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Animation Design History

Watch the 14th-Century Construction Process of Prague's Charles Bridge Unfold in a Meticulous Animation

October 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

Up until the mid-19th century, the only way to cross the Vltava River in Prague was to head over the gothic stone arches of the Charles Bridge. The project of King Charles IV, construction of the now iconic structure began in 1357 after a flood damaged the existing walkway. A short animation by Engineering and Architecture peers back into history to chronicle the centuries-old building process as it shows wooden trusses framing the structure and bricks seemingly sprinkling into place. While the video collapses decades of work into less than a minute, the Charles Bridge wasn’t complete until the early 15th century.

Find more of Engineering and Architecture’s construction studies on Instagram and YouTube. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 

 



Animation Art

A Turbine-Faced Pilot Returns from War in a Surreal Animated Short About Love and Transformation

October 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

Presented by the National Film Board of Canada, an animated short by Montreal-based director Alex Boya considers the complex effects of war through a heartwarming tale. “Turbine” opens with a woman climbing aboard a train that inches along the track like a worm. The black-and-white film then chronicles her journey reuniting with her pilot husband, who returns from war with an airplane engine permanently replacing his face and subsequently falls in love with the ceiling fan.

Through incredibly rich renderings—the wrinkles on the characters’ hands and the whorling patterns in their hair are particularly detailed—Boya depicts peculiar scenes and quiet domestic moments to share a story about love, humanity, and transformation. In an interview about “Turbine,” the director says the film’s distinct style came about organically:

It felt like creating sober instructional illustrations of real things, with an honest attempt to simply survey their opaqueness and shadows in a photorealistic world. Just like I focus on the water instead of on my body when I swim, it works not to think of style, but simply on the subject matter that is being drawn.

For more short films, see the board’s Instagram and Vimeo, and check out Boya’s site to explore the entire Turbine Universe, which is complete with dozens of sketches and gifs of the hybrid character.

 

 

 



Design History

Fire Sprinklers Erupt from Ingeniously Camouflaged Huts to Protect a Historic Japanese Village

October 29, 2020

Grace Ebert


Situated in a mountainous region of the Gifu Prefecture is a small village of Gassho-style homes, uniquely Japanese structures with thatched roofs that are built to withstand heavy snowfall. Dating back to the 11th century, the historic community of Shirakawa-go was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. While the designation draws tourists each year who are keen on studying the architecture and local history as they pass through the village, an unusual attraction draws inordinate crowds to the region.

Simply called the Water Hose Festival, the biannual event involves testing the site’s ability to respond to fire. The flammable and historic nature of the structures spurred caretakers to install massive sprinklers and hoses to prevent extensive damage. Each year in December and May, they test the lines and douse the homes, according to the video above that shows a similar process occurring at a site in Miyama. The systems are concealed inside structures that mimic the original architecture, and the new buildings open from the center allowing water to erupt into the air, a spectacular and almost comical process. (via Spoon & Tamago)

 

Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go

 

 

 

 



Design History Photography

Watch the Birdie: A Restored Brass Gadget Dating Back 140 Years Reveals a Historic Photography Trick

October 29, 2020

Grace Ebert

Prior to asking subjects to grin and “say cheese,” photographers would entreat those awaiting a portrait to “watch the birdie.” Now generally out of use, the phrase dates back to 1879 and references a technique to capture both kids’ and adults’ attention at just the right moment: Photographers would attach a little brass bird to the top of their lens—the 1950s film Watch the Birdie erroneously positions a songbird on the main character’s hat rather than his camera—and squeeze a pneumatic bulb, making the creature chirp and flap its wings as they snapped an image.

Austria-based Markus Hofstätter recently restored one of the historic gadgets, a process he demonstrates in a new video. He begins by degreasing the 140-year-old pieces, 3D printing a new base, and finally attaching the water-filled device to his wet plate camera. After removing the lens cap and blowing into a tube, he reveals the bird’s whistles.

For more tutorials and explorations into historic photography techniques, check out Hofstätter’s  YouTube and Instagram. You also might enjoy these similarly chirping antique boxes that feature singing bird automata. (via PetaPixel)

 

 

 



Design History

A Glass Floor in a New Dublin Grocery Opens a Window to Medieval Viking History

October 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

Embedded in the architecture of a new Lidl store in Dublin is a glass floor that allows shoppers to peer down into medieval history. During the supermarket’s construction, archaeologists discovered a 1,000-year-old home of Hiberno-Norse Dubliners, who were ancestors to the Vikings, in addition to a 13th-century wine jug and the below-stage trap of the former Aungier Street Theatre. Rather than excavate the items and build on top of the site, covering the ruins, the store installed glass flooring that provides shoppers with a literal window into local history. (via Twisted Sifter)

 

 

 



Documentary Food History

Immerse Yourself in the Luxurious Process of Artisan Butter Making at a French Shop

October 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better pairing for the flood of sourdough loaves baked in recent months than a pat of butter, and perhaps a tour of Le Beurre Bordier will inspire the next craze for ambitious home cooks. Claudia Romeo, a journalist with Food Insider, meets with artisan Jean-Yves Bordier to document the processes of French butter making at the Bordeaux shop, revealing the slow and luxurious methods of manufacturing the milky staple.

Le Beurre Bordier is dedicated to 19th-century practices, including using a wooden malaxage, a large grooved wheel, to churn the substance and extract excess water. Workers knead the butter by hand, constantly slicing it with their fingers and turning it over and over, before shaping it into miniature cones and stamped cylinders. The entire process is measured and manual, similar to the laborious nature of baking bread from scratch.

For more of Food Insider’s deep dives into global food culture, head to YouTube.