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The Third & the Seventh

Posted on 8 January 2010 at 4:28 am in Reviews.

While Avatar has changed expectations for CG rendering in major Hollywood blockbusters, the following short film “The Third & The Seventh” obliterates limitations placed on independent and solo animators. It is 100% computer generated, yet many elements are utterly lifelike. Quite simply, it is the most photorealistic CG animation I have ever seen, and it was produced by one man, the Madrid-based Alex Roman. And it prominently features libraries.

Roman’s goal was to highlight architectural art through CG rendering, but his effort far exceeds that limited ambition, with his use of movement, music, simulated timelapses, changing light, and shifting focus lifting this work into the realm of genuine art itself. Of particular interest to librarians and archivists are the library and institutional spaces he highlights, internally and externally. One such example used is the Shiba Ryōtarō Memorial Museum in Japan — its awe-inspiring spaces are stunning even in the stills contained in Roman’s online portfolio. The video then brings this towering space to life.

The film features recurring themes of analog technology — film and film cameras play a narrative role, and the tone of the piece is established by early shots of fluttering polaroids and card catalogs. The images and music serve as a beautiful requiem for the passing of the old into the digital world of the new. There is an empty concert hall, then towering library stacks — full in one library, empty in another. Each space is highlighted in a breathtaking way. The wordless film is not without an arc; perspective and light shift as the film goes on, and ultimately the heightened reality moves into a certain magical surrealism (that seems to be an inspirational nod to René Magritte).

Please make use of the “Full Screen” option on the embedded video to properly appreciate this artwork, and allow for the 12:29 running time. You will not soon forget watching it.

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

If you click through to Vimeo, you can also watch various previews and “behind the scenes” videos Roman produced.

Credit for turning me onto this video is due Adam Whitehead, British-based author of the outstanding speculative fiction, film and game review blog The Wertzone.

School of Fish

Posted on 30 December 2009 at 7:02 am in Photography.

I got a Flip camera for Christmas. On Monday, my wife and I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Naturally, I couldn’t resist recording a school of fish from the Aquarium’s Outer Bay Tank:

School of Fish from Daniel Ransom on Vimeo.

I also used this as an opportunity to play with Vimeo, a higher-brow alternative to YouTube. I could sign-in via my Facebook account (it’s nice not having to sing up for another online service) and the content is limited to user-created videos. It functions much more like a social-networking site than the barebones (and crude comment riddled) environment of YouTube. So far I’m a fan.