These Endangered Wildlife Photos Are Artistic Masterpieces 

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These Endangered Wildlife Photos Are Artistic Masterpieces 

Image Tim Flach

Human’s impact on nature is unmistakeable, from vast swaths of lost forest to heaps of trash on beaches. Looking at these images might be upsetting, but still demonstrate what we’ve done. They don’t demonstrate what we might lose.

Scientists warn that we’re potentially amidst a sixth mass extinction event, thanks to human activity. Humans are indirectly and directly responsible for the loss of species once as common as passenger pigeons and Tasmanian tigers. Before these species go extinct, they’re endangered—and one photographer is trying to document these species facing the struggle before it’s too late.

Photographer Tim Flach released his collection of stunning photographs in the enormous book Endangered this week, alongside commentary from chief scientist of the National Geographic Society, Jonathan Baille. The book costs 65 bucks. But honestly—it’s very good.

Image: Tim Flach

Pangolins are considered the most trafficked animal in the world. They’re hunted in Africa as meat, and in Asia where their scales are used in traditional medical treatments. All four species are considered vulnerable and one is critically endangered, writes Baille.

Image: Tim Flach

The sea angel’s endangered status hasn’t been evaluated, but it’s falling victim to ocean acidification. These animals are important for feeding other fish, like the larvae of cod and salmon.

Image: Tim Flach

Hippopotamuses are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Their numbers have fallen due to hunting both for meat and for their teeth, which can substitute as ivory.

Image: Tim Flach

Polar bears are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN as they succumb to the effects of melting polar ice caps, thanks to climate change. However, Inuit communities attempt to hunt the bears sustainably, writes Baille.

Image: Tim Flach
Image: Tim Flach

Pictured above are chalice coral polyps, followed by Montipora coral. Single coral polyps attach, building and grow together as a colony in one large aggregation of connected individual organisms. They are listed as “least concern” by the IUCN but are vulnerable to bleaching events from the effects of climate change.

Image: TIm Flach

Yellow-eyed tree frogs lay their eggs ten feet in the air in the plants surrounding ponds during rainy seasons, writes Baille. The frog’s habitat has been stunted thanks to development in Costa Rica’s capital, San José. The frog is currently listed as endangered by the IUCN.

Image: Tim Flach
Image: Tim Flach

Poachers and smugglers trade Madagascar’s ploughshare tortoises for their shells, and the species is now critically endangered. One organization bred 600 tortoises from a set of confiscated ones, then purposely defaced the shells to deter smugglers, writes Baille.

Image: Tim Flach

The pied tamarin is listed as endangered by the IUCN as suburban development has led to deforestation and habitat lost. Numbers have begun to grow as conservationists breed the species in captivity.

Image: Tim Flach

Endangered tells the story of the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey’s biggest fan, filmmaker Xi Zhinong. He created a documentary about the monkeys, and saved a swatch of their habitat from logging after sending a litter to the Chinese government.

Image: Tim Flach

The monarch butterfly isn’t endangered, yet. But conservationists are concerned after observing large declines in migrating populations in California and Mexico between 1997 and 2016, writes Baille.

Image: Tim Flach

Phillipine eagles are an apex predator, which makes them vulnerable to toxic chemicals that have built up through the food web as bigger animals eat smaller animals. Much of their habitat has also been deforested, and they are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.

Image: Tim Flach

Each snow leopard survives on over 80 square mile habitat apiece in central Asia, meaning that humans may increasingly come into contact with them as they expand their farmland. They’re listed as endangered by the IUCN.

Image: Tim Flach

Saiga are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN after hunting for their meat and horns, as well as a recent bacterial infection that decimated populations. Conservationists are hopeful that the saiga will bounce back, writes Baille.

Image: Tim Flach

Rhinos have succumbed to heavy losses due to the high value of their horns. The South African government legalized domestic trade hoping that prices would drop, but Baille writes that 1,000 rhinos were still killed in 2016. Pictured here is the northern white rhino—there are only three northern white rhinos left on Earth, all owned by a zoo.

Image: Tim Flach

The 16-foot-long beluga sturgeon is illegally hunted for food—its eggs go for over $9,000 a pound, writes Baille. It is simultaneously succumbing to habitat loss from damming projects, and the IUCN lists it as critically endangered.

Image: Tim Flach

There are only a few hundred Indian gharials left on Earth, mostly in sanctuary. They’re the victims of threats like hunting for food and medicine as well as habitat loss from humans.

[Abrams Books]

Behold The Most Hilarious Wildlife Photos of 2017

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Behold The Most Hilarious Wildlife Photos of 2017

Not the winner, but definitely our favorite (Image: Bence Mate/ Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards)

Wildlife photographer Tibor Kércz would spend a few nights each year camped out in a tent near a tree, hoping to capture photos of little owls and their nestlings. But just before nightfall on one fateful evening, three of the birds flew out onto a short branch. They landed and tried stabilizing themselves… but the owlet on the end began to fall.


“So I started to shoot in the right moment,” he told Gizmodo in a Facebook message. That series of photos won him the 2017 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.


The awards are meant to highlight whimsical, “possibly unpretentious” photography of wild animals doing funny things, according to their website. Some of the silliest images from past contests have gone viral, and this year’s certainly have the potential to do the same. Ultimately, the founders’ main goal is conservation.

“Well… you are now obviously going to go to your office, home, pub, club, or wherever and talk about the dire need for us all to be conservationists in our own little way,” the competition’s founders write on their website. The contest is affiliated with the Born Free Foundation wildlife conservation charity. But Kércz likes how it gives humans the chance to see animals in a more relatable light.

“It is a great initiative and [gives us the] chance to show people how funny and lovable these cute creatures are, like we are,” he said.


The contest received over 3,500 submissions, which were required to have been taken by the photographer, not of a pet or domesticated animal, and without being digitally manipulated. Also, term number 16 of the website’s Terms and Conditions is “16. You must think Bohemian Rhapsody one of the greatest pieces of popular music ever written, just kidding. No seriously….” So yeah.

Anyway, here are the pictures:

Overall winner: Tibor Kércz

Image: Tibor Kércz/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: Tibor Kércz/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: Tibor Kércz/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: Tibor Kércz/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards

Winner, “In The Air” Category: Jon Threlfall

Image: Jon Threlfall/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards

It’s a fart joke.

Winner, “Under the Sea” Category: Troy Mayne

Image: Troy Mayne/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards

Winner, “On Land” Category: Andrea Zampatti

Image: Andrea Zampatti/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards

Highly Commended

Image: Bence Mate/ Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: Carl Henry/ Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: Daisy Gilardini/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: Daniel Trim/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: Douglas Croft/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: George Cathcart/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: Jean-Jacques Alcalay/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: Katy Laveck-Foster/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: Oliver Colle/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Image: Penny Palmer/Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards

[via Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards

X-Rays Reveal Ghostly Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots

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X-Rays Reveal Ghostly Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots

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X-Rays Reveal Ghostly Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots

The portrait of Sir John Maitland (left) next to the unfinished painting of Mary, Queen of Scots (right).

Credit: National Galleries Scotland; Courtauld Institute of Art

The ghostly, unfinished portrait of a woman believed to be Mary, Queen of Scots has been found underneath the 16th-century portrait of a man dressed in a black doublet, according to new research.

Art conservators discovered and identified Mary’s hidden portrait by using X-ray photography. The black-and-white X-ray images revealed a woman with similarities to other near-contemporary portraits of the queen, said Caroline Rae, a research fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art, in London, England, who is doing the research in conjunction with the National Galleries of Scotland.

“The discovery of this hidden portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots is an exciting revelation,” Rae said in a statement. [Gallery: Hidden Gems in Renaissance Art]

Rae made the finding while she was studying the portrait of the man dressed in a black doublet, who is known as Sir John Maitland, 1st Lord Maitland of Thirlestane, the lord chancellor of Scotland. The 1589 painting is attributed to Adrian Vanson, an artist with ties to the royal family; he was the court painter of James VI of Scotland, who was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Rae used X-rays to examine the painting because this wavelength of light can penetrate through paint layers, but is stopped by pigments that contain heavy metals, such as lead white. In this case, the X-ray images show lead white depicting Mary’s face, as well as the outlines of her dress and hat.

An analysis of the portrait revealed a face with a strong resemblance to Mary, Queen of Scots. For instance, the woman looks like two miniatures painted of the queen by the well-known English miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard (1547 to 1619). Moreover, other clues — the woman’s head is tilted sideways; her hand, which is resting on her waist, is holding something; and she’s wearing a wired cap and square-necked dress — also look like other portraits of Mary, Rae said.

“[The discovery] aids in illuminating our understanding of Adrian Vanson, a Netherlandish émigré artist who came to Jacobean Scotland to seek a new life and quickly ascended to the status of Crown painter,” Rae said.

After abandoning Mary’s portrait, the artist turned Mary’s dress into the lord’s black doublet and modified Mary’s right hand to be the lord’s right hand. This finding “explains why the portrait of the Scottish Chancellor was so awkwardly painted,” Rae told the Independent.

The Queen, originally known as Mary Stuart, was a controversial figure in her day. Mary, the great-grandniece of King Henry VIII of England, became Queen of Scots before she was less than 1 year old. A marriage with a French dauphin who later became king made her France’s queen consort, but when her husband died of an ear infection, she became a widow at age 18 and returned to Scotland.

Mary then married her cousin, Henry Stewart, and together they had a son — James VI. But she was later forced to abdicate the throne, based on accusations that she was involved with his murder. Later, Mary was imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth in 1568, and executed in 1587, two years before the date on the finished portrait. [Photos: Hidden Portrait by Edgar Degas Revealed with X-Rays]

Vanson may have covered up the portrait after Mary’s execution, the researchers said. However, it’s unlikely Vanson ever saw Mary in person. Rather, “it shows that portraits of the queen were being copied and presumably displayed in Scotland around the time of her execution, a highly contentious and potentially dangerous thing to be seen doing.”

The public can see the X-ray images at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, in a new display that will last for several months.

Original article on Live Science.

This photograph of a truck isn’t what it seems

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This photograph of a truck isn’t what it seems

5/15/12 10:40am

This is not a truck. Adam Makarenko creates slightly paranormal stories using photographs of meticulously-crafted miniatures. Here you’re peeking at part of a tale that dreamily evokes a beehive’s life. First, the bees are stacked in their boxes on the back of a truck — transported to a new home. Later, they join the ecosystem in a place that’s full of bears. You can see a lot more of Makarenko’s work on his website.

These Gorgeous Planetary Vistas Are Real Models, Not CGI Magic

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These Gorgeous Planetary Vistas Are Real Models, Not CGI Magic

Yesterday 7:50pm

Image credit: Adam Makarenko. All images credited as such unless otherwise stated, and used with permission of the artist.

This isn’t some neat CGI wallpaper or a bit of deep space photography. It’s a gorgeously detailed picture of a practical model, hand-made and then intricately shot to a make it look just as good as any scifi vista you’ll see in on screen.

As part of a new series, photographer Adam Makarenko uses his modelmaking know-how—which we’ve featured before on io9—to craft intricate fictional landscapes and exoplanets, before shooting them to look like they’re the latest stellar photography straight from a deep space mission. They’re simply presented, but the crazy work that goes into making these worlds look real is nothing short of remarkable.

You can see more images from the series, and behind-the-scenes looks at Makarenko’s work over at his website.

[Adam Makarenko via BoingBoing]

James is a staff writer for io9. He reads comics so you don’t have to—but sometimes you should anyway!

These Award-Winning Underwater Photographs Are Dazzling

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These Award-Winning Underwater Photographs Are Dazzling

2/23/16 9:25am

‘Gold’ by Davide Lopresti (Italy). Underwater Photographer of the Year 2016.

It’s often said that we know less about the deep ocean than we do about the surface of Mars. Looking at the 2016 winners of the UK’s Underwater Photography Contest, I can’t help but agree. Life beneath the sea is as alien and entrancing as any ancient, dust-blown crater on the Red Planet.

Although only in its second year, the Underwater Photography Contest has already put itself on the map as a prestigious international competition. This year, the contest drew thousands of applicants, who vied for awards in eight photo categories, including macro, wide-angle, behavior, and more. In addition, four special awards recognized exceptional photographers, and up-and-coming talent, both in the UK and internationally.

The scope, scale, and subjects of the winning images are breathtakingly diverse. I’ve collected a few of my favorites below, but if you’re as captivated as I was, you’ll want to check out all 80 award-winning photos here.

‘Catshark Supernova’ by Dan Bolt (UK). British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2016
‘Mangrove sunset’ by Fabio Galbiati (Italy). Wide Angle Runner Up 2016.
‘Seven’ by Mathieu Foulquié (France). Wide Angle Commended 2016.
‘The odd couple’ by Gianni Colucci (Italia). Macro Third Place 2016.
‘Timeless Moment!’ by Behnaz Afsahi (Canada). Macro Highly Commended 2016.
‘Black water’ by GREG LECOEUR (France). Macro Highly Commended 2016.
‘A Family Affair..’ by Thomas Heckmann (Germany). Wrecks Winner 2016.
‘USS Kittiwake shipwreck’ by Susannah H. Snowden-Smith (Grand Cayman). Wrecks Commended 2016.
‘Turtle eating Jellyfish’ by Richard Carey (Thailand). Behavior Winner 2016.
‘Millions of crabs’ by Rui Guerra (Portugal). Behavior Third Place 2016.
‘Transparent Trick’ by ifj. Lorincz Ferenc © Hungary (Hungary). Up & Coming Highly Commended 2016.
‘Set the Ray to Jelly’ by Nick Blake (UK). British Waters Wide Angle Highly Commended 2016.
‘Slug’ by Alex Tattersall (UK). British Waters Macro Highly Commended 2016.
‘Friend or Foe?’ by Dan Bolt (UK). British Waters Macro Commended 2016.
‘Hello Ducky!’ by Paul Colley (UK). British Waters Macro Winner 2016.
‘Pike on the move’ by Trevor Rees (UK). British Waters Macro Highly Commended 2016.

Follow the author @themadstone

These Photos Show the Alien Beauty of Life Underwater

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These Photos Show the Alien Beauty of Life Underwater

1/11/16 11:08am

Most of us have a vague, abstract concept of life beneath the sea. But a few men and women are dedicated to brining the secrets of the deep into the light of day. And as the 2015 Ocean Art photography contest shows, they’re doing a spectacular job of it.

Ocean Art is the most prestigious underwater photo competition in the world. Organized by the Underwater Photography Guide and judged by a panel of experts, this year’s contest saw over $70,000 in prizes handed out to 75 photographers, for winning shots in any of a dozen categories that include wide angle shots, macro photography, and DSLR. From crustaceans in heat to eels devouring octopi, the photos are as diverse and beautiful as the marine ecosystems that cover 70% of our planet. If there’s one conclusion that can be drawn from this year’s Ocean Art winners, it’s that despite all of our technology and ability to explore distant worlds, the oceans remain a surreal, astounding, and utterly alien place.

We’ve collected a few of our favorite shots below. For the full breakdown of winners in each category, plus the stories that accompany each photos, check out the UW photography’s website.

“The Satellite” by Francesco Visintin. Shot in Forte de Marmi, Tuscany, Italy with Nikon D7000

“Feeling Exposed” by Jeff Milisen. Shot in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA with Canon T1i

“Bright Smile” by Claudio Contreras Koob. Shot in Jardines de la Reina, Cuba with Canon 5D Mark II

“Alien Space Ship” by Dennis Corpuz. Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Nikon D7000

“Hiding Beauty” by Alexander Franz. Shot in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia with Nikon D7000

“Mirror Mirror On The Wall” by Peter Leopold. Shot in the Arctic Ocean with Nikon D7000

“Sardine Run” by Greg Lecoeur. Shot in Port St Johns, South Africa with Nikon D7000

“Spooky” by Christian Gloor. Shot at Air Bajo III, Lembeh Strait, Indonesia with Olympus OM-D E-M5

“Blue Ringed” by Alfonso Jesús Expósito Díaz-Álvarez. Shot in the Lembeh Strait, Indonesia with Olympus OM-D E-M1

“Dad and her eggs” by Walter Bassi. Shot in Capo Noli, Liguria Sea, Italy with Olympus E-PL1

“Motherhood” by Cornelia Thieme. Shot in the Lembeh Strait, Indonesia with Olympus OM-D E-M5

“Wood Turtle” by Matthew Sullivan. Shot in Montane Creek, Pennsylvania with Sony a6000

“The Fluorescent Cerianthus” by Alessandro Raho. Shot in Noli, Italy with Canon G16

“Need a Haircut?” by Chen Vui Soon. Shot in Amed, Bali, Indonesia with Sony RX100

“Fast strike of a Tylosorus crocodilus on a juvenile kyphosus vaigiensis” by Jack Berthomier. Shot in Ouemo Bay, Noumea, New Caledonia with Sony RX100

“Poor Octopus” by Jens Schultz. Shot in Ambon, Indonesia with Olympus Tough TG-2

“Humpback calf” by Gregory Sherman. Shot at San Benedicto Island, Archipielago Revillagigedo, Mexico with Canon 5D Mark III

“Red Carpet” by Marco Fierli. Shot in South Sulawesi, Indonesia with Canon 5DMKIII

“Full of Eggs” by Dennis Corpuz. Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Nikon D7000

“Golden Jelly” by Cornelia Thieme. Shot in Jellyfish Lake, Palau with Olympus OM-D E-M5

Images Copyright Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition 2015

The Best Underwater Photographs of 2016 Are Out of This World

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The Best Underwater Photographs of 2016 Are Out of This World

Tuesday 4:07pm

Images Copyright Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition 2016

This year may have been a rough one up here on Earth’s dry surface, but beneath the waves ocean life flourished and dazzled. The world’s most prestigious underwater photography competition has just announced its winning images for 2016—and they’re absolutely spellbinding.

The Ocean Art Photography competition has been ongoing for six years, and with each iteration, contestants seem to find new ways of capturing the alien beauty of life underwater. 2016 saw prizes handed out to 95 photographers from over 60 countries, in categories encompassing science (marine life behavior, reefscapes, and nudibranchs) and camera technology (wide angle, novice DSLR, and super-macro), not to mention the occasional highly-conceptual image of a dude repairing a beamer engine at the bottom of a pool.

Below we’ve collected a few of our favorite portraits of ocean life to come out of the 2016 contest. Be sure to check out the Underwater Photography Guide’s website for the full compilation of last year’s most mesmerizing aquatic imagery.

In “Blue Lasso” a the Pacific Man of War jellyfish shows off its infamously toxic, electric blue tendril used to paralyze prey. The photograph, shot by Matty Smith using a Nikon D810 camera, took first place in the Wide Angle photography category, and was additionally awarded Best of Show.

In “Mirror Mirror,” a green turtle and a human say hello on a snorkeling trip in the Great Barrier Reef. The photograph, shot by Troy Maybe using a Nikon D200 camera, took third place in the Wide Angle Photography category.

A bobtail squid flares its tentacles for a fraction of a second before making a quick escape into the darkness. “Amazing squid,” shot by Dennis Corpuz using a Nikon D7000 and Nikkor 105mm macro lens, took first place in the Macro category.

Sabella spallanzani, a marine worm that lives in warm Mediterranean waters off the coast of Italy, twirls its feather-like gills to create a truly out-of-this-world display. “Dancer sea worm,” shot by Lorenzo Terranea using a Nikon D7200 and Nikkor 105mm macro lens, took fourth place in the Macro category.

Pike are generally camera-shy, but this one didn’t seem to mind being photographed beneath a canopy of lilies in a lake in southwestern Sweden. “World of a Pike” was shot by Tobias Dahlin using a Nikon D7100 and Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. It won first place in the Cold Water category.

In “looking,” two roosters share a gelatinous snack—perhaps a jellyfish?—off the coast of Tenerife, Spain. The photograph was shot by Joaquin Gutierrez using a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 8-15mm lens. It won first place in the Portrait category.

A swarm of Box Jellyfish aggregate to form a terrifying pillar of tentacles, for what may be some sort of mating ritual off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. “Tentacle Tornado” was shot by Geo Cloete using a Nikon D300 and Tokina 10-17mm lens. It won first place in the Marine Life Behavior category.

Two zen toads and a few hundred unhatched young put your family reunions to shame. “Mating Toads” was shot by Gino Symus using a Canon 7D and Sigma 17-70mm lens. It won second place in the Marine Life Behavior category.

A Portuguese Man-O-War jellyfish is not a snack for the faint of heart—the creature’s tentacles are almost as toxic as cobra venom. Undaunted, a pelagic sea swallow appears to be feeding on a giant jelly’s air sac, in this striking photo captured in Ponta Bay, Mozambique. “Predator and Prey” was shot by Jenny Stomvoll using a Sony NEX5 and Sony 18-55mm Lens. It won first place in the Mirrorless Behavior category.

Welcome to the hypnotic undersea forest found….inside the 2 centimeter tall body of a common sea squirt. “Our Enchanted Forest” was shot by Lawrence Alex Wu using an Olympus c5050Z camera. It won first place in the Compact Macro category.

If you needed any proof that Pokemon truly do live among us, just check out the trippy deep sea nudibranchs (re: sea slugs) that seem to have inspired at least a few of Nintendo’s fantasy critters. “Mating Pikachu” was shot by Dennis Corpuz using a Nikon D7000 and Nikon 105mm lens. The image won fourth place in the Nudibranchs category.

In a heartwarming display of cooperative parenting, at least a dozen male Red Irish Lord fish are shown here guarding their egg masses in the Nootka Sound in British Columbia. “Under My Wing” was shot by Chad Tamis. It won first place in the Supermacro category.

Eva, a native of the aquamarine waters of Northern Queensland, reportedly loves posing for the camera—even when she’s trying to grab a little calamari lunch. “Got It!” was shot by photographer and sea turtle rehabilitation director Christian Miller using a Nikon D800 camera and Tokina 10-17mm lens. It won first place in the Pool-Conceptual category.

[Underwater Photography]

Maddie is the science editor at Gizmodo

Drone Footage Inside a 19th-Century Church Looks Too Incredible to Be Real

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Drone Footage Inside a 19th-Century Church Looks Too Incredible to Be Real

The talented pilots and cinematographers of France’s BigFly skillfully piloted a camera-equipped drone through the sanctuary of the 137-year-old Église Saint-Louis de Paimbœuf. Given the church is filled with priceless art and architecture, the skills needed to ensure the drone didn’t hit anything are easily as impressive as the stunning footage they captured.

[Vimeo via BoingBoing]

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We Can’t Legally Tell You to Be High While Watching This But


We Can’t Legally Tell You to Be High While Watching This But

Thursday 3:10pm

Ever wonder what the dreams of a professional animator must look like? Adult Swim’s Off the Air videos continue to be some close approximate of that breed of visual weirdness, and Shapes is the latest installment.

Strap in for kaleidoscopic cats figures, trippy rotoscoping, claymation, glitch art, and intentionally terrible CGI. The video took the work of many animators and musicians, including Cool 3D World and Battles. There’s a long weekend coming up, which means you have time to watch this video almost 393 times, if the whole concept of sleep is somehow disgusting to you.

Anyway, stay in school, don’t do drugs. Or do—I’m not your dad.