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.

Jingle Things: Christmas Video Collection

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Have you seen Me and My Moulton, yet? It’s a charming, animated, autobiographical short film from Oscar-winning director Torill Kove, about living as a daughter of two modernist architects. If you haven’t seen it, you should go look it up. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

…You back? Okay, Here we go. So, for my final holiday-related entry this year, I recommend you check out this spin-off short, Redesigning Christmas, starring the characters from Moulton.

Again, it’s charming. The notebook-style art fits the fun take on a family holiday, and I actually want to try some of the unconventional ideas. Not enough for you? Alright, how’s this.

I found another animation on Vimeo from motion designer and video editor , who whipped up this animated greeting for his clients. It’s funny and it has a nice look to it. Take a look!

Need one more? Okay, here’s an oldie but a goody. Previously featured on Adult Swim’s Off the Air, animator and sound designer Randy Knott provides a brief glimpse at a winter night in the woods

It may not be directly Christmas-related, but I love taking a look at this one during this time of the year. To me, it’s the perfect soundtrack to coming in during a freezing winter night and cuddling with a significant other as you watch the snow fall. Here’s The Ghostly Voices Once Said!.

So there you go. Three videos to get you in the Christmas spirit. Have a very merry Holiday Season, and have a happy New Year!

Something to Watch: “2014 Movie Trailer Mashup”

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Wow… You guys need to see this.

A YouTuber by the name of The Sleepy Skunk has just put out his latest mash-up, cobbling together clips from literally hundreds of movie trailers that came out this year. I haven’t taken the time to confirm, but this video takes probably has a clip from every studio release of 2014! Take a look!

See what I mean?! If there’s a movie from this year that you loved, it’s probably in here. If there’s a movie from this year that you hated, it’s probably in here, too. Either way, this is one of those things that makes me take a step back and think about the big picture.

Because, no matter what you enjoyed or despised this year, this compilation shows me just how far we’ve come in filmmaking. And the fact that we, the audience, get to observe and celebrate this powerful art form at it’s strongest point yet is pretty incredible. So whether you’ve seen one movie this year, or too many to count, stand tall and stand proud. We’re moviegoers and this is our time!

If you want to see more videos from The Sleepy Skunk, you can find him here.

Something to Watch: Thanksgiving Video Collection

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It’s that time of the year. Turkey Day is tomorrow! Time to gather around with family and give thanks for the things we love most in life… Or we can just goof around in front of a computer and watch videos about turkeys and other food-related stuff. Shall we?

A Thanksgiving Pardon

Let’s begin with a five-second film from 5-Second Films.

Happy Thanksgiving, Turkey.

An amusing short film from the folks at Taste TestHappy Thanksgiving Turkey enters on an innocent turkey just going about his everyday suburban life, having forgotten that today is Thanksgiving. What follows is nothing short of goofy, in a good way. The crew behind this clearly had a lot of fun making this video, and that makes me enjoy it even more.

What’s that? You wanted something a little longer? All right…

Harvest

Continuing on our pilgrim-versus-turkey theme, Jonathan Soto provides a funny CG short involving a turkey running for his life. It may not be the most polished CGI I’ve ever seen, but it’s very well animated and a lot of fun to watch.

Gobbled

Another animation following turkeys trying to escape certain doom, this time from the animator Naz Ghodrati-Azadi. I’m very impressed with the art-direction, animation and voice-acting of this one.

What? You wanted something a little longer? All right…

TURKEY

And now for something completely different! Originally made for an animation showcase held by Oof Collective, Harvey Benschoter takes a ton of stock images and… does very strange things with them. It’s really weird, but I like really weird, so here we go!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I’ll be taking a break on Friday, but don’t worry. I’ll be back on Monday with something new. Take care!

Something to Play: “Cloud Chamber”

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First of all, I’ve gotta give a shout-out to the folks at Extra Credits, a YouTube show that discusses the evolution of video games from a developer’s point-of-view. It’s because of their recent episode “Interactive Video” (which you can watch here,) that I even heard of today’s game. It’s a very well thought-out out show and if you’re really into indie games, they have a spin-off, James Recommends, that’s all about that.

Anyhow, the game I’m talking about this week is called Cloud Chamber, and I honestly haven’t played any other game that’s anything like it. Here’s the concept: A filmmaker has been developing a documentary about a secret laboratory that’s on the verge of a scientific breakthrough to end all breakthroughs. However, after a strange and disastrous happening, he decides to upload everything he has gathered to an online database, represented here as a 3D landscape, with the height of the landscape signifying the importance of the information. Your job as the player is to investigate all of this information and work with all of the other players to determine what happened and in what order.

Still with me? Great. It’s best summarized as a massively-multiplayer mystery game. Every node of information, be it audio, video, or article, has a comment section built into it. By participating in the community and adding things to the discussion that people find worthwhile, you unlock more information to further discuss.

If you ever had an in-depth discussion with your friends after watching a deeply thought-provoking movie, you know what this is like. Cloud Chamber takes that kind of conversation and implements it into every part of the story it’s trying to tell. It’s very detailed, too, with subtle clues sometimes being the only indicator of a clip being before another clip, or after it.

This is not a game for everyone. If you prefer games with more direct interactivity, or if you’re not one to converse through message boards, you should probably look elsewhere. It’s not perfect, either. There’s some overacting in the clips and I still can’t tell if one of the main character’s accent is supposed to be American or British.

But Cloud Chamber is definitely one of the most unique and creative concepts for a game I’ve seen in quite some time. At a $20 price tag, it might be a little pricey for those not sure if this new kind of game is something they’d enjoy. But if you’re looking for a game that’s nothing like what you’ve played before, it might just be worth the price of admission.

You can pick up Cloud Chamber on Steam here.

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.