Spotlight on The Great Nordic Sword Fights

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You see a portal open above you, one made of glitchy patterns of various colors. You crawl through and explore a world that resembles a broken PS2 game. In front of you, a low-polygon version of Morpheus from The Matrix quaking in terror while pointing his gun in your general direction. You have entered the world of the strange, the uncomfortable, the surreal.

You have entered the world of The Great Nordic Sword Fights.

The Great Nordic Sword Fights is an experimental director duo made up of visual artists Kristel Brinshot and Ricky Johnson Jr.. They have made everything from music videos, to web-based promos, to random acts weirdness. If you’re looking for an act that can provide something you’ve never seen anywhere else, look no further.

Okay, what do they make?

In terms of the music videos they’ve worked on, there’s always this trippy little gem. Take a look at the video set to “Personal History” by Alpine Decline.

Or, if indie rock isn’t your thing, maybe take a look at what they imagined for “Cadillac Dreams” by Birdy Nam Nam.

For a look at their original short films, It’s hard to go wrong with BEACH BUMS. Just a bunch of surfer dudes looking to catch some waves. Take a look.

Cool! So where can I find more about them?

You mean like who they are or what inspires them? Well, that’s a little tricky. These two don’t seem very interested in talking about themselves on their own time. Their official site only contains links to their contact info, social networking pages and where to watch their work. And even on their social pages, the biographies don’t do much to provide insight.

But there is one thing that might scratch that itch. A tiny bit of research led me to an article from Los Angeles I’m Yours, where they interview Kristel and Ricky about their work and what motivates them.  It’s worth a read.

Alright. Anything else I should know?

Well, there’s one more thing. They made a video game. For a single, “Girl Behind The Glass” by the electronic group Groundislava, they essentially made an interactive version of one of their music videos you have to download it from the band’s site, but it’s definitely worth a look.

That about covers what I know, but I only showed you a small sample of what they’ve done. I definitely recommend you check out their Vimeo and YouTube pages and do some exploring. There are few out there that do what these two do, and they deserve all the credit in the world for what they’ve put out.

Something to Watch: “Rainbow Narcosis”

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Welcome to the weekend! Wanna start off your stay with something especially trippy? No? Well you’re getting it anyway!

Just added to Vimeo’s staff picks is a weird little piece from animator Jonathan Monaghan. He calls it Rainbow Narcosis and… I really have no words that can describe it. Um, it’s about a sheep? Enjoy!

Confused? So am I! But if you want to see more of Monaghan’s work, feel free to check out his site.

Something to Play: “Tri: Of Friendship and Madness”

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Two of my all-time favorite games are Portal and Portal 2. Story-driven puzzle games with puzzles that can be as difficult to wrap your head around as they are satisfying to solve. I long for a game that can provide me with an experience like that and, while Tri: Of Friendship and Madness doesn’t quite reach that level, it comes pretty close.

To explain the premise of Tri‘s story, we need to start with a simple assumption: foxes are gods. Now that we have that out of the way, we can follow a masked monk-like figure into a spiritual realm. There, we must piece together a story about two fox-god friends so we can figure out how one of the fox-gods disappeared… Well, the important part is that, to accomplish all of this, you have to make your way through a series of towers and dungeons.

To help you with that task, the game equips you with a devise called the Tri, this game’s answer to the portal gun. The Tri allows you to create triangular platforms to help you traverse and interact with the environment. And this becomes the crux of the puzzles: how to get from point A to point B with gaps and walls standing in your way.

Eventually the triangles you create will allow you to walk on walls, opening up a whole new range of puzzles. The environment will sometimes switch such elements as gravity on you. It all makes for a very fun ride.

Graphics are simplistic, but the aesthetics make use of a vibrant color pallet and a wonderful art direction. The lighting does a great job of mystifying rooms and highlighting trees (which, yes, have triangles for leaves). It’s a very pretty game, overall.

Again, it’s a fun ride, but not without some hitches in the track. I’ve mentioned that, by connecting triangles, you can create a path that allows you to walk on walls. But what exactly qualifies as a connection can be a bit confusing, meaning you’ll sometimes have to fiddle around with triangle placement just to see what sticks. Among the presentation issues, the voice acting can be a little flat, lacking the nuances to effectively portray the poignant tale.

But once it gets going, it’s a lot of fun to play. The slightly free-form puzzles are fun to figure out and the world is a beauty to look at. If you’re looking for another story-based puzzler, or if you’re looking for a game with a quirky atmosphere and story, you could do a lot worse than Tri.

You can pick up Tri: Of Friendship and Madness on Steam here. By the by, it’s 75% off until tomorrow! So if you want it, don’t delay.

Something to Watch: “Momentum”

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Take a look at this! The art group Schnellebuntebilder have taken multiple Kinect sensors and used them to assemble a framework that can capture the data of a three-dimensional object. In using it, they’ve put a dancer in the middle, animated his footage and paired it all up with audio from Kling Klang Klong. And the result is just too cool to ignore.

Like I said, too cool! In case you’re curious, they’ve also uploaded a brief behind-the-scenes video.

You can find out more about Schnellebuntebilder by visiting their official site. And you can learn more about Kling Klang Klong by visiting their official site.

Spooky Things: Halloween Video Collection

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Well, would you look at that. Halloween is here! Every Friday for the last three weeks, I’ve been taking a look at some creepy pieces of art (a graphic novel, a video game and a music band), that are perfect to look into for the holiday. And I thought I’d wind this series down with a handful of fun little short films and animations from around the internet.

Happy Halloween – Amador Valenzuela 

Starting us off is a trippy blend of live-action and animation, as we see a man swallow some candy and, uh… Well, let’s just say he has a really good time.

Pumpkin Scrap – Graham Annable 

A quick little treat from the animator know as grickle, this animation gives us a glimpse at a new method of neighborhood rivalry.

MEOW! – Cyriak Harris and Sarah Brown

This one’s a few years old, but it’s worth a look if you haven’t seen it yet. Animator Cyriak and illustrator Sarah Brown take us to a city overrun by the cutest little zombie kittens you’ve ever seen. By the by, if you’re looking for more twisted and disturbing animations, Cyriak’s channel is pretty much all about that.

(Warning: Don’t let the cuteness fool you! There is plenty of blood, brains, intestines and other gruesome stuff in this video. So, you know, NSFW, and all that jazz.)

Invasion – Olivier Patté

Seemingly using the technique of redrawing and animating a series of real photographs, this animation sees civilization crumbling in the presence of some kind of demonic force… from space! Hey, it’s dark, unnerving and it looks cool. That’s all I need.

(Warning: this video does contain a brief sex scene in the middle. Barely anything is shown, but this is probably NSFW, anyway.)

Ready Err Not – Flying Lotus and David Firth

This one was released just today! Some of you may remember that I had talked about Flying Lotus’ new album You’re Dead! a little over a week ago. Well, now David Firth has directed an insane music video for the track from the album, “Ready Err Not”. It’s a very twisted, intricately detailed and creative video, however…

(WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!: This is, far and away, the most violent, disturbing, gross and DEFINITELY NSFW video in this post. Honestly, as cool as the video is, I had to seriously question whether or not I should show something like this in a blog post. But, for this Halloween, I chose to make an exception. Again, this is Not Safe For Work! Watch at your own risk!)

Halloween! – Daniel Cordero

And finally, as a palate cleanser for the nightmare you may have just witnessed, a brief and adorable animation primed and ready for e-card status.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Whether you’re partying, looting for candy, or sitting at home watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!, make sure you have a good one!

Something to Watch/Listen To: “Sierra Leone” Music Video

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Back in 1983, New Zealand pop/new wave band Coconut Rough hit the scene with a couple of singles. The first of which, “Sierra Leone”, charted at #5 in it’s country of origin just two weeks after release, setting the newly-formed band on a course to popularity. The band split up the very next year. So much for that.

Flash-forward to 2014. Indie rock band Goodshirt has just released a cover of “Sierra Leone” on their SoundCloud page. And newly-formed production company Circle Line Projects has been brought on board to create the song’s accompanying music video. And, boy oh boy, is that video a treat!

Clearly taking inspiration from the vibrant colors and some of the effects from the 1983 original, this video paints the picture of a man struggling to survive in the middle of the dessert. What sets this one apart is it’s use of wonderfully trippy animations and some fun playing-around with aspect ratios. This is definitely one to watch in fullscreen.

You can go listen to the song itself on Goodshirt’s SoundCloud page here, and you can check out Circle Line Projects’ official website here. Enjoy!