(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Animation

“Reason is the first casualty in a drought”*…

The 100th meridian runs from pole to pole, 100 degrees longitude west of the prime meridian in Greenwich, England. It cuts through six U.S. states, forming a partial boundary between Oklahoma and Texas. Powell identified this line as marking the point where the average annual rainfall dropped from 61 centimeters on the eastern edge to 46 centimeters at the western edge. New research shows a sharp aridity gradient still exists, but it’s moved east a bit, closer to the 98th meridian. Climate models predict it will move farther eastward in coming decades. Credit: National Atlas, modified by K. Cantner, AGI.

n 1878, without benefit of the Landsat program, GPS or Google, and just a decade after the creation of the National Weather Service, John Wesley Powell first advanced the idea that the climatic boundary between the United States’ humid East and arid West lay along a line “about midway in the Great Plains” — almost exactly 100 degrees longitude west of the prime meridian in Greenwich, England. This line, the 100th meridian, runs from pole to pole and cuts through six U.S. states, forming a partial boundary between Oklahoma and Texas. The 100th meridian also corresponds roughly to the 600-meter elevation contour as the land rises from the Great Plains toward the Rockies.

In his 1878 “Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States,” Powell identified the “arid region” as the land west of the 51-centimeter-per-year rainfall line, which closely tracked the 100th meridian. This amount of rainfall per year is about the minimum that permits farming without irrigation, and it also greatly influences the types of crops that can be grown. The line Powell noted as dividing the arid and humid sections of the continent has become known as the “effective” 100th meridian.

Powell’s original goal in describing the effective 100th meridian as a dividing line was to persuade the federal government to bear in mind the greater aridity when planning for settlement and development in the western territories, which would be very different than in the moisture-rich east…

Today, the 100th meridian is still considered a climatic boundary line, but that will likely change in the coming decades: The 51-centimeter rainfall line is gradually moving east due to climate change, according to recent research…

The very middle of the U.S. is becoming increasing drier, with what are sure to be huge consequences: “Dividing line: The past, present and future of the 100th Meridian.”

* Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water

###

As we ponder parching, we might send environmentally-unfriendly birthday greetings to C. Montgomery Burns; he was (fictionally) born on this date in 1893. A recurring character in the animated television series The Simpsons (voiced initially by Christopher Collins, and currently by Harry Shearer), he is the evil, devious, greedy, and fabulously wealthy owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and, by extension, Homer Simpson’s boss.

“Excellent.”

source

Written by LW

September 15, 2020 at 1:01 am

“The magician and the politician have much in common: they both have to draw our attention away from what they are really doing”*…

magic

Across his work as a designer and the publisher of CentreCentre books, London-based Patrick Fry is always looking for a stone unturned. This fascination with niche nuggets of cultural history has led to a unique selection of books, from a deep dive into Great British Rubbish, or forgotten postcards from South Yorkshire. His most recent venture, however, is into a subject a little more familiar – magic!

A long-time fan of traditional magic posters for their “lavish illustrations with magicians performing the impossible and their outrageous names written in fancy lettering,” surprisingly publishing a book on magic ephemera was something Patrick had never considered. This was largely due to it being “a world that has been recorded plenty” and against the criteria he would usually look for in a book, until he came across the vast magic collection of Philip David Treece.

Screen Shot 2020-08-31 at 5.13.39 PM

Found during a scroll through Twitter, Patrick came across Philip’s magic history blog, Collecting Magic, where he writes about his collection of ephemera and apparatus spanning the past 25 years. Thankfully for Patrick too, “Philip isn’t primarily concerned with the monetary value of the pieces, and as such has amassed a fascinating array that speaks more of the social history surrounding everyday working magicians.” Presented with a huge collection of gems “away from the large-scale stage magicians… it quickly became clear that the less famous and smaller-run design pieces would create a brilliant book.”…

Screen Shot 2020-08-31 at 5.15.02 PM

For fans of conjuring or design or (like your correspondent) both: “Magic Papers dives deep into the flamboyant design of magic ephemera.”

* Ben Okri

###

As we say “abracadabra,” we might recall that it was on this date that Universal released “Trolley Trouble” from Walt Disney Studios.  The first Disney cartoon to spawn a series, it featured Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (the creation of Walt’s long-time collaborator Ub Iwerks).  Oswald featured in 27 successful animated shorts– but Disney lost the rights to Universal.  So, he and Iwerks created a new featured character, Mickey Mouse.

On this date three years later, Pluto made his debut (with Mickey) in the short, “The Chain Gang.”

“I don’t think that there is any such thing as an old film; you don’t say, ‘I read an old book by Flaubert,’ or ‘I saw an old play by Moliere.'”*…

 

Stop Motion

 

A reprise of a sort…

If you were going to pick just one silent era stop motion short to watch–just one!–I’d happily recommend an early work by Ladislas Starevich: The Cameraman’s Revenge (1912). Yes, you’re reading that right–from 1912! Because despite being over a century old, it showcases a timeless skill, serves as an excellent introduction to silent era stop motion, and is pretty funny, if you ask me. Plus, depending on how well you know your classic comedies, the story just might be familiar…

 

If Buster Keaton had been Russian… and had worked in stop-motion: “Thoughts On: ‘The Cameraman’s Revenge’ (1912)

* Alain Resnais

###

As we meet the beetles, we might send grateful birthday greetings to James Arthur Baldwin; he was born on this date in 1924.  An essayist,  novelist, playwright, poet, and activist, he explored the intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in essays (as collected, for example, in Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time) and in novels (like Giovanni’s Room and If Beale Street Could Talk, which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film).  His unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, was expanded and adapted for cinema as the Academy Award–nominated documentary film I Am Not Your Negro.

In 1965, Baldwin met William F. Buckley at the Cambridge University Union to debate the proposition before the house: “The American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.”

Baldwin delivers his remarks slowly, somehow seeming both passionate and cool, like jazz. He is mesmerizing, as shown by the camera cutaways to the audience that sits rapt.

It almost seems unfair, a distortion, to excerpt Baldwin’s remarks because as a work of rhetoric, it surpasses even the best of Martin Luther King or JFK…

Perhaps it was brave of William F. Buckley to rise after Baldwin’s speech and take the opposite proposition, though it was likely far braver for Baldwin to accept the invitation in the first place. History has not provided a transcription of Buckley’s remarks, but in the video we can see that he scores some debaters’ points with some citations to authority and statistics. He garners laughs with a clever line or two. As compared to his 1961 editorial, Buckley’s stance is already moderating, as he never implies that blacks are savage and uncivilized as he does in that document.

In the end, the Cambridge Union Society took a vote on the proposition: “The American Dream is at the expense of the American negro.” The yays outpolled the nays 540-160.

Baldwin in a rout.

source  (see also Baldwin vs. Buckley: A Debate We Shouldn’t Need, As Important As Ever“)

 

 

“Animation can tell more than live action”*…

 

Tokri

 

A clumsy accident leads a young girl onto the streets of Mumbai in the hope of making things right. A gentle and touching father/daughter story depicted in exquisite stop-motion from Indian animation mainstay, Suresh Eriyat and his Studio Eeksaurus.

The idea for the story of Tokri came to Suresh from an incident that happened in his life. A little girl walked up to him one day at a signal trying to sell him some baskets. In Mumbai, one often finds beggars at traffic signals, and most of them are usually children. Suresh did not think much of it and shooed her away. As he drove off, he was hit with guilt, wondering what circumstance made the little girl sell baskets, and what if his brashness had done little but drag her situation for longer. He was perhaps her umpteenth attempt at selling it. There began his inspiration for the story.

Suresh wished to revive the popularity of clay animation through this film. Although clay animation is known to be a painstaking process that is both time consuming and tedious, it is an art that gives life to inanimate objects, bringing with it an energy on screen that shines through, one frame at a time. The project thus began with an enthusiastic group of young artists who had never worked on stop-motion of this scale before, and had never anticipated that it would eventually take 8 years to complete…

See the 14 minute film:

And you can peek behind that scenes of the production– and see how very hard Suresh and his team worked to earn the dozens of awards and accolades they’ve justly scored:

 

[TotH to Boing Boing]

* Makoto Shinkai

###

As we celebrate skill, we might recall that it was on this date in 1964 that Universal Studios, in the Universal City area of Los Angeles, opened to the public as a theme park.  (It had been in operation as a motion picture studio since 1912.)

285px-Universal_archway_2019 source

Also on this date (that is, today) Hong Kong Disneyland is closing indefinitely due to a resurgence of the coronavirus (having re-opened about a month ago after a pandemic-driven closure).  While Universal Studios LA is also closed (though the City Walk shopping area is partially open), the Orlando-based Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida are open, both with warnings that suggest “Exposure to COVID-19 is an inherent risk in any public location where people are present; we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed during your visit.”

HK Disney

Hong Kong Disneyland

source

 

Written by LW

July 15, 2020 at 1:01 am

“The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo”*…

 

flamingo

Flamingos (alive)

 

Why do flamingos stand on one leg?

… because it’s the easiest way to stand: their knee locks up and they balance perfectly, so they don’t have to engage any muscles. They can sleep standing one one leg.

Scientists tested whether they really didn’t have to use any muscle tension by getting dead flamingos and trying to balance them on one foot. Which apparently works.

The reason flamingos sleep on one foot is because the waters they live in are toxic. They live in lakes that are either filled with blue-green algae (usually a menace, its poisonous to most animals) or lakes so salty they can strip off human skin. (I imagine this is an advantage because there’s not much competition for food and nesting space in a toxic lake.)

Their legs are covered in tough, scaly skin, but their bodies are softer. If they were to sleep floating on the water like ducks do, the water would burn them. This idea of living your whole life perched…

Via @mckinleaf and her ever-illuminating newsletter The Whippet: “Dead flamingos can stand on one foot.”

* Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

###

As we achieve balance, we might recall that it was on this date in 1913 that cartoonist John Randolph (J.R.) Bray first exhibited his animated film, “The Artist’s Dream” (later retitled “The Dachshund and the Sausage” for reasons that will be obvious).  Bray was not the first animator; indeed, he was following purposefully in the steps of fellow cartoonist Windsor McCay, who had added animations of “Little Nemo” and “How a Mosquito Operates” to his stage presentations.  But Bray earned a place in the history of the art by being among the first– arguably the first– animator to organize his work and his studio according to the principles of industrial production (that’s to say, with division of labor)– an approach that has survived to this day.

 

 

Bray source

 

 

Written by LW

June 12, 2020 at 1:01 am

%d bloggers like this: