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   FEBRUARY 2009

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02.28.09
* Stop Motion Works Coraline Contest Winners .....  Randomly selected with the assistance of my nephew as the 'official bag shaker & random picker' (Yes, he is multi-talented like his Uncle). Each eligible contest entry names were assigned numbers and then each number written on 7/8" x 3-1/4" size paper slips and tightly folded into one quarter size, ending up as 13/16" x 3/4" size. The receptacle used to 'contain' all the folded slips of paper was a fresh & new, environmentally Green-friendly , brown recyclable bag 11" x 3-1/2" x 6". The bag was fluffed open for maximum space to acheive high turbulent movement of paper slips. Top edge of bag folded sharply to seal it. My nephew then grabbed top end of folded bag and vigorously shook it for one full minute (I used a digital timer). We placed the bag in the center of dining room table. My nephew was wearing cotton T-shirt (short sleeves). I unfolded the bag and guided my nephew's right hand who was blindfolded (using one of my designer color bandannas), to the top of open bag and at 20 second intervals, one by one,he grabbed each slip of paper.

Without further ado, here are the 3 winners: Tom P. from Sacramento, California (USA),  Schuylr D. from New York, New York (USA), and  Gordon Y. from Toronto, Ontario (Canada)

A big congratulations to the winners . Our Stop Motion Works staff will email you and also forward your contact information to the Coraline Contest Sponsor. For all who participated, we thank you. As stated in our contest rules & info, your contact information is absolutely confidential and will be thoroughly shredded & disposed of. SMW being environmentally Green-sensitive , we will recycle, said shredded cellulose content material. 

We hope that all of you stay subscribed to Stop Motion Works, the only source that digs down deep into this specialty animation art & craft. Not just 'superficial surface' information about Stop Motion, but dares to expose the rumors, buzz, politics, etc. and asks the hard questions. Also including, the cogent & profound observations from LIO. You may not always agree with him, but he is straight-up direct. See what you just learned right now? The fascinating (?) behind the scenes of this Contest . Astounding isn't it!?  We will resume Stop Motion Works News postings in a few days. As reminder, here are the prizes that each winner will receive.
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02.19.09

* Stop Motion showcasing, groups, exposure, monetizing, etc. ..... I have already rambled in past and recently (directly & indirectly) about this. I do not feel like doing another keyboarding rant and repeating myself. If you make effort to search, you can find my various past views. At this time, I am dubious about steady 'career' in just Stop Motion. Not saying that it is impossible, but can be very difficult. Ideally, one should strive to have multi-skillsets (eclectic talents) that can supplement Stop Motion.

Some  new observations I can add is .... Stop Motion is just one verrrry small facet in the massiveness of entertainment choices out there now.  You are not just competing with other animation styles (Cgi, 2D, Flash animation, Motion Graphics) but also, with live action shorts. Especially now, in this brain frying info internet excess, the masses are being exposed to a plethora of entertainment venues & exposure outlets out there. Here is just a mere small sample, StudentFilms.com - YouTube's Future Shorts - YouTube's Screening Room. Some of the stuff may be mediocre but there are some very creative works (undiscovered talent) that the LCD mainstream public will not usually see and the orthodox Tinsel Town Gatekeepers aka 'Studio Suits' will likely ignore. The biggest possible negative of Stop Motion is, that it can be very time consuming compared to other animation methodologies, however with digital tools & creative resourcefulness, there are ways to somewhat reduce Stop Mo production time. Many at messageboard seeking the magic formula to monetize 'Stop Motion'. There is no simple A, B, C formula. Not everyone can have the same success. This is the nature of the 'arts-entertainment biz' and is very competitive and only for those that are truly passionate who can persevere the ups & downs.

One way to perhaps help your self-marketing strategy, is to maybe combine your talents with others; a group working together on projects. Ron S. Cole and David Rosler have proposed some ideas here & here, which is GREAT, however, in my more realistic view, it can be difficult for a group of people to maintain a dedication to work spirit for the long haul  especially when not being paid. Only the die-hard passionate Stop Motionists might honor that kind of commitments. In my case, I have loosely agreed with Ron and a group of other artisans to be part of, what we have called, a 'Consortium' where we all volunteer or donate our skill-set strengths towards possible joint projects, to produce finished proof of concepts demo works. I also have recently had some personal ephiphany-like realizations about my possible direction in Stop Motion as an info-tainment commentary tool in the area of 'public service' (not for profit). Something I prefer not to disclose, as this is not for personal publicity but for a higher calling

There is an online video of Ralph Bakshi, 2D Animator & Artist maestro (his website), sharing some of his wisdom about working as a 'group' with other like minded creatives. Mr. Bakshi is referring to 2D or Cgi animation but it obviously applies to Stop Motion, Surviving in Tough Times. Some other micro-sample of related links, Indie Films Hit the Web - Navigating the Digital Divide and much more, if you do research. EDIT: 02.20.09
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02.14.09

* Jriggity aka Justin Rasch going High Tech Replacement Stop Motion? .... A brief comment by him at a blog, stating, his next Stop Mo project, he may consider using 3D printing technology that was used in 'Coraline' movie, for the replacement animation shapes (facial features). I am guessing that Justin & Shel knows that Laika used the Objet Geometries 3D printers with their cheapest model costing about $40,000 USA dollars just for one . Possibly other 3D printer brands around that are more affordable but maybe not as heavy duty as required by Laika's humongous use of these machines. They seemed to have went hog wild in pumping out thousands of 3D printed replacement face parts & shapes (for the 2 dozen animators) and miniature props. A smaller Stop Mo project would likely not  need to go that excessive and maybe use 3D printer much more moderately.

The MySpacey Generation© might not know Stop Motion history. 'Replacement animation' is not new but a classic ol' method that George Pal pioneered or extensively used this Stop Motion technique of replacement faces, heads, shapes, puppet walk cycles, etc. known as Puppetoons (Madcap Models). Examples - Philips Broadcast (1938) - Tulips Shall Grow (1942). Also in feature movies such as  Brothers Grimm (1962): Shoemaker & Elves scene. All ol' school model/puppet fabrication methods before the current plethora of techo-wiz gadgetry. No 'Puters, stop mo capture software, digital-schmigital, 3D printers, etc. 

* 3-D Prophets vs. 3-D Naysayers .....  For me, I would possibly be in the 'middle'. 3-D Stereo can be very cool. It has existed for years in the arena of special marketing presentations and do-it-yourself/hobbyist 3-D'rs.  For mainstream theatrically released movies, as I previously ranted here & elsewhere, 3-D perhaps will add a little more visual punch to specific genre categories (sci-fi, horror, animation, fantasy, etc). My view is, it would be Stupid to waste 3-D on just any movie. If over-used, I guarantee you that the short attention-span 'new millenium' public would get quickly jaded. Of course in mass media, pundits and so-called trend experts making all kinds of predictions of consumer's future habits: "A 3-D market for the hard core home video gamers. Also, companies offering proprietary 3-D televisions or systems for Home TV viewing". LIO insight .... Home TV 3-D will defeat Mainstream Movie Biz efforts to get the public out of their homes and into the movie theaters.

In my view, just because '3-D promoters' make predictions with supposed perception of authority, that DOES NOT mean it will happen, especially in these current tumultuous economic and financial times, any kind of accurate prognistication is uncertain. Consumers, businesses, and companies are in 'on hold' or 'cautious' mode because MONEY is hella cash-strap TIGHT. Anyway, if you got spare time, some reading for you, a mere sample (also, read the article replies/comments)  The Dread 3-D - Fad or Future - 3-D`s popping off the screens again - 3D: Is this the resurgence that counts? - 3-D enthusiasm is anything but flat
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02.06.09

* 'Coraline'-O-Rama up the WahZoo (or up the Yin-Yang) ..... I subscribe to some news services and I cannot believe the plethoric quantities of 'Coraline' stuff on the Internet. It seems that the 'Coraline' marketing people have executed a very effective viral online campaign. I do not watch much broadcast TV and for a long time, have not subscribed to cable TV services, and so, I do not know if there has been much 'Coraline' promotion on broadcast television. However, this is kind of odd maybe .... when I ask co-workers at my Straight Joe-job (pays the rent/bills), most all of them have not heard of 'Coraline'. I assume, paid commercial advertising in broadcast TV media is big dollars pricey but reaches the general 'Joe 6-pak Husband & Suzie Soccer Mom' public, whereas 'internet marketing' is perhaps much more cost-effective by comparison (to TV) but reaching a niche/specific audience. As I already stated, there is so much online about 'Caroline' and some of it, is repetitive by the bloggers and reviewers, reposting same articles, but I have weeded through some of it and at end of this ramble will post some of the 'Coraline' links that were somewhat enlightening 'to me'. 

Just some free flow thought summary from what I have gleaned: Did you know that Laika Studio used a 3D Printing technology to produce the replaceable plastic facial parts for the stop motion puppets? "Utilizing UV-sensitive resin, the Objet Geometries printers helped the team build thousands of replacement faces & mouths that were modeled with CG software. In fact, all of the voice acting was completed in the computer first, and then printed out for the animators to slide into place, piece by piece. Its one of the few computer-aided elements of the film". So, in an indirect way, 'Coraline' somewhat used CGI methods, using best of both worlds: 'Traditional' & tweaking-enhancing with Hi-Tech.

Next - Back in 2007 there was news announcement about Laika constructing a  Campus/Studio. Obviously a costly venture. Well, Meister Henry Selick has suggested now, to perhaps put the campus/studio on the back-burner, and instead, direct the money to actual Stop Motion production. I totally agree with Henry! Excellent, 'Conservative' thinking and pragmatic, especially in these precarious economic times. Use the money WISELY. Personally, I do not give a rats ass about a modern slickified studio. Stop Motion functions excellently in converted warehouses and it's the the 'kindred and creative spirit' of the talented artisans that makes a 'Studio'.

Next - Estimation as to the production cost of 'Coraline' is 60-70 million USA dollars. I suppose, that is maybe somewhat of a 'bargain' when compared to the almost obscene costs of today's CGI or Digital special FX laden wannabie blockbusters. My view, Stop Motion when done with small crew using all manner of creative resourcefulness, is very cost effective however, when Stop Motion goes into the mainstream realm of big productions like 'Nightmare Before Christmas', 'James in the Giant Peach', 'Corpse Bride', 'Coraline', the production costs meteorically skyrockets. In my view, if Stop Motion is to  compete in the mainstream with CGI, the production budget and time has to be attractive to the suits/studios (not take so long & less costly than CGI). Then there is the issue of having multiple mainstream Stop Motion features concurrently in production. Limited Stop Motion specialists crew (specifically, big stop mo features) and the sometimes prolonged time in ramping up a Stop Mo production. Majority of animation studios are CGI & 2D. They are not equipped or experienced in the Stop Motion production process.

Next -  There exists a small industry clique of pundits and commentary flick critics who like to predict, do quarterbacking analysis, or make pronouncements about success or failure of 'mainstream' movies. To me it's all a 'game' ever since the beginning of Hollywood Cinema but way more intense now. I read, that 'Coraline' requirements for box office success does not have to achieve the blockbuster status of Pixar-like CGI animated movies. If 'Coraline' achieves similar 'box office numbers' like Aardman's animated features, that should be a positive sign. That is good news to those of you who use 'mainstream' as barometer of a movie's success. Personally, I do not use 'mass LCD popularity' to determine 'quality'.

Anyway, you better reserve some time to kick-back and slip on your reading glasses for some good reads .... Objet 3-D Printers Play Starring Role - Post Magazine: 'Coraline' Animated via Stop Motion - Suspended Animation - Laika hangs dreams on 'Coraline' - Laika hopes 'Coraline' shows the stop-motion way - Hollywood Knights - Vid 1: Coraline voice-over work - Vid 2: more voice-over work & modelers/animators - Vid 3: Model-sets, Studio, Animators - Hollywood Backlot: 'Coraline'Henry Selick speaks - Just about all the 'Coraline Trailer clips - Rotten Tomatoes - MetaCritic.com - I think, I'm already 'Coraline' brain fried and I have not even seen the frigg'n movie yet!! EDIT: 02.08.09

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02.02.09

* Tim Burton's Stop Motion 'Frankenweenie' in Black & White and 3-D Stereo ..... That's the buzz I heard. Hmmmm, all that laborious effort to produce a mega-mega million dollar Stop Motion feature in black & white? I already know, it would probably be for 'artistic film noir'ish aesthetics'. The original live action 'Frankenweenie' (1984) was in B&W and also the earlier 1982 stop mo short 'Vincent'. Would you save time & labor painting the puppets, sets and props in B&W shade values compared to doing it all in glorious color? Or just shoot/film it all in color and in post production, convert to B&W?? I'm not sure if Black & White is going to be a possible 'negative' when it comes to marketing the Stop Motion version of 'Frankenweenie'. The New Millennium Myspacey Generation 'weaned' on hyper visual cocaine-like CGI/Digital imagery up the wahZoo. IMO, they might not appreciate (sip slowly, like 'fine wine' ) the aesthetic mood ambiance of 'Black & White'. I would think maybe, a hard sell to the consumer audiences? Or perhaps, the supposed draw of '3-D Stereo' and perhaps the 'Tim Burton' name will 'compensate' for the Black & White??  John August to Write Tim Burton's 'Frankenweenie' and here

* 'BORN' shelved or still alive? Clive Barker & Del Toro feature ..... Original buzz was back in 2007. I must have had a brief brain fart because I am not sure if I heard about it back then.  So, I just accidentally discovered this again. It's live action combined with Stop Motion: "The plot reportedly revolves around a married couple, the husband of which is a stop-motion animator, settling down in a quaint English town and then getting terrorised by his claymation creations." At the time of the original news back then, it said that the Chiodo Brothers were being considered to do the Stop Motion special effects. How many frigg'n projects does my Cousin Del Torro have floating around? The HobbitPinocchio, The Witches and then 'Born'??? Hey Guillermo, "Llámame si necesita ayuda!" What's Really Going On With Barker, Del Toro and Simpson?s 'Born'?

 
* 'Coraline'  to revive Stop Motion Animation? ..... Some of you regular followers of SMW News (aka LIO) seem to get amnesia sometimes: In my past diatribes, I have stated, do not look to 'mainstream' as an 'indicator' of Stop Motion's 'Alive-ness or Deadness'. I am referring to the orthodox 'Tinsel-town' culture of formulaic/homogenized movie products (not Laika Studio). In my view, Stop Motion appears to have stronger viability in other markets and venues (compared to just 'feature films'). On the internet, Stop Mo has become very popular and generates lots of interest from the general public. With the 'Arts', many times it is the strong desire for creative expression that usually takes precedent over just 'monetary' reasons. Unfortunately, if you are attempting to pursue the very specialized work in Stop Motion for $pay$, one usually adopts a personal lifestyle of a nomad, that is, in an effort to sustain somewhat regular income, you are forced to geographically trek far and wide in search of Stop Motion employment.

An article I just read, mostly focuses on the 'Stop Motion Animators', who are, to the general public, 'anonymous' but within the Stop Motion 'community', sometimes considered the elite 'Celebrity Actor-Stars'. We of course know, in the larger animation productions, there is a Stop Motion crew of unsung heroes with unique skills & talents who are behind the 'Puppet Pushers'. I was surprised to read in that article, that Laika Stop Motion animators were making $60,000 to $100,000. To me, especially in the area of the 'Arts', that is pretty good compensation.

My brief pondering rambles are not negative but just telling it like IT IS. Do not go into denial by rejecting the hard truth . The other alternative but also not easy, is to be an enthusiastic entrepreneur and proactively market & promote yourself as having a range of skills & services. This is the opposite of specializing. You would be almost, a small'ish boutique studio. There are a few rare Stop Motionist eclectic-types who can do it all (takes dedicated perseverance to learn many skills). I always have said, first look at Stop Motion as your passionate creative outlet and use your other 'pay the bills & rent' joe-job to subsidize your fulfilling hobby. If you ever do get paid for your passion-hobby, you should consider that extra 'icing' on the cake.  Do some research. You are not 'alone'. These are precarious economic & financial times for everyone now. Animators hope for a stop-motion revival with Laika's 'Coraline'  Wishing, good luck & success to 'Coraline' EDIT: 02.03.09

February SMW Random Cinema©:

> 'Online Adventures of Ozzie the Elf' .... Rarely seen  1 - 2 - 3 - 4  credits

> NFL Fox Sports Stop Motion Ads .... 1 - 2 - 3 - 4


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