Jul 17, 2014

No Two Stars Are Alike In "One Of A Kind"

One Of A Kind is a visually stunning, transcendental short about the existence of the world and it's many interesting characters and eras, as portrayed via an ever changing dinner party cast. Fantastically narrated by Jim Carter, we're made to realize that this animated short isn't about any one character, but about the concept of individuality that every human possesses, and how no two people/creatures are alike.

And holy crap, that establishing shot with those beautiful, expressionist environments made my jaw drop. This is one of those shorts that feels like a perfect blend of music, art and narrative- So much so that the creators made it look somewhat effortless. Kudos to the folks at Trunk Animation, including director Rok Predin, this is one of the best executed animated shorts I've seen in a long time.

Magical Mistakes - "Hollow Bodies"

I first learned about Magical Mistakes, comprised of Osaka based expat Erik Lueb during a festival which had something called a 'chill out' tent, which would allow people to listen to soothing ambient tracks and mellow out from the typical chaos that these types of events produced. I was quite captivated by his style, which incorporated a lot of 'found' sounds into his tracks.

His latest music video for Hollow Bodies was created in collaboration with director Markus Hofko (Who's directed tracks for Flying Lotus and D├ębruit), and was executed as a public performance piece in tune to the music. The track is from the awesome 'Deassemble Reassemble' EP, which you can check out and purchase over here.

All Hell Breaks Loose In "Make It Sound Fat"

Tempted by the siren call of a mysterious box of donuts, a musician and island dweller finds himself transported to a strange, heavenly cloud realm. His musical inclinations and overwhelming curiosity ultimately end up cranking open a pandora's box of chaos on the inhabitants, until the actual master of that realm intervenes.

Created in a CG format, I definitely got some hints of McBess with the way they stylized the characters in this world, especially the blank eyed master and the noodly arms on all the characters. Make It Sound fat was created by a total of seven artists as a graduation film from the Bellecour 3D Program. It kind of felt like a modern and twisted version of Fantasia, in the best way possible of course.

Jul 16, 2014

The Insane Illustrations Of Xiao Botong

Xiao Botong is the type of foreign illustrator that strikes fear in the hearts of fledgling artists- With an extensive background in fine arts followed by a seamless transition into digital arts, the 29 year old Taiwanese illustrator is a veritable juggernaut of talent. What I particularly am fond of is his very understated usage of saturation in his pieces, which show an incredible sense of restraint when it comes to coming up with palettes for his sweeping fantasy illustrations.

Artists that we've featured in the past like the incredible Zhong Fenghua with his epic Journey to the West pieces and Jian Guan come to mind  when checking out Xiao's work. They all share a similar love for historic Chinese mythology and folk art, which they translate into some absolutely stunning work that showcases the best of what modern Chinese illustration has to offer. More of Xiao's incredible work after the break. Enjoy.

Masaaki Yuasa Directing A Trippy "Space Dandy" Episode - We Have No Clue What's Going On

And as expected from the director of movies like Mind Game, this episode is looking as bizarre as we've come to expect from his camp. Yuasa is contributing his quirky directing style to the 16th episode of the series, which airs this Sunday in Japan.

It's been a fantastic time for the director, who's been spearheading the popular Ping Pong anime series, as well as contributing his talents to co-directing western shows like Adventure Time (The 'Food Chain' episode). I'm predicting one of the strangest episodes of an anime I've probably seen in years, if the trailer is any indication.

"Wild & Wooly" Is A Colorful Romp

Wild & Wooly is an awesome little piece of motion design/animation from the likes of the Argentinian creative collective 2veinte. Featuring an ever evolving set of characters in the middle of a walk to no particular location, it's an ongoing process until a strange encounter with death puts an end to this strange stroll.

This is a nice example of straight ahead animation, which allows for some really fluid animations and cool transitions. Quite a fun watch.


Habitus is a term in sociology that refers to, "the lifestyle, values, dispositions and expectations of a particular social group that are acquired throughout everyday life experience within that group". A concept beautifully illustrated by Timor Barshtman in this sleek three-minute motion graphic that charts the course of one man's journey through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

Monkey Vs Crane In "Higher Sky"

Eric Cheng created this sequence for Higher Sky at the University of Southern California, and it's an amazing little martial arts sequence between a crane and a monkey who happen to run into each other at a waterfall. The fluidity of the animation, as well as the fantastic job that Cheng did at building up the confrontation is definitely worth pointing out.

Perfectly fitting with his personality, the monkey ensues in some truly antagonistic behavior to provoke the crane while it attempts to play it's wind flute. Considering his choice of weapon, it definitely draws some parallels with the legend of Sun Wukong, the monkey king. Check out Cheng's excellent animation reel after the break.

Jul 15, 2014

"Big Hero 6" Gets It's First Official Trailer

Following a few months of trailer, we finally got the first official trailer for Big Hero 6, Disney's upcoming feature-length animated release for 2014. Based off of the relatively fringe comic created by Marvel's Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Roleaue, Big Hero 6 follows the exploits of a Japanese superhero team, although the film adaptation takes place in a hybrid setting called 'San Fransokyo,' a trans-Pacific megalopolis.

Based off of the images released of the cast so far with characters including Go Go Tomago, Honey Lemon and Wasabi it seems like the cast has also been quite culturally diversified compared to their comic incarnations. Seems like a safe move to guarantee the broadest appeal possible when the movie comes out.

The movie follows lead character and robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada and his robotic sidekick Baymax as they team up with a group of reluctant crime fighters to take on a mysterious, Kabuki mask donning villain called Yokai. Fun fact, the comic book also starred the likes of Silver Samurai and Sunfire, but it's likely that those characters were sidelined due to Fox Studios currently having the Xmen license in their pocket.

The movie is being co directed by Don Hall (Winnie The Pooh) and Chris Williams (Bolt) as well as a whole smattering of staff from high profile projects like Frozen and Wreck It Ralph, so there's a pretty good chance that this will be quite an entertaining flick. The movie is slated to release on November 7. Check out a few more images of the rest of the Big Hero 6 cast after the break.

Jul 14, 2014

The Art Of Asuka III

Asuka III (Patipat Asavasena) is an illustrator hailing from Thailand, and probably our first glimpse at the countries 'Thainime' scene, which seems to have some very interesting characteristics of it's own. Pati's work is definitely inspired by the types of aesthetics we're accustomed to seeing from the Japanese anime, but he puts a much more painterly twist to his pieces.

Pati's pieces mostly feel like comic book covers, thanks to his choice of retaining a more western format compared to Manga, with their boxier, denser 5x7.5" format. Just like with young artists hailing from east Asian regions, it's cool to see how they interpret one of Japan's greatest exports, the anime art style into something that's their own. If you've been looking at artists from that particular region on a more granular scale, you start to notice some truly curious trends with their stylistic leanings. More of Asuka III's work after the break.

"Apehood" - Planet of the Apes Meets Boyhood

Two movies came out last weekend: The long awaited sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Richard Lanklater's groundbreaking indie darling Boyhood, filmed over the course of 12 years alongside a child growing up. Both were amazing movies in their own right, but Nelson Carvajal found a common link between the two features.

This is where Apehood comes into play- a fun mashup trailer starring Caesar as a young chimp growing up in an ever changing world. It's not quite an all American upbringing as the more innocent tale of Boyhood- There's a little more along the lines of unintended evolution, deadly primordial viruses and the extinction of humanity as a whole going for the whole Planet of the Apes angle. You can check out the Boyhood trailer after the break.

"Socialist Circle" - An Abstract Wonderland

Socialist Circle was best described by the user that sent it in as a 'retinal romp,' and I couldn't agree more as I couldn't make much sense of what was going on throughout it. There's a lot of visual metaphors to pick through here, and it's all left quite open to interpretation. Animator Pansak Bas's other work is similarly abstract, specializing in quirky animated loops and cycles with loose social commentary throughout. Best approach: Turn off your brain and let all the visuals sink in.

"Running" - Getting Nowhere Fast

You can attempt to run from many things in life: Conflict, people, challenges, but there's one thing you can never outrun...Aging. Such is the premise for Running, a really slick short by Konstantin Gdalevish starring a young man trying to do just that when an illusion of his older self appears.

Created at a relatively new school called the Holon Institue of Technology (HIT) as a graduation film, the aesthetics of this animated short feel like a really cool blend of Drive and Hotline Miami. The choice of centering him during the sidescrolling elements is a cool choice, driving home the fact that he's not getting anywhere.  

"MarioKart Arcade GP DX" Adds Some Tanky Twists To The Kart Formula

Hot off the heels of the excellent Mario Kart 8, Bandai Namco just announced it's latest arcade collaboration with Nintendo in the form of Mario Kart Arcade GP Deluxe, which looks like it'll finally be getting an official US release following some location tests earlier this year. The most noteworthy addition is a really curious 'fusion' technique in a new coop mode that allows two players to fuse into a tank and lay waste to the competition.

If you thought those blue shells were bad, I think this gameplay mechanic will offer a new chance for single riders to shoot some truly dirty stares at their coop competition in arcades. The title also features Don-chan from Taiko: Drum Master, which definitely enjoys more popularity as a franchise overseas (I don't think there's been a localized installment since Playstation 2).

The arcade title's US release seems to have timed itself to spin off the immense popularity of Mario Kart 8, which enjoyed better than expected sales figures and reception. Not a bad strategy, even I was tempted to pick a Wiiu up after enjoying a few evenings playing that awesome 8th installment.

Jul 13, 2014

A Look At Goro Miyazaki's Latest - "Ronia The Robber's Daughter"

The first trailer for Goro Miyazaki's latest foray into the directors seat since 2011's understated Up On Poppy Hill and 2007's divisive Tales from Earthsea is coming in the form of an upcoming TV show called Ronia. Based off of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren's 1981 story by the same name, the show will narrate the tale of a girl growing up in a medieval era setting alongside a clan of robbers in a castle.

A lot of people didn't expect the series to be a hybrid 2D/3D short, with the trailer revealing that the characters will actually be cel shaded models on hand painted backgrounds. This has lead to quite a bit of heated discussion between fans of Ghibli's work, decrying Goro's choices with the series- Although honestly we've already seen Ghibli go down the 3D route with the likes of the Level 5/Studio Ghibli videogame Ni No Kuni.

The production is a collaboration between Studio Ghibli, Polygon Pictures and Japan's NHK channel which is set to debut in the fall season of this year. No plans as of yet for a western adaptation.

"R-Kaid-R" - An Amazing Portable Arcade Machine

In our latest in the 'money to burn' series comes the 'R-Kaid-R,' an absolutely amazing, portable custom arcade cabinet from the mind of Love Hulten. The Swedish designer and craftsman wanted to create a tribute to the fading arcade scene with a hand crafted creation drawing from his expertise in wood working and love of vintage design. As he best put it, 'I want to make the arcade an equivalent next to the oil painting on your wall.'

The R-Kaid-R is being created as a limited edition series of 50 units, with a €2,499 ($3400) price tag for any reader of ours with some money to burn, not including the handcrafted leather carrying case. Absolutely love the nearly Fallout style retro theming he did with the cabinet, including the custom interface he designed.

R-Kaid-R (Arcader) is a manifest and a tribute to the arcade. A hybrid made from solid wood, combining yesterday's game physics with the digital spectrum of today. A handmade exclusive toy for the dedicated gamer, a creative link between the present and the past and a game jewel to possess. When not in use, the console is folded into a protective vessel, surrounded with elements of mystique and curiosity. A processed gemstone is sparkling inside, waiting to be revealed. 

The specs will give you ~8 hrs of gaming per charge and the hardware will emulate and support up to fifth-generation game systems. Using SD cards for storage, there's no limits when creating your own personal game library. Protected by a tailored shoulder bag made from leather, R-Kaid-R is undoubtedly the absolute arcade machine for the road. This handcrafted machine comes in different material/color concepts, inspired by material values from historic and cultural perspectives.