Animation sheds light on black holes

Click on image for the animation

Black holes are dubbed “black” because their inescapable tug of gravity on light renders them invisible to the naked eye. Scientists can, however, look at the distorted spacetime around a black hole to determine its size and rotation. In many cases, black holes, also surround themselves in superheated clouds of spinning material that warps like a “carnival mirror” when viewed. In this new NASA animation, the US space agency demonstrated how the gravitational warping distorts our views of black holes.

Go full screen. It rocks!

Borrowed Time by Pixar

❝ Pixar Animation Studios is known for making surprisingly dark, bold storytelling choices in its movies. For movies that are meant to be accessible to children, they can be sharply daring in the directions they take…

❝ The piece certainly is more adult, but it still has the familiar Pixar look, with marvelously expressive characters and a tremendous attention to environment and modeling…And like so many Pixar features, Borrowed Time is expressly about family bonds, and how they heighten emotions — in this case, guilt and disappointment. This is a short vignette, but it’s effective and powerful.

❝ Granted, an actual Pixar film would certainly make a point of relieving the tension and sorrow this short sets up, and would use it to some spectacular end…Hamou-Lhadj…and Coats…have set up what feels like the beginning to a terrific story. Here’s hoping they keep it going, past this tragic moment and on to the rest of the story of this man’s life.

I’ll second that emotion.

A love story of a mouse and her car

Get this. There’s a book called My Tesla: A Love Story of a Mouse and Her Car, about a mouse who loves an electric car. The book’s Amazon page notes that its pages feature a mouse named Maxine who falls in love with a red Tesla Model S after taking it for a test drive. The mouse dreams about the car, and considers it as “magical as a unicorn.”

The book’s author is Joan C. Gratz, whose entertainment experience (thank you, IMDB) includes work as a longtime animator and director of film shorts such as 2010’s Kubla Khan and 1992’s Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase. Apparently, Gratz made her own impulse purchase of a Tesla (we should all be so lucky), and was inspired to write a book about the vehicle. It sells on Kindle for $2.99 and in paperback form for $8.10.

…If you want a hands-on aid to further make your case to the little ones, Tesla has commissioned the production of miniaturized versions (1:18 scale) of the Model S. These are made of 270 separate metal and plastic pieces put together with fit and finish good enough to make Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk proud. Those high-end miniatures cost $210 each, but you can opt for a cheaper version. Earlier this year, toy maker Mattel started cranking out even smaller die-cast versions of the Model S. Those are available in both a souped-up Hot Wheels version and a more standard Matchbox option.

Might just get one of the affordable versions to put atop the bookcase in my study – next to the model of Mika Häkkinen’s 1998 McLaren MP4/13. 🙂

Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t freaking get up!

Help, I've fallen...
Click to activate loop

This is an animation test. Yes, none of these people exist in real life (not even Waldo), so no one was harmed in the test.

Creator Dave Fothergill vfx says, Crowd dynamics test using Miarmy for Maya, shows the new servo force feature which allows struggling animation once the agent has become dynamic.

Which means nothing to me, but digital animators will recognize the terms. If you are interested in the technical aspects, there’s more in the comments at vimeo. To most of us, it’s just a hilariously goofy sequence that you shouldn’t feel bad about laughing at.

MAYA is the one piece of software that could ever tempt me into trying animation.

Thanks, Ursarodinia