Learn All The Things

Never stop learning. Words to live by. At least in my opinion, which is pretty much the entirety of blogs that I write. They are about things that I enjoy, am fascinated by, things that I love. Sometimes that’s about work that I’m doing, or music that I’m into right now, or films that I enjoy or … well, you get the idea. Things I like, things I love.

In this case, it’s about learning in general.

I am eternally curious. I find everything and everyone interesting on some level. So a website like YouTube, which has endless hours of video of people discussing things, ranting about things, or just explaining things – it’s a bit like my kryptonite. I can and do spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos, usually coming away enriched by the experience. Now, I may not always agree with what I’m finding out about, but that’s where thinking critically about the things you are told comes in – learning about something is always only the first step.

Make-up tips? Not my thing. Discussion of historical minutiae with an astoundingly British accent. More my thing.

I wanted to highlight a couple of channels that produce content I particularly enjoy. The first is CGP Grey and the second is called CrashCourse.

CGP Grey produces interesting fact-filled videos that have demanded the death of the penny, highlighted oddities of geography, and really specifically detailed the relationships between certain nations (including the one I happen to live in).

He also did a video on of my favourite things ever – coffee.

CrashCourse takes a wider view. Hosted by brothers John Green and Hank Green, their videos feature a combination of pieces to camera, animated motion graphics and a tone that’s light but informative. I’ve watched the entirety of their historical output (World History and American History) and am finding time, when I can, to watch their more science-based content. I also really want to dip into their psychology material.

Of course a lot of the time on YouTube I’m watching tutorials – there’s a vast amount of content out there. Some of it is incredibly useful, some of it … less so. But with tutorials I always bear in mind not only the techniques someone is using, but ways those techniques could be adapted, tweaked, changed, so that it becomes a new tool in the creative workshop.

 

P.S. I am a fairly strong consumer of content as well as making it, so I’ll be doing some posts in future that are spotlights on things that I particularly love – books, films, music, whatever. These will be categorised as ‘spotlights’ over on the right so should make them easy enough to find. I’m sure you’re thrilled.

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You’re Going To Need A Bigger Camera

Sequoia are big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big they are. I mean, you may think you’ve got a big tree down the end of your garden, but that’s just a sapling to a sequoia… (with apologies to Douglas Adams).

The largest of them all is called the President and is so huge it had never been captured in an individual image before, until a team of photographers from National Geographic back in 2012 decided the time had come for the President to have his moment on film.

Some of the photographs they captured during the work are just astonishing. This article header in particular is a favourite of mind – just how small and insignificant the team look compared to the awesome majesty of the tree.

Most astonishing of all is that the President is still growing, at a rate of a cubic metre of wood a year.

Ice Caves Are Cool

Um. Sorry about the title, I couldn’t help myself.

Strapping a GoPro to a drone is one way of getting some fairly astonishing footage – as the fireworks from Florida have shown – and here’s another example from Alaska. The drone pilot in this case took his little flyer right into the ice caves of the Mendenhall Glacier, getting floating POV shots that would be far too difficult to get any other way. I’m really excited to see what kind of new techniques and images are going to come from drones as they become more and more prevalent (let’s leave aside the privacy issues for the moment, which are troublesome for sure).

Drone Flights and Fireworks

One thing that I have stumbled across – and am eagerly awaiting the release of – is the new drone from Parrot. Called Bebop it’s got HD video and all that jazz, but even more interestingly, it’s got support for the Oculus Rift.

Which is, frankly, bonkers.

It’s the first drone product that has genuinely grabbed me as ‘something that I want to own’, although I’m also desperate to know what song they use in the video for it (answers on a postcard! Or preferably, in comments below).

And when I have my drone, I wonder if I’ll be brave enough to take it through a fireworks display, as one enterprising chap from Florida did recently. Some of the footage he captured is astonishing. At least I won’t have to strap a GoPro to my Bebop in order to get similar shots.

Glen Keane – The Duet

One of the great things about being an animator is that every now and then, you get to sit back and just lose yourself in something that’s utterly masterful – someone producing stuff that’s heartfelt, beautifully rendered and just perfect.

I know, I know. I’m gushing. That’s because I finally got around to watching Glen Keane’s new short film ‘The Duet’, entirely animated by Glen himself, and you can see his style in every frame. Enjoy.