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   MAY 2009


 * $200 million to make 'Terminator Salvation': Mediocre Box Office .... As usual, the insane mainstream movie biz and what I have many times tiraded in past. Tinsel Town and the hyper rising obscene budgets of these wannabie blockbusters. It is not about Good Cinema but the 'Suits' OBSESSION with Franchises from the wannabie blockbuster hit. When will the mainstream movie making budget bubble burst? It could happen, like the stock market, real estate, automobile, etc.. Maybe some controls or partial takeover of mainstream movie biz (like the USA Gov't owned Auto companies)??  Would you like your Prez Obama to do that?

How many lower budget films could have been done with that $200 mil instead of 'blowing' all their WAD on one fugg'n movie? Diversifying your 'WAD Blowing' is just so business-wise and commonsensical. IF I ever have desire to see 'Terminator Salvation', I might when it's out on DVD. 'Terminator Salvation' review ratings 

In my view, the first TERMINATOR (1984) was the one and only best.  James Cameron's budget for original 'Terminator' was a mere $6 million. It's the principle of 'Less is More' Filmmaking and most critically important, DAMN GOOD STORY and CHARACTERS. Re-experience the original classic Sci-Fi thriller Terminator 1: Main Title & Terminator Arrival & Terminator Gets Up If you got time, soda pop & popcorn, turndown the lights, pump-up volume Terminator 1 Playlist / Scenes.

 * 'Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus' .... You maybe already figured out that 'Terminator Salvation' does not peak my interest much, however, I would likely be more JAZZED to see the commonsense affordable low budget Direct to DVD B movie, starring the mega hottie Deborah Gibson, and for you ladies (& maybe some of you men?), the marvelous & gorgeous Lorenzo Lamas, in Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. From the trailer, it looks like fun and entertaining. Unfortunately, no Stop Motion, but it could have been used. Like I ranted for long time, other outlets for Stop Motion that is not mainstream. We have one Stop Motion 'comprade' that has been venturing into this low budget special effects arena for awhile with Direct to Dvd flicks, the Silent & Mysterious Brett Piper. If you wish, drop him a line and say 'Hi' or 'Whassup'. We will see if ISMC one day will provide their services to B Movie genre. 'Suits' feel free to contact us.  If you have cable/satellite TV, YOU KNOW that is a venue for independents and of course you got Direct to Dvd. They all need 'product'. Mega Shark/Octopus Trailer  The Asylum site Tons of interest online I remember little Debbie Gibson and now Deborah all grown-up 

* Aniboom followup .... In our last SMW News installment, we mentioned them and I stated last time, I have not looked at their site. According to someone who contacted me and checked them out, it might possibly be misleading how Aniboom is marketing themselves. Here's what my undercover informant  said, "Aniboom's use of the term 'The Virtual Animation Studio' is wholly inaccurate and a fraud, they run contests and provide a platform for people to interact if they choose to. But if they do interact, it has nothing to do with Aniboom.  They have just found a simple way of taking credit for people finding each other and whatever they produce together, without any direct involvement in what's produced by the partners who may have met on their site". Of course, that is the observations of one person. You can check out Aniboom and arrive at your own opinion or conclusions.


* What is Aniboom? ..... As many of you already know, I am involved as one of the member participants in the experimental International Stop Motion Consortium aka ISMC. I just found something that might be related but I did not have time to look at this. That's why I put it here so you can check it out. This is excerpt quote from them, "Aniboom is the premier virtual animation studio that partners with untapped talent around the world to create, produce and distribute compelling high quality animation brands. By leveraging the web to identify the best global talent, Aniboom cultivates animated content intended for commercial applications in TV, Advertising, Digital Gaming, Web and Mobile Content industries worldwide". Hmmm .... what does that mean?  They are announcing that they just added a Portfolio section. Read the rest yourself  Aniboom Virtual Animation Studio Launches New Brand - Aniboom Website

* Jiri Barta's all Stop Motion 2009  'Na Pude' (aka 'In the Attic') ..... Most of us in the Americas likely never heard of this (I have not) Czech produced Stop Motion feature.  I think it already has been released in some of Euro countries. Not the Aardman bright style but instead, Jiri's aesthetics more subdued darker noir'sh and maybe having some of that 'Jan Svankmajer' ambiance, but they say this is 'light' for childrens entertainment. I am not sure if USA kids (actually 'parents' who select) weaned on Disney/Pixar might jump on Jiri's work. Likely, there has not been theatrical release in USA theaters? No marketing or a specific website and/or making-of  'Na Pude'.  Soundtrack seems to have high production values. Perhaps later on it might be released on Dvd (with subtitles or English dubbed?) Trailer  IMDB  About Jiri Barta

* Cuppa Coffee Signs with Gotham Group ..... This appears to be the Canadian studio's venture into possible feature film work. Cuppa is a bigg'ish studio that produces lots of Stop Motion content (also other animation techniques) for commercial ad work and animated TV series. A couple of very micro-brief newsbytes here & here

* Turbo-charged Classic Special Effects: 'Bunraku' puppetry style ..... There is no question that CGI is a powerful tool but as you can obviously see from the plethora of the CGI orgasmic indulgence in these genre mainstream effects ladened movies, they are looking the SAME and MONOTONOUS. There is a formulaic signature style to CGI, not only in the aesthetics/looks, but also, the cinematic techniques such as extreme HYPER-QUICK EDIT/CUTS and excess NAUSEATING SHAKEY CAM syndrome. I was always a firm believer, where applicable, of using a VARIETY of COMBINATION SPECIAL EFFECTS techniques, and especially now in the computer era, the traditional effects enhanced with post production digital methods. When you base the Special Effects on the REAL & TANGIBLE (not totally synthesized/faked with CGI), there IS a DIFFERENT FEEL, AMBIANCE and TEXTURE to the Special Effects final product. The audience may not be able to explain what that difference is, but I BET that they can SENSE IT. Right now, the consumers/public have been indoctrinated with CGI and the 'Suits' and/or directors mostly refusing to offer other alternatives to the mainstream 'Movie Diet-Menu'.

Let me show you an example. This is not Stop Motion Animation but a somewhat, relative of it. It is real time Puppetry special effects based on similar methods that Jim Henson Studio has used for the trademark Muppets for many, many years. I would take a guess that Henson might have been inspired by a very old Japanese Theater Art known as Bunraku in which the puppets are controlled by several puppeteers on the stage, 'live'. With the advent of Blue/Green Screen digital composting techniques, this 'Bunraku' puppeteering method, in my view, can be just as visually grabbing & compelling as CGI and of course an effective alternative/option in the creation of Creature Character special effects. The puppet characters are REAL & TACTILE, and have real gravity and their motion performance puppeteered in 'real time. In post production, one can even adjust the frame rates/speed to give the illusion of large mass & size to the puppeteered motion.  

A 26 year old talented artist from Belgium, Sacha Feiner, demonstrates the potential of puppetry methods and it can be cost-effective. He is a die-hard fan of the 'Gremlins' movies and created by himself with some friends, a 'homage/tribute' to the Joe Dante films. Very, very COOL what Sacha produced. These are not computer generated 'Gremlin' characters, but puppets, ingeniously composited into existing movie clips. With skilled artistry talent, thinking out of the box resourcefulness, and perseverance, he was able to create large Gremlin crowd scenes with only a few puppets. The same goes with all the other scenes that Sacha produced .... Creative combining ol' school methods with modern digital tools.

Although, the above was not Stop Motion specific but to emphasize the Combination of Classic & Practical Special Effects methods and that would include modern/advanced Dynamation Stop Motion combined/intercut with Bunraku puppeting techniques. Watch Sacha's Work & behind the scenes at his YouTube channel ... 1) Gremlins Fan Film: 'Gremlins 3 Warmup'  2) Behind the Scenes  3) Belgian TV interview with Sacha.



* Only for Harryhausen'ers: Digital SLR combo Hi-Def Video .... Digital Still Cam manufacturers, constantly trying to bait you and BUY, by cramming all sorts of bells and whistles into their cameras. It seems that excess Mega-Schmega Pixel resolution overkill used for their marketing, perhaps not attracting consumers and so now, some of the 'digital cam pushers' are adding Hi-Definition Video recording feature in the DSLRs. As usual, planned hyper-obsolescence in general consumer products. You know, the excess frequency of new models replacing previous. Maybe less than a year ago, I did hear about Digital SLRs having built-in Hi-Def video capture being used by a few independents who shot the live action scenes using the DSLR's Hi-Def video feature (read). Only until more recently, it seems a few more DSLR camera manufacturers are now jumping on the combo DSLR/HD Video 'bandwagon'. I see it as possibly, just more complexity added to the the still camera and something else to malfunction. My personal preference is: Each piece of equipment should be dedicated, a DSLR specifically for still image capturing and a Hi-Def Video camcorder for live action filming. 

In spite of my misgivings about this possibly superfluous HD video feature built into some of the new DSLRs, there 'might' be a unique advantage for those rare few who still have the passion for the Art & Craft of Stop Motion in the tradition of Harryhausen Dynamation Style. I say 'rare' because, 'mainstream media', the public, and most of the Stop Motion practioners usually are focused on the ALL PUPPET Animation genre, and they generally disregard thLive Action (filmed actors) combined with Stop Motion puppet special effects techniques. That's okay though. Free choice and whatever "Floats your Stop Mo Boat". To make long story, short: As many of you already know, even though consumer DSLRs have had some flickering and unknown exposure cycle longevity issues, these cams have generally been successful when adapted to shoot high resolution single frame Stop Motion, HOWEVER: How do you record or film the 'LIVE ACTION' images in a higher resolution and in a cost effective manner? Well, theoretically, hypothetically and speculating here now .... Lets say for an investment in just one camera, a wannabie Harryhausen could possibly use that DSLR to single frame animate your Stop Motion, then, you could ALSO use that same DSLR to record your Hi-Def live action background plates. You now have both stop motion and live action plates to composite in post production and create finished Hi-Definition Harryhausen-esque Dynamation, just using one camera.

I suppose, the above scenario could work for producing 'Harryhausen-mation' but I'm not sure of trying to PUSH a DSLR camera to also perform the function of a HD video camcorder. In the long haul, how long would a combo DSLR/HD-vid camera last?? Then you got possible minor issue of DSLR only able to store limited video but maybe enough for 'live action' background plates (for Stop Mo). Also, I read about possible issues of DSLR image sensors heating up with prolonged use. In addition, the frame-rates offered by these DSLRs may not meet pro cinema & video spec standards. So, is it cost-effective just buying one DSLR/HD-Video combo camera with a bigger quality image sensor to do both single frame & live action, or, just get a separate dedicated DSLR cam and a dedicated Hi-Defintion Camcorder?? The DSLR HD Video Debate  Should DSLRs Shoot Video? HD from Still Cameras? Filmmakers disclose how they're shooting movies with still cameras.These independents  trying to get funding for their DSLR/HD video shot all live action film/short. Samples of their stuff: 1 - 23  Cameras: Canon Eos 5D Mark II  Panasonic Lumix DMC GH1  Nikon D5000 & here  Pimped-out DSLR: Video: Mount-adaptor for 'live action' cinema work or go to their site .... To be continued in a later SMW News installment. EDIT: 05.05.09

*  MAY SMW Random Cinema:

> Randy Cook & Phil Tippett Rapping with Uncle Ray It Came from Beneath the Sea
>  Rich Svennson's How to make a Giant Octopus - Goblin Wood


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