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MARCH 2005

Thank Goodness It's Friday edition - 03-25-05
* Vinton Studio trying to find its identity? CEO of Vinton Studios leaves The studio's CEO, Jeff Farnath has immediately resigned. Their press release says it's merely a contract renewal issue. Farnath originally hired by Will Vinton (now attempting to start his own projects), then Jeff assisted in getting Will fired. Supposedly, I have been hearing for awhile that the New Vinton Studio will be changing its name. Has not happened yet .... and I wonder if name is changed, what will that do to the studio's future marketablity or name recognition value? Hmmmm ....what would the new name be .... Nike Studios or Knight Studios? The New Vinton Studio hired Henry Selick some months ago in 2004, and we will wait & see if any new in-house Stop Motion projects will actually be done in Portland, Oregon (USA). The New Vinton Studio is involved with Tim Burton's Stop Mo flick, "The Corpse Bride", but only in a production capacity. That Stop Mo gig not being done in USA but far away overseas, in England. I really hope for the best, for New Vinton Studios or whateverer name it will be in future. Just remember, there are plethora of CGI Studios and you got overseas outsourcing trend .... competition is fierce. Stop Motion is so unique in the over-crowded mass of digital generated animation. IMO, a big mistake if Vinton Studio diminishes Stop Motion's value. It should be at the forefront of their marketing.

* Sci-fi Hall of Fame inductees will be honored in Seattle and Ray Harryhausen will be one of the honorees.

* 12 years after "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and somebody just reviewing it? Masterpiece Cinema -The Nightmare Before Christmas Actually, it is a retrospective look at it. The writer mistakenly calls it a Disney film. IMO, the Mouse Suits only supplied funding & distribution, and slapped their "Touchstone" label onto Nightmare. Again, it's 12 years later and Disney has shown no further interest in Stop Motion .... nothing, zero, zilch, nada.
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Weekend edition -
03.19.05
* Hey ..... am I in the big time league with regards to Stop Motion? I just discovered that Apple in the UK has a link to Stop Motion Works! Of course, a few months ago I also had the privilege of interviewing Uncle Ray. I will not mention names, but I do occassionally get emails through this site from some well known people in or around the effects biz. Okay ... I better chill-out .... must control that ego. Sheeeeesh .... I see that Marc Spess also has a link at Apple. He is all over the friggen internet! Oh I forgot, here is Apple's-UK page, about Stop Motion as an educational-creativity aid Animation Inspirations (that is where you will see my link )

* I updated the Stop Motion Software page .... slight re-editing of the second paragraph and also added 3 more Stop Motion programs ..... TrikFilm Cam, FrameWorks, & eXposer. See next news item below of other stop mo software that I have not had a chance to include yet at the Stop Mo Software review link.

* For Apple-Mac Luvers: I found a new Stop Motion software StopMotioner beta 3. I do not know when it was released. Their forum appears to have started about Nov '04 so that might be when the software came out. This program seems more user-friendly for general public use. It is not only a frame grabber but includes built-in editing features, titling, transitions, etc., to almost cut the entire animation together without using another program. Their site is not clear, but I assume you can download trial version demo and you can also buy full version. It is called beta 3 but I don't understand .... You are buying a "beta" version? (with purchase perhaps they offer support) I encourage you to give it a try, give them feedback, post on their forum and also let me know what you think of this program.
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03.16.05
* Stop MotionMaker V1.2 just released .... supercedes V1.1. My understanding is .... some touch-up refinement of its Rotoscoping feature.

* Here at Animation World Network a soundbyte about Disaster. The group Motely Crue apparently will be making appearance as re-incarnated puppets! If you are not aware, we mentioned earlier here about Tennessee Reid Norton and that he has resurfaced and returned to the sometimes insane world of Stop Mo .... long hours, so much effort, but we dig the suffering for that final high when the Stop Mo is finally all put together! As mentioned in earlier news, he is working on his own Stop Mo flick ....'Richard Private: The Private Dick' (might possibly be for the more mature audiences). The Private Dick Plog about his journey & experiences. In addition to T-Reids, ongoing people/personal adventures, I like the behind the scenes production peek and also his Technical Mumbo Jumbo section is way cool .... a nice trick about mirrors to create long shadows on miniature sets. T-Reid, if you are a Virgin in the ways of webmastering, just remember this profound thought .... Don't blow your wad too fast! I know online audiences will hate me for saying this, but you, the public out here, do get spoiled real fast. Us webmasters have to keep internet audiences thirsting for more One can do Part 1, Part 2 or coming soon teasers, especially with T-Reid's how-it-was done revelations in his Tech Mumbo Jumbo. All yous peoples should bookmark his plog page. I should not need to remind you to visit his site regularly. If you don't .... it's your loss. He's got some more cool info there right now!

* Got this from my sources: "Cuppa Coffee Studios has taken on a 3rd series of 'JoJo's Circus' for Disney, a new season of 'Little People' for Mattel and a pilot for VH1. All shows listed are Stop-Mo! Cuppa Coffee is also rumored to about to sign on to do a new season of 'Celebrity Death Match'. Cuppa is adding a further 16 studios to it current 34, rounding out their facility to 50 studios. Another Stop Mo project is being developed internally, loosely based on the Christmas Special 'A Very Barry Christmas' ...dont know the name of it but it is being developed as a theatrical feature"
This is LIO .... not sure what my source means when he or she says 'studios' .... I am guessing it means production stages, miniature sets, or animation stations for each of Stop Mo animators?
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Weekend edition -
03.12.05
* Recently, a new Stop Motion capture software called Stop MotionMaker (for Windows) came onto the scene. The software developer quickly responded to some suggestions at the Stop Motion message board, they did some changes, and now Stop MotionMaker V1.1 is making its debut today. I got myself the new full version of it and checked-it out. It has some strong features disguised in a simple user interface package to assist you in refining your Stop Motion skills or if you are a beginner, will tremendously help you to learn Stop Motion. As follows:
* After you shoot off each frame, automatic onionskinning of previous stored frame (you have option to turn onionskin off or on)
* You can mouse-click left & right arrows in window to toggle through all the stored frames ending at the "live" image. Also, keyboard left & right arrows can be used to toggle through frames
* This is pretty cool .... you can enable loop last frame .... it will automatically toggle back & forth between previous stored frame & live image
*Another hot feature ..... rotoscoping ..... you can import reference movie clip which will be superimposed over your live image for animation reference
* How about this ..... if you make mistake ..... you can undo the last frame and reshoot it.
* You want more? At anytime during your animation session, you can instantly preview the entire movie at whatever FPS speed you selected
Putting Stop MotionMaker through its paces ..... as needed while I was animating, I was able to quickly access any of the above features. The developer originally designed this software for children-schools-educators and they want to maintain this simple user interface concept. IMO, if you are an experienced animator, Stop MotionMaker seems to be a solid & stable frame capture tool, or if you are shooting with digital still cam, I think it would serve as a functional & efficient "video assist" frame grabber. Another plus not mentioned at their site ..... each frames are immediately captured & saved as single images. So if your computer crashes, do not worry ..... just bring up Stop MotionMaker window again, it will still have all images-frames stored and you can continue with the animation. At this time, I cannot see any negatives or bugs yet about this software. If you do find an issue or have a problem, it looks like Stop MotionMaker customer service are responsive, open to feedback & suggestions. Since I get emails & comments about what I write here, please do not whine & complain to me that Stop MotionMaker does not have all the features of Stop Motion Pro, AnimatorDV, or FrameThief. Those serve different needs for a more picky clientele. Stop MotionMaker has other features and download the trial free demo to tryout yourself. How much for Stop MotionMaker ? $29. US Dollars. Unbelievable!
Keep Stop Motion Alive
.... purchase
Stop MotionMaker
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03.09.05
* I just got this news from Slamdance Film Festival programming director. Looks like they are looking for some animation inclusion. Kind of prestigious, Slamdance .... isn't it? Hey Eric Scott, Mike Brent, Nick Hilligoss or anybody else at StopMoShorts ....Why don't you give it a shot? Yo .... "represent" Stop-Mo for your homeys! Here is the info:
Slamdance Anarchy Online Film Competition
"Every month from March to November Slamdance picks three films under 9 minutes to play on our website. People vote and the winner of each monthis invited to Park City to compete for thecoveted Global Anarchy Award. Anarchy isa great way to slip into one of America's mostreputable festivals. Only $25 ($15 students w/ i.d.)to enter. Go to
Slamdance-Anarchy for entry details!"

* For awhile, I have had on my Store & Contact page, that I was working on a cost-effective modular Stop Motion system or kits. For now, I have temporarily taken that announcement down.I have had various armaturing designs on drawing board, but breaking down and analyzing the material costs and labor, there is no way that can I offer at the price point some of you have inquired or expecting. Would you believe I got inquiries asking if I offer armatures that would cost less than $100. because that was too much (sheeeesh) ? I will not mention names, but I have had brief feedback from others who were, or are currently trying to sell low cost armatures at about $300. and some even at around $100.. They tell me, that it is not really worth the time & labor effort because the volume of customers is not there. If there was volume, then "maybe", but unfortunately, there is not. Well, there are alternatives to the higher end stop motion armatures, wires good ol' standby and I have had links to Loc-Line hose type armatures but apparently no one has had the creativity out here to convert them as test armatures for "practicing". You do not need fancy armatures if you are a newbie or just want to practice. Since no one has actually done it or shown me pics of Loc-Line armatures that they made, I will personally demonstrate a Loc-Line hose based human configured armature with modifications using everday hardware items. Stay tuned. Addendum: I cannot vouch for the quality of these but at least there are some who are trying to offer Stop Motion armatures at consumer level pricing .... quality or performance may not be the same as custom made armatures but perhaps sufficient for your beginning needs Armaverse & Animation Supplies
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03.03.05
* The return of Tennessee Reid Norton ! Who is he .... you ask? He is an ol' Puppet Pusher comrade, where our paths first crossed on Nightmare Before Christmas and thereafter, some other Stop Motion projects. T-Reid as he is known by .... a one of a kind personality with a unique and interesting creative style. He is definitely not mainstream. Way back, I also helped him on his own little test short about a character called The Lizard Whomper. Again, maybe not mainstream but for niche audiences with similar off-the-wall tastes as T-Reid's For awhile, T-Reid seemed to have dropped out of Stop Motion and I have not heard from him for years until his recent contact with me, letting me know that he is still alive & kicking. Here is the announcement of his new website:
" We are truly in a new Stop-Mo renaissance with materials and digital production allowing a new breed of animation to arrive on the scene. I am excited for the new Stop-Mo features premiering this year and for all the new artists creating fresh content! I also look forward to the revolution that is coming to Broadcast distribution on the web. I predict the same kind of shakeup that is happening with the music industry will happen with broadcast and features as the "suits" become more and more antiquated just like their Nielson Ratings! The public is already supporting content creators and self-distributors like Homestar Runner, who have chosen not to accept broadcast deals because of the creative limitations."
_ Welcome back T-Reid! Check-out his website The Private Dick Plog .... a "unique" website name, indeed. Perhaps for those with an "Open free-spirited mind"
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Weekend edition -
02.26.05
* What the hell is going on here? February is about over already? I hate this .... "Time" passing by toooooo fast. I blame this on Computers, Internet stuff, all this Digital-Schimgital, then you got the so-called Wireless panacea and especially Cell Phones! I remembered it being a much slower lifestyle pace and more relaxing during the good ol' days. Something weird is happening .... everything is accelerating. Perhaps if I relocate move to some distant remote place in the woods away from all this news media & advertisemnet crap bombardment ..... "Time" might slow down again, like it use to be??

* Remember my recent postings below about the Stop Motion Software page?? I pretty much scoured the internet to check if there were any more Stop Mo specific programs ..... unfortuanately very little out there. Always good to have a selection or choices. Well ....guess what? Someone suddenly posted at message board about a new Stop Mo capture program .... Stop MotionMaker The software seems to have just appeared out of nowhere. Apparently, this is not a Beta version because they are selling it as a finished piece of software. The interface/appearance looks very user friendly and almost for kids, but that is misleading in a good way. Stop MotionMaker looks like it has some strong features .... Onionskinning, Rotoscoping, delete/replace frame .... connections choices of USB, Firewire, Analog ..... has video compression and de-interlacing. A free trial demo download is available. It is for PC-Windows and program file size is small. You might consider giving this software "a test". Let me know or post your feedback at message board and of course contact them too and offer your comments.
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