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A Thirsty Oil-Drinking Monster, Animated From Online Maps

“Motorville,” a short video where all the characters are pulled from OpenStreetMap, tells a (slightly ham-fisted, but adorable) tale of America’s dependency on fossil fuels.

Motorville is hungry. The allegorical city–with a set of freeways and geographical features that look suspiciously like Los Angeles–will stop at nothing to fuel its addiction to, well, fuel. Lifting itself up from its West Coast roots, the anthropomorphized megapolis goes on a quest for oil, which brings it to Texas, and ultimately, across the Atlantic to Saudi Arabia, where it overdoses on fossil fuels, which spill out from its veins into the forests and oceans.

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This is the plot-line of the excellent animated short “Motorville” by director Patrick Jean, which is probably the first film to create characters out of open-sourced map data, downloaded for free from OpenStreetMap. The short’s heavy-handed anti-car message is softened by the clever animations.

It’s no surprise coming from the same guy who directed the 2010 short “Pixels”–which imagines a New York City-takeover by Tetris pieces, PacMan, and other vintage video game characters. That one’s been viewed about 10 million times and was optioned by Sony Pictures to be turned into a feature film. Let’s see how successful “Motorville” is, given its environmental message.

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About the author

Zak Stone is a Los Angeles-based writer and a contributing editor of Playboy Digital. His writing has appeared in TheAtlantic.com, NYMag.com, Los Angeles, The Utne Reader, GOOD, and elsewhere. Visit his personal website here.

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