Yule Log is a website composed of a collection of short films created by illustrators, animators, directors, and creative coders, that wants to bring back the age old X-mas tradition. The site’s creator, Daniel Savage, did a version last year as well which was equally great. I’d rather put one of these fine pieces of art on my TV rather than watch A Christmas Carol on repeat for 24 hours.
Below are a few of my favorites.
Dedicated to the analysis of film form, Every Frame a Painting is a fantastic series of video essays created by the filmmaker and editor Tony Zhou. As entertaining as they are insightful, his series of videos may well be one of my favorite discoveries on the internet.
Running for between 5 and 8 minutes, each video focuses on one filmmaker or one aspect of film form. While some people may feel that film form is quite a dull subject matter, Zhou’s essays are well and truly the opposite of this. They’re fun, engaging and informative.
Take for example texting and the internet in cinema. While we may be living in a digital age, film still seems to be somewhat ineffective in depicting this world on screen. In Zhou’s essay on the subject he presents us with how cinema has approached this conundrum and questions if a solution to their problem may lie not in its content, but in form. Check it out below and I’m sure you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about:
Other topics have ranged from Steven Spielberg’s use of the long take to Satoshi Kon’s unique editing style. I particularly enjoyed his examination into the work of Michael Bay. As one YouTube commenter put it “now I can hate his movies in a more intelligent way”. It’s a great analysis and well worth watching:
Perhaps Zhou’s most successful video to date has been his analysis of Edgar Wright’s approach to visual comedy. In his essay, Zhou looks at how the filmmaker consistently finds humor through framing, camera movement, editing, sound effects and music. Its a wonderful insight into how well designed Wrights films are, and Zhou does a fantastic job of articulating exactly how great Wright is as a director.
If you’re a fan of Tony’s work and you’d like to see his series continue you can support the project over on Patreon. If you’d like to see more from the series make sure to subscribe to his channel over on YouTube.
There’s something quite ethereal in the way that Morgan Maassen shoots water. The California native is a passionate surfer and through his photography he has earned himself great recognition within the surf world. Morgan describes this video as a “brief odyssey into the world that i cherish most” and it’s clear to see that love shine through.
Shot on a Red Epic inside an SPL waterhousing, the four-and-a-half minute piece was filmed in Teahupo’o off the south-west coast of Tahiti and along the north shore of Hawaii. They’re stunning locations and Morgan’s camera work really present them as dream-like places. I found the whole piece to be utterly mesmerizing.
For those interested, the track in the video is called “Shopping Malls” and it’s from the New Zealand based six-piece SJD. More work from Morgan Maassen can be seen on his website.
The more digital our lives become the more we start to value the things that are made by hand. Mike Heist is a beautiful example of this, a Portland artist who has been working with neon for over 30 years.
The Pressure, the studio of Adam Garcia, produced this video of Mike, showcasing his fascinating process. The sign, designed by Garcia, was a component of the event branding for the AIGA Portland event “Design and Happiness,” a lecture by Stefan Sagmeister during Design Week Portland.
Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi fame has a new project out called Les Sins, going for a more dance-oriented sound. He was inspired by folks like Mr. Oizo and Daft Punk which clearly comes through on this new track titled “Bother”, the perfect anthem for a hard-working creative. In fact, he was inspired by design luminary Paul Rand while making the album.
“My favorite graphic designer, P. Rand always said, ‘Don’t try to be original, just try to be good,’” Bundick says. “When making this record that was/is my mantra—it was just constantly looping in my mind. I believe ‘good’ is timeless and once you can recognize that you’ll see the world in its fullest.”
Les Sins first album Michael comes out November 4th.
One of my favorite films this year has been Boyhood. Shot over a period of 12 years, it tells the story of Mason as his life unfolds during a period between the ages of 6 and 18. Before seeing the film I imagined that it must be a wonderful spectacle; that there must be something incredible about watching a person literally come-of-age on screen. In actuality, there is no real spectacle to Boyhood. If anything, that’s the real strength of the film. Real life is made up of small fleeting moments, and Boyhood captures these in a beautifully uncinematic way. In doing so, it captures something even greater than spectacle and in its subtly it reveals something more profound.
All of this is little more than preamble to introduce Ken Murphy’s “A History of the Sky”. This project is similar to Boyhood in that its premise seems suitably epic yet its lasting impression feels more poetic than astounding. A time-lapse film shot over the period of one year, Murphy reduces the ever changing skies of San Francisco into a mere 5 minute film.
“A History of the Sky enables the viewer to appreciate the rhythms of weather, the lengthening and shortening of days, and other atmospheric events on an immediate aesthetic level: the clouds, fog, wind, and rain form a rich visual texture, and sunrises and sunsets cascade across the screen.” says the self-described programmer, artist, and tinkerer. I think it’s wonderful!
I don’t understand the kind of people who appear in this video, or who appear in Kinfolk, whom the video was shot for, but I’m certainly fascinated by them. They live privileged lives that most of us can never imagine having, and for me personally I love having a voyueristic spotlight into their worlds.
Directed by Chris and Sarah Rhoads, the feature shows the life of a Yippy looking family at their lovely home in Venice Beach, California. It’s a well shot video featuring gliding steadycam shots of beautiful interiors and a charming backyard space that’s so very Venice Beach. Again, I have no idea who these kind of people are, but this gives a good look at life on the West Coast and the types of folks who reside here.
Editor’s Note: I was informed of the couple’s identities so I thought I’d clear up the mystery. The man is John Moore, who helped found the Hollister brand under Abercrombie & Fitch, who also runs The Pop Studio, and designs a fantastic menswear line called M.Nii which just won GQ’s 2014 Best New Menswear Designer of the Year. His partner Hannah Henderson and he run General Store, a fantastic home good shop in Abbott Kinney. Quite a prolific duo!
When visiting an unfamiliar city it’s always fascinating to see it through the eyes of a local. A resident of the city has an ability to show you the special places, avoiding the cliché destinations and nonsense that interests the common tourist. This is the feeling I get when I’m watching this beautifully shot short film, Paris Through Pentax.
Maison Carnot frames the video through the viewfinder of a Pentax 67, an approach that makes for an incredibly different way of looking at things. We’re all so used to taking photos with our phones these days but the viewfinder of the Pentax has such a romantic feeling to it. It’s both active and full of life but antiquated in a lot of ways. I also like that you can see the photographers hands in each shot which gives it a human element. Every now and then you see the hands keeping the focus on the subject. A subtle touch that adds to the feeling of it all.
Take me to Paris.
It’s hard to accurately describe love. It’s messy. It’s confusing. It’s a frenzy of emotions that can wash over you in an instant. Japanese director Masanobu Hiraoka, along with Barcelona based composer Aimar Molero, have together created a short film which captures all of those feelings in an orgy of colors and sexual innuendo. The combination of the frenetic images paired with the serene music is an interesting juxtaposition that feels wet and aqueous. You can’t help but be sucked into this.
Came across this amazing animation by Jim Henson that he made back in 1961 using cut-paper. It was created in his home studio in Bethesda, MD and was one of several experiment shorts inspired by jazz musician Chico Hamilton. I love the build-up of energy that he was able to capture and how he was able to visualize the sounds so perfectly.