Friday, 30 March 2012

Time Masters by Rene Laloux & Moebius

Les Maîtres du temps is a wonderful film by the French animator Rene Laloux. Before I say any more about it I should state up-font that I have a rather special relationship with this movie. I saw it when I was a child once and could not get some of the images out of my head. I promptly forgot the title and director and could never find it again. Every so often I would remember scenes or images and be frustrated that I could not track the film down. It was re-released on DVD in the UK a couple of years ago and there was much excitement on my part. I am also glad to say that, after so many rosy-tinted years, it remains an awesome piece of work.

The film is a must-see for several reasons: first, it's a great story. I won't spoil it for you but it's the kind of classic sci-fi which we rarely see these days involving fantastic planets, lost children, amazing vehicles and, of course, time travel. Second, it was designed by the late Moebius. The renderings are wonderful and suitably French. Finally, although the animation is not amazing, it is restrained and, when coupled with Laloux's sensitive direction, is quite magical in a way that is hard to describe.

The must-bookmark Monster Brains has compiled the whole movie in YouTube clips for your edification. I suggest you watch the first one online then go out and buy the DVD (as that's kinda the right thing to do). Also, check out Laloux's other animated sci-fi masterpieces including Gandahar and (the insanely trippy) Fantastic Planet.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Steampunk-style Lomo camera

Lomo managed the PR stunt of the century - by careful marketing they turned their badly-built plastic cameras which produce distorted low-fi images into must-have accessories (with a handsome price tag). In one of my last jaunts out in London I discovered that they have released a distinctly Steampunk edition of their La Sardina camera. The body is all metal, which is lovely but, alas, the switches are still plastic.

Yours for only £170 from the UK Lomo store.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Colour typewriter by Tyree Callahan

Tyree Callahan has made this awesome typewriter mod. The traditional letter stamps have been replaced by sponges impregnated with ink, so they form beautiful images akin to the work of the Impressionists. The Shift key functions too, altering the intensity of the colour you choose.

Reading the blog post, I think this is a non-working concept, but it's awesome nonetheless! This is the kind of off-beat technology-hack that I love.

Via aesthetics of joy

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Prometheus: David 8 viral

Check out this awesome viral for the certain-to-be epic Prometheus. It has all the hallmarks of being crafted by Ridley Scott Associates-top-notch-stalwart Johnny Hardstaff.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Miniature bonsai treehouses by Takanori Aiba

Takanori Aiba has the world's best job title, it being 'Architect and Maze illustrator'. No only that, he's decided to combine his two loves in one holistic and miniature form: tiny bonsai tree houses. These microscopic wonders are made from card, plastic and other modelling materials. The landscapes and buildings elegantly wrap themselves around real bonsai trees.

This is a clever conceit. The trees are, of course, real living entities. They just happen to be miniature. The structure are, however, unreal. They are artificial man-made approximations of things which are far larger in life. The two are bound together by the shared aesthetic of Japanese fantasy and the results are quite startling.

Check out his awesome flickr photo stream here.

Via Toybot Studios

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Prometheus - full fat trailer

Free UI kits has just compiled a list of free User Interface (UI) kits for designers to download. This is not only a superb resource, it gives a good overview of the state of UI design in 2012.

Gone are all the Apple-inspired glossy surfaces. Instead they have been replaced by subtle dropshadows and pastel shades. Two-colour schemes seem very popular, and many of the examples here sit on faintly patterned backgrounds, giving a sort of vintage look.

Go download!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Picasa 3.9 released

I have extolled my love of Picasa previously. Google has just released version 3.9 which contains a plethora of awesome one-click effects. In earlier releases these always left me rather cold, but the new batch seem pretty good. No match for Photoshop but their big draw is, of course, their ease-of-use.

Dark Shadows - Official Trailer

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Back online

Well, that was pretty painful but it's over now. I am settling into my new lair and letting my nesting instinct run riot. I am also wondering why, dear God, I have so many small, breakable objects...

Here are my top Lessons Learned:
  1. Pack everything REALLY well. My removal men were great but they still manhandled things brutally. Don't assume those miniature cases with the dodgy handles won't crack open and spill their lovingly painted contents all over the removal van's floor. Because mine did.
  2. Don't ever trust anything an estate agent says. They are agents indeed, but of The Devil and Father of Lies. When they tell you they'll have the keys for the mailbox ready (which you requested two weeks ago) they actually mean is that they won't be able to pull their finger out and get it sorted.
  3. All UK Council-run parking services are run by shambolic halfwits who take no responsibility for anything. The UK needs to save money by slashing the deficit. Start by sacking the chimps' teaparty in charge of parking.
That is all.

Monday, 12 March 2012

The studio is dark

Some months ago I popped over to see my friend Ada Zanditon. In her studio she has a large white board marked out as a calendar to plan her work. Spanning a two week period in huge letters was written "STUDIO IS DARK".
"What does that mean?" I asked.
"Oh, God!" She replied. "I wish Christian hadn't written that, as everyone keeps on asking me!"
It transpired that the phrase is 'industry speak' for times when the studio is closed (and there are no lights on). In the 24/7 world of fashion this is pretty much the only time when the studio is, indeed, dark. Hence the name.

So, the Tears of Envy studio is now dark. More importantly it's been carefully packed into a multitude of boxes ready for my move to Nottingham tomorrow.

In theory I should have the interwebs back up and running by the end of Wednesday. But Sod's Law might well get involved and postpone that happy event.

In the meantime, I leave you with the new Universal Movies company logo made by Weta:

Via Computerlove

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Dungeon crawling in Derbyshire

I spent a lovely few days with my friends in Matlock in the Peak District overt the summer. During my stay we visited Matlock Bath Spa. This is a Victorian 'inland resort' - a sort of retreat. It is famed for its rugged scenery which Byron likened to Alpine Switzerland. Part of the location's popularity stems from  a hot spring with allegedly medicinal qualities. The minerals in the water petrify anything they submerge. Visitors to the (very entertaining) aquarium are able to see a 'grotto' of these strange objects. These weird artifacts (and a series of subterranean tunnels) are separated from the viewer by a barrier. I just wanted to clamber over it and hunt about for treasure and magical weapons.

Sources: Wikipedia and The Andrews Page.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The death of Kristy Bamu

The UK papers have been giving high profile to the appalling murder of a young man of Congolese descent at the hands of his sister and boyfriend. Kristy Bamu, 15, was killed by sister Magalie Bamu, 29, and Eric Bikubi, 28 after they accused him of being a witch. The boy suffered hideous injuries as the couple tried to extract a confession from him.

The UK court has sensibly taken a very strong stance against the couple, who have both been jailed for life. Detective Superintendent Terry Sharpe said, "This is a hidden and under-reported crime and therefore difficult to deal with in terms of protecting potential victims from harm."

Although cultural differences should not for one moment be regarded as a valid excuse for such violence, the interesting religious background of the Congo and southern Nigeria goes a small way to eplaining the couple's belief in wtichcraft. Western Pentecostal missionaries in the region encouraged the fusing of African tradition of witchcraft with Christian notions of the devil. Not only do these priests legitimise witch hunts, they encourage them and even profit from them. They may offer to identify children as witches for a fee and "cure" them for further payment by exorcism.

Via The Guardian

Monday, 5 March 2012


There are now one hundred of you fine fellows and ladies out there. I just want to say a big thank you to you all for being interested in what I do and for putting up with my inane ramblings. I just hope I can continue to live up to your (possibly low) expectations.

In the meantime, check out the hilarious image below from the wonderful Hide yo Wife Hide yo Kids.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Heroine: Evelyn Cheesman

I have just been reading about the amazing Evelyn Cheesman (1881 - 1969).

Cheesman was a British entomologist and traveler who is best known for her work in the field of entomology. She is also a bit of a feminist icon. Not only did she venture to New Guinea, the New Hebrides and other Pacific islands when it was normal for women to stay at home, she was the first woman to be hired as a curator at London's Regent's Park Zoo. She was awarded an OBE for her contribution to entomology and has a number of insects named after her.

What really fascinates me about her though is her less-well-known association with Cryptozoology. She described the phenomena of strange flying lights in Papua New Guinea, now known as the 'ropen lights'. The island is also home to an alleged pterosaur cryptid, also known as a Ropen. It has been postulated that these prehistoric cryptids are bio luminescent and the cause of the nocturnal phenomena.

Whatever the reason, it seems there's something odd going on in the skies over this island and I can think of no better person to investigate than a Dieselpunk-biologist heroine.

Sources: The Global Ant Project, Live Pterosaur, Ropens

Tim Burton's Dark Shadows characters revealed

Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter.

Via Suicide Blonde

Friday, 2 March 2012

Razer's Star Wars: The Old Republic keyboard, mouse and headset

Via Parka Blogs and available at Amazon.

Journey game trailer

Thatgamecompany has released Journey. It, quite frankly, looks astounding. Check out the trailer below and the very positive IGN review here.