"Peter and the Wolf," 1946

Remember that animated, professionally narrated version of Peter and the Wolf you saw as a kid? Sure you do -- somewhere in the depths of your memory, you'll probably remember this fifteen-minute Disney short from 1946. It's odd to think now that this came out just a decade after Prokofiev's original composition in 1936 -- they both seem sufficiently remote to be ancient history to kids these days. In any case, "Peter and the Wolf" was written to be performed with a narrator (in Russian); Disney added animation and recruited Sterling Holloway to narrate an Americanized version. (You may recognize Holloway's voice from the Winnie the Pooh and Jungle Book films.)

Wikipedia explains some changes in the Disney version versus the original Russian version:

• During the character introduction, the pets are given names: "Sasha" the bird, "Sonia" the duck, and "Ivan" the cat.

• As the cartoon begins, Peter and his friends already know there is a wolf nearby, and are preparing to catch him.

• The hunters get names at a later point in the story: "Misha", "Yasha" and "Vladimir".

• Peter day-dreams of hunting and catching the wolf and exits the garden carrying a wooden "pop-gun" rifle with the purpose of hunting the wolf down.

• At the end, in a complete reversal of the original (and to make the story more child-friendly), it turns out that the duck has not been eaten by the wolf. (The wolf is shown chasing the duck, who hides in a tree's trunk. The wolf attacks out of view, and returns in view with some of the duck's feathers in his mouth and licking his jaws. Peter, the cat, and the bird assume the duck has been eaten. After the wolf has been caught, the bird is shown mourning the duck. The duck comes out of the tree trunk at that point and they are happily reunited).

In the original Russian version, the story ends with the line: "If you listen very carefully, you'd hear the duck quacking inside the wolf's belly, because the wolf in his hurry had swallowed her alive." Anyway, enjoy:

Stephen Hawking's Big Ideas, Made Simple

On March 14, 2018, visionary physicist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76. You know his name, and may have even watched a biopic or two about him. But if you've ever wondered what specifically Hawking's big contributions to science were, and you have two and a half minutes to spare, the animation below is for you. It's brief, easy to understand, and gets to the point with nice narration by Alok Jha. So here, in a very brief and simple way, are some of Stephen Hawking's big ideas:

If you have more than a few minutes, we heartily recommend Hawking's classic book A Brief History of Time. It's easy to read, and it's truly brief.

[h/t: Open Culture]

Warner Bros.
See What Paddington 2 Looks Like Without the Bear
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

For the average moviegoer, a film like Paddington 2 might seem like a cinematic wonder. Not because of the quality of its story or acting (which, for the record, are amazing) but because of one simple fact: How do you film a live-action movie about a talking bear without ever bringing in an actual bear? Neatorama alerted us to this fun visual effects breakdown from Framestore, the effects company behind the animation in Paddington 2, which takes you through some of the key ways the film makes the impossible come to life.

First, there’s the 3D animation itself, dictating how Paddington (who is voiced by Ben Whishaw) moves and how his facial expressions should change depending on the emotions he's feeling. The animation occurs in multiple steps, creating a smooth virtual outline of Paddington, then overlaying the photorealistic fur and colored clothing.

When it comes time for a shot that only has Paddington in it, animators can put together the whole thing using a mixture of live footage and special effects, allowing him to ride on the back of a running dog, bolt down the roof of a moving train, or dash around the prison dining room.

But there are other shots that require Paddington to interact with the people around him. For those, there are stand-ins who carry out the actions that Paddington needs to—like setting a cafeteria tray on a table or rubbing mustard on Knuckles McGinty’s apron. Afterward, these people will be scrubbed from the shot, replaced by a furry CGI bear. Once the visual effects magic is finished, Paddington looks as natural in a scene as any human actor.

See it for yourself in the video below.

[h/t Neatorama]


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