volcano could still erupt again.

Although the last major eruptions started in 1730 over a period of six whole years and the volcano has been dormant since 1824, even today agricultural exploitation of the island is a difficult process.

Yet in the La Geria region of the island, farmers have come up with an ingenious way to grow their grapes.

Cambodia – Aerial Cinematography

Roberto Serrini was recently in Cambodia and so took the opportunity to explore the country’s truly cinematic beauty from the air – using Phantom and a F550 drones.

What he has captured here is truly wondrous to watch, particularly the looks on the faces of the children as the drone takes flight overhead. This is a truly outstanding piece of film-making.

World War II – Timeline

This animated short was not intended for educational use but still serves as a great overview of the events of the (first half) of the Second World War.  Created by Abhinav Nikam, it serves up the pivotal events up to 1942 in a very modern style incorporating photos, film and imagery from this global conflict.  If you like your history you will probably love this.

Part 2 to follow soon, we hope!

The End

Science fiction comes in many forms and The End is different in a number of ways, not least because of its gentle pace, understated narrative and lack of hi-tech gadgets. And I like fast paced sci-fi full of thingamajigs that do cool things.  Yet that notwithstanding, I found this film, written and directed by Ted Evans (no relation) one of the most touching and thought-provoking shorts I have seen for a while.

The film starts in the past and ends over thirty years from now.  It charts the lives of four young people from 1987 – 2046.  They are different: not telepathic mutants or alien fifth columnists, however.  They are deaf.  The End envisages a cure for deafness and then follows the consequences of such on the lives of the protagonists and, indeed, on deaf culture.

Created in a documentary manner (very similar to those you see which visit their subjects once every decade or so) the four children grow to adulthood and their decision whether or not to take The Treatment has a profound effect on their lives.  The End raises questions not only about the nature of disability but our compassion as a species and our willingness to cleanse what frightens or disturbs us.

Gone in a Split Second

There are moments when a photographer knows that they have almost no time to take a shot – and that in a second the opportunity will be lost forever.  Whether the moment is caught by skill, luck or sheer accident, the results can be breath-taking.  Here is a selection of amazing photographs which capture a moment otherwise gone in a split second.

Image Credit Flickr User John&Fish
This Taiwan Blue Magpie, taken at Yangmingshan, Taipei City did not appreciate this dog trespassing in its nesting areas. Needless to say, the plucky bird was perhaps mistaken in its attempt to shoo off the excitable intruder.

20 April 2017


It always staggers me when an individual comes up with something like Fathom, especially given the millions often invested in animated movies by large corporations. This amazing labor of love was created by Joe Russ over a period of six year, working in the evenings and weekends. Inspired by both the death of his father and his commute from Brooklyn in to Manhattan, Fathom follows Sam, Evan and Hippo the cat as they struggle to survive in a world changed beyond recognition.

The Haiku Stairs: Hawaii’s Forbidden Stairway to Heaven

In 1942 the US military needed to send low-frequency signals so that they could communicate with their submarines circling Japan. They needed a radio transceiver and they needed it to be really high, so the peak of Puʻukeahiakahoe mountain in Hawaii was chosen. A somewhat wobbly wooden pathway was made and the transceiver and its antenna cables were installed. The pathway is still there today, but is out of bounds to those who wish to climb this Stairway to Heaven as it has become known.

14 April 2017

The Reinvention of Gucci

Gucci is almost a century old.  In 2021 it will be a hundred years since founder Guccio Gucci first sold the company’s trademark luxury fashion and leather goods.  The company has had its peaks and troughs in the intervening years (imagine it as a person, for a second, and you know there will be ups and downs!).  However, perhaps the greatest challenge has been to reinvent itself for the age of social media.

It hadn’t really occurred to me, until I read The Watch Gallery’s very interesting piece today, that a company like Gucci would find it necessary to adapt to the times: one would assume, surely, that brands such as this would never go out of fashion.

Yet that is not the case, even for a company as widely known and successful as Gucci.  Perhaps a modern-day Darwin could write a new evolutionary tract about how companies, like species, must adapt to survive or otherwise perish.

As such, some companies have undergone complete transformations.  Nokia, known today for the mobile technology used to propagate stories like this on social media started off selling rubber boots.  The name of the oil and gas company Shell gives away its origins by its name. In the 1830s it was an importer of ornamental sea shells to the UK.  Nintendo was originally a manufacturer of playing cards.  The latter organisation’s evolution makes some sense: it takes something of a leap of the imagination to accept the development of the first two.

Gucci, of course, has persevered with products that its customers of a century ago would probably recognise.  However, its most recent manifestations have been a daring combination of self-reference (such as the comeback of the famous double G logo) and the artistic freedom of its new clutch of designers.

The piece, How Luxury Stays Ahead in the Digital Age, written by Emily Seares, focuses on the last two years, during which Gucci has undergone possibly the largest organisational transformation of its history thanks to two men, Alessandro Michele (above, with the beard) and Marco Bizzarri.  The turnaround has been staggering considering it has been brought about in such a short amount of time. As renaissances go, this is quite something.

Image Credit Daniel Marchand

13 April 2017

Are You Lost in the World Like Me?

This amazing video for Moby’s Are You Lost in the World Like Me? is up for a Webby award, so if you are as deeply impressed by animator Steve Cutts’ work, then please follow the link and vote for it.  You could also take a look at the rest of Cutts' work on his Vimeo channel – as darkly humorous as it gets, your rose-tinted spectacles may need replacing once you have taken a dip in to his recent oeuvre.

1 April 2017

National Autistic Society: Make it Stop

This well made and powerful new video from the National Autistic Society called Make It Stop shows us how Holly, 12, experiences the world and becomes overwhelmed when she isn’t given enough time to process information. The video was produced so that Holly could reveal her autism to her classmates and talk about it openly for the first time. It’s an effective and shocking short film, released to coincide with Autism Awareness Week and World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd.

The Magnetic Fields: 85 Why I Am Not a Teenager

Your eyebrows may involuntarily rise at the lyrics to this song but if you are anything like me then you will find yourself singing it all day – or the singular line that stays in your head at any least (I would put money on it being the same!).  The Magnetic Fields' 85 Why I Am Not a Teenager is taken from the 2017 album 50 Song Memoir.  It was directed and animated by Alexander Petrowsky.