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Documentary Food

An Ethereal Documentary Illuminates the Booming Grasshopper Harvest in Uganda

May 24, 2022

Grace Ebert

In the Luganda language, the word nsenene describes the long-horned grasshoppers that are the backbone of a robust industry in Uganda. The nocturnal insects are a crunchy delicacy, often served boiled or fried, and are harvested in incredible quantities during the rainy seasons in May and November. A poetic documentary directed and produced by Michelle Coomber follows locals as they set up precarious traps and gather hordes of the crickets under the nighttime sky.

Narrated by a grasshopper hunter named Ibrah, “Nsenene” peers through the darkness and smoke from a nearby fire to illuminate the collection process. The insects are attracted to bright bulbs strung up around tall iron panels, which stun the crickets and drop them into the open drums at the base. “We add smoke so the light makes a lens in the sky, and the grasshoppers get drunk on the smoke. They fall into the barrels like fat raindrops on a tin roof,” the narrator says.

The noisy crickets, though, are also imbued in lore. “There are so many beliefs, like, if a pregnant woman ate them, her child would have a grasshopper head,” says Ibrah, whose family has participated in the industry for generations. “Some people believe they come from water in the lakes. Others say they emerge from the soil like ants. I believe they’re not from this world.”

Coomber has garnered multiple awards for “Nsenene” from Raindance, Sydney Short Film Festival, and Fargo Film Festival, to name a few, and you can watch more of her works on her site and Vimeo. (via Short of the Week)

 

 

 



Photography Science

Billions of Fireflies Light Up an Indian Wildlife Reserve in Rare Footage Captured by Sriram Murali

May 23, 2022

Kate Mothes

In many parts of the world, a warm summer evening sets the stage for a familiar sight: the lightning bug. Through a phenomenon called bioluminescence, these winged beetles generate chemical reactions in a part of their abdomen known as the lantern to produce flickers of light. Of more than 2,000 species found throughout the world, only a handful coordinate their flashes into patterns and are known as synchronous fireflies. Filmmaker Sriram Murali captured a rare gathering of billions of these insects at the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in western Tamil Nadu, India.

Through a combination of moving image and time-lapse photography, Murali recorded countless specimens amidst the trees as they produce glowing pulses, which relay across the forest in expansive, wave-like signals. The color, brightness, and length of the light emitted is specific to each species, and as a part of the insects’ mating display, it helps males and females to recognize one another. Darkness is a necessary ingredient in the success of this ritual.

For the past ten years, Murali has been working to raise awareness of light pollution through a series of documentaries. Focusing on the reserve and its nighttime fauna, he hopes to highlight the significant role that darkness plays in the natural world. He has been collaborating with scientists and forest officials at the wildlife reserve as part of a project spearheaded by Deputy Director M.G. Ganesan to study the ecology of the park and identify the different species of firefly present there.

You can find more of Murali’s films on Vimeo and on his website and also follow his updates on Instagram. (via Petapixel)

 

 

 



Animation

A Brilliant Orange Orb Shape-Shifts Through Time in a Meditative Animated Short

May 20, 2022

Grace Ebert

A metaphor for the way fragments of time both accumulate and mutate as they slip from one moment to the next, a glowing sphere is the subject of a calming short film by Argentinian artist Ezequiel Pini, of Six N. Five. The CGI animation follows the bright orb as it expands, multiplies, and transfigures into alternate forms like a sun dropping beneath the horizon and windows evocative of the recently demolished Nakagin Capsule Tower. Although simple in shape, the round object “represents care, calm, and attention to achieve its ultimate perfection. We are a circle, without boundaries, beginning or end. Infinity,” Pini says. Watch more of his poetic works on Vimeo.

 

 

 



Documentary Science

A Conservationist Teaches Geese to Use Safer Migration Routes by Flying With Them Across Europe

May 20, 2022

Grace Ebert

Back in 1995, Christian Moullec embarked on his first migration alongside a flock of lesser white-fronted geese that he intended to introduce to Sweden. He flew an adapted delta plane alongside the birds, which were threatened after being overhunted, and protect them on their journey. This initial mission quickly morphed into a now decades-long project of training avian populations to utilize more secure paths as they travel across Europe, ensuring that the already dwindled species would survive the trek and be able to reproduce.

English YouTuber and educator Tom Scott (previously) joins Moullec on one of the flights above Southern France as they glide in a microlight aircraft just inches from the animals—Scott is so close that he’s able to touch goose’s tail feathers. Reaching this level of intimacy takes dedication and immersion in the flock, Moullec shares, saying that he raises the birds, sleeps with them, and even bathes in the pond on his property. This establishes trust and is essential as they define their routes, which sometimes traverse thousands of kilometers each day. “I’m not the one who teaches the birds to fly with me,” Moullec shares. “I’ve been flying with birds for 27 years, and they taught me how to fly with them.”

In addition to his conservation-oriented flights, Moullec offers passenger trips for those interested in joining the flock, and you can find more about his work on his site. (via The Kids Should See This)

 

 

 



Craft Design

Fold an Elaborate Origami Menagerie with DIY Instructions from Jo Nakashima

May 18, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Jo Nakashima

Since 2010, Brazilian origami artist Jo Nakashima has amassed a trove of original designs ranging from modular cubes and kinetic works to multicolor, angular wildlife. His creations require just a single sheet of double-sided paper and a deft hand and vary in complexity: Nakashima marks the eagle with pleated wings, quacking duck, and writhing snake shown here as intermediate or above. Head to YouTube for detailed instructions on folding your own versions of his intricate designs, but take note of his warning: “Although I call it ‘simplified,’ it doesn’t mean it is simple: it is just simpler than the original version, but actually it is still a bit complex.”

 

 

 



Science

Scientists Uncover a New Deep-Sea Crown Jellyfish Species with Dozens of Coiled Tentacles

May 6, 2022

Grace Ebert

Curled tentacles, soft spikes, and an unusually large, translucent bell distinguish a newly discovered species of jellyfish. The uncommon A. Reynoldsi became the subject of study for scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (previously) earlier this year when one of the deep-sea creatures was documented floating through the midnight zone. “Fifteen years ago, MBARI researchers spotted a large jelly that looked like Atolla but lacked the telltale trailing tentacle, and their curiosity was piqued,” MBARI says.

Bigger than most in the Atolla genus, this particular specimen measured 5.1 inches across with about 30 to 40 small, coiled tentacles that differ from other species’ singular, long appendages. The institute has only recorded about ten sightings of the A. Reynoldsi since 2006, a discovery researchers say “remind(s) us that we still know so little about the ocean, the largest living space on Earth.” (via PetaPixel)

 

 

 

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