31 July 2022

Fan.tasia - The Ultimate Disney Mashup


We all like a bit of Disney, don’t we? No? Tough, really, as I do!  This mashup by Lindsay McCutcheon is extraordinarily well done and if you’re as much of a fan of Disney animations as I am then you will see any number of your old favorites in here.

This is very clever work and must have taken an age to do – but is probably the best advert for Disney I’ve ever seen.

How Do You Know When You’re in Love?


That’s the million dollar question – the ten million dollar question probably being what am I going to do about it?  However, for now let’s start with the first question.  The Atlantic went out on the streets of New York and asked its denizens to ponder that age old question.  Out of the mouths of babes, perhaps, come the most amusing but the wisdom of the older New Yorkers shine through (there’s a little cynicism, of course, thrown in for good measure).

Fishing with Cormorants

It is partnership between man and animal which has lasted over a millennia. A fisherman needs to catch enough fish to sell and feed himself and his family. Sometimes that means that he needs an assistant.  The Ark in Space takes a look at the fascinating relationship between the cormorant and the fishermen of China's inland rivers.

Image Credit Pathos Photos

The Light


As visual metaphors go, this is rather lovely.  A lonely street light finds purpose when its light encourages growth through the winter.  Created by Yuta Sukegawa, the story is very simple – yet as is often the case, profundity can be found in an uncomplicated tale.  When you ‘translate’ this in to the human universe it shows us the extremes that are visited in ordered to protect those which we have nurtured and love.  One of the nicest animations I have seen for a long time!

Modular Origami: The Ancient Art of Kusudama Evolved

Kusudama is a traditional Japanese art form which has evolved in to what is now generally referred to as modular origami.  With some remarkable examples, here is the basic difference between the two.

Once There Was a King - A Polish Lullaby


This is a rather startling animated version (by Tytus Majerski) of an even more startling Polish lullaby.  Once There Was a King tells the story of a monarch and his two companions, all of whom meet rather grisly deaths.  You begin to scratch your head about how exactly this was designed to allow children to get to sleep without nightmares (and possibly years of therapy) until you get to the third and final verse and then things are (fortunately!) set straight.


The lullaby itself was written by Janina Porazińska, a famous Polish writer who was born in 1882 and who died in 1971. The writer was enamored of Polish folklore and created her own stories which drew from this rich seam of literature. Her books have been translated into many languages. The song is performed by Maria Peszek.

19 July 2022

Takeshi Kitano - a Filmography


Takeshi Kitano is known in Japan as many things – primarily as a TV host and comedian - outside of his home country he is best known as an actor.  He had a major role in one of my favourite Japanese movies, the controversial Battle Royale.  However, his film career has significant depth, as you can see in this amazing animated filmography by freelance graphic/motion designer and art director Martin Woutisseth.

I'll Hold


Come on, admit it. You’ve done it yourself. You have been put on hold and when you overcome the initial mild irritation you find that you’re listening to something that makes you want to slip in to the groove.  So it is with Daniel who finds that a blast from the past proves irresistible.  I’ll Hold was written, directed and danced by Daniel Cloud Campos (and if there was any more polymathy on display we would probably have to order a hit instead of a pizza…)

Yikes!


Imagine what you would do if you could see it to the future.  Of course, that would never happen but it does to hapless young actor Ian Eagle (uh huh). Whether this enables Ian to change his luck you will have to discover for yourself.

Yikes was written and directed by Michael Fodera of Lunarcy Pictures and stars Alex Malcolm Mills and Dan Berkey.

Anima

ANIMA from Andrew Wilding on Vimeo.


Scottish-American naturalist John Muir once said that the clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

In Anima, a Native American warrior tracks his prey – a magnificent stag through such a place.  Yet perhaps all is not quite as it seems in this remarkable animation, created by a group of students of the ESMA animation university in France.

Phone Booth of the Dead


If you found yourself alone as the zombie apocalypse started you might well mistake the walking dead for a bunch of drug addicts out to mug you and so try and phone the police from the nearest phone booth.  Being as apocalypse-savvy as we are, that probably wouldn’t happen but Patrick hasn’t got The Complete Walking Dead box-set so that’s exactly what he does.

Written and directed by Vincent Templement, Cabine of the Dead (apologies but the title of this post says phone booth for translation purposes!) this is a knowing comedy-horror short which keeps its tongue firmly in its cheek (but possibly not for long knowing the nature of our zombie chums).  It stars the rather dashing Richard Keep as Patrick whose character is a lesson to us all: make a note of who you are going to call when the apocalypse inevitably happens – it could just save your life!

Flak Towers – Legacy of the Luftwaffe

The Flak Towers that protected the Third Reich were considered invulnerable. Some of these massive buildings still remain. But what should be done with them?

In 1940 Adolf Hitler was a very angry man. The RAF had launched a successful raid on the German capitol of Berlin and something had to be done to protect the city. He ordered the building of three enormous flak towers – and they were to be constructed in just six months. Other cities in the Reich soon followed this example and today these massive concrete and steel leviathans still dominate the skylines in some places.

14 July 2022

Valley of the Last Dinosaurs


Tyler Lyson is one of those very lucky people who has known since he was a small child exactly what he wanted to do and was born close to where he wanted to do it, the Hell Creek Formation.  This is one of the most dinosaur bone-rich places in the world and where dinosaurs roamed when the big rock landed from the sky. MEL Films joins him on one of his annual ‘dino camp’ excursions where a triceratops skull, hidden for 160 million years, awaits discovery.

Nine to Five Ned


I think this may have happened to me more than once.  Ned is just a normal guy with one of those jobs that does not involve much imagination.

However, that is not going to hold Ned back and one day something extraordinary happens to him.  Perhaps.

Directed and animated by Lisa and Brandon Ray, you may find a little bit of Ned in yourself.

Taidama - What Happened when Japanese Americans were Freed from Internment?


There had been a number of laws in the USA which had prevented American Asians from being able, among other things, to own land, vote or even testify against white people in court.  When it came to the Second World War, one might think common sense would dictate an assumption that people of Japanese origin had decided to make their homes in the US for something other than subversion: there was no hiatus when it came to discriminatory law-making, however.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942.  It paved the way for 120,000 people of Japanese origin, two thirds of them American citizens, to be interned for the duration of the war.  This happened despite the Munson Report of 1940, commissioned by the President, which stated that “There will be no armed uprising of Japanese” in the USA.  So why did this happen?

Perhaps this extract from an extraordinary editorial in the Los Angeles Times might go some way to explain it.  I will let you join the dots – it is hardly a challenge and may ring a few more recent rhetorical bells than comfort might allow. “A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched... So, a Japanese American born of Japanese parents, nurtured upon Japanese traditions, living in a transplanted Japanese atmosphere...notwithstanding his nominal brand of accidental citizenship almost inevitably and with the rarest exceptions grows up to be a Japanese, and not an American... Thus, while it might cause injustice to a few to treat them all as potential enemies, I cannot escape the conclusion...that such treatment...should be accorded to each and all of them while we are at war with their race.”


TADAIMA - Japanese American WWII short film from Robin Takao D'Oench on Vimeo.

So we come to Taidama – which literally translates as “I'm home”.  It takes place after the war.  A Japanese American family has been released from an internment camp and its members make their way back to their Californian farm.  They do not find it as they left it.  (Full film here).

Taidama is a film of few words.  Yet its exposition of events is profound and it tells its story without sentimentality or Walton's Mountain style romanticisation. There is some gorgeous golden hour photography by Mingjue Hu, juxtaposing the natural beauty of the Californian countryside with the dread in the heart of the returnees, giving the cast a certain luminosity This is particularly true of Mackenyu Maeda who plays the son and who also serves as a symbol of the future of Japanese American citizenry.  We’ll be seeing a lot more of Mackenyu in 2018’s Pacific Rim: Uprising but I suspect that Taidama has revealed much more of his acting talents than the monster movie will (perhaps I’m too much of a snob to comment honestly there).

His character’s love of America in Taidama is represented through his baseball obsession and it is left to the viewer to decide whether or not he will ever play again.  His retrieval of the long-buried baseball cards he hid before the family were removed from their home might suggest that, but the beautifully shot closing sequence is a little more ambivalent (although we can perhaps dare to be optimistic).

This may not necessarily provide perfect closure for the audience but it surely reflects the way that many of the 120,000 must have felt on their release.  Re-integration must have been tentative, with the caution that accompanies disappointment and betrayal an everyday feeling for many years afterwards.

Although Mackenyu is the beating heart of the film he receives excellent support from Toshi Toda (who you may remember for his portrayal of Colonel Adachi in Letters from Iwo Jima), Vivian Umino who is mostly known as a producer and director, with work including Captured (2002) and newcomer Jordyn Kanaya.

Haidama was written and directed by Robin Takao D'Oench whose grandfather was one of the 120,000 Japanese Americans interned during the war.  He dedicates it to all of them.  Try and catch it on Vimeo now before it goes to OnDemand (ie you have to pay to watch it) in March.

Asia Hyperlapse


No time to get on a plane and spend time traveling through Asia? Me neither. So, take it all in over the course of three minutes instead courtesy of this hyperlapse video by Swiss designer Sylvain Botter who was lucky enough to travel through nine Asian countries with his girlfriend over a six month period.  The countries featured in the video are China, Laos, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Burma.  I think I would need another holiday to get over it all!

The Fire Whirl – Nature’s Fiery Funnel

They are called variously fire whirls, fire devils, fire tornadoes and even firenadoes – and the chances are you will never be fortunate (depending on your outlook) enough to see one in real life. An extraordinarily rare phenomenon they are only occasionally caught on camera. Here, however, are a few wonderful examples.

Fire whirls come about only under specific conditions, a combination of air currents and temperature.  A fire on the ground forms a whirl which can rapidly reach great heights, though mercifully most never last for long.  However, just like a tornado, the fire rises in an almost vertical rotating column.

11 July 2022

The Swimming Pigs of The Bahamas

Ever fancied a lifetime frolicking on a beach somewhere in The Bahamas?  You might not achieve that particular dream but these pigs have. At some point a number were abandoned on the small Bahamian island of Big Major Cay.  As it is uninhabited and the ‘owners’ never returned the pigs have thrived.  A few years ago their presence was discovered and they have since become something of a tourist destination in their own right.  They love nothing more than taking to the water for a dip –and, of course, for the tasty treats that passing yachts bring with them.  For the story and some great pictures, pop over to The Ark in Space.

Image Credit cdoborek

Alphabetic

Do you know your alphabet?  My best guess is that your answer is in the affirmative but as anyone who ever watched the BBC in the 1970s knows, there’s nothing quite like a repeat.  Except this animated alphabet isn’t quite your run of the mill run through of the letters between A and Z.  Hypnotic is the word I would probably use. Alphabetic was created by Ariel Costa of blinkmybrain with sound by Marcelo Baldin of Combustion.

10 Great Ways to End a Story that Aren't... And Then I Woke up and It Was All a Dream



How do I end my story or narrative? That’s a question English teachers get a lot. There are many ways to end a story – and this video from Teaching and Learning Resources for Me shows you ten straightforward methods to give your story an ending fairly quickly without it ruining it!

This is an important skill as the end of a story forms part of its denouement and as such is an important part of its structure.  Take a look at the video – which will be your favorite way to end a story?

This video is especially useful when preparing students for exams like GCSE English language where Paper 1 Question 5 of the AQA exam involves doing just that in terms of an optional narrative question.

Valley of the Kith


Valley of the Kith is a passion project created by Callan Woolcock of award-winning studio Jumbla, using primarily using Adobe products.

The intriguing, high-adrenaline video-game-style piece extends the capabilities of animation by pushing the boundaries of Element 3D, while capitalising on the available resources of After Effects and other Adobe products.

30 Photos that will Make you Look Twice

We hope that you find Kuriositas visually stimulating. However, without the host of great photographers out there who make their work available under Creative Commons licenses, we would not be able to show you a fraction of the wonderful places the site has featured over the years. While sourcing these photographs we often come across ones accidentally – and these are real moments of serendipity. They may not be what we are looking for but they make us look twice. Here are thirty of those double-take moments for you to enjoy.

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