Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Tour De France, In 10 Minutes

Even cycling amateurs have a thing for the Tour de France; if you like travel and have even an inkling of desire to ride a bike, it’s hard not to at least watch a stage or two. The Tour de France is one of those classic events that’s as much a sporting event as it is a cultural one, attracting people from far and wide to come and watch in person (or even ride some of it), and thousands more turning on their computers to live stream it around the world.

So how exactly did the Tour come to be and why is it popular? Everything you ever wanted to know about this iconic race is in this animated video. For example, did you know that the first year of the race, in 1903, riders rode fixed gear bikes? The original hipsters.

Don’t worry; it’s narrated in a French accent.

Trick out your bike with animated wheels

Well here’s a new way to hipster out your bicycle for your daily commute (I’m looking at you, Portland). Youtube user TheManimation concocted a paper insert to go on top of a bicycle wheel that when rotated turns into a groovy animation. You won’t see it at first. Initially, the whole thing will look like one of those folded paper snowflakes that we all used to make in kindergarten. But once the wheels get moving, everything hits the right frequency and the gears start spinning (literally). The result is pretty impressive.

Amazing photographic animation of Cassini’s Saturn flyby

The Cassini unmanned probe to Saturn has been a resounding success. A joint project between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency, it’s been studying the ringed planet since 2004. Cassini has been sending back detailed images of Saturn, its rings, and its moons and expanding our knowledge of the solar system.

Check out this amazing video made up of hundreds of thousands of Cassini photographs put one after another to recreate the flyby. There’s no CGI, no trick photography, these are all real images that, as the folks over at Tecca point out, are every bit as good as anything Hollywood can create us. This film is actually a preview of an IMAX feature currently under production by the nonprofit Outside In.

Before it got to Saturn, Cassini also flew past Venus, an asteroid, and Jupiter. I’m hoping those images will be in the movie too.

While I’m not going to be putting on my backpack and heading to Saturn anytime soon, images like this get me in the mood to travel. It’s that sense of exploration, learning about the unknown, that drives us to reach into space and see what’s out there. Cassini may be just an unmanned probe, but through the images it sends back we can all travel with it.

Video of the Day – Real Madrid and FC Barcelona Animation

Though many American sports fans are currently preoccupied with the NBA and Stanley Cup Playoffs, there’s a different sort of post-season sports fever going on right now in Europe: the UEFA Champions League. The annual event, which pits the top soccer clubs from across Europe against one another, is among the most-watched sporting events in the world. This past week, two of Spain’s top teams, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona squared off to decide who would play in the event’s Championship. The video above celebrates the heated rivalry between these two top-notch teams. Instead of video replays though, we get a beautiful animated recreation of the match. It’s sports elevated to high art. Like or loathe soccer, it’s a stunning clip to watch.

A video bike trip from Berlin to Istanbul

Josh Wedlake spent a month riding a bicycle from Berlin to Istanbul. Not only was his ride an impressive feat of endurance, the animated video recreation he’s made of his trip is nearly as amazing. For over four months upon his return, Josh was animating and editing a 3D version of his journey using an open-source animation tool called Blender.

Not only does the film provide viewers with a beautiful visual feast, Wedlake provides a wonderful accompanying narration, loaded with deep reflections and plenty of poignant moments. Passionate travelers like Josh are inventing a new method of travel storytelling, using digital tools and new methods to bring their experiences to life.

Best of all, Josh is raising money from his ride and the video to donate to charity. If you like the film, you can offer a donation here and here.

[Via Metafilter]