8 May 2021

Bhangarh – India’s Haunted City

It has lain abandoned for the best part of 400 years and is said to be the most haunted place in India. Situated between the cities of Delhi and Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan the true reason for its abandonment has been lost to history, though there are several legends surrounding its fate. Even today no-one is allowed to enter the ghost city of Bhangarh after twilight – it is said that if they do they will never return.

Within the grounds there are still majestic temples to major Hindu deities: Shiva, Lavina Devi and Gopinath are represented among others but the throngs of worshipers who clamoured for entrance to the temple are long gone. The town was first built in the reign of Bhagwant Das, a powerful maharaja, in 1573. It is said that a local guru was asked for permission to build the city.

Unexpectedly Funny Things to do with Hamsters When You're Bored

The Ark in Space veers off its usual scientific agenda today by showing us some things to do with hamsters when you're bored. It sounds quite possibly a little scary for the hamsters involved (the one above certainly has a slightly worried look on his face!) but is actually a rather amusing post about a very sweet looking creature.  Plus there are plenty of interesting facts about the little tykes too!

Image by kind permission of Flickr User pyza*

Home Sweet Home


In Home Sweet Home, a house decides to escape its desultory urban surroundings and sets off to find a new home.  Before long he has companions and this trio become an inseparable band of explorers in their pursuit of a place to call their own.  Yet there are some things that even the bonds of friendship cannot overcome.

This beautiful, funny and melancholy animated short was made by a very talented group of students in their last year at the superlative Supinfocom Arles.  They are Pierre Clenet, Alejandro Diaz, Romain Mazevet and Stéphane Paccolat: the music is provided by Valentin Lafort.  I expect that animation aficionados might hear a lot more from them in the future.

The Suitcase


It is 1940 and the borders have been closed. It looks as if the regime will be able to round up those who stand against it at their leisure. Yet Cleophea owns an extraordinary suitcase which she uses to help fugitives cross the frontier.  However, one fateful evening it looks as it perhaps her luck has finally run out.  This suspenseful animated short was created by a group of students at LISAA in 2013.

Birth of a Star


Have you ever wondered how a star is born? Then look no further as it is all explained in this fantastic video, produced by: Jason Drakeford, Jonathan Corum and Dennis Overbye for the New York Times.

Take a visit to the Orion Nebula, a vast galactic nursery where clouds of gas and dust mingle, birthing new stars and planetary systems.  The narration is wonderful – I loved the way that proto-stars are referred to as cosmic tadpoles – and the footage from NASA, ESA and the European Southern Observatory is simply stunning.

2 May 2021

Tardis Cover for Disposable Coffee Cups

If you are getting a little embarrassed by the logos on your disposable coffee cups (perhaps because the company behind the logo is a tax avoiding multinational the executives of which should know better) and you just happen to be a big fan of a certain Time Lord then perhaps this is just what you have been looking for.

Or perhaps not. Maybe you didn't even know that this was what you have been looking for until this moment.

Flickr User seelensturm has designed a great cover for your coffee cup.  It comes on an A4 single sheet which, after a little printing, cutting, wrapping and sticking, wraps around your cup and does an excellent impression of that august vessel which travels through time and space, the Tardis (as seen on BBC TV’s Doctor Who).

Click on the design to get your own!

Helping to End Oppressive Child Labor in the US – The Photography of Lewis Hine

The 1900 United States Census showed the population of America growing by over 20% since the previous census ten years before. Good news for a still expanding, young country. Yet there was another astonishing figure which appalled many. One in six children aged between five and ten were recorded as being in gainful employment.

May 1910: Bundle boy. St. Louis, Missouri.
Yet there was worse. This number, shocking in itself, represented a massive increase of 50% over a twenty year period in the number of children in this age group who worked, often in appalling conditions. America’s children were working in greater numbers than ever before - 1,752,187 of them all told between the ages of five and ten. With the country seemingly going backwards in its treatment of its children from poorer backgrounds, a group of people decided that something had to be done.

Notes from Next Door


This is for any of you who have to deal with noisy neighbors – though I doubt you will thank me if yours are anywhere near as distracting as these little guys here. They just happen to be living next to a real life flesh and blood young artist in this mixed media short from Dave Maggio, Jon Lawitts and Jaime Klein who created this for their Senior Thesis Project from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

As much as the young artist wants and means to pursue his studies, the anarchic mini-toons next door keep disrupting his every attempt with their twenty four hour partying. Yet, perhaps there is a mutually beneficial solution to this problem….

Catello


Cats. They very much live by their own rules, especially when a ball of wall is involved. That pretty much sums up Catello – a group of cats and a ball of wool.  I know that the internet is already littered with everything and anything to do with cats and I enjoyed this so much I figured that one more addition to the pile would be forgivable! Plus it's loosely based around the theme of Othello (yeah).

Catello was created by a group of international students who attended this year’s Tallinn Festival of Animated Dreams.  They are Martinus Klemet (Estonian Academy of Arts, Estonia), Julia Malasok (Estonia), Armelle Mercat (La Poudriere, France), Michael Rykunov (BALL, Russia) and Fedor Shurmelev (Belarusian State Academy of Arts, Belarus).

Laika


Laika was, famously, the Soviet space dog that became the first earthling in space in 1957.  This charming animated short by Avgousta Zourelidi is an imagining of her journey.  Once she is launched in to space, Laika reminisces about the last three years, from the time she was plucked from the streets of Moscow to her training at Space City where she was chosen above two other dogs for the mission.

Of course, if you know the real story, you know that this cannot possibly have a happy ending.  Yet Zourelidi manages one.  For many thousands of people who look to the stars and the future (myself included), Laika has a special place in their hearts. This adds, beautifully, to her legend.

30 April 2021

4 trends to expect to happen in 2021 for the online casino industry


There is no doubt that the online casino industry will continue to boom in 2021, as many gamblers have already turned to the options that they continue to provide them with.

Naturally, with something as accessible as online casinos, it is only all too easy to make a prediction that the industry will continue to grow, however there is also hard, solid evidence that helps to show just why the online casino sector is only just getting started.

With various factors such as the increasing market growth, the emergence of eSport betting, even more live casino games and the emergence of better promotions for new players, it is a really exciting time for the industry.

Here is why some of the aforementioned trends will happen in the online casino industry in 2021:

Market growth

Anyone in business or with business acumen will know that market growth is an indicator that things are going in the right way. There are many businesses and industries that have seen huge amounts of growth over the years, however it would be a struggle to find any industry that can compete with the online casino sector in regards to the growth achieved.

From 2019 to 2020, there has been a 13.2% increase in market share between online casinos, which is thought to have been worth around $67.5 billion. However, that is only expected to increase to $92.9 billion in 2023, thus showing that 2021 will be another year of exponential market growth.

There are a few reasons as to why the market will grow and continue to do so at the rate it has been going, with mobile gambling and legalization in countries being two of the main factors.

When looking at the mobile gambling scene, it should not come as a surprise that it is taking over, as bettors will now have levels of accessibility that they never had before as technology continues to improve. Smartphones have better internet connectivity, higher speeds than ever before, can perform to a higher standard and even offer things such as bigger screens. Online casinos have taken advantage of this by continuing to offer more and more mobile-friendly games to their members.

As mentioned, legalization within certain countries is certainly another factor as to why the online casino industry will continue to increase in 2021. Countries such as the United States of America and New Zealand have all started to allow for mobile betting to take place, thus meaning a greater portion of the world’s population is now available to try and convert into players that previously were untouchable.

Promotions for new players

One of the trends that can be expected to be seen growing throughout 2021 by online casinos is via the promotions that they use to try and capture new customers. One of the only ways that an online casino can continue to grow is by continuing to attract new clients and by offering various promotions can ultimately help them to achieve that.

However, this is certainly a lot easier said than done, as the competition between operators is now at an all-time high, with everyone competing for the same potential new members. Nonetheless, competition means bigger rewards, especially for punters, as they will be able to take advantage of some great Live Casino sign up offers and bonuses that were once unimaginable.

eSports betting

One of the newest innovations to have hit the online casino industry recently is the eSports betting markets. They may not be part of the mainstream betting options at the moment, however 2020 was a big year for them and it would be a surprise if it did not continue to grow in stature throughout 2021.

The eSport industry provides bettors with something a little different, as they are able to place wagers on their favorite games, rather than their favorite sports teams or players. This can make it more fun, as a game-like environment can be felt when placing bets.

New live casino games

There is no doubt that online casinos will need to work harder than ever in 2021 to attract new punters and keep current members as happy as possible. One way that they may achieve this, though, is by offering new live dealer casino games.

There are a number of players who are looking for better ways to enjoy games being provided, and many have decided to turn to live casino games as they will be able to receive an experience that is realistic and akin to one that can be achieved in a physical casino, therefore making things feel as real as possible.

28 April 2021

10 Amazing Places to Visit in India that Aren’t the Taj Mahal

If you are planning on doing some India travel as a tourist then the likelihood is that at some point during your stay you will find yourself at the Taj Mahal.  This glorious white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh remains one of the country’s sites that simply should not be missed.  Yet in this vast subcontinent there are hundreds of other places that could crown a visit for one reason or another.  They may be less well known than the mausoleum built by Shah Jahan but they linger in the minds and hearts of all who visit them. Here are just ten of those amazing places you could visit while in India that aren’t the Taj Mahal.

Meenakshi Amman Temple

Sleep Walk


A black hole appears over Manhattan – apocalypse is now.

However, amid the destruction a man whose life has been marred by tragedy discovers that redemption is, after all, possible.

Sleep Walk is the first animated short created by Hey Beautiful Jerk. The team comprises Mark Szumski and Gina Niespodziani.

As firsts go, I think that you will agree that this is pretty impressive!

Cry Me a River


A man writes off his ex-lover by manifesting a ‘river’ of female dancers to act as an extension of his indifference toward her.

Featuring the music of Justin Timberlake, Cry Me a River was directed and choreographed by Andrew Winghart.  It stars George Lawrence II and a host of women dancers too numerous to mention here (they are listed on the Vimeo page).

Extinction – A Dodo’s Guide


Species go extinct, that much we know.  Yet the history of extinction isn’t something, perhaps, to which we pay much attention.  This marvelous animation, directed and with art and design by Asa Lucander, tells the story of extinction from a human historical perspective.  There are some great anecdotes to be had in these four minutes, such as no-one realized that the poor old Dodo had gone extinct until way after the event.

We have the BBC, ultimately, to thank for this little treasure.  It was originally broadcast on a show called Science Club. The show covered such questions as whether or not it is a good idea for us to try and contact aliens, why the bicycle has improved the human immune system more than any drug in history and many more.  Who said science couldn’t be popularized?

12 April 2021

Is Your Math as Good as a Teenager's? Try this Quiz to Find Out!


Do you remember that math exam you did just before you left school or is it too shrouded in the mists of time (or trauma) to be recalled? 

How would you get on with it today? We’re going to give you the opportunity to find out, but we’ll only give you ten questions worth a mark each – there were 80 marks available for this exam when it was put in front of our teenagers just four years ago. So you just got lucky. 

Plus, we’re giving you only the questions that appeared originally as multiple choice. Yup, you get the warmup questions! 

Spare a thought for the young people who had to do this exam. The other questions were not multiple choice and had to be done without the aid of a calculator. Not only that, the exam these questions are taken from was the first of three that had to be done to achieve the qualification. 

This field of pain is known in the UK as GCSE Maths (the GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education) which is done in Year 11 – when the students are 16. It’s also available to adults but teenagers who didn’t pass it the first time have to do it again and again until they do (or don’t) up to the point that they leave education. So, the above being fair warning, are you sure you want to do this? 



After you press submit, you may have to scroll back up a little! 
As ever, rest assured that this quiz will not ask for or “harvest” any of your own personal data – so it is entirely risk free. The only “data” that is logged is how many people have done the quiz and how many answers they got right. It was created using Google Forms so when you finish answering, you will need to click “Submit” to see how many you got right.

The Crabs that Build Their Own Galaxy

The Ark in Space has returned with a look at the crabs of Malaysia and Australia which create their own galaxies. Well, not quite of course, but you can see how it might look like that.  Although the post on these wonderful formations does not mention whether or not these crabs are an advanced alien society trying to get back home before we blow up the planet, we suspect that may well be the case!

Image Credit Flickr User scjody

Madam Butterfly Animated


Madama Butterfly is undoubtedly one of the world’s favorite operas telling the tragic story of Cho-Cho-San and her love for the US naval officer Pinkerton.  This gorgeous animation was created by Mark Warner for Sinfini Music and was also shown at the Royal Opera House during their staging of the opera.  It may be a condensed version but it tells the story beautifully. Time for a little weep in to your coffee, methinks.

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Rome, You Will After You Watch This


Rome has an appeal like no other city in the world and when you see it through the eyes of timelapse and hyperlapse professional photographer Kirill Neiezhmakov then it isn’t difficult to see why.  As with all of Neiezhmakov’s work I am left wondering not how he made the city look so splendid (that’s not a hard one!) but how he physically managed to capture Rome in this way.  Certainly, if you have never wanted to visit Rome (and the Vatican City is thrown in here for good measure) you will after you watch this!  The piece is called A Gift from Rome and it certainly does what it says on the packet!

Every Star

Sometimes the simplest stories can be the most profound and this is the case with Every Star.  A mysterious boy, alone in nature, takes it upon himself to ensure that all city dwelling children get the see the magic of a star.  And that’s it.  Quite lovely.  Every Star was created by Yawen Zhang as her first year animation at USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, California.

11 April 2021

Quiz: Can You Name All Ten of these Common British Birds?

 

These British birds are everywhere – in fact, they are way more common than you might think!

However, how many of them do you know by name? 

Take the quiz below to find out..! 

This quiz will not ask for or “harvest” any of your own personal data – so it is entirely risk free. The only “data” that is logged is how many people have done the quiz and how many answers they got right. It was created using Google Forms so when you finish answering, you will need to click “Submit” to see how many you got right. 

Well, we did tell you they were common!

After you press submit, you may have to scroll back up a little! 

Image Credits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Title

10 April 2021

If You Love Barcelona, You Must Watch This!


You may have seen Barcelona’s stunning city-scape as a time-lapse or in slow-motion. Yet have you seen it in flow-motion? The brilliance of this gave me one of those rare jaw on floor moments – watch it and you will see why. Whether or not you know and love the city as I do this short tour, appropriately named Barcelona Go! will take your breath away.

Created by prominent urban filmmaker Rob Whitworth (so talented I hope he doesn’t need slapping too often), this captures the life of this glorious city perfectly.  This makes me want to make a dash for the airport right now...

Servo


A bored young businessman acquires the latest technological advancement – Servo.  The robot servant, however, isn’t quite up to the job but nevertheless an unlikely friendship is struck up.  Yet the company plans to rectify the fault and it looks as if the fun might be over… This sweet and funny short was created by students at the Kaywon School of Art and Design in Korea for their moving image graduation project. And altogether, it all adds up to a rather fine bromance.

Harley


Poor little Harley.  This hapless fantail goldfish has not been a success down at the local pet store.  People just keep returning him as damaged goods.  Another day and another return – Harley seems to be the fish that no-one wants to keep.  This charming animated short was created by Tom Teller for his Intermediate Production class at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

Kichwa


This isn’t so much the butterfly effect as the pop up tent effect.  A group of time travelers realize that they have left something important behind when they return from the past and must return to retrieve it before the time continuum is changed forever.  However, a young Aztec warrior has got there before them.  Can they retrieve their tent without changing history?

This is a whole lot of fun and is the end product of a great deal of work by four students at ESMA in Montpelier, France.  They are Francois De Morangies, Arnaud Jourdan, Thibault Stoyanov and Julie Barthel. Well done - and thank you!

Lofoten – Arctic Circle Anomaly


The archipelago of Lofoten in Norway is north of the Arctic Circle.  Yet throughout the year it has temperatures which belie its position.  

This is because of the largest positive temperature anomaly in the world relative to latitude.  

It makes Lofoten an unexpected delight – its early settlers must have thought they had stumbled across an arctic paradise.

Prepare to have your breath taken away.

What they found there was a sea teeming with life and the largest deep water coral reef in the word.  There are literally millions of sea birds with many species represented, such as the sea eagle, the cormorant and the puffin.  Otter are common in the area and on the larger islands of the archipelago there are moose.

7 April 2021

Quiz: How Many of These Literature Questions Can You Get Right?



How many of these (fairly random) literature questions can you answer correctly? 

I put this quiz together as a response to the countless quizzes I see on Facebook that are, frankly, rubbish! This quiz may not be much better in your opinion, but it will not do one thing – it will not ask for or “harvest” any of your own personal data – so it is entirely risk free. The only “data” that is logged is how many people have done the quiz and how many answers they got right. It was created using Google Forms so when you finish answering, you will need to click “Submit” to see how many you got right. 

Have fun!






After you press submit, you may have to scroll back up a little!


5 April 2021

First Footprints


Imagine what it must have been like to be the first person to set foot on a new continent.  You may not have realized that was quite what you were doing, but the sense of complete isolation from the rest of humanity must have been as exhilarating as it was frightening.

Documentary maker Murray Fredericks has created this amazing footage of the outback of Australia.  The remarkable time-lapse sequences are from the documentary Series First Footprints.  The scenery is breath-taking and the way that this has been shot adds to the mystery of those early Australians and the beauty of the art that they left behind.


4 April 2021

The Cat House of Riga - A Feline Feud


If you have ever felt slighted by an individual or group then this is a lesson in revenge for you! Riga, the capital of Latvia is home to the Cat House, known as such because of the two sculptures of cats high on its roof. 

It is one of the city’s landmarks and is a testament to the desire of one man to have vengeance (if only metaphorically) on his enemies.

Many, many years ago if you lived in Riga and were in business then you just had to be a member of the Great Guild. Until you were invited in to its hallowed halls you simply had not made it. One Latvian businessman was incensed when he was not admitted to the Guild and hatched a peculiar, personal and unique form of revenge.

The Lifecycle of a Mushroom


This very cool animation is by Thomas Beg, a digital artist who created this while studying CG Arts and Animation at UCA Rochester.  If you ever wondered how mushrooms reproduce then look no further! Sure, Wikipedia will have all the necessary animation but will it have animation?

This animation forms part of Spectacular Science, a collaborative project between the University for the Creative Arts and the University of Kent which aims to provide a wide audience with access to scientific knowledge and support the education of students in science subjects.

You may have spotted a nod in the direction of 1920's animation such as the Silly Symphonies series and other early Walt Disney shorts and you would be correct in thinking that Mr Beg was inspired by the animation of yesteryear in order to explain the science of today, in this case the lifecycle of a mushroom.

Eole


Sometimes life can bring about unexpected, chance encounters. Here, a technician on board an aircraft carrier comes across a kite during his duties. This leads to something of a flight of the imagination for the weary sailor. 

Elegiac and poetic, this short animation is really something special.

More so when you consider that Eole is a short 3D movie directed by three students at Supinfocom Arles in France. The students are Aurélien Martineau, Etienne Métois and Moana Wisniewski.  This is an exception piece of animation.

Woodhouse


Meanwhile, in darkest South East London a little girl sees something strange in the local nature reserve.  This sets of an unexpected chain of events centered on the place, Woodhouse. There, beyond the padlocked gates some thing, some creature is living.

This very entertaining short (perhaps the first film we have presented based around cryptozoology!) was made by Flim Lonodn and Tread Softly Films, with support from Blink Productions and the Kevin Spacey Foundation. It was written and directed by Fred Rowson.

Ever Wondered What Happened to Your Favorite Toons of the 80s? Brace Yourself…


Jessica Rabbit lays it all bare about what came to pass after the cameras stopped rolling – and the years have not been kind.  As well as Roger and Jessica (plus daughter...), we get to see what happened to a number of 80s cartoon icons, including Garfield and He-Man. Where Are They Now? is the new short by animator Steve Cutts, a London based artist specialising in animation, illustration, painting and sculpture.

Origami


A young boy spends time with his grandfather and the difference between the generations cannot be more marked.  Yet combining skill and imagination is something that cannot happen without inspiration and the young boy must take a journey in to his mind’s eye to connect both to his art and his grandfather.

This visually stunning animation was created by five ESMA students, Joanne Smithies, Eric De Melo Bueno, Michael Moreno, Hugo Bailly Desmarchelier and Camille Turon.

29 March 2021

Jungle Jail


When you are the new prisoner in an enormous, scary prison you know that you have to keep your head down and get on with things. So, when one scrawny little guy becomes the place’s newest inmate that is his intention. The prison bully, though, is soon after him. Yet things do not always go to plan and when he sees an opportunity to become the bully himself he grabs it – literally.

This entertaining short is made by a group of students at ESMA Montpelier which seems to churn out world class animators with astonishing regularity. This particular animation, which examines the nature of the bully in all of us, is by Mathieu Arnoux, Hugo Cierzniak, Aymeric Palermo and Bruce Nguyen.

Puzzlewood – Tolkien’s Inspiration for Middle-earth

Puzzlewood – even the name conjures up images of ancient ents, elves, wizards and hobbits.  

You could easily be forgiven for thinking that you were lost somewhere in Middle-earth.  

Indeed John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was fascinated by the place and it is said to be a major stimulus for the imagination of the man who brought us Bilbo, Frodo and Gandalf.
You do not, however, have to be transported to another world to enjoy such Tolkien-esque landscapes for yourself.  Puzzlewood stretches over fourteen acres of the Forest of Dean in the English county of Gloucestershire (pronounced Gloss-ta-shire). Yes, it is even in a shire!

The Bombay Highway Code


This is a delightful and elegiac look at the sights and sounds of Mumbai, written and narrated by live action and creative director David Baksh.  It is all very laid back which belies the often frenetic way that the citizens of the great city of India travel on its streets and highways.

Yet in this open, poetic love letter to the city, Baksh evokes the essence of the place beautifully.

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Portugal, You Will After Watching This


Photographer and filmmaker Kirill Neiezhmakov has excelled himself this time.  Visiting Portugal in May 2014 he took in Lisbon and Sesimbra, creating this amazing combination of time-lapse and hyperlapse, with a little tilt shift thrown in for good measure.  The merge from one place to another is seamless (how does he do that?) as is the transition from terra firma to water.  An outstanding piece of film.
Amung Feedjit
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