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JANUARY 2003

01-31-03: In 1996 Imax presented a special about behind the scenes in special effects. It was directed by Ben Burtt, a long time sound man for Lucasfilms. Now when you see it .... the special effects behind the scenes is kind of a homage to many of the traditional methods. It was made 7 years ago which is not really that long ago, but maybe now considered "stoneage" by computer-digital nerds ... where they only seek the next level of technology and seem to miss the point about the art of filmmaking. Included in this special, is a modern re-creation of King Kong, done via Stop Motion and animated by the late David Allen. A little trivia here .... I know Tony McVey, and he was originally approached by Ben Burtt to create the Kong puppet, but for whatever reason it went to David Allen. Tony is a highly photorealistic sculptor and character designer and can do incredible re-interpretations or variations of animals, creatures, etc.. I am only guessing that Ben wanted Kong to look similar to 1933 original. I would have liked to seen Tony's possibly more wicked version of Kong. Anyway here are a few links Nova Special Effects Site - Behind the scenes with King Kong - The Video
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01-27-03: It's been awhile since I posted new photos in my Gallery link, but as usual, I don't take an opportunity to take pictures of armatures. They all somewhat look the same to me (especially human armatures). Actually, I have been sort of on a hiatus doing Armatures, but still construct them on a freelance basis, at special request. Anyway, I did some Davey & Goliath armatures last year and I only had a chance to capture the Goliath Armatures. Here in About page I mention it and here in Gallery page is where you can see Goliath armatures .... scroll to bottom of both pages.
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01-24-03: We all know that many current special effects people have been influenced strongly by the now almost icon figure and master, Ray Harryhausen. Here is a neat little archived article reminiscing about some of the classic stop motion works and a few people along the way who were involved with it. A trip down memory lane .... Hollywood Children of Ray Harryhausen

From super internet detective Marc Spess .....someone in Korea starting to offer Armatures ... company or person called Clay-Mate. They use an open hole socketing technique (which I used long time ago) and they say parts are computer machined. Actually, not that much machining required..... just drill the two socket holes then the center tension screw hole. Brass metal is used and then nickel-plated. Balls not soldered but turned from solid brass rod. There are NO decent photos of armatures (only small thumbnails?!) Maybe they are just setting-up the website, or their gallery link does not work or has a bug?
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01-20-03: For awhile there, it seemed like Jeff "Las Vegas" Taylor wandered off into the desert and maybe never to be heard from again? Good news .... he is still kicking around. Actually, Jeff (from Nevada) is a fellow armature designer/fabricator aka Taylor Design, and for two years, the brainchild behind Imagine Nation Expo '01 & '02 in Las Vegas ....a Model Figure Kit exhibition, also starting to include traditional special effects people, and also features some Stop Motion as part of this event. Imagine Nation Expo 2003 ... August 8, 9 & 10.... will be a tribute to King Kong .... a stop motion & special effects Icon/Classic celebrating its 70th anniversary. Here is Jeff's post on the Message Board to confirm all this. This is early notice but gives you plenty of time to plan your trip to Las Vegas !
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01-16-03: It seems that Britain's TV broadcast history has had much Stop Motion content or as they sometimes call it, Model Animation. I have read that Puppetry in general, is more of a European tradition, whereas the USA is primarily dominated by graphics-type media and hence, mostly 2D Cartoon-Cel-Drawn animation here. Cosgrove Hall is a well known animation studio in England and has been around since 1976. They do Stop Motion and also 2D animation. Also, I noticed that some of English television animated series are structured differently than the USA. Many of Cosgrove's stop motion series run 10 minutes in length (instead of the typical USA 1/2 hour shows with the commercials). Cosgrove's work is not seen much in America. Here you can see what Stop Motion show's they have done in the past Cosgrove Hall's Greatest Hits - Cosgrove Hall Ate my Brain
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01-14-03: Got this info from Marc Spess ... The return of Neil & Nick ! No, it's not a show but two Stop Motion pros down under in the land of OZ aka Australia... far, far away from the conjestion of the States, here. Their websites have been on hiatus for a little while but they're back Neil Hughes Productions & Nick Hilligoss Online Photos: Stop Motion
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01-13-03: About a year ago, I was approached by a freelance writer regarding Stop Motion and she asked if she could use my website as reference for one of her articles. The writer's name is Elizabeth Burton and her objective was to provide an overview of some of the special effects methods used in the past (& some currently) so that the general public could understand. It was written in four parts with the fifth installment not completed yet .... It's All in How You Look at It- Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4
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01-09-03: In my ocassional mini-rants, I have sometimes mentioned about the almost non-existence of a Stop Motion curriculum or training in educational institutions and, that in only a few years there now seems to be an excess in pumping out only computer literate mouse clickers that do very-very specialized jobs in CGI & Digital effects. Well, here is one private school that is just starting a new program in Animation that does include Stop Motion and other animation techniques, taught by the very eclectic Rick Catizone ..... he has been doing it all .... Cel, Computer, and especially Stop Motion Rick Catizone's Art of Animation
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01-07-03: Remember the Cuppa Coffee Not for Sale news that was just posted here about a week ago? Well, some unknown studio (I never heard of it) in Canada has posted this Animators Wanted- Stop Motion Series in Toronto. This might be the Disney-Cuppa Coffee deal for 52 stop motion episodes/spots. They want resumes, demo reels or whatever by January 10 !? Kind of short notice? Soooo, drop everything and move to Toronto! Typical sometimes of the chaos nature of stop motion productions. Because Stop Motion specific skills or talent are not easily available, the process of ramping-up for a big stop motion production today, can be one of the "Achilles Heel" of this animation craft (compared to finding CGI people). Hopefully, this stop motion project can find the people they need in this very short hiring deadline. UPDATE 02-03-03: Just found out that the Animators Wanted Ad was not for Disney project but for a stop mo series called Henry's World being done by another company (The Ad link has been pulled). Cuppa did original Henry's World and now doing the Disney series, it is understandable that the email tip I got was in error.

Well, the Ray Harryhausen was broadcast yesterday on NPR's, Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross. What is up with Terry calling it Stop Time Animation ??? She screwed-up on that. I thought she was a veteran radio professional and researched throroughly before the interviews. Also, she did not take the interview to any deeper level. She did not ask about the difficulty Ray had in selling Stop Motion in the early days to studios/producers or talk about his association with Charles Schneer. Also, interview was only about half hour. You can go to Fresh Air site and listen to archive but you need Real Audio.
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01-06-03: When Chicken Run was released not so long ago, it certainly gave stop motionists & fans-aficianado's a bit of hope for Stop Motion's comeback (it has happened in its history). I did a quick research of past online articles and this is one of the better one's that I have read and briefly covers the history of clay/stopmotion and also why it has not been used often in mainstream Hollywood. In my opinion, this writer for ABC news researched it better than others. The only minor critique would be that the writer perhaps lumps Stop Motion under Clay Animation but it is generally a good article History of Clay Animation
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01-03-03: George Pal .... to me a name in the league with Ray Harryhausen & Karel Zeman .... kind of like legends and trailblazers in cinema effects work. I know there are others, but these 3 are up there in mainstream entertainment of the past ... using stop motion and all sorts of traditional special effects methods. George Pal really refined the replacement stop motion animation method. Take a look at this small page about ThePuppetoon's . George Pal was making all-animated music videos way back in the early 1940's ! Astounding .... the replacement animation technique and for me mesmerizing watching it .... pure hand crafted art through sweat equity & creativity. In spite of today's so-called super slick computer generated imagery, these old traditional methods amazes me much more .... they have soul, a surrealness and that touch of humaness. There is a DVD available, The Puppetoon Movie and you can see for yourself-!

Ray Harryhausen on radio..... Monday, January 6th on the Fresh Air program which is broadcast on NPR (National Public Radio). It also repeats in the evening. Check your local radio program schedule. On this site, http://freshair.npr.org, the program will be archived later and you can listen on Real Audio.
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01-02-03: Here is something that I am guessing has been on the web, since maybe about 1997? This short stop motion film from Germany won quite a few awards back in ' 96-' 97 (including an Oscar).... title of it is Quest. I do not quite remember it or if there was any extensive publicity back then about this animated short. If you go to that site you will be able to see stills from the short, a few behind-the-scene stills and some clips. It has a strange-surreal Svankmajer Euro quality (but of course .... made in Germany!)


 

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