The Tesla World Light

Matthew Rankin, “The Tesla World Light”, 2017

“The Tesla World Light” is a eight-minute 2017 black and white avant-garde film by Montreal director Matthew Rankin which imagines the latter days of inventor Nikola Tesla in New York City in 1905. It is a fanciful mixture of elements from Tesla’s life including his pleas to J. P. Morgan for funding and his love for a “electric” pigeon. The film sources interviews with Tesla and letters by Tesla found in the Library of Congress. 

In the film, Matthew Rankin combined pixilation with a technique called light-animation, which involves moving a light source in the frame to produce light rays. He estimated he used as many as fifteen thousand sparklers to produce the effects, along with flashlights, LEDs, and fluorescent lamps.

Matthew Rankin adopted a visual-music approach to the film. He worked with sound artist Sasha Ratcliffe, who recreated Tesla’s device, the Tesla Spirit Radio, which received and transmitted the sound of light waves with the intensity varying according to its vibrations. Much of the background sound in the film was produced by this machine.

Produced by Julie Roy, an executive producer at the Canadian National Film Board, “The Tesla World Light” stars Robert Vilar as Tesla, with cinematography by Julian Fontaine and music by Christophe Lamarche. The film had its world premiere in official competition in May at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was selected for the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

“The Tesla World Light” received an honorable mention in the Best Canadian Short Film category at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and received a listing on Canada’s Top Ten list of short films. It also won the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Animated Short Films.

Ray Bradbury: “The Sky was Woven into the Trees”

Artist Unknown, (The Sky was Woven into the Trees), Computer Graphics, Endless Loop Animation Gif

“And he was gesturing up through the trees above to show them how it was woven across the sky or how the sky was woven into the trees, he wasn‘t sure which. But there it was, he smiled, and the weaving went on, green and blue, if you watched and saw the forest shift its humming loom.”

—Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine


Cari Vander Yacht


Graphic Works by Cari Vander Yacht

Born in Oregon, Cari Vander Yacht is a Brooklyn, New York-based multi-media illustrator and computer graphic artist. Besides her work for print media and corporations, she animates photos found in Portland’s thrift shops, turning them into surreal, often humorous, gifs. Originally part of a collaborative project with film artist Thomas Sauvin called “Reanimation”, Yacht has developed them into a new series called “Thank God It’s Monday Graphic Interchange Format”.

Cari Vander Yacht ’s first illustrative work was for The New York Times, a media publication to which she still occasionally contributes. Among her completed projects are; developing the branding for the Iranian soft drink Mr. Cat; animations for the Pop Up magazine; animations for Nike’s Lebron XIII shoe release; illustrations for Businessweek magazine and Brooklyn’s Parlor Coffee; an animated cover for Buzzfeed Reader; and a promotional animated graphic for Emerald Nuts.

Samurai Champloo

“Samurai Champloo” is a Japanese anime series developed by the Japanese animation and production company Manglobe. The production team was lead by director Shinichiro Watanabe, character designer Kazuto Nakazawa and mechanical designer Mahiro Maeda. This series was Watanabe’s first directorial effort for an anime television series after his critically acclaimed “Cowboy Bebop”.  “Samurai Champloo” ran for twenty-six episodes from May of 2004 until March of 2005.

The series blended historical Edo-period backdrops with modern styles and references. The show dealt with the Shimabara Rebellion in Edo-era Japan, the restriction of Japanese foreign relations exclusive of the Netherlands, the art of ukiyo-e painting, and fictionalized appearances of real-life Edo-era personalities. Artistic license trumped accuracy and the music score used contemporary music.


Artist Unknown, (The Fire Dragon)

“How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


A Year: Day to Day Men: 19th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Superman Tattoo

November 19, 1959 marks the release date for the television show “Rocky and His Friends”.

“Rocky and His Friends” was a serialized animation show, produce by Jay Ward Productions, that ran from November 1959 to June of 1964. During its history, it appeared under several broadcast titles, most notably “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show”. The series was structured as a variety show, with the main feature being the adventures of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and the moose Bullwinkle. Their main adversaries were the two “Russian” spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. both who worked for the Fearless Leader.

The animation show included three other supporting segments: the old-time melodrama styled “Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties”; “Peabody’s Improbable History”, in which the dog Mr. Peabody takes his boy Sherman to different historical events in time; and “Fractured Fairy Tales”, a new look, albeit slightly askew, at the classic fairy tales.

The idea for “Rocky and His Friends” was from Jay Ward and Alex Anderson, who had both collaborated on “Crusader Rabbit”, the first animated series created specifically for television. Production began in February of 1958 with the hiring of the voice actors: June Foray who voiced Rocky, Natasha, and every female character on the show; Paul Frees who voiced Boris and Inspector Fenwick,; Bill Scott who voiced Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right and Mr. Peabody, and William Conrad who narrated the Rocky and Dudley Do-Right segments..

“Rocky and His Friends” was sponsored by the cereal-manufacturer General Mills, who insisted that the show have an late-afternoon time slot, targeting it toward children. The writers and designers were hired; however, no animators were hired. Instead in a move to save cost, the advertising agency for General Mills outsourced the animation to a Mexican company called Gamma Productions, which caused many productions problems because of its quality of animation and mistakes in the continuity of the animated characters and scenes.

“Rocky and His Friends” abounded with quality writing and wry humor, appealing to adults as well as children. Its segments mixed puns, self-humor, and satire on the existing culture and topics in life. The animation art has an unpolished look with limited action compared to the other animated series produced at that time. Despite this, the series is still held in high esteem by critics, with some viewing it as a well-written radio program with visual images. The series was influential to the development of other animated series and, to date, has aired in one hundred countries.

Julien Douvier

The Gifs of Julien Douvier

Julien Douvier is a freelance computer graphic artist based out of Strasbourg, France. His ability to combine well-crafted photographic compositions with just a touch of motion somewhere in the frame makes his cinemagraphs some of the most compelling. Not limited by one genre, his photographs range from landscapes and nature scenes to street photography, sometimes augmented by only the slightest bit of motion, and at other times completely wrapped up by it.

Gofs reblogged with thanks to the artist’s site


A Year: Day to Day Men: 3rd of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Redness of the World

November 3, 1928 was the birthdate of Japanese manga artist and film producer Osamu Tezuka.

Osamu Tezuka was born in the Osaka Perfecture of Japan. Drawing from a early age, he continued his manga skills throughout his school years, creating his first adept amateur works. In 1945, Tezuka was accepted into Osaka University in the field of medicine. It was during tihis time that he began publishing his first professional works.

After the end of World War II, at the age of seventeen, Osamu Tezuka published his first work, “Diary of Ma-chan”, a collection of four-panel comic strips about a small pre-school boy. After a discussion with fellow manga artist Shichima Sakai, Tezuka completed a manga based loosely on the famous story “Treasure Island”. This manga, entitled “Shin Takarajima (New Treasure Island)”, was published and became an overnight success, starting the golden age of manga, similar to the craze in America for comic books at the time.

With the success of his manga Treasure Island, Tezuka traveled to Tokyo to seek a publisher. The publisher Shinseikaku agreed to purchase “The Strange Voyage of Dr. Tiger” and publisher Domei Shuppansha purchased “The Mysterious Dr. Koronko”. While he was still studying in medical school , Tezuka published his first masterpiece: a science-fiction trilogy called “Lost World”, “Metropolis”, and “Next World”.

In 1951, Tezuka graduated from the Osaka School of Medicine and published ”Ambassador Atom”, the first appearance of the Astro Boy character. The humanoid robot Atom with human emotions became extremely popular with young boys. In February of 1952, “Tetsuwan Atom” became a serial in the  Weekly Shonen Magazine. The character Atom and his adventures became an instant phenomenon in Japan.

Tezuka entered the animation industry in Japan in 1961, founding Mushi Productions. He innovated the industry with the broadcast of the animated version of “Astro Boy” in 1963, the first Japanese animation to be dubbed into English for an American audience. Other series were later translated to animation, including “Jungle Emperor”, the first Japanese animated series produced in full color.

Osamu Tezuka is a descendent of Hattori Hanzō, a famous ninja and samurai who faithfully served the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Sengoku period in Japan. Tokugawa Ieyasu was one of the three unifiers of Japan in the late 1500s.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 29th of October, Solar Year 2018

The News of the Day

October 29, 1938 was the birthdate of director and animator Ralph Bakshi.

Ralph Bakshi, at the age of eighteen, was hired by the cartoon studio Terrytoons as a cel polisher, a position that involved removing dust and dirt from animation cels. After a few months, he was promoted to cel painter and began to practice animating. Aware of his desire  to become an animator, he started to receive help and advice from established animators: Connie Rasinski, Manny Davis, Larry Silverman and others.

At the age of twenty-five, Ralph Bakshi was promoted to director. His first assignment was the series “Sad Cat”, a Terrytoon animation series of a scraggly cat and his friends. Unsatisfied with the traditional role of a Terrytoons director, Bakshi pitched to CBS a superhero parody called “The Mighty Heros”. The executives liked the idea and, after seeing the character designs, agreed to the show with Bakshi as its creative director. It appeared as a segment on the “Mighty Mouse Playhouse” and ran from 1966 through 1967.

Ralph Bakshi started in 1968 his own studi,o Bakshi Productions, located in garment district of Manhattan.  His studio paid higher salaries than other studios and expanded opportunities for female and minority animators. The studio began work on “Rocket Robin Hood” and took over the “Spider-Man” television series. In 1969, its division’ Ralph’s Spot, produced commercials and a series of educational shorts for Encyclopedia Britannica.

Uninterested in the animation the studio was making, Bakshi wanted to produce something personal. He soon developed “Heavy Traffic”, a tale of inner-city life. Impressed with the satire of Robert Crumb’s “Fritz the Cat”, Bakshi wanted to adapt Crumb’s artwork to animation. After several failed attempts to get Crumb to sign the contract, he acquired the film rights through Dana, Crumb’s wife who had power of attorney. After Warner Brothers backed out of the deal to finance the film, Jerry Gross, the owner of Cinemation Industries, agreed to fund its production and distribution through his grindhouse network.

Despite receiving finances from other sources, the budget was very tight. So pencil tests of the animations were excluded. Artist Ira Turek inked the outlines of scene photographs onto cels with a Rapidograph, giving the backgrounds a stylized realism virtually unprecedented in animation.  When the production was finished at the now Los Angeles studio, the Motion Picture Association of America gave it an X rating, making it the first animation film to receive such a rating.

The MPAA refused to hear an appeal about changing the rating. Thirty American newspapers rejected display advertisements and refused to give it editorial publicity. The film “Fritz the Cat” opened on April 12, 1972, in Hollywood and Washington DC. It went on to become a worldwide hit, becoming the most successful independent animated film of all time.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 23rd of October, Solar Year 2018

Afternoon Slumber

October 23, 1941 marks the release in New York City of Walt Disney’s “Dumbo”.

“Dumbo” was the fourth animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions. It is based on the storyline written by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl. Jumbo Junior is the main character, an anthropomorphic young elephant cruelly nicknamed “Dumbo”. He has unusually large ears with which he is capable of flying. His only true friend is Timothy, a mouse, which belied the stereotypical animosity between the two animal species.

The voice actors in “Dumbo” were not given any credit for their roles. This was done for all four of the first animated films Disney made; Walt Disney wished to maintain the illusion with the audience that the characters were real. The title character Dumbo did not have an actor since he did not have any spoken dialogue. Timothy Mouse was voiced by character actor Edward Brody, who frequently played dumb cops and gangsters in films, one of which was role as Brogan in the 1944 “The Thin Man Goes Home”.

“Dumbo” was originally intended to be a short film; but Disney realized, that to do justice to Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl’s book, it needed to be feature-length. Disney Studios was in financial difficulty at the time, as both “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia” did poorly at the box office due to the war in Europe. When the film went into production in early 1941, director Ben Sharpsteen was told to keep the film simple and inexpensive. Thus, “Dumbo” lacks the lavish detail of the previous three animated films; background paintings are less detailed; and the character designs are simpler.

During its production period, the leader of the Screen Cartoonist’s Guild, Herbert Sorrell, demanded that Disney sign with his union, rather than the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, with which Disney had already signed. After Disney refused twice, much of the Disney studio staff went on strike. The strike lasted five weeks, and ended the family atmosphere and camaraderie at the Disney Studios.

The movie was completed in fall of 1941 and RKO Radio Pictures released “Dumbo”. After its October 23 release in New York City, “Dumbo” proved to be a financial success despite the advent of World War II. Despite its low cost, substantially lower than the three previously released Disney animated films, “Snow White”, “Pinocchio”, and “Fantasia”, it eventually grossed the equivalent of twenty-seven million dollars today. “Dumbo” and “Snow White” were the only pre-1943 Disney features to earn a profit.

“Dumbo” won the 1941 Academy Award for Best Original Score, awarded to its musical directors Frank Churchill and Oliver Wallace. The film also won Best Animation Design at the 1947 Cannes Film Festival. On July 8, 2014, it was announce that a live-action re-imagining of “Dumbo” was in development, directed by Tim Burton. Casting is now complete and the film is scheduled to be released in March of 2019.