Wire Cutters

A chance encounter proves fateful for 2 robots mining on a desolate planet.

It’s like a grittier Wall-E.

Boing Boing: On Reddit, filmmaker Jack Anderson explains that the making of his film involved a “$0 budget but thousands of hours of love and about a YEAR of rendering.”

See also: Wanderers, a vision of humanity’s expansion into the Solar System.

Pixar in a Box
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Pixar in a box! Animation lessons from the masters

Well now, this is something!

Khan Academy: Pixar in a Box

A collaboration between Pixar Animation Studios and Khan Academy. Sponsored by Disney.

Don’t let the kid-friendly intro video put you off exploring the content. It all seems very good and there’s loads of mathematics, as you would expect from Khan Academy. They cover modelling, animation, rendering and other fun subjects like crowd ‘combinatorics’. I didn’t spot anything on lighting though, outside of the context of rendering.

See also


Animation Master Hayao Miyazaki’s Work Comes to Life in This Beautiful 3D Tribute

Made with Blender, Gimp, Octane and Natron, and lots of love for the films of Hayao Miyazaki.

Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki made with Blender 3D

Updated to include this making of video found via the Blender’s ‘User Stories’ blog

Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki – Making of

I found it especially interesting how he was able to edit the entire animation directly in Blender.

See also

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A tribute to Hayao Miyazaki in 3D

Miyazaki has come out of retirement (again) to make an animated short that will only play at the Studio Ghibli Museum that will be entirely computer generated.


Every Frame a Painting: Chuck Jones

Tony Zhou: If you grew up watching Looney Tunes, then you know Chuck Jones, one of all-time masters of visual comedy. Normally I would talk about his ingenious framing and timing, but not today. Instead, I’d like to explore the evolution of his sensibilities as an artist.

Chuck Jones’ rules for writing Road Runner cartoons

In his book Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist, Chuck Jones claimed that he and the artists behind the Road Runner and Wile E. cartoons adhered to some simple but strict rules:

  1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “meep, meep!”
  2. No outside force can harm the Coyote — only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products. Trains and trucks were the exception from time to time.
  3. The Coyote could stop anytime — if he were not a fanatic. (“A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.” — George Santayana).
  4. No dialogue ever, except “meep, meep” and yowling in pain.
  5. The Road Runner must stay on the road — for no other reason than that he’s a roadrunner.
  6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters — the southwest American desert.
  7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
  8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.
  9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
  10. The audience’s sympathy must remain with the Coyote.
  11. The Coyote is not allowed to catch or eat the Road Runner.

However, in an interview years after the series was made writer Michael Maltese said he had never heard of these ‘rules’.

(via kottke.org, though it’s interesting to note that the wording varies quite a bit depending on where you find this list, like Mental Floss, Open Culture and Wikipedia.)

Bartkira the Animated Trailer

Bartkira is an animated parody mash-up of The Simpsons and Akira. Based on an idea by Ryan Humphrey articulated through comics, the concept was expanded with the Bartkira project, a comic collaboration of Simpsons fans, curated by James Harvey. In association with the comic, Moon Animate Make-Up producer Kaitlin Sullivan pitched the idea of an animated trailer to match and with the work of over fifty artists, produced the Bartkira animated trailer.

More Bartkira: www.bartkira.com | bartkira.tumblr.com | bartkiraroadshow.tumblr.com

See also: this ‘Akira’ fan made live-action trailer!

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Kurzgesagt: Making educational videos entertaining

Kurzgesagt (German for “in a nutshell”) make entertaining educational videos, like this one:

See also: 3 Reasons Why Nuclear Energy Is Terrible! & Nuclear Energy Explained.

Philipp Dettmer and Stephan Rether gave a talk at UX Munich 2015 about how (and why) they make their videos.

The Kurzgesagt team is comprised of 8 people: Philipp handles script and design, Stephan does the animation and there are two other designers, a German and English voice actor, a translator and a musician who does a bespoke score for each video!

There are lots of great educational YouTube channels, but this is one of my favourites.

See also


A daily photo project by JK Keller (1998–2014)

The project began out of spite. I had just purchased a digital camera (Nikon CoolPix 900), and it was rather expensive. My girlfriend at the time asked me why I bought it and what I was going to do with it. I explained. She seemed unconvinced and asked if I was “going to use it every day” with sarcastic inflection. I told her yes, and resolved to do so. Inception! (From the FAQ)

JK Keller

Chun-li animation
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Pixel artist renounces pixel art

“While they look a bit pixelated, the character models look quite good” –IGN review of KOF XIII

King of Fighters XIII

“Quite good”

This sprite is not “quite good.” It’s among the best 2D animation ever made in a video game. However good it is, it’s good in spite of it being “pixelated” according to many.

Blake Reynolds of Dinofarm Games was a pixel art purist. In this post he explains his recent change of heart.

The challenge was always in conveying to a lay person how lower fidelity artwork can be of higher quality than the apparently superior new product…

[…] it is easy to explain that the second image has a higher level of technology. Some may even be so taken with the spectacle of added color and resolution that they might mistakenly think Bubsy has the better artwork.

I could write you an entire book on why that is absolutely not the case, but that’s the thing – it’s not the audience’s responsibility to read that book. It’s my responsibility deliver them quality in a language they understand.

As for the future, I’m planning to shed purism and do my best to mature. I plan to embrace the medium, whatever that may be, and make the best art I possibly can.

Working in high resolution doesn’t prevent us from making great game art. The things that made pixel art great are the same things that make “HD” art great. Artists must make the decisions, not computers.

Continue reading

Pantone Minion Yellow
Shape of things to come

Pantone announces new colour: ‘Minion Yellow’

PANTONE Minion Yellow Swatch Card The press release is pretty hilarious too, and not in a deliberate way:

“Just as the sun’s rays enliven us, PANTONE Minion Yellow is a color that heightens awareness and creates clarity, lighting the way to the intelligence, originality and the resourcefulness of an open mind – this is the color of hope, joy and optimism,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute.

“An extroverted hue, it projects playfulness and warmth and is suggestive of intellectual curiosity and enlightenment.”

Pantone Announces PANTONE Minion Yellow

Now I’m no colour expert at the Pantone Color Institute®, but this officially licensed hue seems a little too pale to my eye. You only have to look at these images of the Minions themselves holding up the Pantone swatch card to see that they’re not exactly the same colour.

Via the highly technical process of using Photoshop’s blur and colour dropper tools for a few minutes I’ve sampled what I think looks like a more Minion-y yellow.

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Pixar’s RenderMan is now free!

RenderMan is now free for all non-commercial purposes, including evaluations, education, research, and personal projects. The non-commercial version of RenderMan is fully functional without watermark or limitation.

In this video subsurface scattering is demonstrated using the skin shader from RenderMan For Maya on an Alien from Toy Story.

Currently there are only RenderMan plugins for Maya and KATANA, but Cinema 4D and Houdini support is on the way. Personally I’m hoping someone will get on Blender support ASAP.

RenderMan Plug-in Support 
  Supported Underway Potential
3DS Max      
Nuke Supported via AOVs, LPEs & Deep Textures

See also


Resonant Chamber In this animation, it can be noted that there is only one dark sky with four windows and four different moons. One of them is the thick crescent moon, another is the full moon, third is the waning gibbous and the last one is the thin crescent moon. Inside the room, there are four lanterns already lit up.

Pipe Dreams This video is the second most famous Animusic animation, partially in thanks to an email hoax stating that the set was a real machine built at the University of Iowa using farm equipment. The hoax mail also said that it took 13,000 hours to make the performance (equivalent to about a year and a half), including building, calibrating, etc.

Fiber Bundles Towards the end of this piece’s commentary on the DVD, Wayne Lytle remarks that the music in the Ratchet & Clank series, written by David Bergeaud, may have had some influence over this piece.


  • Animusic HD videos on YouTube
  • Animusic on Wikipedia: “Unlike many other music visualizations, the music drives the animation. While other productions might animate figures or characters to the music, the animated models in Animusic are created first, and are then programmed to follow what the music “tells them” to. ‘Solo cams’ featured on the Animusic DVD shows how each instrument actually plays through a piece of music from beginning to end.”
  • Animusic.com
Craft and creativity

Animusic: Incredible computer animated music

Founded by Wayne Lytle, Animusic is an American company specialising in the 3D visualization of MIDI-based music.


Circle 7's Toy Story 3

In 2004, the partnership between Disney and Pixar came to an end, due to a feud between Pixar’s CEO Steve Jobs and Disney’s CEO Michael Eisner. Disney, who owned the rights to all of Pixar’s films, quickly established their own Pixar-like animation studio, Circle 7, and began working on sequels, including Finding Nemo 2, Monsters Inc. 2, and Toy Story 3.

In 2006, after a deal was struck between Jobs and Disney’s new CEO Bob Iger, Circle 7 Animation was shutdown, and all the sequels they had been working on scrapped.

The plot for Circle 7’s abandoned film was radically different to the Toy Story 3 that eventually hit cinemas in 2010. The script, by Meet The Parents writer Jim Herzfeld , sees the toys become concerned after spaceman action figure Buzz Lightyear begins to malfunction. Anxious to help Buzz, cowboy doll Woody and the rest of the toys decide to ship him to the Taiwanese factory where he was made, in the hopes that his makers will be able to repair him.

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The Toy Story 3 you never saw

In 2004, the partnership between Disney and Pixar came to an end. Disney quickly established their own Pixar-like animation studio, Circle 7, and began working on sequels, including Toy Story 3. — The Telegraph

Humans and other animals

World War I: The Seminal Tragedy

Extra Credits is an excellent series of videos about computer game design presented in a very entertaining and accessible way.

Occasionally Extra Credits turn their attention to history for a series called Extra History. First they looked at The Punic Wars, and now they’ve just finished an excellent four part series on the events that led to World War I.

You can support Extra History on Pateron.

Chapter 1: The Concert of Europe

“The world hinges on small things.”

The Concert of Europe held the continent together for years after the Napoleonic Wars, but as the leadership of great nations weakened over time, the stage was set for a colossal tragedy.

Watch parts 2, 3 and 4 →


Expiration Date is 15 minute animation from Valve featuring the Team Fortress characters.

Engineer and Medic make an unsettling new discovery while experimenting with the teleporter. Meanwhile, Scout stops insulting Spy long enough to ask him an embarrassing favor; the Administrator’s clerical assistant/cleaner/murder expert Miss Pauling races to bury some incriminating bodies; and Soldier makes a new metal friend.

via The Verge:

Valve has a flair for animated films; the series of brief Team Fortress character introductions like “Meet the Pyro” and “Meet the Medic” for Team Fortress has had more than 85 million views on YouTube and was widely hailed as a genius marketing campaign.

The illusion of life by Cento Lodigiani (via)

The 12 basic principles of animation were developed by the ‘old men’ of Walt Disney Studios, amongst them Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, during the 1930s.

See also: The 12 Principles Tumblr GIF gallery

Let’s Play Nomad X

During a ‘Let’s Play’ review of his favourite ’90s computer game, a man tells a story of heartbreak. Guiding us through the space simulator Nomad X, he offers hints and tips on gameplay, losing the love of his life … and why, yesterday, he got punched in the throat.

(via digg, which rightly compared it to “You Suck At Photoshop”)

The Planets are a series of short animations by Andy Martin born out of his project Handymartian’s Illustrated Aliens. These were some of my favourites:

Planet One

First up is ‘Planet One’ where the inhabitants get more than they bargained for when they get together for a little sing song…

Planet Two

On ‘Planet Two’ we follow a day in the life of one of it’s typical inhabitants… ahh the rat race, a struggle people from all over the cosmos have to deal with.

Planet Four

What do the robots do after they have taken over the planet. It turns out the ones on ‘Planet Four’ find harmony and discuss philosophical matters of enlightenment, beauty and magnificence.

Planet Eight

Food can be a dangerous business for the inhabitants of ‘Planet Eight’. But with fruit this tasty they just can’t help themselves.

More at Illustrated Aliens.

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The Planets

The Planets are a series of short animations born out of Andy Martin’s illustration project ‘Handymartian’s Illustrated Aliens’

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The true identity of Andy’s mom in Toy Story

Jon Negroni, the genius behind The Pixar Theory has another smaller but equally wild theory about the identity of Andy’s mother in Toy Story:

Andy’s mom has always been a bit of an enigma. In the first Toy Story, we barely even saw her face. That’s all fine because throughout the movies, the real focus has been on Andy and the love he has for those toys.

But this is Pixar, and it stands to reason that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the Davis family (Andy’s last name).

In order to understand who Ms. Davis really is, we have to start with something seemingly simple: a hat.
The True Identity of Andy’s Mom

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The subversive blockbuster

Playfully subversive and countercultural, the Lego Movie satirises surveillance culture and our modern-day neoliberal struggles, says Ben Walters.

Lego Bad Cop

The film’s exuberant, kid-friendly larks – Wild West! Robot pirates! Unicorn kittens! Batman! – are laced with satirical digs at surveillance culture, built-in obsolescence and police brutality, as well as inane positive thinking. Its opening sequences show a world in which a pliant, consumerist populace, mollified by overpriced coffee and dumb TV shows, is exploited by cynical leadership; political and corporate power are conflated in the villainous figure of “President Business”.

Our screens have been filled with images of urban collapse and apocalyptic destruction, dystopian wastelands and zombie hordes. But, like Washington and Westminster, Hollywood has been better at scaring us with the threat of calamity than inspiring hope for the new.

The Lego Movie – a toy story every adult needs to see – The Guardian


How to Draw Adventure Time

A sixteen-page manual detailing the intricacies of drawing Finn & Jake from Pendleton Ward’s Adventure Time series, hosted on Scribd by Fred ‘Frederator’ Seibert.

How to Draw Adventure Time

How to Draw Adventure Time

(via Boing Boing and Super Punch)

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How to Draw Adventure Time

A sixteen-page manual detailing the intricacies of drawing Finn & Jake from Pendleton Ward’s “Adventure Time” series.


Beauty a short video by Rino Stefano Tagliafierro. Impressive and atmospheric, but there’s some serious uncanny valley going on here!

(via kottke.org)

As a fan of matte paintings I particularly appreciated the landscapes. In fact, the film ends with one of my favourite classical landscape paintings, The Abbey in the Oakwood.

The Abbey in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich

The Abbey in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich

This is probably Thoreau’s most famous quote: “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.” I like to paraphrase it as: “Simplify”.

Maciej Cegłowski’s XOXO 2013 talk:

First, though, a word of warning. Thoreau is a wonderful writer and often extremely quotable. But when people are very quotable, it can make it harder to listen to what they actually have to say.

Walden is a layered work. You can’t just go in and strip-mine it for a bunch of Tim Ferriss-style life hacks, or inspirational quotes, without missing the entire point of the book.

Since we have limited time, though, I’ve gone and picked out some Tim Ferriss-style lifehacks and inspirational quotes, which I will present as a set of bullet points.
Thoreau 2.0