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String theory: Amazing video is made from one piece of yarn

A group of YouTube filmmakers rearranged a 25-foot-long piece of yarn 703 times. Why? Because art.

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Yup. Dad, son, monster and kite are all the same piece of yarn. Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

Last month, Joe Penna, the YouTube phenomenon who goes by the name of MysteryGuitarMan, astounded us with a video that was made from 1,296 Rubik's Cubes. This month, he and his team have taken the art of patient filmmaking to new heights with a short film made from a single piece of yarn. Yes, yarn.

The film (see below) follows the life of a man from boyhood through to getting married and having a kid of his own. But that's not the astounding part. What's astounding is that to create the short, the filmmakers had to completely rearrange the yarn and the pins around which it was wrapped a total of 703 times.

"Because of the nature of the yarn, we had to set up each frame completely individually by placing all of the pins, stringing the yarn through and taking a picture," MysteryGuitarMan team-member Ryan Morrison told me. "Then we had to clear all the pins and yarn, move on to the next frame and start over."

Morrison said that it took just under three weeks of work to create the minute-and-a-half-long animation, with two to five people working on it 10 hours a day. He also said that the music for the video was composed "by the unsung hero of the MysteryGuitarMan team," Richard Alexander Witt Villarreal.

"The inspiration for the video came from one of the thousands of conversations Joe and I have that start with 'Wouldn't it be cool if,'" Morrison told me. "This time we happened to stumble across some really incredible pictures online of continuous line art, where really complex images are created from one unbroken line. We asked ourselves how we could do that but try to step it up. Joe and his wife recently had a new baby boy and I'm very close with my father, so this was a natural direction to take the narrative."

You can see Penna's new baby boy at the end of the video, after a string of sewing-oriented puns. (See what I did there?)

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