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OCTOBER 2004

Halloween Edition - 10-31-04
* In case you did not know, 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' was not really a box office blockbuster when originally released in 1993. Read this Cult of the 'Nightmare' To me, it seemed like Disney (under their Touchstone division) was not that enthusiastic about it or perhaps they were just conservative at the time with regards to other animation styles and did not know how to deal with Stop Motion which was possibly totally foreign to the Disney 'suits'.

* Toons in a Tussle & Brad Bird on... More frequently mentioned in articles and commentary, which is good ..... sort of paraphrasing and synthesizing here...."Does not matter which animation technique is used and the story & characters is what is most important" Well, lets hope the mainstream studio suits will practice that philosophy one day but I think they are currently still stuck on the CGI Flavor for awhile and will exhaust it until the market/audiences become so saturated, conjested and eventually jaded.
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News Flash
- 10.29.04
* A news item someone posted today at SMA board . I had it ready to go for tomorrow's, weekend news but I might as well post it now. The buzz is that Wes Anderson who just finished directing the soon to debut 'The Life Aquatic' (will have some Stop Mo in it), may be participating in another project called 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox'. Talk is, that it may be done using Stop Motion animation. Read details here The Fantastic Mr. Anderson I hope that is true about using Stop Mo but you never know if they might change their minds later. In the Suit's-Studio's quest in always demanding a rush schedule, they may not realize it may take a little more time to do Stop Motion, however, if this project uses extensive digital compositing & tweaking, perhaps that would reduce production time to satsfy the impatient corporate-studio hierarchy. Also another question ..... Where will 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox' be done? Another project to be outsourced overseas? I am only speaking from the USA perspective. What was the last mainstream Stop Mo project done here .... 'MonkeyBone'? I was not familiar with Anderson or his past film work only until I heard some time ago, about the early pre-prodcution of 'Life Aquatic' . Also, I have no idea what 'The Fanstastic Mr. Fox' is about. It seems that Stop Motion in Mainstream movie biz is definitely being type-casted into a niche of only cartoon-stylized-very puppetty looking .... for kids-family entertainment. Absolutely nothing wrong with using Stop Mo for that style and I am not complaining .... 'some' Stop Motion in Mainstream is better than nothing!

* Marc Spess posted this informative article-link about Henry Selick's collaberation with Vinton Studios Read it here Reel Life For the first time we are getting some detailed information what is going on at the New Vinton Studios, since the original founder, Will Vinton was dismissed due to a clash with Phil Knight (Nike owner) who now owns the Studio. Will is teaching at the Art Institute of Portland and apparently is also starting up a new studio, Freewill Entertainment Nothing on the website yet, as it says .... 'Under Construction'.
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10.27.04
* Stop Motion, I suppose will always survive in some way and maybe would have died sooner if it were not for the internet which seems to have given it some kind of after-life and also a plethora of other arcane or very niche interests seem to have continued existence online. We can probably thank the new generation who appreciate the uniqueness of Stop Motion. Among a few, of the many who are passionate about this animation art/craft, are Eric Scott, Jason Gottlieb , Mike Brent and the Gandalf-Stop-Mo-wise veteran from Down Under, Nick Hilligoss ....all of whom are behind a just launched website serving as a venue-showcase for anyone who would like to display their Stop Motion animated works .... following certain guidelines to inspire creativity & to put a flame under one's butt to produce animation works within a certain time deadline (good discipline for "Arteests"! ). Check it out StopMoShorts.com (Eric Scott, site webmaster). There are those who have practiced Stop Motion in the past and have drifted away, dropped-out, or others permanently left Stop Mo to pursue CGI (understandable: maybe more work opportunity). Then there are others who are just not very vocal or pro-active publically about Stop Motion. I would hope they are at least Lurking the few Stop Motion sites and that they are doing their own behind the scenes lobbying and advocacy efforts for Stop Motion .... doing their own projects or pitching to studio "suits", producers, etc. Let's keep squeaking that wheel in the hopes that Stop Motion will get a little token bits of that grease (attention).

* Brett Piper is a long time Stop Motion practioner but mostly known better as a producer-director of B-movies. He does not seem to be active in the micro-small Stop Motion community-circles but in his own way, seems to promote Stop Motion by ocassionally including Stop Mo in his projects. A recent one is called Bug Bites. This not so smart Reviewer "assumed" that Brett used Cgi. Geeeez .....the masses seem to be so Cgi-Brainwashed now. You can see quickie film clips here Dial-up or High-speed connection. From what the teaser clips shows, it looks like mostly stop mo animated quick shots of spiders. You will also see that the spiders seem to be sliding/moving on their stomachs?? Hmmm ....I suppose a down & dirty short-cut to avoid animating & tying down the spider's puppet legs. Well .....not the highest or detailed quality animation but as mentioned before, Brett Piper's work including Bug Bites is presented as a very "B-movie" with minimal production budgets to try and present something entertaining-fun.
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10.21.04
* Here is maybe an insightful little article about the appeal of puppets And they call it Puppet Love She says it much nicer than ol' ranter me, but maybe I overdo it sometimes. I cannot help myself. Maybe I see or use the Stop Motion dilema as an allegory about societal issues & politics? Weird .... huh?

* For those in England and in the animation biz, you might be more familiar with this name, Ivor Wood. I do not know him but apparently, he has had a long history of working in animation
Brit Stop Mo Animator Gone

* Okay ..... this reveiwer Zeman's Jules Verne: DVD has some very positive comments and seems to indicate that it has just been released on Dvd, but he does not say where one can acquire it. Amazon does not have it. A flaw in his article and he should have included that very basic information.

* Here is a cool general book about animation Encyclopedia of Animation Techniques. Distribution in USA was halted for a number of years but it was always available in Europe. Well, now it has been reprinted as an affordable paperback edition. It is not a step by step, how-to book, but gives you a good overview of the different techniques including cut-out. Also, some chapters devoted to Stop Motion and other chapters about general production/planning steps for different animation methods. Get it for your reference library.
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10.14.04
* Just to show you hyper realistic Cgi/animation as practiced by the myopic mainstream is not the "only" animation method that they prefer to bombard and saturate the masses with, BUT that creativity and good concept-story should be the foundation. The "suits" may never "get it". Read this about the Jib Jab Boys They had recent media notariety with their Cut-Out animation style in a recent political short they did Good to be in DC I saw some of it on TV. You can watch it at their site. Clip is in Flash format.

* A three page ariticle Puppet Masters about the creators of the all puppet movie Team America .... not Stop Motion (as you may already know) but much of the TA work done by the Stop Motion brothers known at the Chiodos

* Here is another article Model Makers: The Professionals by Susannah Shaw, which is a condensed abbreviated version from some chapters from her book Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation I don't know why she's giving the information away for free. The book is information rich with basic stop motion production how-to but at incredibly affordable price for book. Everyone should have it in their library. Not a criticism to Susannah ..... I "Luv her" for taking the initiative and perserverance to publish a much, much needed informational resource. Maybe to generate more book sales or she has a good heart and willing to share and spread the Stop Motion Word !!

* Brief news byte here Vinton hires Book Expert about the new Vinton Studios and their quest to find new projects which may not necessarily be Stop Motion projects, as it seems the studio's direction could be CGI. We can only wait and see.
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Weekend Edition - 10.09.04
* Yesterday, Friday night I happen to be watching Dragonslayer, one among my list of film favorites. You remember the cute "Tomboy'sh" female character named Valerian? When I first saw her in Dragonslayor many years ago when the film made its original theatrical release, to me she was attractive & appealing. She was not modelesque and you might consider her "regular looking", but IMO, she had an inner glow or unique charisma about her. Well, the actress who played Valerian was Caitlin Clarke. After I saw Dragonslayer last night, I did something strange .... I went online to look her name up. To my disappointment & sadness, I just now find out that Caitlin Clarke died only last month of ovarian cancer. She was 52 years old but she still looked very attractive. So, when Dragonslayer was made 23 years ago, Caitlin was 31 but looked much younger, maybe 20 years old. Most of us only know Caitlin as Valerian and I don't think I have seen her playing other roles, but apparently, Caitlin has an extensive biography and her name did get many Google search hits. I might rent some movies to see what other characters she has portrayed. At the site .... Caitlin Clarke 1952-2004 click on her photo which will take you to detailed links about Caitlin and at Gallery link, many film captured photos if you want to see how she looked in her later years playing other characters. I guess, I am a little saddened that I did not follow her career As I stated before, the "timing" is kind of strange in that, she entered my thoughts after just seeing Dragonslayor again, and for the first time, I decided to look her up only to discover the bad news of her just passing away. Although according to the so-called film critics-pundits, this film was initially a box office failure but with the passage of time it slowly became a classic. Many years before all the current Lord of the Ring craze. Many positive comments at Amazon
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10.05.04
* Here is a pretty good website about a Stop Motion animated short. Slick, well designed and good marketing strategy for one's own personal film to generate interest. The filmmaker is from Australia. Site can be an inspiration and worth studying for promoting your own projects. I have not seen this 15 minute Stop Mo short, but now I want to just because of the site, Ward 13

* Here is an update brief article about Drew Carey's upcoming Green Screen TV series.

* As you may already know, Cuppa Coffee studio in Canada does a variety of animation techniques and so far, they have yet not abandoned Stop Motion. Among their other ongoing Stop Motion projects, here is one for pre-schoolers they are working on Captain Mack

* Ray Harryhausen has been making USA tour this year and probably worldwide too. Here is an article about his recent appearance in England. Although some of the info you may have heard or read before, but always fun to read about Uncle Ray always impressing his audiences, Harryhausen in Manchester


 

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