Thursday, December 22, 2011

Breaking stuff in the name of Science...slowly

I like Science. I think this comes from a school science lesson where the teacher decided to demonstrate to us the power of a hydrogen bomb. So he concocted the potion to make this mildly explosive device and proceeded to let it off, much to our amusement.

This is the type of video I like. Science mixed with breaking stuff. Much like Brainiac's "what you shouldn't put into a microwave" tests this video breaks things and shows you what happens through the use of a super slow motion camera.

The makers of this video have a lot of other cool videos including this one.

Christmas Cookies...

The official making of video of Christmas Cookies...and thank you to Jules for singing the song...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

La Mer de Pianos

La Mer de Pianos from Films & Things on Vimeo.

What a cool shop. I'd like a guitar shop like that. Not of my own but one that I could roam free in and find all sorts of treasures. I'm sure you could build some sort of awesome hybrid piano type deeley in that shop. Some sort of multilayered, strings and mallets everywhere. Some might call it a death trap, others something entirely different.

The best Christmas song...

Ok, so this is sort of a case of shameless self promotion but...yes the inevitable but...this is a great song. Probably the truest of Christmas songs about. None of the cheesy schmaltz of the traditional classics. Such great chemistry between Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacCall, and such great lyrics.

Thanks to everyone who played on this video, it was a lot of fun...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Arcade Fire presents Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

I love Arcade Fire. From the moment I saw they used weird and unusual instruments and had such a large cast of players I was hooked. When The Suburbs came out I was unimpressed by it. It didn't have the initial impact that Funeral and Neon Bible had. I listened to it a few times and never found a way into it. Then the other day I saw the video for "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" and was blown away. I love the Blondie influence that is so upfront and the hypnotic drums and synth sounds. Now I am going to go back to The Suburbs and see what I was missing out on...

The Vasco Era - Rock And Roll Is The Only Thing That Makes Me Feel Good

A great song and a really interesting video to boot...check out more on their youtube channel...

Christmas with the SimQ...

or an obsession with pandas...

Jules and her new friend Panda

She'll kill me for posting this...

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a panda?

What do you want?

Jules took all these pictures...she liked the panda

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tino Standhaft & Band

On Saturday 3rd December Tino Standhaft & Band played at Der Anker in Leipzig, supported by Roisin and the Beards. 

Tino Standhaft and Koma Kschentz

Koma Kschentz

The many faces of a drummer...
Roisin and Koma

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

I have just finished reading The Element by Sir Ken Robinson and I have been totally taken in by it. The premise of the book is simple, how finding the Element, that thing you love to do, can change everything. The book gives examples from a range of people, from the famous to the unknown, showing how they found that special activity and how it changed their lives and made them who they are.

Much of the book has a focus on education. It talks about how schools kill off creativity through a combination of standardised teaching methods, archaic practices and because of a lack of change in how schools are not changing to meet the varying needs of an ever changing society.

Why is there a hierarchy of subjects in schools? Why do Literacy and Maths form the core of almost every education system in the world with the Humanities coming next and the Arts slumped at the bottom? Why are the arts based subjects the first to be ejected from the curriculum when standards start to drop? Why do we still believe that learning is a linear activity?

From my personal experience in schools this is true. We still teach using an out of date model for teaching in today's climate. Children who do not sit still and listen attentively, who do not finish their work quickly and quietly and who do not excel at Literacy and Numeracy are seen as not performing well in the classroom. Almost eleven hours every school week children learn Maths and Literacy, in lessons specifically labelled Maths and Literacy. These subjects appear everyday in the curriculum. Subjects like Art and Music are taught once a week. In particularly bad examples Art is relegated to colouring in or drawing pictures to go with a story or a piece of written work. If Drama appears on the timetable then you are lucky.

Many important skills are not nurtured in schools and one of the most important of these is creativity. In a normal school week there is little time for the children to do what they love doing. Whether that be painting, doing drama, making things or just exploring and trying out different activities. It can be said that if children are given free time in schools to do what they want then they are not learning. I believe this to be fundamentally wrong. Children who are given the right resources and the right guidance will be so imaginative and come up with ideas that you may never thought of. They have an innate sense of imagination and are not overly concerned with boundaries. As they get older and have spent more time in the education system these skills dwindle, self confidence drains out of them and they lose that spark, that innate ability.

There is no sure-fire easy solution to this problem, but schools need to have the courage to admit these failings and work out a way to transform they way they work. Allowing teachers to teach the subjects they love. Allowing children to personalise their education. Give the children the time and resources to grow into their learning. Teach children and teachers that in order to succeed you must first learn how to fail. All these are ideas are step in the right direction and if education does not start changing its archaic practices then we will have a very large crisis in our classrooms.

If you want a taster of this book I very much recommend Ken Robinson's talk at the TED Conference (Technology, Entertainment and Design) "Do schools kill creativity?"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Address is Approximate

When I first saw the description for Address is Approximate, and the words 'stop-motion' and 'Google Streetview' came up, I thought what a clever idea to use the images from Google Streetview to make some sort of cool film. What I watched was so much more. It reminds me of something Pixar would make. This has something about it that makes it special. An attention to detail that makes the difference. Well just watch it and see.

Address Is Approximate from The Theory on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Wish I Had an Evil Twin

Following on from the last post, 'Adventure in Thought' narrated by David Mitchell, after watching the 5th story The Twin Paradox, I was reminded of this song, I Wish I Had an Evil Twin by The Magnetic Fields from the album I.

The basic premise is simple, the title says it all. However, the simple cunningness of what the singer imagines his evil twin would do is amazing. It makes you want one to for all those nefarious acts you wish you could carry out but can't.

'Adventures in Thought'

Take six well known philosophical ideas and explain them each in sixty seconds. Simple. Add in narration by David Mitchell and and some nifty animation and you have yourself 'Adventures in Thought'.


Ormie is a Pig, in every sense of the word. Pig see cookie. Pig want cookie. But they are out of reach...or are they? See Ormie's attempts to gain the warm sweet taste that is his obsession.

This is such a simple idea, cutesy looking animal gets all greedy and wants to eat the cookies, but made great but the details. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Ruins of the Mitteldeutsche Motorenwerke in Pönitz

Yesterday we went out to a place called Pönitz to see the ruins of the Mitteldeutsche Motorenwerke. 
(click on the image for a better resolution)

Schadenfreude or Epicaricacy

The word 'Schadenfreude' is one of my favourite German words. It is also one that is seeping back into the English language, seemingly because there is no equivalent English word for deriving pleasure from someone else's misfortune. However there is an English equivalent, or as English as you can get in the English language. The word is Epicaricacy. It seems to either be a new word to the English language or such a rare one that many of the online dictionaries do not contain the word.

Schadenfreude and it's English equivalents

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hecq Vs Exillion - Spheres Of Fury

Voted the best low budget music video at 2010 Music Video Awards, Spheres of Fury comes across like an A-Team remake made by hipsters. This is a homage to all those 80's shows we enjoyed in the 80's like MacGyver and Airwolf. It is tongue in cheek and a lot of fun.

The director Christopher Hewitt has more interesting videos on his website.

AT-AT day afternoon

This is the sort of video that makes you shout "I want one..."

Being a Star Wars fan I had a lot of the action figures and vehicles and I cannot for the life of me remember if I had an AT-AT? I know I had the Millenium Falcon and one of the baby AT-AT's from Jedi...but the actual AT-AT?

Anyways, enjoy

AT-AT day afternoon from Patrick Boivin on Vimeo.

The Backwater Gospel

The Blackwater Gospel is a dark animation set in a religious god-fearing town of Backwater. The local man of the cloth preaches a fearful sermon about the one member of the town who refuses to be a member of his congregation. The townspeople are scared enough by the priest and the arrival of Death just increases the tension to near breaking. Now all they can do is wait for someone to die.

Is this an indictment about the dangers of religion? Is it a commentary on the social unrest at the present times? You decide for yourself.

The Backwater Gospel from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rodney Mullen

As a kid I used to skate. I was awful. I enjoyed going up and down the ramps and speeding around the concrete bowls but I never really had the no fear approach that you need to skate. Instead I watched skate videos and this one is probably my favourite. Rodney Mullen is a legend. According to people who know "Mullen is credited with inventing the flatground ollie, the kickflip (originally called the "magic flip") in 1983, the heelflip, the impossible and a long list of other original tricks". Those tricks are the fundamentals of skating...without them it is my type of skateboarding. Anyways, I love this video for three reasons, the first is all the old school tricks he does and the second is the ridiculousness of the tricks and third well....

The Hunger Games

I know nothing about this film or the book that it is supposedly from. The trailer seems interesting enough and generally the film seems as if it has a decent concept. The evil government sets up an barbaric competition in retaliation for some past deeds (sorry if I am oversimplifying it), people are choosen, trained to beat the crap out of people and then set out into the woods to murder each other, you know last man standing and all that.

Although it is not the same exactly, this concept strikes me as being someway between The Running Man and Battle Royale. Both of which were excellent films, in fact the book The Running Man by Richard Bachman aka Stephen King is also great. I wonder if The Hunger Games is going to be a watered down version of these films or if it can live up to the hype that the book has created.

Battle Royale Trailer:

The Running Man Trailer:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Planet Earth from Above

This is quite truly amazing. A view of the earth that very few people get to see. 

All the footage was shot using time lapse sequences of photographs taken with a special low-light 4K-camera by the crew of expedition 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station from August to October, 2011.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Seu Jorge - Changes

Having just sat down for the evening to watch "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" Seu Jorge is now stuck in my head doing Portuguese covers of David Bowie. Whilst I love these covers it amazes me how I so easily forget the words to the original English version...