Moving Pictures on a Friday

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Just a bit of fun for a Friday afternoon. Test your awareness.

I’ve got an in-law who was not entirely uninvolved in bringing these into existence, but even allowing for the possibility of bias, I think they’re quite fun and clever, aren’t they? And all in a good cause.  And then there’s this one, which is a bit less fun really, but still clever:

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Time for some Moving Pictures on a Friday, I think.

Here’s a nice little film from Till Nowak, exploring the unrecognised potential of fairground rides as mind-liberating machines.

For maximum enjoyment, go fullscreen. Kind of like life, really.

The Centrifuge Brain Project from Till Nowak on Vimeo.

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So I noticed that there’s a new Blu-Ray/DVD release of Harold Lloyd’s most famous film coming out this summer.

Which made me wonder: how many people remember Harold Lloyd?  A lot, I hope.  When I was a kid, his silent movies – or at least excerpts from them – were on the TV quite a lot.  As were those of Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton.  Thinking about it, I don’t think this stuff ever shows up on ‘mainstream’ TV channels now, does it?  What a shame.  Seeing that stuff when I was young felt perfectly natural, as if b&w silent comedies were just another part of the entertainment spectrum.  Now they’re being forgotten, bit by bit.  Made into a truly niche historical interest.

They deserve better, both the films and the superstar actors who made them.  And Harold Lloyd was my favourite of those actors when I was a child.  Chaplin’s films were too subtle and understated for my simple tastes at that tender age.  Laurel and Hardy were funny, for sure, but even back then I recognised them as caricatures (though I don’t suppose I knew what that word meant!).  Harold Lloyd was different: a real, ordinary guy doing funny things and – most important for the young me – also delivering crazy, crazy stunts and action.  He was, in my very humble opinion, a film genius.

And this is the most famous evidence in support of that humble opinion.  Ten minutes of stuntage, physical narrative, action, clever editing and interesting angles that would look good if it was made today, let alone ninety years ago:

Who needs CGI?  (Honestly, the more time goes by, the more I think CGI is just such an unfortunate development.  Inevitable, unavoidable, but unfortunate.)

Anyway, Harold Lloyd=Genius. I really don’t think there’s much room for doubt.

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I am aware that this is the third Moving Pictures on a Friday post in a row, with no intervening more sensible content appearing on this here blog. Sorry about that. I plead business. Yes, that’s my excuse: business.

I think I can guarantee that some distinctly more substantial content will be along next week, but in the meantime here’s a short film I like quite a bit. Some people are jolly clever.

Malaria from Edson Oda on Vimeo.

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I like parasites.  They do the craziest things; things that rightfully belong in sf, fantasy or horrror fiction rather than the real world.  Like create zombie ants. Biology’s a great place to trawl for story ideas.

If you’re currently eating anything, might be an idea to finish that before watching this.  Just saying.

CreatureCast – Lancet Liver Fluke from Casey Dunn on Vimeo.

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I just like this. Anything that reminds us, now and again, that the natural world is full of marvels is a good thing. We’re small and ephemeral things, us humans, compared to some of the life we grudgingly share the planet with.

That giant – it’s known, wonderfully I think, as Hyperion –  is centuries old and over 115m tall.   That’s quite a lot taller than the distance from the ground to the tippy tip tip of the Statue of Liberty’s torch.  Good job, Nature.

It’s out there, somewhere, even as you read this.  Hidden away in its secret valley, its silent forest.  Not doing anything, just being.  Being the tallest tree in the world.  Cool.

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Welcome to 2013, everybody. Here’s hoping the year treats us all gently.

I’m still in indolent holiday mode, so I’m easing myself back into the posting habit with a fascinating curiosity for Moving Pictures on a Friday.

Were our distant ancestors who put their marks on the walls of the Lascaux caves and elsewhere 17,000+ years ago attempting something very, very clever? Specifically, were they trying to depict motion in static images?

This little film, which separates and then connects superimposed or juxtaposed cave paintings, looks pretty convincing to me. Further details are in the short New Scientist article where I found the film, but it boils down to this: cavemen may well have been pretty sophisticated and imaginative illustrators.

Makes them feel very close, somehow; as if what was happening inside their heads really was very much like what’s happening inside ours, in the ways that matter. It’s odd snippets of insight and information like this that make history – or, in this case, prehistory – magical to me.

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Amazing what a dose of obsession and some money can achieve.

A couple of weeks ago, the Sailrocket 2 became the fastest sailboat in history.  This very nice clip shows it covering a nautical mile faster than anything powered by nothing more than the wind has ever done before.  Average speed: 55.3 knots, which is 63.6 mph or just over 102 kmh.  So they’re going faster, on water and under just sail power, than I’m allowed to drive on any road except a motorway in the UK.  And their peak speed during the run?  Almost 65 knots.  74mph, 120 kph.  Which is faster than I’m allowed to go even on a motorway.

As I said: amazing what people can do.  Kind of pointless on one level; full of point on another.

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Title says it all, really. This just made me smile. Not laugh, you understand; just smile. But that’s enough, right?

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