Sub Zero: Winter Time-Lapse in South Dakota

Earlier this month, Randy Halverson braved the cold South Dakota nights (where temperatures often drop to -25 below wind chill), to create this nighttime time-lapse film. Using a Canon 60D and T2i, Halverson gave each shot a 20 second exposure, with a one second interval placed between shots. The result is pretty jaw-dropping. H/T @matthiasrascher.

The Great Train Robbery: Where Westerns Began

A great film tradition – the Western – started with The Great Train Robbery in 1903. Edwin S. Porter's 10 minute film combined western themes with innovative cinematic techniques (narrative storytelling, parallel editing, minor camera movement, location shooting, etc.). And the film took its inspiration from an event that became the stuff of legend: Butch Cassidy's 1900 train heist, which ended with Cassidy blowing open a safe and escaping with $5,000 in cash.

Porter's landmark film helped spark America's love affair with Western films. Thousands of Westerns flooded cinemas throughout the silent era - films like Broncho Billy and The Greaser (1914)Sky High (1922), and West of Hot Dog (1924). And though the Western faded briefly with the advent of sound film (circa 1927), the genre staged a major comeback with the release of Stagecoach (1939), a John Ford film that turned John Wayne into one of Hollywood's enduring stars. And yes, we have catalogued 25 free John Wayne Films right here. To find other free Westerns, visit this YouTube channel.

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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay: Animation Concepts

Michael Chabon published The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay in 2000, and the next year it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The film version of the novel has been locked in "development hell" for a good decade now. (The producer Scott Rudin has a reputation for optioning high-profile novels and sitting on them for a long time; he also holds the film rights to Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections.) Anyway, somewhere in the development process, the director Jamie Caliri was asked to explore animation concepts, and here's what he came up with: a fun intertwining of live action and animation.

The Ice Book, a Beautiful Pop-Up Book

The Ice Book, seen above, is a paper theatre brought to life with light. Watch as sheets of paper are illuminated in a dazzling animation display. According to the artists, Davy and Kristin McGuire, The Ice Book tells the story of a mysterious princess who lures a boy into her magical world to warm her heart of ice. It was shot with the Canon 5D Mark II, with the actors superimposed onto the montages using a makeshift green screen, and projections created in Adobe After Effects. A simple yet remarkable achievement. You can learn more about the project here. Don't miss the page describing the behind the scenes work, or this other primo video that savors books in stop motion film.

Eugene Buchko is a blogger and photographer living in Atlanta, GA. He maintains a photoblog, Erudite Expressions, and writes about what he reads on his reading blog.

“From Dictatorship to Democracy.” Open Text Changes Face of Egypt.

There's something wonderful about this .... unless you're a dictator. Today, The New York Times shines a good light on Gene Sharp, a shy American intellectual who has spent decades writing on the art of non-violent revolution. Back in 2002, Sharp published "From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation," a 93-page guide to upending autocrats. Then, he had the text translated into 24 languages and made freely available online, with all copyright restrictions removed.  The manual has since inspired dissidents in Burma, Bosnia and Estonia, while giving strategic direction to the protests in Egypt and Tunisia. Ideas have power. But good ideas have more power when they're open. You can download Sharp's manual here (PDF), and learn more about his mission through his nonprofit, The Albert Einstein Institution.

Speaking of good ideas that are open, feel free to download 35o free online courses and teach yourself anything and everything.

via @philosophybites

NASA Zooms into Spiral Galaxy

Courtesy of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, we're zooming into a "majestic disk of stars and dust lanes" and getting a stunning view of the spiral galaxy NGC 2841, which lies 46 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear). But wait, it gets even better. This high resolution still photo shows the spiral galaxy in all its beauty and splendor...

Christopher Hitchens Answers Reddit User Questions

A little ways back, Christopher Hitchens fielded questions for 30 minutes from users, answering any and every question they threw his way. What historical figures, events or books have been underemphasized in American public education? Has the Iraq War (something Hitchens supported) had a positive or negative impact on Islamic extremism? What do socialism and libertarianism have in common intellectually, if anything? Other figures interviewed by Reddit users include Richard Dawkins, Noam Chomsky, and Ron Paul.

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