Archive | December, 2013
Video

Reaping for Dummies

26 Dec

This is the graduation-project made by a group of five students from the 3D design and animation course at Idèfagskolen in Tønsberg Norway. The short film featured here was in production between october 2012 – July 2013. With a few tweaks here and there until the soundscape was in place. The music and sound job was completed in December by a carefully selected third party.
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The team behind the production are:
Jonas Martin Larsen
Øyvind Fiksdal
Eilef Sandnæs
Eskild Carlsen
& Yvonne Engbråten
Music Composed by: Joel Forssell
Sound design by: Peder Jørgensen

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Video

Hand-Painted Animation of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (1999)

12 Dec

Ernest Hemingway’s romantic adventure of man and marlin, The Old Man and the Sea, has perhaps spent more time on high school freshman English reading lists than any other work of fiction, which might lead one to think of the novel as young adult fiction. But beyond the book’s ability to communicate broad themes of perseverance, courage, and loss, it has an appeal that also reaches old, wizened men like Hemingway’s Santiago and young, imaginative boyish apprentices like his Manolin. The 1952 novella reinvigorated Hemingway’s career, won him a Pulitzer Prize, and eventually contributed to his Nobel win in 1954. And luckily for all those high school English students, Hemingway’s story has lent itself to some worthy screen adaptations, including the 1958 film starring Spencer Tracy as the indefatigable Spanish-Cuban fisherman and a 1990 version with the mighty Anthony Quinn in the role.

One adaptation that readers of Hemingway might miss is the animation above, a co-production with Canadian, Russian, and Japanese studios created by Russian animator Aleksander Petrov. Winner of a 2000 Academy Award for animated short, the film has as much appeal to a range of viewers young and old as Hemingway’s book, and for some of the same reasons—it’s captivatingly vivid depiction of life on the sea, with its long periods of inactivity and short bursts of extreme physical exertion and considerable risk. Both states provide ample opportunities for complex character development and rich storytelling as well as exciting white-knuckle suspense. Petrov’s film illustrates them all, opening with images of Santiago’s stories of his seafaring boyhood off the coast of Africa and staging the dramatic contests between Santiago, his “brother” the marlin, and the sharks who devour his prize.

But the production here, unlike Hemingway’s spare prose, makes a dazzling display of its technique. For his The Old Man and the Sea, Petrov—only one of a handful of animators skilled in this art—handpainted over 29,000 frames on glass (with help from his son, Dmitri) using slow-drying oils. Petrov moved the paint with his fingers to capture the movement in the next shot, and while the magical effect resembles a moving painting, the shooting itself was very technologically advanced, involving a specially constructed motion-capture camera. Petrov and son began their painting in 1997 and finished two years later, taking to heart some of the lessons of the book, it seems. The film’s creators, however, fared better than The Old Man’s protagonist, richly rewarded for their struggle. In addition to an Oscar, the short won awards from BAFTA, the San Diego Film Festival, and a handful of other prestigious international bodies.

Study: Everything You Know Is a Lie

12 Dec

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In an absurd twist to everything you know and love, physicists tackling what sounds like a question for the chronically stoned—“What if the entire universe is just one big hologram?”—have come to a tenuous conclusion that, yeah, that might actually be the case.

The initial hologram-universe theory was proposed in 1997 and claimed that the universe is made of vibrating strings in ten dimensions. But since fundamental forces complicate everything, the universe in which we think we live is really just a projection of a true reality with fewer dimensions and no gravity. (Confused yet? It gets better.)

Despite seeming batshit crazy, the projection theory proved to be a surprise hit among scientists, as it seems to resolve differences between quantum physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity. But as shiny as the theory is, it lacked proof—until now.

Despite not being hard evidence, the journal Nature calls new work on the theory “compelling evidence” for the idea that we’re all just living in a giant holodeck. A group of scientists at Ibaraki University in Japan has released two papers on similar topics. One measures the internal energy, entropy, event horizon, and a bunch of other properties of a black hole according to classic, hologram-less string theory. The other measures the internal energy according to the rules of the mirror-universe-that-really-might-be-the-actual-universe.

They got the same results.

Make of the findings what you will. We’ll just be over here having an existential crisis.

[image via Getty]

OTVORENO PISMO SANJI ILIĆ, “NOVINARKI“ “KURIRA“

11 Dec

DUŠAN MAŠIĆ, NOVINAR, AUTOR JE MENADŽER POSLOVNOG RAZVOJA BBC WS ZA BLISKI ISTOK I ZAPADNU AZIJU

Sanja, draga, 

Nemoj da ovo pismo shvataš suviše lično, jer si ti samo posledica tragedije koja je zadesila novinarstvo u Srbiji. Uzroci su mnogo dublji i plašim se da ih ne bi razumela. Želeo sam da ti pišem već posle tvog prvog „teksta“ o porodici Ognjanović i parama koje su ostale na njihovom računu posle Tijanine smrti. Međutim, to bi se verovatno svelo na lične uvrede, slične onima koje su čitaoci tvojih „novina“ u svojim komentarima upućivali na adresu porodice koja je izgubila dete pre samo nešto više od četiri meseca. Zato sam rešio da još malo pratim tvoj „istraživački“ rad, a da u isto vreme pokušam da saznam kako bi medij poput BBC-ja propratio tu priču. Na taj način, možda ćete ti i tvoje „kolege“ naučiti nešto.

Da odmah budem jasan. Ja sa ponosom ističem da sam po zanimanju novinar ( i to iz Srbije) iako se već desetak godina bavim menadžmentom u medijima, a poslednjih 6 brinem o aktivnostima i razvoju BBC-ja najpre u Evropi, a sada na Bliskom Istoku i Zapadnoj Aziji. O mom novinarskom radu možeš da se raspitaš kod (malo)starijih kolega iz drugih redakcija (jer ih u tvojoj nema), mada je većina njih odavno izgubila profesionalnu bitku zahvaljujući „novinarima“ poput tebe. Ali, nisi ti kriva. Oni su. 

Takođe, imao sam tu nesreću da proživim ono što proživljava i porodica Ognjanović. Od smrti moje jednogodišnje ćerke prošlo je već 10 godina i vreme tu dokazuje svoju relativnost. Kada se iz čistog mira zaplačeš u sred Pakistana, ili u hotelu u Muskatu (Oman) shvatiš da neke stvari nikada nećeš preboleti ma gde bio i samo je pitanje kako i koliko dugo ćeš živeti sa njima. Svako od „Ognjanovića“ se nosi sa tim na svoj način. Ono što želim da kažem je da nije samo Tijana žrtva u ovoj tragediji. Ona je stavila veliku tačku na svoj mali život, ali njena porodica, rodbina i prijatelji će celog života nositi taj ožiljak na svojim srcima. Da li se razumemo? Nije baš toliko komplikovano. 

Da se sad vratim na tvoju „priču“. Pitanje šta se desilo sa parama koje su prikupili gradjani Srbije i regiona u nadi da će pomoći Tijani je sasvim legitimno. U javnom interesu je da se to sazna i tu nema nikakvih dilema. Ja sam u proteklih nekoliko nedelja razgovarao sa par najuglednijih i najuticajnijih BBC urednika na tu temu, sve u želji da ti napišem šta bi BBC uradio u tvom slučaju, a ne šta ja mislim da bi uradio. Primećuješ razliku? Novinar traži relavntne i kompetentne sagovornike da bi pronašao odgovore na pitanja koja zanimaju njegovu publiku. 

Pošli smo od pretpostavke da si dobila informaciju iz banke da su pare podignute i da sad treba videti šta raditi sa tim. Zadatak novinara je da, kada dobije informaciju, istu proveri, a ne samo da je prenese. To znaju čak i oni koji ne rade u BBC-ju. Ovdašnji urednici su mi rekli da bi uradili 3 stvari: 1) pronašli drugi izvor 2) tražili dokaz za te tvrdnje i 3) uverili se da u dolaženju do tog dokaza nije prekršen ni jedan zakon koji bi eventualno mogao čitavu priču da obori na sudu. U slučaju da bilo koja od ove tri stvari nije urađena informacija o povlačenju para sa računa ne bi mogla da bude objavljena. 

Šta bi onda bio sledeći korak? Da li bi BBC kontaktirao roditelje koji su ostali bez deteta? Lagao bih kada bih rekao da me pozitivan odgovor na ovo pitanje nije iznenadio. Javni interes nema kalendar. Naravno, sačekali bi da prođe sahrana, dali malo vremena porodici da tuguje, ali procena je da je četiri meseca sasvim dovoljan period. Pogotovo u uslovima ako bi se pokazala tačnom tvrdnja da je novac povučen. Pokušali bi da izbegnu direktan kontakt sa roditeljima. Zvali bi njihove rodjake, advokate, ljude koji su bili oko njih tokom kampanje prikupljanja novca….ali, ako bi bili sigurni da je novac podignut, potpuno je izvesno da bi kontaktirali i roditelje direktno. 

Sve ovo se radi pre nego što je i jedno slovo objavljeno ili izgovoreno. Pokušali bi potom da pronadju neku organizaciju koja se bavi sličnim problemima (lečenjem dece u inostranstvu), razgovarali bi sa roditeljima koji imaju sličan problem (bolesno dete), ali ne sa ciljem da se od Ognjanovića uzmu pare, već da bi se pronašlo sistemsko rešenje koje ne bi bilo bazirano na medisjkim kampanjama i SMS porukama. 
Ukoliko bi na kraju odlučili da objave ovu priču, sve to bi prvo moralo da prođe kroz ruke advokata, a saglasnost bi se tražila od samog uređivačkog vrha. 

I ovde se slažu da je u pitanju veoma komplikovan slučaj koji sa sobom nosi mnogo moralnih, etičkih, legalnih i profesionalnih dilema. Ali, novinari i služe za to da se sa svime time izbore i da u interesu javnosti prezentiraju činjenice. Ma kakve i ma koliko bolne one bile. 

Sanja, draga,…. šta si od svega ovoga ti uradila? Prateći tvoj slučaj video sam među komentarima na FB da se čak i tvoj muž gadi smeća od „novina“ u kojima „radiš“. Istina, kaže da si u pravu i da tu „ima nečega“, ali ja to ne mogu da tumačim drugačije osim podrške nekome sa kim živiš. 

Ono što si ti uradila, čak i da su ti namere bile najbolje, je sledeće: 1) Stavila si porodicu Ognjanović na stub srama i izložila ih najgrubljim pretnjama i uvredama, 2) Povredilila si sve koji su želeli da zadrže Tijanu u najboljoj mogućoj uspomeni i 3) Prekinula si i obesmislila svaku buduću akciju prikupljanja novca za neko bolesno dete. I sve to na osnovu, kako sada stvari stoje, potpuno POGREŠNE informacije. 

Žao mi je što UNS i NUNS (čiji sam jedan od osnivača) nisu našli za shodno da povodom ovog slučaja organizuju razgovor sa urednicima medija i povedu raspravu o svim etičkim, moralnim i profesionalnim aspektima ove priče. Medjutim, kako su „novinari“ u tim „medijima“ poput tvog, novinari baš koliko su i „glumci“ u porno filmovima- glumci, onda profesionalna udruženja (ma koliko loša bila) nemaju sa kim da razgovaraju. Ja ipak radije kažem da su „Kurir“ i ostali- novine, baš koliko su Dafiment i Jugoskandik bili banke. Tako su se zvali, a radili su jedan sasvim drugi posao koji se pre ili kasnije svede na kriminal. Takvo je i ovo tvoje „novinarstvo“. 

Sanja…..tvoje će ime ostati u potpisu možda najnemoralnije i najprljavije kampanje koja je vođena u tvojim „novinama“. To su, izgleda, u nekom trenutku shvatili i tvoji „urednici“, pa su krenuli da sve to potpisuju sa „Redakcija „Kurira““. U nadi da će svako od vas moći da mirno spava, (ne) svesni gluposti koju ste napravili. Ili, možda i dalje tvrdite da „ima tu nečega“? 

Nadam da znaš još nešto da radiš u životu, jer ti novinar nikada nećeš biti. Možda bi i mogla, ali sada je već suviše kasno za to. 

Ali, pre nego što , pre ili kasnije, odeš iz tog smeća od „novina“, probaj da preko cele naslovne strane objaviš samo dve reči: OGNJANOVIĆI- IZVINITE. Velikim slovima, što većim. 

Možda ti oproste, ali te sigurno neće zaboraviti. Ni oni, ni ja, čije si ožiljke na srcu svojim pisanjem otvorila. Nikome ne treba želeti da ga nešto zadesi da bi mogao to da razume. Ne želim ni tebi. 

Možda nećeš biti novinar, ali ćeš sa „OGNJANOVIĆI- IZVINITE“ pokazati da u tebi ima bar nešto malo ljudskog. 

U nadi da ću i to dočekati… 

Srdačno
Dušan

Video

Insane cyclist rides down wet mountain road at 50 mph… backward

5 Dec

As fans of twisty mountain roads, it looks like this Norwegian mountain road near Trollstigen would be an absolute blast. Eskil Ronningsbakken seems to agree, but rather than opting for a Mazda MX-5 Miata or an E30 M3, he tackled the steep, winding fjord road on a bicycle… sitting on the handlebars while riding it backward, no less.

Balance issues alone would spell disaster for us, but Ronningsbakken also had to contend with rain-slicked roads, steep drop offs and passing cars – this is a public road after all. In the video, he describes Trollstigen as being almost three miles long with a 10-percent grade allowing him to reach speeds of close to 50 miles per hour going downhill. And after he reaches the bottom, the brave cyclist turned around (the bike, not himself) to tackle the same route going uphill.

Scroll down for Ronningsbakken’s death-defying stunt, and be sure to check out this great stretch of road on the embedded Google Street View below.

Macro photos of snowflakes show impossibly perfect designs

4 Dec

 

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One of the true wonders of the world are snowflakes, tiny designs made of ice that are so individually unique, so detailed, and so spectacular it’s hard to comprehend that they happen naturally and aren’t pulled from the depths of our own imaginations.

 

Photographer Alexey Kljatov has a special talent for capturing the brief life of these beautiful ice creations. He features many of his snowflake photos on Flickr. Kljatov says, “I capture snowflakes at open balcony of my house, mostly on glass surface, lighted by LED flashlight from opposite side of glass, and sometimes in natural light, using dark woolen fabrics as background.”

 

Here is some of his impressive work:

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Kljatov describes his technique for shooting snowflakes in a blog post, for those of you who want to try your own hand at this.

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Kljatov describes his technique for shooting snowflakes in a blog post, for those of you who want to try your own hand at this.

 

Africa’s first aerial elephant census to capture falling numbers

4 Dec

Light aircraft to photograph virtually every elephant herd on the continent from February in a team of 46 scientists

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A fleet of 18 light aircraft will notch up two years of flying time in 2014 to conduct the first aerial headcount of Africa‘s elephants. Trained counters will attempt to take photographs of virtually every herd on the continent, which will then be used to verify their count.

Dr Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders is leading what is called the great elephant census. He and a team of 46 scientists will conduct the ambitious research project due to commence in February.

It is currently estimated that there are between 410,000 and 650,000 elephants left in Africa, representing more than a 50% decline in the last 35 years. But some key populations have not been surveyed for 10 years, and in some places, numbers are completely unknown.

Chase’s preliminary findings suggest the outlook could be more bleak. In October this year, he flew over a park where in 2003 he counted 2,000 elephants. A decade later, he counted just 33 live elephants and 55 carcasses. “That is why this research is so important.”

Elephant numbers have plummeted in recent years. Africa is currently experiencing the highest rate of elephant mortality in history, driven largely by a multibillion-dollar illicit ivory trade. Experts have warned that African elephants could become extinct within 10 years. Several hundred are killed every week by well-armed poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts. Roughly 30,000 were killed last year, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

For the first year of the two-year project, survey planes will cover land in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa where up to 90% of Africa’s savannah elephants live. In the second year, researchers will prepare the data. By mid-2015, preliminary results should be available. In addition to distribution and range, the census hopes to identify where populations are increasing, fragmenting, or shrinking, and provide a better understanding of the threats elephants face.

“By generating accurate, foundational data about African elephants, I’m hopeful that this project will significantly advance the conservation efforts of this iconic species,” says Microsoft founder Paul Allen, who is funding the £4.3m census.

Dickson Kaelo, CEO of Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association says the census is long overdue. “It’s unacceptable that we don’t have accurate data showing how many elephants there are and where they are.” Kenya recently estimated its elephant population at 38,000. “We don’t feel comfortable that we have exact population numbers”, he says.

“Elephants are a symbolic of our commitment to conservation in Africa. If we can’t save the African elephant what is the hope of conserving the rest of Africa’s wildlife?” Chase says.

The announcement of the survey also comes as countries at both ends of the international ivory market signed up to a package of urgent measures to halt the illegal trade.

key African “range states” including Gabon, Kenya, Niger and Zambia, countries through which ivory is smuggled – including Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia – and ivory destination states, including China and Thailand, agreed to the measures at the African Elephant Summit in Botswana under the agreement. One of the 14 measures the delegates committed to involves classifying wildlife trafficking as a “serious crime”. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, this will unlock international law enforcement co-operation provided under the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, including mutual legal assistance, asset seizure and forfeiture, extradition and other tools to hold criminals accountable for wildlife crime.

Other measures agreed upon include engaging communities living with elephants in their conservation, strengthening national laws to secure maximum wildlife crime sentences, mobilising financial and technical resources to combat wildlife crime and reducing demand for illegal ivory.