This week we’re crazy about Cuckoo Butter Putty, girls that rock, and video games. Wait, who are we kidding? We’re always crazy about that stuff — and we’re always excited to share it with you! Check ‘em all out in our round-up of cool new projects, below.
Jane Burns has spent so much time forgetting things — and sees her friends and loved ones forgetting things — that she’s figured out the perfect solution. She swears that your brain will remember best with a little handy visual, so she’s creating this crazy Cuckoo Butter Putty to mold yourself little reminders with. Need to feed your neighbor’s dog? Sculpt a dog out of putty and throw it on your windshield! Finding cute, compact, and creative solutions to everyday problems — sweet. — Daniella J.
“Hellooo internet!” begins Olga’s unbelievably endearing project video. She goes on from there to demonstrate how Kickstarter will let her take her project from “imaginary idea place” to reality, tell jokes about special rewards for backers of “squidgemillion dollars,” and other hilarious, entertaining asides. Her goal is to make an album that’s also a story, told through art installations, short films, and original music, and her rewards are (fittingly) just as off-the-charts cool. She’s offering skeleton keys, hand-crafted “message in a bottle” kits, invites to participate in her video shoots, and more. It’s right up my alley! — Cassie M.
June and Jean Millington formed the Fannys in 1970 to prove to the world that girls could play high velocity rock and roll. While there career was short lived, the two sisters legacy is far from small, with David Bowie describing them as “one of the finest… rock bands of their time…as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever.” The sisters stopped recording years ago, but their love for music hasn’t waned. Now the sisters are reuniting at the Institute for the Musical Arts (a center June help start) to record their latest record, Play It Like A Girl. — Mike M.
If you love video games, then you probably also love the catchy and addictive tunes that rival the quality of the games themselves. Jeriaska, founder of video game music message board Nubooo.com, has been interviewing some of the best Japanese musicians making tunes for video games today, including Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy), Hip Tanaka (Creatures Inc.), Daisuke Amaya (Cave Story) and Baiyon (PixelJunk Lifelike). Sounds like a pretty sweet lineup so far, with even more yet to come! — Cindy A.
For the past four years, Krisanne Johnson has been documenting young women coming of age amidst the H.I.V./AIDS epidemic in Swaziland. In the tiny country of one million, women ages 15-29 are hit hardest by the disease, and Krisanne hopes to give them a voice that confronts western stereotypes of Africa and reminds everyone that they have personal stories and aspirations like youth all over the world. She writes:
“Young women here are constantly on the verge — of giving birth to burying best friends, of finding love to fighting for life alone, stigmatized and heartbroken.”
She has already taken a long series of stunning photos, and her pitch video sampling alone could move you to tears. (I shed a few pretty much every time I watch it.) She’s been following four young women in particular, and while the images have strong narrative power on their own, she’s returning to Swaziland to conduct interviews, which she’ll incorporate as audio segments into a multimedia work. She’ll then culminate the project with a book.
Krisanne’s work has appeared in publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and has been recognized by Pictures of the Year International, Best of Photojournalism, and more. And it’s no surprise. Her images reveal storylines that first move you not with feelings of empathy, but with a sense of commonality. The girl by the pool, the girl in the club, the girl in the wedding dress, the cheerleader — they are scenes from a life that could be taking place anywhere. But taken in stark black and white and combined with background information and audio interviews, they become something else: gripping portraits of familiar lives lived in the face of unfamiliar challenges.
You can check out a selection of her photographs below. Support her project here.
Four years ago, Christopher Salmon decided he wanted to create an animated film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s short story “The Price.” Inspired by the story’s theme of redemption, Christoper prepared an animatic as a proof-of-concept for the film, some of which you can see in his pitch video here:
With animatic in hand, Christopher approached Gaiman with his idea. He knew that it was important to prove that he had the ability, the passion, and the commitment to see this film to completion. He admits, “When I created this over-the-top animatic, I was trying very, VERY hard to impress Neil and convince his agent that they could — and should — trust me with the piece.”
And it worked.
Christopher was flabbergasted when he received not only permission from Gaiman to go ahead with the project, but encouragement as well:
“His response was unexpected, and gave me hope that it would actually happen. As it turns out, that road was an awful lot longer than I could have ever guessed … here we are 4 years later!
One thing that was especially encouraging: his assistant once shared with me that what made my project stand apart from the many he receives on a daily basis was that I had actually done something. I made something, took a risk, and was able to show him what I could do and how I wanted to do it. The fact that he genuinely wants to give something back (in a very real way), is incredible to me, even now.”
While incredibly humble, Christopher’s talent as an artist and filmmaker is readily apparent in his animatic. When I asked Christopher a bit about his creative past, it turns out he’s had thing for DIY projects his whole life:
“When I was young, I was enamored with movies, especially if they featured monsters and creatures, so I taught myself how to draw and paint and sculpt (mostly so I could make rubber monster masks and then foam-latex creatures and stop-motion puppets). I took enough piano so I could generate a simplistic John Carpenter-esque score to go along with my cheesy horror films made in High School TV class. These were usually plotted around some cool new special effect I’d figured out, like my own version of the chest-burster scene from Alien.
I have done a lot of design, illustration, motion graphics work and editing throughout my career, always with an eye towards being a filmmaker ‘when I grew up.’ I worked for many years as both an Art Director and Creative Director, and created many cinematic segments for video games — most notably for Advent Rising (which had the help of another fantastic author, Orson Scott Card).
All of this work was to develop the skills I’d need to tell cinematic stories, so even though I haven’t attempted anything exactly like ‘The Price’ before, I’ve been preparing all of my life (literally).”
Being largely self-taught, the style of Christopher’s animatic is uniquely his own, lying somewhere between 2D and 3D. I asked Christopher how he decided on the look of the film, and it turns out that sometimes the best laid plans give way to even better ones:
“Originally, I was going to make the entire thing fully animated. Even when I created this over-the-top animatic, I had planned on saving up and paying for a small chunk of full animation to better demonstrate the look the final film would have. I chose the first incarnation of the devil, and designed this really cool demon-thing, then paid for a talented modeler to create it in 3D and an animator to help bring it to life. It was a very expensive process and fraught with compromises. After completing the animatic with the one small segment fully animated, I showed it to many people, and got a very positive, strong reaction to the film and to the technique I was using. People thought, yeah, the fully-animated devil was cool, but they really liked the ‘moving-illustration’ thing, and that got me thinking.”
“To do the whole thing in full animation would take much, much longer to make, involve more people, and obviously cost a lot more. And really, how can I compete on my small-little scale with the million-dollar-per-minute productions from Pixar and Dreamworks that audiences have come to expect as the norm?
I realized that I could still create really high-detail 3D models that could be posed and rendered in as many positions as I wanted, adding interactive lighting, etc., and that got me really excited! I could maintain the feel of the animatic but use these beautifully detailed models and a much more sophisticated set of compositing techniques to really make something unique and befitting this very unique subject matter!”
Christopher’s project has taken a foothold among Gaiman’s fans, in no small part because it’s a project that fans want. For Christopher, that fan support has been incredibly motivating:
“Almost to a person, every email and comment I’ve received has said basically the same thing: ‘The Price’ is their favorite Neil Gaiman short story, and they can’t wait to see the movie — how insanely great is that? To get this kind of intensely positive feedback — to feel all of these people out there hoping for the success of my little film — is more affirming and encouraging than anything else I could have imagined!”
The type of creative community forming around Christopher’s project reminds me of something we talked a bit about last week — artists supporting artists, and creative folks inspiring others to create. In that same spirit, Neil Gaiman has been instrumental in spurring Christopher forward in his project, and Christopher has then passed that creative energy onto his backers.
As a huge Gaiman fan myself, I couldn’t resist asking Christopher, “So how cool is Neil Gaiman?”
His response: “Honestly, he is even cooler than you think!!!”