kottke.org posts about video

Star Wars Episode II: The Friend ZoneSep 18 2014

Amidala friendzones Anakin, Obi-Wan hunts for drugs, and Jango Fett pumps the bass in this hilarious Auralnauts reimagining of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

You may have also seen their recent video of the Throne Room scene at the end of Star Wars without John Williams' score (reminiscent of these musicless musicvideos) or Bane's outtakes from The Dark Knight Rises. Still champion though: bad lip reading of NFL players. (via @aaroncoleman0)

Insane but fictional traffic patternsSep 18 2014

In this video entitled Rush Hour, cars, pedestrians, and cyclists have been edited together to produce dozens of heart-stopping near misses.

Reminds me of the world's craziest intersection, traffic organized by color, intersections in the age of driverless cars, and the dangerous dance of NYC intersections. (via colossal)

Video tour of Brooklyn and Queens typographySep 17 2014

Join designer James Victore for an opinionated tour of the typography of Brooklyn and Queens.

We're going to do a typographical tour of Brooklyn and Queens, We're going to look at type on the street and signage on the street and try to figure out what the hell it's for.

Favorite quote: [Pointing at a logo for a waxing salon] "There's been a designer here. Which is not always a good thing." (via gothamist)

This is Phil FishSep 16 2014

Using Phil Fish, the person responsible for critically acclaimed indie game Fez, this video by Ian Danskin explores what it means to be internet famous, something everyone who writes/creates/posts/tweets online has experienced to some extent.

We are used to thinking of fame as something granted to a person by people with media access. The reason people hate Nickelback is because of that record contract, that Faustian bargain -- they bought into it. They had to be discovered; someone had to connect them to video directors, record producers, stylists, advertisers.

This is not what fame looks like on the internet. There, fame is not something you ask for. Fame is not something you buy into. Fame happens to you.

Phil doesn't have an agent. He doesn't have ad executives. He doesn't tour the country on press junkets. He doesn't have a PR department. (Obviously.)

He talked on social media. He did interviews when invited to do them. He was invited into a documentary. People read these things as shameless self-promotion or a desperate need for attention, or both, but that's projection -- nobody knows Phil's reasons for doing them but Phil and the people who know him personally.

Phil never asked to be famous.

We made him famous. Maybe, in part, because we found him entertaining. Maybe, in part, because we found him irritating. Largely because many of us were once sincerely excited about his game. But he became a big deal because we kept talking about him.

On the internet, celebrities are famous only to the people who talk about them, and they're only famous because we talk about them, and then we hate them for being too famous, and make them more famous by talking about how much we hate them. Could there ever be anything more self-defeating than this?

Here's a transcript of the video. In his post about why he decided to sell Minecraft to Microsoft, Markus Persson cites This is Phil Fish as an influence:

I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn't understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn't have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I've become a symbol. I don't want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don't understand, that I don't want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I'm not an entrepreneur. I'm not a CEO. I'm a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.

Robin Sloan connected Persson's post with a post by Erin Kissane on how she has curtailed her use of Twitter. Here's one of her problems with Twitter:

The first is feeling like I'm sitting at a sidewalk cafe, speaking in a conversational voice, but having that voice projected so loudly that strangers many streets away are invited to comment on my most inconsequential statements -- especially if something I say gets retweeted beyond my usual circles.

Many moons ago, I was "subculturally important" in the small pond of web designers, personal publishers, and bloggers that rose from the ashes of the dot com bust, and I was nodding along vigorously with what Danskin, Persson, and Kissane had to say. Luckily for me, I realized fairly early on that me and the Jason Kottke who published online were actually two separate people...or to use Danskin's formulation, they were a person and a concept. (When you try to explain this to people, BTW, they think you're a fucking narcissistic crazy person for talking about yourself in the third person. But you're not actually talking about yourself...you're talking about a concept the audience has created. Those who think of you as a concept particularly hate this sort of behavior.)

The person-as-concept idea is a powerful one. People ascribe all sorts of crazy stuff to you without knowing anything about the context of your actual life. I even lost real-life friends because my online actions as a person were viewed through a conceptual lens; basically: "you shouldn't have acted in that way because of what it means for the community" or some crap like that. Eventually (and mostly unconsciously), I distanced myself from my conceptual counterpart and became much less of a presence online. I mean, I still post stuff here, on Twitter, on Instagram, and so on, but very little of it is actually personal and almost none of it is opinionated in any noteworthy way. Unlike Persson or Fish, I didn't quit. I just got boring. Which I guess isn't so good for business, but neither is quitting.

Anyway, I don't know if that adds anything meaning to the conversation, just wanted to add a big "yeah, that rings true" to all of the above, particularly the video. (thx, @brillhart)

Update: From the Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges, a short essay called "Borges and I":

The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to. I walk through the streets of Buenos Aires and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall and the grillwork on the gate; I know of Borges from the mail and see his name on a list of professors or in a biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee and the prose of Stevenson; he shares these preferences, but in a vain way that turns them into the attributes of an actor. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live, let myself go on living, so that Borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things.

Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him.

I do not know which of us has written this page.

(via @ezraball)

Instant ramen hacksSep 16 2014

Here are some things you can do with instant ramen aside from eating it as directed on the package, including making a grilled cheese sandwich, gnocchi (a la David Chang), and pizza.

(via devour)

Incredible no-look backheelSep 15 2014

This goal by AC Milan's Jeremy Menez against Parma over the weekend is just beyond:

No-look backheel. Jeebus.

Dancebot 2014Sep 12 2014

This guy Fik Shun? He knows how to dance.

The thing he starts doing with his chest around 2:10 is some Exorcist-level shit. (via digg)

Apocalypse PoohSep 11 2014

The internet is full of remixes of movies and trailers these days: Wes Anderson's Forrest Gump, The Shining as a romantic comedy, Toy Story 2 mashed up with Requiem for a Dream, Toy Story meets The Wire, and so on. But before all of that, from 1987, perhaps the first mashup of its kind, Apocalypse Pooh:

Todd Graham made this short film with VCRs and film nerds passed around copies on VHS tapes. (via @johankugelberg)

New York streets in beautiful slow motionSep 09 2014

This starts out ordinarily, but give it some time...it gets really good around 90 seconds in. The combination of panning and slow motion creates a powerful sense of energy around almost-still imagery; it's a trippy effect. See also James Nares' Street. (via subtraction)

100 iconic film scenesSep 08 2014

From Cinefix, the 100 most iconic shots in film.

Skews heavily toward pop culture favorites, but still worth a look. Here's a video with annotations of each scene. (via digg)

Amish barn-raising time lapseSep 05 2014

Watch as a group of Amish men raise almost an entire barn in a day.

(via colossal)

The history of Japanese video game musicSep 05 2014

Red Bull is sponsoring a six-part series on the history of Japanese video game music. The first installment covers the music of Space Invaders through the Game Boy. Highlight: composer Junko Ozawa showing off her hand-drawn waveform library she used in composing scores for Namco. Bonus: Space Invader-only arcades in Japan were called "Invader houses" while arcades in New Zealand were known as "spacies parlours".

Update: Beep is a feature-length documentary film that will attempt to cover the history of video game sounds from Victorian mechanical arcades on up to the present day games. They are currently raising funds on Kickstarter.

Wes Anderson's vehiclesSep 04 2014

A compilation of some of the vehicles used in Wes Anderson's movies, shot from the first-person POV.

(via devour)

Slow-mo skateboard tricksSep 03 2014

It turns out that this close-up video of slow motion skateboard tricks is all I've ever wanted out of life.

I had no idea that's what they were doing down there. It's a symphony of footwork!

The Wire, remastered in HDSep 02 2014

Good morning, good morning. Welcome back from your beach vacation. Settling in? Good, good. Let's get right to it then: HBO has remastering The Wire in 16x9 HD and rebroadcasting what looks like every episode on HBO Signature starting this Thursday (Sept 4). Here's a teaser:

We haven't had news to report on HBO's The Wire in a long, long time but this tidbit caught our ear. HBO will be rebroadcasting one of its iconic series: The Wire in never-before-broadcast HD glory! The marathon will begin weeknights at 8PM starting on September 4th. You'll find the episodes on HBO Signature, a channel most, if not all HBO subscribers should have access to.

No idea if these new HD versions will make it to HBO Go or Amazon Instant or even into the mythical The Wire Blu-ray. Hopefully?

Update: A reader writes in:

My friend who works at HBO says they are chopping the top and bottom off the 4 x 3 frame for the early seasons to "fit" 16 x 9. We saw this with FX's Simpsons Marathon and I really wish companies would stop doing this. It wasn't cool to chop the sides off Lawrence of Arabia and it is likewise not cool to chop the head and neck off of Stringer Bell.

Boo. Boo-urns. According to IMDB, only season 5 was shot at 16x9. They should just leave seasons 1-4 at 4x3 and make the picture better. (thx, john)

Update: From an extensive piece on how The Wire was filmed:

And perhaps the final contrast to the rest of high-end episodic television, The Wire for each of its five seasons has been produced in good old fashioned 4 x 3 standard definition. DP Dave Insley recalled, "The reason the show has stayed 4x3 is because David Simon thinks that 4x3 feels more like real life and real television and not like a movie. The show's never been HD, even 4x3 HD and that (SD) is how it is on the DVDs. There is no 16x9 version anywhere." As a viewer with an HD set I will point out that like much of SD television that makes its way to HD channels, it appears that HBO utilizes state-of-the-art line doubling technology. It may still be standard definition, but line doubled it looks considerably better on a high definition set than it would on a standard definition set.

Insley explained, "When the show started 2001 / 2002 they framed it for 16 x 9 as a way of future-proofing. Then a couple of seasons ago, right before Season 4 began shooting, there was a big discussion about it and after much discussion -- David, Nina, Joe Chappelle, the Producers, the DPs -- and we discussed what should be the style of the show. David made the decision that we would stay with 4x3. The DPs pretty much defined the look to be what it is now. And it's been consistent for the past two seasons."

If the chopping down to 16x9 rumors are true, David Simon cannot be happy about that. I wonder how much creative control he maintains over decisions like that? I am guessing very little. (via @tubofguts)

Update: HBO has confirmed the remastering to EW, but says the timeline for airing has not been set yet.

A promo claiming that a "replay marathon" of the series would start September 4 on HBO Signature ran prematurely, HBO said, and the series will not be airing this month.

(via @WaterSlicer)

Making plans is difficult nowadaysAug 28 2014

A plan used to be simple: you would agree to meet someone at a certain time and place and then you would meet them there and then. Now, a plan is subject to all sorts of revisions because "cellphones make people flaky as #%@*".

A Plan: Once heralded as a firm commitment to an event in the future, a plan is now largely considered to be a string of noncommittal text messages leading up to a series of potential, though unlikely, events.

A Cellphone: Your primary device for making plans. More specifically, the medium with which most plans are conceived and later altered. It's imperative that you keep your cellphone on your person at all times, as you can expect all plans to dissolve into an amorphous cloud upon conception.

I have experienced this recently and am convinced this is partially a generational thing. If you spent any part of your 20s without a cellphone, the sort of thing described in the video happens a lot less. But this practice is also contagious, as most social behavior is...if you witness friends doing it, over time it becomes more acceptable to do it yourself.

The Game of Thrones title sequenceAug 27 2014

From the excellent Art of the Title, an interview with Angus Wall, the creative director responsible for the opening titles of Game of Thrones.

Basically, we had an existing map of Westeros and a xeroxed hand drawn map of Essos - both done by George R. R. Martin - and I took those into Photoshop and played with their scale until they lined up perfectly. The actual dimensions, the locations and their placement, and the different terrains are all based strictly on George R. R. Martin's maps. It was really important that we stay as absolutely true to the books as possible because of the ardent fans out there.

Wall also works as an editor, often on David Fincher films. He won two Oscars for editing The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

How to eat sushiAug 27 2014

I wasn't expecting too much of this video about how to eat sushi, but it's actually pretty good. It features Naomichi Yasuda of the highly regard Sushi Yasuda in Manhattan making sushi for a newbie and telling him how it should be eaten.

This Old House + Jiro Dreams of Sushi = this video.

Bad British NASCAR commentaryAug 27 2014

Anthony Richardson (previously, previouslyer, previouslyest) describes a NASCAR race from the British perspective.

Now for the bumper view! Wow, the easiest way to work out what on Earth is going on. Oh, the car's giving the one in front a little sniff. Ah, they're a bit like dogs, aren't they? Petrol dogs.

Skips Stones for FudgeAug 26 2014

That's the somewhat unusual name of a feature-length documentary about world-class stone skippers. Here's the trailer:

I love skipping stones. When I see flat water and flat rocks, I can't not do it. They have to change that name though. They were likely going for "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" but really missed the mark. Oh, and they're raising funds on Kickstarter to finish the film.

The zen art of stone skipping meets the competitive nature of mankind in this feature-length documentary. Set in the world of professional stone skipping, this film will examine the competitive nature of mankind. World Records will be tested, rivalries will fester, and a sport will rise from the ashes of obscurity.

An ode to the SteadicamAug 25 2014

A short appreciation of the Steadicam and its inventor, Garrett Brown. (Brown also invented the football SkyCam.) Features footage from Rocky, Return of the Jedi, and The Shining.

From Wikipedia:

The Steadicam was first used in the Best Picture-nominated Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory (1976), debuting with a shot that compounded the Steadicam's innovation: cinematographer Haskell Wexler had Brown start the shot on a fully elevated platform crane which jibbed down, and when it reached the ground, Brown stepped off and walked the camera through the set. This technically audacious and previously impossible shot created considerable interest in how it had been accomplished, and impressed the Academy enough for Wexler to win the Oscar for Best Cinematography that year. It was then used in extensive running and chase scenes on the streets of New York City in Marathon Man (1976), which was actually released two months before Bound for Glory. It landed a notable third credit in Avildsen's Best Picture-winning Rocky (1976), where it was an integral part of the film's Philadelphia street jogging/training sequences and the run up the Art Museum's flight of stairs, as well as the fight scenes (where it can even be plainly seen in operation at the ringside during some wide shots of the final fight). Garrett Brown was the Steadicam operator on all of these.

The Shining (1980) pushed Brown's innovations even further, when director Stanley Kubrick requested that the camera shoot from barely above the floor. This prompted the innovation of a "low mode" bracket to mount the top of a camera to the bottom of an inverted post, which substantially increased the creative angles of the system, which previously could not go much lower than the operator's waist height. This low-mode concept remains the most important extension to the system since its inception.

(via @robinsloan)

Update: Here's Brown talking about the Steadicam and his career. And here's Stanley Kubrick's introduction to the Steadicam, via a letter from a colleague. (via @poritsky & @LettersOfNote)

AutomataAug 22 2014

Automata is a film directed by Gabe Ibáñez in which robots become sentient and...do something. Not sure what...I hope it's not revolt and try to take over the world because zzzz... But this movie looks good so here's hoping.

Jacq Vaucan, an insurance agent of ROC robotics corporation, routinely investigates the case of manipulating a robot. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.

Automata will be available in theaters and VOD on Oct 10. (via devour)

Muppets version of So What'cha Want by the Beastie BoysAug 22 2014

As far as these things go, this video of the Muppets singing So What'cha Want by the Beastie Boys is pretty near perfect.

See also The Muppets singing Kanye West's Monster and the Sesame Street gang doing the Beastie Boys' Sure Shot. Oh, and the classic Bert & Ernie rap video:

(via subtraction)

An ode to Ralph WiggumAug 20 2014

From Mallory Ortberg at The Toast, an appreciation of Ralph Wiggum.

Ralph is not a rule-follower like Lisa, nor a rule-breaker like Bart; Ralph does not observe the rules because he is almost completely unaware of them. More than any of the other students at Springfield Elementary, Ralph is a child. Bart and Lisa and Milhouse and Nelson and Janey are kids, and therein lies the difference. Ralph sees things that aren't there ("Ralph, remember the time you said Snagglepuss was outside?" "He was going to the bathroom!"), eats paste, picks his nose, volunteers unprompted, nonsensical declarations ("My cat's breath smells like cat food") disguised as Zen koans. His character is sometimes written as dim-but-profound, sometimes borderline-psychotic, and occasionally developmentally disabled, but more than anything else, Ralph like what he is: a child who hasn't yet aged into a kid, which is one of the most embarrassing things a child can be.

Goes nicely with this video of some of Ralph's finest moments:

Ceramics mastersAug 20 2014

Take a closer look at how half-a-dozen ceramics masters practice their craft.

Texting in moviesAug 20 2014

From Tony Zhou, A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film.

Michele Tepper wrote about Sherlock's display of texts in 2011.

The rise of instant messaging, and even more, the SMS, has added another layer of difficulty; I'm convinced that the reason so many TV characters have iPhones is not just that Hollywood thinks they're cool, but also because the big crisp screen is so darn easy to read. Still, the cut to that little black metal rectangle is a narrative momentum killer. What's a director trying to make a ripping good adventure yarn to do?

The solution is deceptively simple: instead of cutting to the character's screen, Sherlock takes over the viewer's screen.

And just today, a trailer for Jason Reitman's Men, Women & Children, which movie seems to consist entirely of texting and social media interaction:

(via @tcarmody)

Star Wars: The Despecialized EditionAug 19 2014

A remastered copy of the original 1977 Han-shoots-first version of Star Wars is out there and you can watch it but it's probably illegal. But Disney is never going to show it to you, so maybe it's ok to find it on Bittorrent?

The Despecialized Edition is the years-long work of a diverse group of people who have taken elements from many different sources and created the ultimate version of the first Star Wars film. It has also been upgraded to display properly on high definition screens, with high-quality sounds and a near perfect image.

The latest Blu-Ray release of the film serves as the skeleton for this edition, but elements of the 2006 bonus DVD that included the unaltered version of the film was also used to remove special effects and edits that were added by Lucas.

Here's a short feature on the video sources used:

And here's how to get the full film.

2014 Emmy nominations for Outstanding Main Title DesignAug 18 2014

The Art of the Title has a look at the Emmy nominees for best title design for 2014: Black Sails, Cosmos, Masters of Sex, Silicon Valley, and True Detective. As noted, the excellent titles for Halt and Catch Fire missed the eligibility period by a day. Spoilers: True Detective's titles won.

Humans need not applyAug 15 2014

This video combines two thoughts to reach an alarming conclusion: "Technology gets better, cheaper, and faster at a rate biology can't match" + "Economics always wins" = "Automation is inevitable."

That's why it's important to emphasize again this stuff isn't science fiction. The robots are here right now. There is a terrifying amount of working automation in labs and warehouses that is proof of concept.

We have been through economic revolutions before, but the robot revolution is different.

Horses aren't unemployed now because they got lazy as a species, they're unemployable. There's little work a horse can do that pays for its housing and hay.

And many bright, perfectly capable humans will find themselves the new horse: unemployable through no fault of their own.

(via waxy)

Watch Charles Schulz draw Charlie BrownAug 13 2014

Watch Peanuts creator Charles Schulz draw Charlie Brown. It only takes him around 35 seconds.

(via @fchimero)

The salmon cannonAug 13 2014

In order to reproduce, salmon swim from the ocean up rivers until they find the spot they were born. But sometimes people build dams or other "artificial water constructions" that can disrupt salmon travel. A company called Whooshh Innovations has developed a tool to help with this problem: a pneumatic salmon cannon.

According to the folks at Whooshh, their transport system can handle 40-60 fish per minute, move the fish at 5-10 m/sec (11-22 mph), and transport fish 1000 feet into the air along a tube 2000 feet long. Here's a video showing how a similar fruit transportation system works:

Ambient space sounds playlistAug 13 2014

From YouTube, a playlist of 12- and 24-hour-long videos of ambient space noise, mostly of the sounds of spaceships like the Tardis, the USS Enterprise, and the Nostromo (from Alien). I think the Death Star is my favorite:

Or the completely unrelaxing 12 hours of Star Trek red alert sound:

Sadly, the list is missing my favorite spaceship sound, Sebulba's podracer from Phantom Menace. See also Super Mario Bros Sound Loops and Extended Star Wars Sounds. (via @finn)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesAug 12 2014

Here's the trailer for the third and final movie in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy:

The Hobbit was initially supposed to be just two films but Jackson decided to split the second film into two. From Wikipedia:

According to Jackson, the third film would contain the Battle of the Five Armies and make extensive use of the appendices that Tolkien wrote to expand the story of Middle-Earth (published in the back of The Return of the King).

The second movie was better than the first so I'm looking forward to this one. But then again, I'm totally in the tank for Jackson's take on Middle Earth (I did the Weta Digital tour when I was in New Zealand) so I would see it even if the first two movies sucked.

Robin Williams, RIPAug 11 2014

Actor Robin Williams was found dead in his home today of an apparent suicide. He was 63. I have been thinking a lot about this scene from Dead Poets Society lately:

The hyperlapse algorithmAug 11 2014

Microsoft has developed software to transform shaky time lapse videos into impressively smooth hyperlapse movies. Take a look at a couple of examples.

Read more about the project on the Microsoft Research site.

[DRUGDE SIREN BUT FOR STEAK]Aug 11 2014

According to testing by the folks at America's Test Kitchen, you should not be thawing out your frozen steaks before you cook them. Mind. Blown. Into. Tiny. Pieces. Sweep. Me. Up. Pls.

Conventional wisdom holds that frozen steaks should be thawed before cooking, but we wondered if steaks could be cooked straight from the freezer. Cook's Illustrated Senior Editor Dan Souza explains our cooking experiments.

They also apparently more-or-less deep fry their steak? Is that a thing that we should be doing? (via digg)

Enter PyongyangAug 09 2014

Many videos and photo projects promise a glimpse of life inside North Korea "as you've never seen it", but I believe this video by JT Singh and Rob Whitworth actually delivers the goods. It's one of those 3-minute time lapse portraits of a city that are in vogue, with the North Korean capital Pyongyang as its subject.

Time lapse videos are interesting because they show movement over long periods of time. The Western conception of North Korea is of a place frozen in time, so the time lapse view is highly instructive. (thx, jeff)

Update: Sam Potts, who travelled to Pyongyang and North Korea in 2012 and took these photos, finds this "deeply fake as filmmaking". From his Twitter acct:

Re the time lapse of Pyongyang video, it feels deeply fake as filmmaking, to me. Thus I mistrust it as a document of what real PY is like. You don't see any of the details to that reveal, even in PY, how very poor a country it is. Some of those buses didn't have tail lights. They had blocks of wood painted red to look like tail lights. And the library computers are incredibly poor quality.

Gizmodo's Alissa Walker also noted the propaganda-ish nature of the video. At the very least, the video is a dual reminder of the limitations of time lapse video in showing the whole story and of how manipulative attractively packaged media can be.

The Theory of EverythingAug 07 2014

From James Marsh, the director of the excellent Man on Wire, a biopic of physicist Stephen Hawking and his first wife, Jane. Here's the first trailer:

The film is based on a book by Jane Hawking, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.

In this compelling memoir, his first wife, Jane Hawking, relates the inside story of their extraordinary marriage. As Stephen's academic renown soared, his body was collapsing under the assaults of motor neurone disease. Jane's candid account of trying to balance his 24-hour care with the needs of their growing family reveals the inner-strength of the author, while the self-evident character and achievements of her husband make for an incredible tale presented with unflinching honesty.

As promising as this looks, the Kanye in me needs to remind you that Errol Morris' A Brief History of Time is the best film about Stephen Hawking of all time. OF ALL TIME.

Michael Jordan vs Kobe BryantAug 06 2014

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant played against each other in only eight NBA games, but none of the games took place with both players in their prime. Their first few meetings, dominated by Jordan, happened during Kobe's first and second NBA seasons, when he was an impulsive and unpolished teen. Their final meetings, dominated by Bryant, found an out-of-retirement Jordan on the hapless Washington Wizards, pushing 40 years old.

But more than any other two marquee players in NBA, Jordan and Kobe have played with very similar styles. Like almost identically similar, as this video clearly shows:

The first 15 seconds of the video is a fantastic piece of editing, stitching together similar moves made by each player into seamless single plays. And dang...even the tongue wagging thing is the same. How many hours of Jordan highlight reels did Kobe watch growing up? And practicing moves in the gym?

As an aside, and I can't believe I'm saying such a ridiculous thing in public, but I can do a pretty good MJ turnaround fadeaway. I mean, for a 6-foot-tall 40-year-old white guy who doesn't get a lot of exercise and has never had much of a vertical leap. I learned it from watching Jordan highlights on SportsCenter and practicing it for hundreds of hours in my driveway against my taller next-door neighbor. I played basketball twice in the past month for the first time in years. Any skills I may have once had are almost completely gone...so many airballs and I couldn't even make a free throw for crying out loud. Except for that turnaround. That muscle memory is still intact; the shots were falling and the whole thing felt really smooth and natural. I think I'll still be shooting that shot effectively into my 70s. (via devour)

Flying car sculpturesAug 06 2014

Gerry Judah

Gerry Judah

Gerry Judah

These sculptures by Gerry Judah for the Goodwood Festival of Speed are amazing. Here's how they made the Mercedes arch for this year's festival. (via ministry of type)

The greatest documentaries of all timeAug 05 2014

Sight and Sound polled 340 critics and filmmakers in search of the world's best documentary films. Here are their top 50. From the list, the top five:

A Man with a Movie Camera
Shoah
Sans soleil
Night and Fog
The Thin Blue Line

Unless you went to film school or are a big film nerd, you probably haven't seen (or even heard of) the top choice, A Man with a Movie Camera. Roger Ebert reviewed the film several years ago as part of his Great Movies Collection.

Born in 1896 and coming of age during the Russian Revolution, Vertov considered himself a radical artist in a decade where modernism and surrealism were gaining stature in all the arts. He began by editing official newsreels, which he assembled into montages that must have appeared rather surprising to some audiences, and then started making his own films. He would invent an entirely new style. Perhaps he did. "It stands as a stinging indictment of almost every film made between its release in 1929 and the appearance of Godard's 'Breathless' 30 years later," the critic Neil Young wrote, "and Vertov's dazzling picture seems, today, arguably the fresher of the two." Godard is said to have introduced the "jump cut," but Vertov's film is entirely jump cuts.

If you're curious, the film is available on YouTube in its entirety:

(via open culture)

Interstellar trailer #3Aug 05 2014

Christopher Nolan + Matthew McConaughey + space + doomed Earth. Oh man, this is looking like it might actually be great. Or completely suck.

Please don't suck, please don't suck, please don't suck, please don't suck, please don't suck, please don't suck, please don't s (via @aaroncoleman0)

I give this feature my full endorsementAug 01 2014

Erik Malinowski takes a baseball commercial that used to air late nights on ESPN in the '90s and '00s, and uses it to trace the effect of technology on sports.

"He was the first guy I ever knew who used video as a training device in baseball," says Shawn Pender, a former minor-league player who would appear in several of Emanski's instructional videos. "There just wasn't anyone else who was doing what he did."

It's also something of a detective story, since its subject Tom Emanski has virtually fallen off the face of the earth:

Fred McGriff is surely correct that nearly two decades of video sales -- first through TV and radio and now solely through the internet -- made Emanski a very wealthy man, but this perception has led to some rather outlandish internet rumors.

According to one, the Internal Revenue Service investigated Emanski in 2003 for unpaid taxes and, in doing so, somehow disclosed his estimated net worth at around $75 million. There's no public record of such an investigation ever having taken place or been disclosed, and an IRS spokesman for the Florida office would say only that the agency is "not permitted to discuss a particular or specific taxpayer's tax matter or their taxes based on federal disclosure regulations and federal law."

Old Town Music HallJul 25 2014

From This Must Be the Place, a lovely short profile of Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, California. Old Town shows silent films with live musical accompaniment. Includes a brief tour of the inner workings of the theater's wind-powered pipe organ from 1925.

A short history of the high fiveJul 24 2014

For the latest installment of Grantland's 30 for 30 short documentary series, a story on the genesis of the high five and what happened to one of its inventors. This video is chock full of amazing vintage footage of awkward high fives. [Weird aside: The sound on this video is only coming out of the left channel. Is that a subtle homage to the one-handed gesture or a sound mixing boner?]

A menagerie of birds from the futureJul 24 2014

The Silva Field Guide to Birds of a Parallel Future, featuring several videos of how futuristic birds might move. For instance, here's a deconstructed bird in the shape of a Borg cube:

The National Wildlife Property RepositoryJul 23 2014

The crew at The Atlantic Video takes a trip to The National Wildlife Property Repository, which stores confiscated illegal wildlife items.

The National Wildlife Property Repository, a government facility outside of Denver, stores more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to elephant ivory. These items are confiscated at points of entry around the United States, and sent to the Repository to be destroyed or used for educational purposes.

The bit about the National Eagle Repository is especially interesting. Under federal law, every dead eagle (and eagle parts, including feathers) must be sent to the repository, where they are made available for distribution to native tribes.

The primary objective of The National Eagle Repository (Repository) is to receive, evaluate, store and distribute bald and golden eagle carcasses, parts, and feathers to tribally enrolled Native Americans of Federally recognized tribes throughout the United States for religious purposes. The Repository serves as the collection and distribution point for bald and golden eagle salvages each year by State and Federal wildlife officials.

Stranded on a whaleJul 22 2014

A couple in a kayak gets too close to a whale and then the whale raises them right out of the water. And not just for a moment either.

Walking CityJul 22 2014

Walking City is a slowly evolving walking video sculpture by Universal Everything. A walking tour of modern architecture, if you will.

File this one under mesmerizing. A deserving winner of the Golden Nica award at Ars Electronica. (via subtraction)

Copying is my way of learningJul 22 2014

From Portraits in Creativity, a video profile of Maira Kalman, doer of many wonderful things.

Kalman's newest book is Girls Standing on Lawns, a collaboration with MoMA and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket).

This clever book contains 40 vintage photographs from the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, more than a dozen original paintings by Kalman inspired by the photographs, and brief, lyrical texts by Handler. Poetic and thought-provoking, Girls Standing on Lawns is a meditation on memories, childhood, nostalgia, home, family, and the act of seeing.

I once saw Kalman while I was eating lunch with my son in the cafe on the second floor of MoMA. She came in and sat opposite us a few tables away and started sketching. What a thrill to watch her work. (via @curiousoctopus)

The Imitation GameJul 21 2014

The Imitation Game is a historical drama about Alan Turing, focusing on his efforts in breaking the Enigma code during WWII. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing. Here's a trailer:

The anti-Wonka candy factoryJul 21 2014

In 2011, Magnum photographer Martin Parr visited the Teddy Grays candy factory near Birmingham, England that makes old-fashioned candy with Wonka-esque names -- Mint Humbugs, Nutty Brittles, Spearminties. The result is this ultra-charming 20 minute film profile of the company and its candy-making process.

Charmingness evidence, exhibit A: When asked if the company would ever modernize, company director Teddy Gray responds, "Imagine coming to work in the morning and looking at all them faxes, oh no." Even his modernization references need modernizing.

Charmingness evidence, exhibit B: The lingerie calendar behind Gray as he talks on the phone, and the beefcake calendar behind his daughter in the very next scene.

Charmingness evidence, exhibit C through exhibit ZZZ: Every other scene in the film.

I know 20 minutes for a web video sounds daunting, but it's worth the while. At the very least, skip to 14:00 and watch how they make "lettered rock", hard candy sticks with words written on the inside of the candy. As shown in the video, the individual letters start out 3-4 inches high, are arranged into words when rolled up into a massive tube of candy a foot in diameter, and end up a fraction of an inch tall when pulled out into small sticks, like so:

Lettered Rock

And you thought laying out type for the web was difficult. (thx, nick)

A theory on Jon Snow's parentageJul 21 2014

If you've been paying attention to the promos for HBO's Game of Thrones series, there's been a lot of Jon Snow sitting on the Iron Throne. When the show started, Snow seemed like a relatively minor character, but his uncertain parentage hinted at possible greater things on the horizon. Here's a video explanation of one of the more popular theories about Snow's parents:

BTW, if you, like me, haven't read the books and have only seen the TV show, the video doesn't contain any outright spoilers, only enriching context. So watch away. And if you've read the books, you probably don't need to watch the video because you're probably already aware of this old theory. If you're interested, there are more theories (and crazy spoilers) where that came from.

12 Monkeys TV series trailerJul 18 2014

The first season of a new series based on 12 Monkeys (and La Jetée) is set to debut on Syfy in January; here's the trailer:

(via the verge)

Elevating bread and butterJul 18 2014

Bread and butter is often an afterthought at restaurants...the bread can be meh and bland butter served too cold to spread. Chef Dan Richer takes the bread and butter offered at his New Jersey restaurant as seriously as any of the other items on his menu.

Cultured butter is delicious...Per Se serves it as well. (via digg)

Airship hangar waterpark funtimesJul 18 2014

In his new video, Casey Neistat and his son visit a German waterpark housed in a giant former airship hangar.

Some information on the structure from the waterpark's web site:

The Tropical Islands Dome is gigantic. In fact, it is the largest free-standing hall in the world: 360 metres long, 210 metres wide and an incredible 107 metres high.

That is big enough to fit the Statue of Liberty in standing up and the Eiffel Tower lying on its side. The Tropical Islands Dome covers an area of 66,000 m², the size of eight football fields. And it is high enough to fit in the whole of Berlin's Potsdamer Platz, with all its skyscrapers.

(via john hodgman)

The Forest Man of IndiaJul 17 2014

Since 1979, Jadav Payeng has planted every single tree in a forest that covers some 1360 acres of an island in the Jorhat district of India. The forest helps prevent the erosion of the island and is now home to elephants, rhinos, tigers, and other animals. Forest Man is a short documentary film on how this forest came to be.

(via @AdmiralTwombly)

How ramen noodles are madeJul 17 2014

Sun Noodle makes the ramen noodles for a host of the top ramen shops in NYC, LA, and elsewhere (Ivan, Momofuku, etc.)...here's a look at how the noodles are made in their New Jersey factory:

See also how to make hand-pulled noodles and Sun Noodle's fresh ramen kits are available for retail (via devour)

Distance Over TimeJul 16 2014

In his mid-20s, James Golding was diagnosed with cancer. In the hospital, he weighed 84 pounds and was given a 5% chance of living. Five years later, he embarked on a journey to France to break the record for most distance ridden on a bike in 7 days. This video follows Golding through his record-breaking attempt.

The video was produced by the same team that did the lovely Experiments in Speed video.

If Doctor Who were American...Jul 15 2014

Back in February, Smug Mode chose American counterparts for all of Doctor Who's past incarnations. We're talking Dick Van Dyke as the 2nd Doctor, Gene Wilder for the 4th Doctor, and Donald Glover as the 11th Doctor. Here's a nicely done faux 50th anniversary video celebrating those Doctors:

(via @moth)

The Bike BrothersJul 11 2014

In 1986, the BBC produced a short documentary film on the Taylor brothers, a trio of professional cyclists from the 1930s and 40s. The three of them operated a bicycle shop, which turned out handmade bikes for decades.

Delightful. Don't miss one of the brothers putting the racing stripes on a frame by hand starting at around 12:00. You can read a bit more about the brothers here and here. (via @cdevroe)

Ten most memorable film editsJul 11 2014

From CineFix, a collection of ten of the most iconic and memorable editing moments in cinematic history.

(via @brillhart)

The unfinished films of Stanley KubrickJul 11 2014

Narrated by Malcolm McDowell and featuring interviews from many collaborators and colleagues, Lost Kubrick is a short documentary on the films that Stanley Kubrick never finished.

Through interviews and abundant archival materials, this documentary examines these "lost" films in depth to discover what drew Kubrick to these projects, the work he did to prepare them for production, and why they ultimately were abandoned. Some of the unfinished project discussed here are "Napoleon", "The Aryan Papers" and also "A.I" (which we know finally made by Steven Spielberg).

World's fastest pancake flipperJul 10 2014

Everyone has a superpower. This guy's superpower is that he can flip mini-pancakes faster than I thought humanly possible.

I love watching stuff like this...here's a guy chopping lemons in half 20 times quicker than Superman himself would.

ps. This is still the world's best pancake recipe.

PalletskateboardspottingJul 09 2014

Man rides the rails on a giant skateboard made out of a wooden pallet:

That worked way better than I would have expected. (via digg)

Game of Thrones season 4 visual effectsJul 09 2014

This is a reel from Mackevision, showing the visual effects they did for season 4 of Game of Thrones. I wasn't expecting all the boats to be fake.

This reel does a better job than most in showing the process and how all the different elements fit together. Also interesting to see how much the digital greebles make everything seem way more realistic.

Update: And here's another reel of VFX from season 4 by Rodeo FX.

AffinageJul 08 2014

A short film about how Neal's Yard Dairy, a top seller of cheese in London, works with producers to make cheese.

I had a tour of the caves below Murray's in the West Village where they do the same sort of thing as at Neal's Yard. Pretty cool to see the process in action and to taste the same cheeses at different ages.

Worn awayJul 08 2014

Oh, this is wonderful: Laurin Döpfner took an industrial sander to objects like logs, electronics, a camera, and a walnut, shaved off 0.5 mm at a time, and made a time lapse video of the results.

This is like a full-color MRI process. Could watch it all day. (via colossal)

Urban GiantsJul 08 2014

In the early 1930s, Western Union and AT&T built two new buildings in lower Manhattan to house their telecommunications infrastructure. Here's a short film about their construction and ongoing use as hubs for contemporary telecom and internet communications.

Amazing that those buildings are still being used for the same use all these years later...they just run newer and newer technology through the same old conduits.

One woman, 17 British accentsJul 03 2014

Watch actress Siobhan Thompson do 17 different British and Irish accents:

Much better done and more entertaining than this tour of British accents I featured back in April. (via @Atul_Gawande)

Halt and Catch Fire titlesJul 02 2014

Speaking of Halt and Catch Fire, the title sequence is pretty awesome:

I am also currently trying (and mostly failing) not to have a giant crush on Mackenzie Davis, who plays crack programmer Cameron Howe on the show, reads Infinite Jest in Brooklyn coffee shops, gets anxious about talking on the phone (me too!), and has recently read The Soul of a New Machine (me too!). Am I wrong to think we'd totes be BFFs?!

Update: The Art of the Title did a feature on the H&CF titles, which includes 55 photos of storyboards. Pretty cool to see the process. (via @ScottIvers)

The putter togethererJul 02 2014

A person who makes scissors by hand is called a putter, short for putter togetherer. The Putter is a four-minute silent film by Shaun Bloodworth that shows putter Cliff Denton making scissors.

You can order a pair of these handmade scissors at Ernest Wright & Sons; a pair of 6-inch desk scissors are £23, but they come with a lifetime guarantee and I bet you won't find a better pair of scissors anywhere. The wonderful music in that video is by The Black Dog. (via colossal)

Scorsese's silenceJun 30 2014

Martin Scorsese uses silence very effectively in his films. Tony Zhou explains:

(via dot info)

Tree-eating machineJun 30 2014

This terrifying machine, called a DAH Forestry Mulcher, eats an entire 30-foot tall tree in less than 15 seconds.

Ok humanity, now invent a machine that plants 30-foot tall trees in 15 seconds... (via digg)

The GunfighterJun 27 2014

Clever little short film. Meta. Inappropriate.

I enjoyed this conversation about the film. I have no idea which three edits Adam thought were late, but then again I am not a fancypants filmmaker. (via @gruber)

Paper to pixelsJun 26 2014

Nice little video essay on information theory and Claude Shannon, "the most important man you've probably never heard of".

I dare you to watch this entire videoJun 25 2014

(via @KBAndersen)

Soccer: 55 vs. 2Jun 25 2014

Watch as two players from the Japanese national soccer team try to score against 55 kids.

The kids had two opportunities to stop the pro players, once with 33 players and the second time with 55 players. This didn't turn out how I expected, given how a similar stunt involving fencing ended.

This was posted on Marginal Revolution a few days ago and garnered several interesting comments about how much better professional athletes are than us regular folk. Here are a few:

Rugby: I played against an international player once. Watching him play, I'd seen a chap who ran in straight lines, a strong tackler with a weak kick. Playing against him revealed him to be skillful, agile and possessed of a howitzer kick.

Back in the 1980s a friend was watching a pickup basketball game in Boston and reported what happened when a player from the Celtics showed up. He was so much faster, more athletic, and more agile than the other players that it seemed like he was playing a different sport. The player turned out to be Scott Wedman, who by that time was old and slow by NBA standards, and mainly hung around the 3-point line to shoot outside shots after the defense had collapsed on Bird, McHale, et al. But compared to non-NBA players, he was Michael Jordan (or LeBron James).

My U-19 team (we were very good by local standards) had a practice with the New Zealand All Blacks, who were on some sort of tour. It was like they were from a different planet. I stood no chance of containing, or conversely getting past, the smallest of them under almost any circumstance.

Back in the olden thymes I was a pretty good baseball player. Early in my high school career I got the chance to catch a AAA pitcher. I went into thinking I would have no trouble. The first pitch was on top of me so fast I was knocked off balance. It took a bunch of pass balls before I got used to how to handle his breaking stuff.

The result in the video might also shed some light on the question of choosing to fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses.

The view from the pelotonJun 23 2014

This is intense: video from one of the riders during the sprint finish of stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse.

I don't know how all of those riders are working that hard so close together without constantly crashing into each other. The number of "I've got my bike slightly in front of your bike now move the hell over" moves shown in the video reminded me of how NYC taxi drivers negotiate the streets of Manhattan. (via @polarben)

Football and PeaceJun 23 2014

For a Visa commercial, Errol Morris gathers a number of Nobel Peace Prize winners and nominees (including Lech Walesa) to talk about how important it is for their countries to beat the crap out of the other countries in the World Cup.

Two quotes in the video caught my ear:

Sport is a continuation of war by other means.

Look, football isn't life or death. It's much more important than that.

The first is a riff on Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz's aphorism "War is the continuation of Politik by other means". Clausewitz also devised the concept of "the fog of war", which Morris used for the title of a film. The second is a paraphrase of a quote by legendary football coach Bill Shankly:

Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.

The leaf that hates waterJun 20 2014

Aatish Bhatia noticed a plant in his backyard whose leaves naturally repelled water. He took a sample to a friend who had access to a high-speed camera and an electron microscope to investigate what made the leaves so hydrophobic.

But how does a leaf become superhydrophobic? The trick to this, Janine explained, is that the water isn't really sitting on the surface. A superhydrophobic surface is a little like a bed of nails. The nails touch the water, but there are gaps in between them. So there's fewer points of contact, which means the surface can't tug on the water as much, and so the drop stays round.

The leaf is so water repellant that drops of water bounce right off of it:

From the pencil of Chuck JonesJun 17 2014

From the official Chuck Jones Tumblr, an early sketch of the Road Runner and Coyote by Jones.

Chuck Jones, Road Runner, Coyote

Also by Jones, how to draw Bugs Bunny:

(via @peeweeherman)

Infant self-rescue in waterJun 17 2014

Baby float

The NY Times has a bunch of photos by Seth Casteel of babies undergoing infant survival swim training.

Zoe was being introduced to "self-rescue," in which babies are taught to hold their breath underwater, kick their feet, turn over to float on their backs and rest until help arrives.

The self-rescue idea is pretty amazing. You take kids who can't talk and can barely walk and teach them how to float on their backs. I didn't really believe it until I saw it:

Bonus summer PSA: drowning doesn't look like drowning.

A people's center of the United StatesJun 16 2014

The center of the population of the United States has been moving steadily west and south since 1790. This video shows the progression until 2010:

You can step through the animation yourself on the US Census Bureau site. It's interesting to see how even the changes are...there was one big jump from 1850 to 1860 and a slow down in westward migration from 1890 to 1940, but other than that, it shifted west about 40-50 miles each decade.

Louis C.K. in 1987Jun 12 2014

Here's Louis C.K. at 20 years old doing a stand-up routine in Boston in 1987.

Thankfully, he got better. A lot better. Even 3-4 years later he was better...and wait, is that Phil Hartman in the audience at ~2:45?! (via open culture)

Jurassic Park's groundbreaking digital dinosaursJun 10 2014

Great short film about how ILM's groundbreaking visual effects came to be used in Jurassic Park.

When Spielberg originally conceived the movie, he was going to use stop-motion dinosaurs. ILM was tasked with providing motion blur to make them look more realistic. But in their spare time, a few engineers made a fully digital T. Rex skeleton and when the producers saw it, they flipped out and scrapped the stop-motion entirely. Fun story.

Nasty dunk by sophomore Kwe'Shaun ParkerJun 09 2014

Kwe'Shaun Parker is a 6'2" high-school sophomore and recently threw down one of the sickest dunks of the year:

Dang! I mean, DANG! Here's Parker last year as a freshman doing some equally amazing stuff:

(via @cory_arcangel)

Chimps are amazing game theoristsJun 09 2014

I saw the trailer for the new Planet of the Apes movie last night and it looks amazing, but that's not what I came to talk about. A recent paper shows that chimps do better in some strategy games than humans.

Chimps play the cat and mouse game very well. First, the chimps converge on the Nash Equilibrium strategies. In one set of games the Nash equilibrium strategies had randomization frequencies of .5, .75 and .8 and the chimps played .5, .73 and .79. Second, when payoffs change the chimps adapt their strategies very quickly simply by observation of outcomes.

Camerer et al. also tested humans in similar games and they found that humans often deviate from NE play and they adjust their strategies more slowly when payoffs change, i.e. they learn more slowly! The only thing that Camerer didn't do was to play humans against chimps in the same game. That would have been awesome!

But that's nothing compared to this video of a chimp remembering the placement of nine numbers on a screen after seeing them for less than a quarter of a second:

That's a literal jaw-dropper there.

Bad British hockey commentaryJun 09 2014

Anthony Richardson is back, offering his British commentary on American sports. This time it's hockey:

Mary Poppins, look how small the goals are, the size of a matchbox guarded by an overzealous beekeeper.

See also Bad British NFL commentary and Bad British baseball commentary.

My mom's motorcycleJun 04 2014

A short film by Douglas Gautrand about how his mom came to own a motorcycle. It all starts with his grandfathers...

Thunderstorm supercellsMay 30 2014

From Stephen Locke, a time lapse video of thunderstorm supercells forming near Climax, Kansas.

Jiminy, that's breathtaking. I didn't know there was so much rotation involved in thunderstorms...the entire cloud structure is rotating. (via bad astronomy)

London growingMay 29 2014

Video of the growth of London from Roman times to the present, with a focus on the structures that have been protected from each era.

London was the most populous city in the world from the 1830s, a title it took from Beijing, until the 1920s, when New York City took the crown.

HamletMay 29 2014

From 2009, the Royal Shakespeare Company's modern-dress production of Hamlet, featuring David Tennant as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as Claudius.

The site the BBC produced for the show contains more information on the production. (via @mulegirl)

Difficult ballet moves in slow motionMay 29 2014

Professional dancers from the Washington Ballet show off their most difficult moves, filmed in slow motion.

(via colossal)

Where did Star Wars come from?May 29 2014

Yesterday I posted a video looking at the influence of Akira Kurosawa on Star Wars. Well, Michael Heilemann has posted an amazing feature-length exploration of Star Wars and the films that influenced it.

It's not Heilemann talking about anything...it's a sort of meta-Star Wars comprised of dozens of elements from other films that influenced Lucas in making it. For instance, here's the opening crawl from Forbidden Planet (1956):

Forbidden Planet

Heilemann also includes a crawl from a 1936 Flash Gordan serial. For more, check out Kitbashed, particularly the extensive ebook on Star Wars sources.

How We Got to Now trailerMay 28 2014

Steven Johnson has been working on a six-part series for PBS called How We Got to Now. (There's a companion book as well.) The series is due in October but the trailer dropped today:

And here's a snippet of one of the episodes about railway time. I'm quite looking forward to this series; Johnson and I cover similar ground in our work with similar sensibilities. I'm always cribbing stuff from his writing and using his frameworks to think things through and just from the trailer, I counted at least three things I've covered on kottke.org in the past: Hedy Lamarr, urban sanitation, and Jacbo Riis (not to mention all sorts of stuff about time).

Landing her first 540May 28 2014

Nine-year old Sabre Norris started skating three years ago because she couldn't have a bike. Here she lands her first 540 after 74 straight failed attempts.

My favorite trick is a 540. I watched Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins do it on the internet, and I just had to do it. That was my 75th attempt of the day. Every time I tried one and didn't land it I put a rock on the table. It ended up being my 75th rock. I was frothing. I did some 720s too. Not proper. I called it 540 to revert to splat. I didn't cry though. My goal is to do 100 of them before this Saturday. I'm up to 75. I still can't ride a bike, but I can do a 540.

See also a nine-year-old's first big ski jump. (via @torrez)

Star Wars and Akira KurosawaMay 28 2014

This video looks at the influence of Akira Kurosawa and his films (especially The Hidden Fortress) on George Lucas and Star Wars.

How are Samurai films and a car crash responsible for Star Wars? How did World War II affect the global film industry in the 20th century? Why are Jedi called Jedi?? Give us 8 minutes, and we'll explain it all...

(via devour)

How to do visual comedyMay 27 2014

Using Edgar Wright as a positive example, Tony Zhou laments the lack of good visual comedy in American comedies and provides examples from Wright's films (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, etc.) to show how it's done properly.

Hot Fuzz is one of my favorite comedies...the scene Zhou shows of the Andys sliding off screen and then quickly back in consistently leaves me in stitches. (via digg)

Good Morning MinnesotaMay 27 2014

Photographer Alec Soth is interviewed by his young son Gus about his job, art, and leaving his family for work.

This is completely charming and awesome and heartbreaking. (via @polan)

Tour of the Fire LabMay 23 2014

From the team at The Atlantic Video, a tour of the Fire Lab in Missoula, Montana, where they basically just set stuff on fire to better understand the behavior of fire.

Massive wildfires cost billions of dollars and burn millions of acres in the U.S. every year, but we know surprisingly little about the basic science of how they spread. At the Fire Lab in Missoula, Montana, researchers reverse-engineer spreading fires using wind tunnels, fire-whirl generators, and giant combustion chambers. They're finding that fire is a mysterious phenomenon, and the physics behind it is often counterintuitive.

As a borderline pyromaniac, I will watch slow motion fire all day, especially when it involves fire tornadoes.

Morgan Freeman on heliumMay 23 2014

This is the Fridayest link of all time: Morgan Freeman talking while on helium.

I'm not even gonna Kottke this up by explaining why helium makes your voice all high. Just sit back and enjoy this perfect Friday nothing. (via @DavidGrann)

Plants app by TinybopMay 22 2014

My friends at Tinybop have unleased their second app for kids: Plants.

Unearth the secrets of the green kingdom! Explore the world's biomes in this interactive diorama: conduct the seasons, rule the weather, ignite a wildfire, and burrow down with critters and roots. Temperate forest and desert biomes are featured in the first release of Plants. Buy now and get the next two biomes-tundra and temperate grasslands -- for free when they're released.

Can't wait to explore this with the kids...Tinybop's Human Body was a hit in our household. Oh, and don't miss the making of video for the trailer above...Kelli Anderson knocks it out of the park again.

Life ItselfMay 21 2014

The trailer for the documentary about Roger Ebert is out:

Two thumbs up, way up. (thx, david)

The Moon, closerMay 19 2014

If the Moon orbited the Earth at the same distance as the International Space Station, it might look a little something like this:

At that distance, the Moon would cover half the sky and take about five minutes to cross the sky. Of course, as Phil Plait notes, if the Moon were that close, tidal forces would result in complete chaos for everyone involved.

There would be global floods as a tidal wave kilometers high sweeps around the world every 90 minutes (due to the Moon's closer, faster orbit), scouring clean everything in its path. The Earth itself would also be stretched up and down, so there would be apocalyptic earthquakes, not to mention huge internal heating of the Earth and subsequent volcanism. I'd think that the oceans might even boil away due to the enormous heat released from the Earth's interior, so at least that spares you the flood... but replaces water with lava. Yay?

Interstellar trailerMay 16 2014

Can I get a McConaugheeeeey? The first trailer for Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is out.

io9 called it "thrilling", but I'm gonna give this one a "hmmmmm."

Creation clip from NoahMay 12 2014

This was one of my favorite scenes the film...Russell Crowe's Noah telling his children the creation story, which ends up being half supernatural and half evolution.

Worth watching for the special effects alone.

Richard Sherman and the value of preparationMay 09 2014

Richard Sherman is a football player for the Seatt...hey, HEY!, you nerds that were about to wander off because I'm talking about sportsball, come on back here. Like I was saying, Sherman plays cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, who won the Super Bowl last year. The thing is, whatever it is you do, Richard Sherman is way better at his job than you are at yours. And he's able to explain how he does what he does, which, if you've ever been to a technology conference or read more than a thing or two linked from Hacker News, you know is even more rare.

Sherman is, by his own admission, not particularly athletically gifted in comparison to some others in the NFL, but he's one of the top 5 cornerbacks in the game because he studies and prepares like a mofo. In this video, he explains how he approaches preparing for games and shares some of the techniques he uses to gain an advantage over opposing quarterbacks and receivers.

Sherman is obviously really intelligent, but his experience demonstrates once again the value of preparation, hard work, and the diligent application of deliberate practice.

How to Build a Time MachineMay 08 2014

How to Build a Time Machine is a documentary about two men on separate quests to build their own time machines. Here's a teaser trailer:

Ronald Mallett's reason for his search for a way to travel through time is quite poignant...he shared his story in a book and on an episode of This American Life back in 2007. (via ★interesting)

Seaplane takes off from trailerMay 08 2014

What do you do when you have a seaplane without wheels, no water, and you need to take off? You put it on a trailer, drag it down the runway until you get the proper speed, and just pull back on the stick:

Damn, that's cool. I knew it was gonna take off and it still baked my noodle a little bit. I think this is why so many people (myself included) had trouble with the airplane on the treadmill question. All that really matters for takeoff and continued flight is the speed of the plane relative to the air -- how it gets to that point or what the surface is doing isn't really relevant -- but when you're observing it, it seems impossible. (via @deronbauman)

Star Wars prequels, recutMay 08 2014

So, this showed up on Vimeo last night and will likely be pulled soon (so hit that "download" button while you can), but here's the deal. In 2012, actor Topher Grace showed an edit he'd done of episodes I-III of Star Wars to a bunch of friends, trimming the 7 hours of prequels down into 85 action-packed minutes of pure story. This Vimeo edit is longer (2:45) and is "based on the structure conceived by actor Topher Grace", which you can read about here.

Grace's version of the film(s) centers on Anakin's training and friendship with Obi-Wan, and his relationship with Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). Gone are Trade Federation blockades, the Gungan city, the whole Padmé handmaiden storyline, the explanation of midichlorians, the galactic senate and the boring politics, Anakin's origins (a backstory which never really needed to be seen in the first place), the droid army's attack on Naboo, and Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) appears only briefly for only one line of dialogue, used as a set-up to introduce us to the Queen.

(via @bursts)

Octopus opens jar from the insideMay 07 2014

Watch this octopus open a jar from the inside:

Octopuses are wicked smart. I like how, after he gets the lid off, he's content to just hang out in there. (via @tylercowen)

The 12 principles of animationMay 05 2014

During the 1930s, animators at Walt Disney Studios developed a list of 12 basic principles of animation through which to achieve character and personality through movement. These principles were laid out in The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. #6 is "slow-out and slow-in":

As action starts, we have more drawings near the starting pose, one or two in the middle, and more drawings near the next pose. Fewer drawings make the action faster and more drawings make the action slower. Slow-ins and slow-outs soften the action, making it more life-like. For a gag action, we may omit some slow-out or slow-ins for shock appeal or the surprise element. This will give more snap to the scene.

Animator Vincenzo Lodigiani recently visualized the principles using a simple cube shape. You can see them individually here or all together in this video:

In a nod to the increasing prevalence of animation in app design, Khoi Vinh notes:

It's a good reminder that as the overlap between interface design and animation grows wider, designers would do well to take note of the many decades of insight and knowledge that animators have accrued.

(via hn)

The Overview EffectMay 02 2014

Spain vineyards

The Daily Overview offers up an interesting satellite photo every day. The site's name is inspired by the Overview Effect:

The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts' perspective of Earth and mankind's place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment. 'Overview' is a short film that explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect. The film also features important commentary on the wider implications of this new understanding for both our society, and our relationship to the environment.

The Planetary Collective made a short documentary about the Overview Effect:

(thx, pavel)

All for one and one for allMay 01 2014

A Japanese TV show took three expert fencers and pitted them against 50 amateurs.

I honestly didn't think this would be that interesting and expected the Musketeers to easily get taken out right away or, if they survived more than 30 seconds, to handily finish off the rest of the crowd...nothing in between. But it's fascinating what happens. The crowd, being a crowd, does not initially do what it should, which is rush the experts and take them out right away with little regard for individual survival. But pretty much every person fights for themselves. And instead of getting easier for the Musketeers near the end, it gets more difficult. The few remaining crowd members start working together more effectively. The survival of the fittest effect kicks in. The remaining experts get sloppy, tired, and perhaps a little overconfident. The ending was a genuine shock. (via digg)

Traffic at the world's craziest intersectionApr 29 2014

I have not done an exhaustive search, but this intersection in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has to have some of the craziest traffic in the world.

Once you get the gist of what the cars are doing, pay attention to the pedestrians. !!! My other favorite crazy traffic locale is Saigon, Vietnam...here's how you cross the street there:

Move slowly and purposefully across the street and just let the traffic flow around you. It's an odd sensation giving up so much control over your personal safety, but it's the only way to cross so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

How to make a watchApr 29 2014

I haven't worn a watch in more than 25 years and I have no plans to wear one ever again, but I will watch videos on how to make watches until the heat death of the universe.

Plenty of tradition and handcraft -- combined with high-tech, where it outperforms handcraft.

(via daring fireball)

Barry Sanders, GOATApr 28 2014

A nice appreciation of Barry Sanders by Andrew Sharp at Grantland.

"Barry Sanders is my new idol," Bo Jackson said after a Raiders-Lions game in 1990. "I love the way the guy runs. When I grow up, I want to be just like him."

The Raiders won that game, and the Lions were 4-9 at the time, but it didn't even matter.

All anyone could talk about afterward was the "little water bug" who "might rewrite history."

This wasn't necessarily a metaphor for Barry's entire Lions career -- he was on more playoff teams than people remember -- but it definitely covers about half the years he spent in Detroit. Even when the Lions were awful, Barry would still have a few plays every game that would keep people gawking afterward.

Bo Jackson had a similar effect on people, which is part of what makes that old quote so cool. The Bo Jackson combination of speed and power is something we'd never seen before and haven't seen since. He was a cult hero then, and the legend has only grown over the years.

I've always been an atypical sports fan. I grew up in Wisconsin rooting for the Packers & Brewers but switched to being a Vikings & Cubs fan sometime in high school. But despite following the Vikings at the time, my favorite player in the NFL was Barry Sanders. For my money, Sanders was pure symphonic excellence in motion, the best running back (and perhaps player) the NFL had ever seen and maybe will ever see. I wonder if one of the reasons why I like Lionel Messi so much is because he reminds me of Sanders; in stature, in strength, in quickness, in skill. Compare and contrast some of their finest runs:

BoyhoodApr 25 2014

Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise) took 12 years to make his new movie, Boyhood. The star of Boyhood, Ellar Coltrane, was seven years old when filming started, and Linklater returned to the story every year for a few days of shooting to construct a movie about a boy growing from a first-grader to an adult and his changing relationship with his parents.

This looks amazing. What an undertaking.

NYC fire brigade, circa 1893Apr 25 2014

From the incredible British Pathé archive, film footage from 1893 of the New York City fire brigade rushing to a fire.

Filmed nearly 120 years ago, this is quite possibly the first ever footage of the New York Fire Brigade. The film is very grainy but it clearly shows firemen rushing through New York on horse drawn engines. Behind them, you can see some sort of electric powered streetcar or trolley system with 'Clinton Avenue' on the back.

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