Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: How a boy became an artist

Children's books author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka talks about his way to becoming an artist at TED and also the need to use your imagination.

Here is a link to the talk.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday exercise: Improvise a story to a photo

I jumped off my motor cycle and walked up to the door with the package under my arm as so many times before. I had however never delivered anything to this address before. But new customers are like getting new friends my boss used to say. So there I stood outside the door of a new customer with a friendly, selling smile delivering a box of jam and I could not find the doorbell. Nor a pat or a string or anything indicating that it was meant for visitors to mark their presence in any way.

If it had been a trailer or a smaller house, I would have knocked, but this customer seemed to live in a minor castle. If my knock was to be heard someone had to be right on the other side of the door.

I brought out my smartphone and checked the address with a vague hope that I simply was at the wrong place, but no.

Wrong door then? No. One road, ending in one graveled area, surrounded by colorful stone walls on two sides and the house itself on the third - glittering like painted with fairy makeup; and the house had only one door on the side I could reach.

I called my boss explaining the problem, asking if there was a phone number I could use to tell the customer that the jam had arrived, but there was not. The order had arrived with snail mail of all things. I also got strict instructions not to just leave the box on the door step and leave.

So what could I do? I knocked. With a vague hope that someone inside had good hearing.

"What?" I heard a voice from above. Three floors up, right under the ridge was one of those little balconies that was there just to give good looks without practical use. On that cramped place, squeezed out and kneeling to fit, peeked the eyes of a haggard. . . person. I could not tell if it was a man or a woman.
"Your jam, ma'm. . . sir." The face gave me a wide grin and disappeared from the balcony.

In the next second the front door was opened and the same weird face appeared in front of me. Not only was it too fast for anyone to move three stories down, but the body the head was fixed on could not ever been the same anatomy squeezed into that balcony. It was not physically possible, just as little as a giraffe could have been there.

I held out the box. And the. . . person took it, signed on my pad and closed the door.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Animation Monday: One Day

This is one cool short I got a link to by a director when we talked discussed a project we are working on. Though it is in French you will have no trouble to understand it. Thanks Simon for the link.

Here is a link to the film.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rory's Story Cubes - Once upon a time...

Once upon a time there was an old man who found an old lamp out in the woods. It was dirty so he took it to the river to wash it. He rubbed it to get in clean. Old lamps tend to have a genie or similar inside them, which is awaken by rubbing. So was not in this case. This lamp was not old enough for that. The old man took the lamp in one hand and his stick in the other and walked back to his tent to study the fascinating object closer. He took his magnifying glass and with big wide eyes he looked at the peculiar items inside the light bulb. He searched for some form of keyhole or card slot without finding any. He tried with a magnet to see if anything interesting happened. Then he sat with the worthless item in his hand wondering what to do. Finally he sent it flying out in the woods again, totally unaware of that light bulbs hundreds of years earlier had been the major polluters of lead in nature.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Moon People Fragments

They feed me yet. I suppose I should take this as a good sign. The food is a kind of goo. I cannot tell if this what they all eat, or if it is just me. The goo might be based on some kind of mushroom. That is one thing I do believe they could harvest down here in the darkness. I wish I was allowed to see more of their society. There are so much I don't understand.

One thing I know for sure is that they are dependent on light, just like us on the surface. They just need far less of it than we do. I might be privileged to have as much candles as they grant me, but I've seen them use candles myself. They seem to understand that I'm not comfortable in the dark as they are. Since they leave me candles, and food, I take it that they are not hostile. Yet I am not allowed to leave.

(From Leonard Adams' journal)

Karen Thompson Walker: What fear can teach us

Fiction writer Karen Thompson Walker explores in her talk at TED the connection between fear and the imagination. According to her, fear is actually a form of storytelling.

Here is a link to the talk.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday exercise: Improvise a story to a photo


She looked at her hands, unwilling to reply. She listened to the silence, to him crossing his legs, waiting for her. She closed her eyes, breathing hard. She did not want to answer. Not because she didn't had a reply, but because she didn't want to hurt him; in the same time as it was exactly what she wanted. She wanted him to suffer, now, a little, just to teach a lesson, just enough for her to leave with the upper hand. But she didn't want to rob him of all he was, and leave him dying. Most of all, she wanted to force him to ask one more time.

He crumpled his lips in annoyance. He knew what she was doing. Oh, yes, he knew. For some reason she always placed herself as an underdog, like he had ever insisted on being the big dog. Who said women were complicated? She wanted him to ask why once again. Then she would tell him what she thought of him, aiming at where he was most vulnerable with the intend to hurt him. She needed to do that from time to time. It made her feel stronger. To win always made you feel stronger, and God he wanted her to win. He wanted her to feel strong. How he wished that she could understand that she was strong, without fighting.

"I love you" he said, suddenly.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Moon People Fragments

This is the first blog entry in a series of posts that I will call "the Moon People Fragments". It is an introductory text which will help you understand the things that will appear under this title.

Not long ago I wrote this story inspired by a photo. It ended with a comment about the mysterious Moon People. A friend of mine - and award-winning director - Marita Lobler told me she liked it and asked for a continuation of the story. It is not the first occasion I'm asked about that, but for some reason the machinery got started this time.

I hardly think "the Moon People Fragments" will be the kind of continuation of the story she had in mind, but I am thrilled by this idea which she inspired me to. It will be so exciting to see what comes out of it.

As the title say, this will be fragments. Small glimpses serving a whole picture and its purpose. There will be diary notes, stories, journal entries, fairy tales and maybe one or two images from time to time. I will not publish these on a specific day or even regularly, but there will be a quick-link to them all to the right, and they will stand out in appearance, like this one.

This way I can tell a story without knowing more than the major strokes when I start and without starting on A and wimsically find my way to Z. I can start a major project without planning too much. This may sound less serious, but that is not my intention. This a very sober experiment. I tried to write a novel a long time ago this way. I think I was twenty years too young at the time, but the idea of telling a story this way lingered. This time, I believe I'm ready.

Intùiti Creative Cards by Matteo di Pascale

I'm looking forward to review these somewhere in April. This is a Kickstarter project, and it is open for funding until the end of Feburary.

Another project in the same area is this:

Yes, this is will "just" be a beautiful tarot deck. But I think this could be useful as well. Never the less i found the art dazzling. You can get a copy here. Unfortunately it will not be ready until April 2014.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Animation Monday: Meet Buck

I really like the style of this short. It does not have the fragile and delicate appearance that is so popular in many short animations. In my opinion, however, it is too long and predictable, but the basic idea is terrific.

Meet Buck from TeamCerf on Vimeo.

Here is a link to the film.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ways to tell a story

I've been thinking a lot about ways to tell a story. Do you remember Beatrice Coron's stories cut from paper? She said she cut away the part of the paper that didn't belong in the story. She considered her images stories, though they were one single image without any text.

Just as much as these toilet paper rolls above are stories.

But the stories are in the eye of the beholder. I cannot know for sure what the maker of the story intended.

If I write a story, it is read, and understood, as I intended. I know what I transfer. But is it really so? Lately I've become aware that it is not that simple.

Some of the stories I have written on this blog has gained very flattering responses. But it is not one or two especially well written that get all the attention, but everyone is favoring their favorite story, not one liking the same as another. Stories that stroke a cord in them, that I could never participate in, or control.

Just as an image could strike a cord. Something in a particular situation that makes you want to know more; maybe even causing frustration that you can't turn another page or ask the character in the portrait.

Stories are so much more than just good handiwork. But that "so much more" is something I believe is beyond any storytellers range to control. All you can do is tell your story the best way you can, and leave the rest to the beholder.

Photo and art belongs to

Friday, February 15, 2013

Rory's Story Cubes - Once upon a time...

Once upon a time I lived in a flat in a high, high apartment building. There were many people living close together and there was a lot of peeking through the mail slot and the keyholes, everybody knowing everything about everyone. One day when I saw it was a sunny day I took my walking-stick and just left, never to return. It was kind of a gamble I know, but what do I really have to loose at my age? I wanted something new, something free. I walked to the L store and bought myself a tent. I crossed the river and on the green field I put it up. This was about to be my new home I thought. I was highly mistaken. The police came and put me in a house for elderly who lost their marbles. One could indisputably say that this home is not my idea of freedom. On the other hand, the poor fellows I now share my life with, hasn’t got wits enough to peek through any keyholes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Don Levy: A cinematic journey through visual effects

Visual effects specialist Don Levy talks at TED about the history about the magic used in movies. He shows us a film with effects from 1902's Trip to the Moon by Georges Méliès up to today that I found fascinating.

Here is a link to the talk.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wednesday exercise: Improvise a story to a photo

She walked in the mountains, as she had done for many years, seeking peace in her mind, getting away from the rush of the city. She had walked the path several times and the incoming fog was no problem. So it was with somewhat surprise she found that she had left the trail and was on unknown grounds when the fog dissolved.

As an experienced tracker, she quickly localized where she was with the help of landmarks and there was no stress about that. But she had not come far on her way back to the route when she saw a man-made bridge in the middle of a deep cleft. It was not a structure to cross from one rim to the other, but a passage ten or twenty meters down, with an opening on each side into the mere mountain.

She stared amazed at this vivid construction and the holes into the unknown on each side. There were no other traces of settlements. Nothing on the map spoke of human activity. But there it was right in the middle of the cleft, squeezed in between the mountain sides.

When she stood there, agape, someone walked out on the bridge. Someone rather small in size, but what really stood out was the paleness. The person leaned against the railing, apparently not aware of being watched. She just had to find out, and called down to the pale one. She got a face of pure terror in return, and the human ran away, returning inside the mountain.

Perplexed she continued her walk, as there were little else to do.

Days later she got to a village and spoke about the bridge she had seen at the inn. Most of the locals smiled gently at her and either explained her experience of being tired or seeing a natural phenomena. A few though got excited and pressed her on details on where to find the bridge. When she in return wanted to know what the bridge was a part of, they all left, unwilling to tell her.

A young girl came up to her and demanded her to leave. Surprised by the child's firmness she claimed the had done nothing to offend. The girl leaned her head to her side.
"What about the moonpeople, then?" she asked. "If they wanted contact, would they have run away from you?"

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

I’m a great fan of transforming classic fairytales to modern movie format. So it was with great hopes I started to watch Snow White and the Huntsman. The experience was however not entirely pleasant. Overall I would say that I have not much interest in watching it again.

In the classic Grim Brother’s tale princess Snow White outmatches her stepmother (the Queen) in Beauty, and then the stepmother sends her huntsman to kill Snow White in the forest. The girl is let go by the huntsman and Snow White ends up with seven dwarfs, hiding in their home. The queen has a magic mirror and finds out that Snow White is still alive. Twice she tries to kill her, and the third time is “successful” in the way that Snow White is apparently dead and placed in a glass coffin. A prince persuades the dwarfs to have the coffin, but as he transports it, it is shaken and the apple caught in the throat comes lose and Snow White turns alive. Snow White then revenges on her stepmother by letting her dance in hot iron shoes until she dies. That is the original story in short.

Now princesses, and women in general, from the fairy-tales are good, beautiful and innocent, incapable of doing anything on their own. Or they are evil witches.

So what do they do with Snow White in this movie? The narrator begins “Once upon a time, in deep winter, a queen was admiring the falling snow, when she saw a rose blooming in defiance of the cold. Reaching for it she pricked her finger and three drops of blood fell. And because the red seemed so alive against the white she thought, "If only I had a child as white as snow, lips as red as blood, hair as black as a raven's wings, and all with the strength of that rose." “

So they want a strong Snow White. That is fine with me. But still she has kept her purity and her innocence – which becomes some strange mix. And in the end it becomes a rather lame Snow White after all. At least until she has “died” and awoken by true love’s first kiss and goes to war with an armor on like a knight. All I could think of at that time was Jeanne d'Arc (a French folk heroine and war hero turning into a saint as she claimed divine guidance and burned at the stake for heresy at 19). Quite a turning point.

One other very strange thing in this effort to make a modern Snow White is every woman's need to have a man around. Snow White got her companion in the huntsman, the Queen got hers in her brother. Neither woman could manage on their own. They are dependent on their men. It's to ridiculously old-fashioned.

Then we have the world in which the story takes place. It is not properly set up with rules. Which makes a sort of “anything could happen and it will”-line of story. You need proper rules for your world when you make one up. The Queen can use magic, sure, but that does not mean that the rest of the world is full of magic. When Snow White and the Huntsman have met the dwarfs they walk into a magic world that belongs to the elves. The elves as it turned out has helped Snow White dressed as magpies. Why? We never find out. What are they? We are not told. What happens to them? We are left in wonder.

It is also a blunder not to set limits to the Queen’s magic. It is sort of annoying when a magically skilled person in a story can do some amazing things, and suddenly can’t do other simple things, without any explanation.

Personally I find it fascinating that Snow White needs to kill (murder) the Queen. As the setup was made, I thought it would be enough for Snow White to place some of her own blood on her stepmom. Once again I find that you can get away with murder as long as the person you kill is a bad guy. Not only is this very cliché, it is also a dangerous attitude that puts every person in a rightful judgment of their peers.

This movie could have been so much more. Its full potential never got the space to breeze and catch the audience. What was left was some bleak mix of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Story if Joan of Arc

Thank you for the links

Monday, February 11, 2013

Animation Monday: Glup

Yet another stop motion. The story is enjoyable, but with little depth. Pay attention to the end where you get a glimpse of how it was made.

Gulp. The world's largest stop-motion animation shot on a Nokia N8. from Nokia HD on Vimeo.

Here is a link to the film.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Rory's Story Cubes - Once upon a time...

(I was told my previous story cube exercise was as it had been done in haste because I had to write something. True or not, I take that as a challenge to write something else on the same images.)

Once upon a time there was an old man afraid of monsters in the closet. It didn't matter how much his daughter told him that there were no such things as monsters, he was frightened never the less. He locked the closet door properly and blocked it with a chair, but then he just felt them watching him through the keyhole.  He closed his eyes and tried to count sheep to fall asleep, but his dreams were always nightmares. And so he became unhappy and sick.

His son, who lived abroad, got a call from his sister, asking him to come, because she thought the ending for their father was near. When the son arrived, he saw the blocked closet and asked his father about it. When he found out about the monsters he said:
"I can make them go away. Do you want to make a try?" The old man nodded, excited. The son brought out his cellphone and buttoned on it until he found the sound he was looking for. Then he raised it as a wand and to a woshing sound he expelled all the monsters from the closet.

The old man smiled, pleased.
"That's my boy" he said. "Could you do the same with the goblins under my bed?"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Raghava KK: Shake up your story

Artist Raghava KK shows us at TED his new children's book where you can shake the book - sorry, the pad - and change the perspective of the story. As he sees it, children will not be able so feel emphasis unless they have the others' perspective of the story.

Here is a link to the talk.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wednesday exercise: Improvise a story to a photo

She must have done all those crocheted cloths with those. Bridget watched all the worn, handmade crochet hooks. The old lady was dead, no children. It was her job to take care of the leftovers. She had known the lady, vaguely. They met once every other month, since it was her job. She had been treated with coffee and cookies. And crocheted table cloths. Bridget had close to twenty of them back home; gifts from the old lady who must have had few others to share her passion with.

Bridget did not care for crocheted table cloths. As a matter of fact she got angry when she felt that someone spent time on something so useless. This, of course, she kept to herself in the old lady's presence. She was there in business and had no intention to harm the elderly woman's feelings. And so she had walked home with yet another of those table cloths after every meeting.

When she saw those hooks, carved out of tree branches she stared amazed. Why didn't she buy hooks? Why had she carved them herself? She took one in her hand. Wood always felt good against her skin, she admitted that, but the hook wasn't even straight. She imagined herself sitting in solitary in the apartment day in and day out, what would she do? She sure wouldn't produce crocheted table cloths.

When Bridget got home she brought out the gifts from the old lady. Now she could safely get rid of them. She unfolded one of them and took a deep breath: it was a big flower. She had never seen that. Because she never bothered to look, that was the ugly truth. She unfolded another one and saw a family with playing children. Now she leaned closer. She didn't know much about crochet, but she had an idea that this pattern was one of a kind, and a difficult one demanding someone experienced. The third almost made her faint, because it was her own portrait.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Secret World of Arrietty

The Secret World of Arrietty is an animated feature movie from Japan. It is the first movie for Hiromasa Yonebayashi as a director, but he is one of the animators behind Spirited Away.

The first thing that struck me when I saw this movie is the beautiful artwork. The backgrounds are so very well painted that I could watch this for the artwork alone.

The story is about a family of small people, about four inches high, who lives in their home built under another (human) family's residence. They live a secret life, but are dependent for their daily needs on the household under which they live. Arrietty, the daughter of the family of mother and father, is discovered by the human family's sickly grandson.

If this had been a Western story, this would be a story about a daughter objecting to her father, showing him that the humans are not bad at all. But this is not. This is a daughter respecting her parents and trusting in their experiences of life. I would rather say that this is a story about humans who try to do good, but should have left things as they were. We humans - at least in the Western world - have fascinating idea of behaving like we know what is good for everyone. Well, in this story, humans may have good intentions but are proven to mess with things they don't know anything about, causing unnecessary trouble.

Thank you for the links.

The Language of Hollywood: Storytelling, Sound, and Color

This week Coursera has started a course about The Language of Hollywood: Storytelling, Sound, and Color which seems interesting.

Coursera's courses are completely free and serious with qualified teachers. I've tested a few of them myself and am, of course, enrolled to this class as well.

The courses are built up around video lectures, quizzes and exams.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Animation Monday: A Short Love Story in Stop Motion

This is said to be in stop motion, but as a matter of fact it is a thrilling mix of techniques. Maybe a little big long a perhaps too cute, but the beauty of this short stays the same.

A Short Love Story in Stop Motion from Carlos Lascano on Vimeo.

Here is a link to the film.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Trailer to The Recreators

The graphic novel The Recreators I'm working with will soon have its first pages published at To promote it I've done a trailer:

Hope you like it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Rory's Story Cubes - Once upon a time...

Once upon a time there was a sheep that was deeply unhappy. Every time she slept she saw big monsters attacking her. She called a wizard who told her to take command of her dreams and lock the monsters away and fly away to another place in the dream.