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Explore a bleak British town in a Kafkaesque adventure game

The northern England town of Grimsfield is bleak—completely desaturated of color, existing solely on small, square dioramas. Its inhabitants, architecture, and virtually everything within it are completely cubular, except for some dashing, rare berets. Everyone within Grimsfield is self-absorbed, the protagonist perhaps most of all. He’s an ex-detective who has recently given up on his day job to pursue his dream of becoming a poet. But if only life were that simple in this Kafkaesque adventure. The rules-laden town of Grimsfield is all about making your life inconvenient Adam Wells, the creator of the point-and-click adventure game Grimsfield, is an…

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The software behind Lord of the Rings’ giant battles now has a playable demo

There’s a reason The Lord of the Rings film franchise took home the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects three years in a row. While many films fall flat in a matter of years, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and it’s approach to CGI still stand firm more than a decade letter. While there were many breathtaking moments throughout the series, the enormous battles with armies thousands strong were consistently glorious, thanks to the simulation software Massive. And now that very same software is available to anyone for a 30-day trial. Watching a short demo video quickly illustrates how…

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UNICEF combines 500 photos of war victims to give the refugee crisis a face

It’s difficult to grasp the meaning of a global refugee crisis. For much of the world this mass displacement is a moment on a newscast, a headline to be skimmed, a statistic to move us, but only briefly. UNICEF’s Sofia is the latest attempt to give us a deeper understanding. Sofia is a 3D animated girl created using 500 images of actual children from places affected by conflict, such as Ethiopia and Ukraine. The campaign worked with Getty Images, animators who worked on Planet of the Apes, Tintin (2011), and Avatar (2009), and the marketing agency Edelman Deportivo to culminate these images into a…

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New technology lets anyone control Donald Trump’s face

If given the opportunity, what would you do to the melted clump of leftover Kraft Dinner that is Donald Trump’s visage? While this is surely a question with which much of the electorate has recently reckoned in a hypothetical sense, technology is making it tantalizingly real. Let’s start with the serious application: “Face2Face” takes a YouTube video and re-renders the face in real-time to match the movements of another person as captured by a webcam. The project, which was created by researchers at Stanford, the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, turns real people into puppets. Their…

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Animated Van Gogh film is made entirely with paintings

Vincent van Gogh occupies a special place in the Western psyche. His legacy mythologized the idea of the tragic artist who nevertheless makes beautiful art. The Starry Night (1889) is so iconic the painting was used to symbolize Cory and Topanga’s fraught relationship at the height of Boy Meets World’s popularity. It’s not surprising, then, that Van Gogh’s life is the subject of a new animated biopic called Loving Vincent. When Variety reviewed 1956’s Lust for Life, based on a novel by Irving Stone and starring Kurt Douglass as van Gogh, it called the film “a slow-moving picture whose only action is…

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Turning Fallout 4’s world into 1950s-style animations

If you’ve played last year’s Fallout 4, you’ve doubtless seen the series of animated shorts that play upon starting the game up. Black-and-white and with scratchy audio, these videos turned the post-apocalyptic Boston wasteland of Fallout 4 into a comedic, 1950s-style cartoon. (If you haven’t seen these shorts, then you can easily catch up on them all over on developer and publisher Bethesda’s YouTube channel.) Each of these shorts detailed one of the letters in the game’s  “S.P.E.C.I.A.L.” system. This has been a staple of the Fallout series since its first outing in 1997. It’s an acronym that stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma,…

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Dedicated LEGO fans build an impressive animated Sisyphus sculpture

When I first saw JK Brickworks’ “Sisyphus Kinetic Sculpture,” I was floored by how smoothly it moved. My primary experience with LEGO, like many, was as a stationary medium, and yet here I saw a piece of art made entirely out of LEGO bricks moving with the fluidity of a Disney animation. As I was to discover on JK Brickworks’ site, this immediate comparison is no accident, as the project was inspired by a 3D modeling program from Disney Research that allows both artists and non-experts alike to plan out mechanical characters in a virtual space before constructing them in…

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Welcome to the terrifying virtual world of nightmare jazz

The intersection of jazz and grotesque virtual people needn’t exist. But it does—it’s too late to stop it now. The two distant subjects don’t meet anywhere else (to my knowledge) except on Swedish jazz student Simon Fransen’s YouTube channel. He has brought them together through common interest to a creative place of his own making that he says is “dedicated to jazz where nothing and everything makes sense!”  made to produce music out of pulling their bodies apart  What his “Jam of the Week” series entails is videos of (mostly) classic jazz songs rigidly recreated with sketchy and often sped-up electronic…

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1979 Revolution remembers the Black Friday massacre in animated short

On September 8th, 1978, the Iranian government opened fire on a large group of protestors in a public square in the country’s capital of Tehran, killing almost 100 and wounding several more. The event came to be known as Black Friday. It was one of the pivotal moments in the burgeoning Iranian Revolution, one of the first and most devastating examples of the Shah’s abuse of military power against his people during a time of civil unrest. Sadly, it wouldn’t be the last. “If I sit silently, I have sinned.”  The upcoming game 1979 Revolution will begin its story at…