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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

'Primordial' - an Otherworldly Animation

Primordial from PeterClark on Vimeo.

'Primordial.' This is a pretty trippy video in more ways than one. Imagine you are an interstellar visitor just minding your own business, and you crash into a deserted planet and - well, things happen. Lots of things! Psychedelic things! And with an interesting end result.

It is not the result that you watch for with a video like this, but the journey. Turn the lights low, have some wine, put it on full screen, and just relax. It will be fine. Quite fine.

According to the artists:
The core of a dark planetoid hosts a primordial soup of microscopic life. Within the neural pathways of these organic compounds, intelligence is born from the primitive drive for survival. Each stage of Primordial has been designed and animated by separate artists and sequentially stitched together as one evolving timeline.
Animation: Jason Kerr / Chris Bjerre / Peter Clark
Title Design: Peter Clark / Wendie Ing
Title Cinematography: Joe Picard
Sound Design: Peter Clark
Vocals: Haley Varacallo


Friday, March 13, 2015

Frozen 2 is On its Way!

Disney Animation's official tweet announcing 'Frozen 2'

Those who are truly captives of the Disney universe surely know that the annual shareholders meeting is held every year in March. Far from a sleepy little confab of wizened old men, it is a big celebration at which news of value to people far and is released. This year, the news was even more exciting that usual.

Well, what do you know, it's March 2015.

Bob Iger, who runs Disney, made the announcement at the meeting that 'Frozen Fever,' an animated short featuring the 'Frozen' characters, debuts in theaters on 13 March 2015 as the lead-in to the new live-action 'Cinderella.' Yes, 'Frozen' and 'Cinderella' on one bill. That, my friends, is known as synergy.

Of more long-term importance, 'Frozen 2,' a sequel to the 2013 'Frozen,' also is on the way. There is no word on when that will be released. I will make a prediction right now, on 12 March 2015 - with no word from the studio itself - that 'Frozen 2' will be released on 7/8 November 2017. At midnight. Unless they run into production difficulties.

You heard it here first.

There also was news about Disney's new Star Wars franchise - and arriving at the same time as 'Frozen' news is probably the only time a new 'Star Wars' film ever comes in second. After the seventh core film is released this December, the follow-up, Star Wars: Episode VIII will come out May 26, 2017. Episode VIII will be written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper). The spin-off is called 'Rogue One' and stars Felicity Jones.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Global Rainfall and Snowfall Animation from NASA

I love entertainment animations, but I also love science ones that expand your mind and your horizons.

This is a cutting edge animation from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center which uses data from the Global Precipitation Measurement Mission to illustrate rainfall and snowfall patterns around the globe. It depicts the period from April to September 2014. The animation covers the 87 percent of the Earth that falls between 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south latitude, as updated every half hour during that time - so, for all intents and purposes in an animation of this length, it is continuous.

The narration during the animation explains everything very succinctly.

The GPM Core Oberservatory (as it is called) was launched on 27 February 2014. It is a collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. It is an active project, updated every half hour, that allows scientists to observe almost in real time precipitation events around the world. It is composed of a string of 12 satellites ("IMERG") that funnel data to the central collection point at Goddard.

If you think that precipitation is unimportant or tedious to consider, you probably don't live in California. NASA itself puts it this way:
Falling rain and snow are essential parts of Earth’s water cycle, which moves water and heat energy around Earth. Near the equator where the sun’s heat drives evaporation that keeps the air moist, rain systems move westward in a steady stream. At higher latitudes, which have not previously been observed in 3-D with high-resolution precipitation sensors, enormous storm fronts march eastward across North America and Europe in the Northern Hemisphere, and across the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica.
As a bonus from 2010, below is an animation that shows global air circulation as simulated by the Community Climate System Model (CCSM) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The simulation spans one calendar year, and it consists of hourly data. Cloud cover appears whitish with areas of precipitation shown in orange.

Thanks for watching.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Far Side of the Moon Animation

far side moon

This is a creative animation showing the far side of the Moon.

This may not seem like a big deal - after all, the Moon is always up there, right? - but in fact it is a very big deal.

Nobody in human history who died before 1959 saw anything like this, because that is when the Soviet Luna 3 probe, which swung around the Moon in October, 1959, first sent back pictures of it.

Contrary to anything that Pink Floyd may tell you, the far side of moon is not 'dark,' any more than the side facing us is. The earth's gravitation long ago corralled the moon into keeping the same side facing the earth throughout its rotation. While we can't see it, the far side goes through a complete cycle of lunar phases, just the reverse of the ones that we see.

If you look at the pictures, you might note that the terrain of the far side is quite different than what we see when we look up. For instance, it lacks the large dark spots, called maria, that make up the familiar blotchy lunar landscape. The craters are all spread out on the far side. There is a distinctive area, the the South Pole-Aitken basin, visible here as a slightly darker bruise covering the bottom third of the disk. It is one of the oldest features known to exist in the entire solar system.

The Apollo 8 astronauts who first saw this landscape without the aid of cameras in their epic Christmas flight of 1968 created one of the most indelible moments of the entire space age with their expressions of awe and delight. Since then, only a couple dozen other human beings have ever seen it unaided on the subsequent Apollo flights, and nobody at all has seen it in well over forty years. When you ponder time frames like that - there still are no concrete plans to send anyone out of low earth orbit, though there is lots of talk - the magnitude of this type of view comes into focus.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched a few years ago, and since then it has returned hundreds of terabytes of data. Its data was used to create the imagery seen here.

far side moon

Animation is becoming increasingly important in space exploration - there is so much raw data sent back these days from probes that sorting it and presenting it in a useable fashion is a huge and vitally important job, else it just sits on a hard drive somewhere. The quality has improved tremendously in just the past few years, too. Look for more videos of this sort on increasingly remote celestial objects.

I love this stuff. All credit to the men who put it together.

Visualization Credits:

Ernie Wright (USRA), Lead Animator
David Ladd (USRA), Producer
John Keller (NASA/GSFC), Scientist
Noah Petro (ORAU), Scientist


Friday, February 6, 2015

"I Miss You" - for cat lovers

This is just a fun little riff on Star Wars. The title is "I Miss You."

Cat lovers should appreciate it!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Taiwan TransAsia Airplane Crash 3 February 2015

Below is the original footage from a dashcam - a wondrous invention, btw, serving up much more interesting footage than the gopro ever will.

Very sad, many people lost their lives.

At least 25 people were killed Wednesday when a passenger plane operated by TransAsia Airways carrying 58 people clipped a taxi driving on the highway and an overpass soon after take-off and plunged into a river in Taiwan,. The plane barely evaded some residential buildings. The pilots did a truly heroic job avoiding a true residential Armageddon by getting the plane into the river.

Rescue workers had difficulty getting to the site quickly despite it being in the middle of town. Some reports said that it took three hours to really get the full-scale rescue operation working properly, though no doubt some rescue workers arrived much earlier, perhaps within minutes.

A crane lifted the rear and central sections of the plane from the water during the night after the crash, with one body retrieved from inside.The front part, where 17 people are believed to be trapped, was still in the water a day later.

TransAsia said 16 survivors had been pulled out of the wreckage after the turboprop plane crashed. Many of the passengers were mainland Chinese tourists. It was the airline's second crash in seven months.

And below is an animation which includes the next step, the plane crashing into the river.


Monday, February 2, 2015

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Wins Top Annie

How to Train Your Dragon 2

'How to Train Your Dragon 2' from DreamWorks Animation took the Best Animated Feature award at the 42nd Annie Awards in Los Angeles. In addition, Dean DeBlois won for his direction, and the film also picked up awards for feature character design, storyboarding and music.

How to Train Your Dragon 2
'The Lego Movie'

'The Lego Movie,' which has had a mixed history this awards season (it won the Critics Choice Award but was not even nominated for the top animation Oscar), won a writing award. Sir Ben Kingsley was recognised for his voice work in 'The Boxtrolls,' which along with 'How to Train Your Dragon 2' is up for a Best Animated Feature Oscar.

'The Boxtrolls'

The betting here is that one of those two films - 'The Boxtrolls' and 'How to Train Your Dragon 2' - will win the Best Animated Feature Oscar. The animation in both is superior, while I personally would give the slight edge to 'Dragon' for its (in  my very humble opinion) better story.


'Feast,' the Disney short film that shows before 'Big Hero 6' in cinemas, nabbed the Best Animated Short Subject Annie. It now must be considered, if it wasn't already, the clear front-runner for the Oscar in the Short category.

The UK's Aardman Animations film 'Flight of the Stories,' a short film it made to mark the opening of new galleries at London's Imperial War Museum, also was recognized.

'How to Train Your Dragon 2' is based on a book series by British author . It chronicles the adventures of young Viking Hiccup and his pert dragon Toothless as they battle against various enemies.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

'How to Train Your Dragon 2' also must now be considered the front-runner for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, as it also won the Golden Globe for best animated feature and is up for the same award at the Baftas.

Incidentally, this may become a rare case of the sequel out-performing the original. The first 'How to Train Your Dragon' was named best animated feature at the 2011 Annies, but later lost out at the Oscars to 'Toy Story 3.' This Annie award also helps to keep 2014 from being a complete disaster for DreamWorks Animation, which has had a few box office disappointments in recent years. Although 'Dragon 2' had an indifferent start at the domestic box office, it performed well overseas and could gain some more legs from home sales if it does indeed win the Oscar.