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October 2007

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10.27.07
* Stop Motion Mainstream International .... In Ego-centric USA, we would maybe like to think that the world revolves around us? Wake-up from your delusions! There is a whole other vastness of audience & different cultures out there. Just got the word of preview teaser clip for MAX & CO. SMW mentioned this Stop Mo project back in '06, and finally, we get to see a teaser. A few Euro-studios involved with the production and the final product is in the language of France; an all Stop Motion feature movie. The production values look very good. It IS Stop Motion, however there appears to be some post production tweaking, where the puppets/scenes almost appear to have an air brushed CGI look? In general, there are usually various signature traits about CGI that gives it away. In this case, Max & Co. definitely rooted in Stop Motion. It is better if you had fast internet to see the teaser. It will ask you to get latest Flash download; I clicked no, & the preview still played.Or go here for small version EDIT: 10.28.07

* Stop Motion Works Resource Links .... This is a most cool resource. Their exact description, "..... a free online sound library & community for sound designers and producers. People can upload sounds and share them with the world". What an amazing free resource tool, go to SOUND SNAP. I know that many of you just silently Lurk and Info Sponge™, and I will continually hound you, until you see the error of your habit-ways . Get out of your closets; DO something. Encourage the creators of this free resource/service with feedback, props, praise, thumbs-up, etc..

I found a
few more Animation Timer mini programs. One is called, Itty Bitty Animation Timer. They have a two downloadable versions. One is Flash that works through your browser, if you have Flash installed (most browsers do). The other version is a standalone of the program that does not depend on Flash. You need to open their Readme txt and follow instructions & play with it until you get it. With Itty Bitty it works kind of strange. It never zeros out. Just press mouse button & it will restart the timer. You can change the FPS value to 24fps or 30fps. It does not state if this is for PC only. Maybe the Itty Bitty Flash version will work with Macs? Give it a try and let me know.

This
other Timer from Paul Van Gaans, looks more slicker than the others (including ToonTimer) and it is for PC only. I have not tried it. Also, DO NOT forget, which you probably have, my amnesia proned audience, you should ocassionally revisit Stop Motion Works Software page. Some Lip Syncing tools there too. The most basic tool for analyzing soundtrack sound or dialog is the free WavTracker (for PCs). Just set your FPS, play the sound, read the sound waves and you then manually write-jot the sound breakdown on your own Log Sheet (simple & basic). There are some other programs there too, including one called Papagayo and they have 3 different downloadable versions, one for PCs, one for Macs and one for Linux. Very nice of them to offer for the Mac deprived. For Mac users, just to let you see what the ToonTimer interface looks like (posted in earlier news)

Although these might be useful as added tools for animation planning, they should not replace the good ol' Stop-Watch as the foundational tool. IMO, you should sometimes pull back from COMPUTER a little bit, and use some ol' traditional methods to keep your brain cells exercised & active.
EDIT: 10.28.07
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10.20.07
* Animation Log Timing Sheet .... They were orginally designed for 2D, Drawn, Cel animation, and usually having too many columns and unecessary info (cel levels, camera, other stuff) that is not needed for Stop Motion. What we need, are wide columns & pretty basic, so you can write your dialog breakdown, draw little stick figures, keyframe thumbnails, action lines, or whatever your own shorthand codes.

Here is a simple
PDF format Stop Mo Log Sheet I created which is a variation of what I used in past but slightly changed to an almost similar design layout of this other animation log sheet version I found online. Using the Excel spreadsheet, he made up his own Stop Mo exposure sheets, He includes every frame number already in the Excel template. With his version, you have to always print out each different page with the different frame numbers. Mine, you manually write-in the frame numbers as needed. When you print the log I made, it will serve as your single original-master. It might print out smaller, however, when you make copies of the original (e.g., Kinkos), set the zoom on copier machine to enlarge about 110% so it better fills out the 8-1/2" x 11" page (do test copies). The shaded areas marks 30 frames (video rate) for 1 second. This frame division lays out evenly: 60 frames per column x 3 columns (180 frames) = 6 seconds on the one page. For different frame rate breakdown (like 24-fps, 25-fps, etc.), I also have another PDF animation log which is not shaded for more generic use, and you can mark your own 1 second intervals. Tip: I always use pencils (and erasers!), because I scribble notes or make minor changes (if needed) during Stop Motioning. FYI, dropping another random link, Animation Notes.

P.S. There can be variations for Stop Mo use. Another, is having maybe 2 main columns (4 secs per page @ 30-fps). This gives you even wider columns to scribble animation notations. Or, design log layout to fit larger 8-1/2" x 14" paper. You can also design log, going
horizontally. If multiple animated elements or characters in same shot, then each one could have their own set of animation timing-logs. EDIT: 10.23.07
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10.13.07
* Learning-Teaching and Animation Timing How-to .... My personal nature, is that of being mostly self-taught. I LEARN as I need it. I hate being forced fed to learn irrelevent things. I was generally kind of bored with school. Cookie Cutter, mass production ways of learning is not applicable to everyone. In general, for myself, the way I learn most things, is first, I am verrrrry curious about it. Plenty of self-motivation. I initially read, research, then find whatever short-cut or cheat, to help me understand it faster. I have no teaching degrees but my commonsense Gandalf-like wisdom can see the flaws of some teaching methods. One should make it as easy and interesting as possible for students to grasp & comprehend, so that hopefully they will get the "Ah-ha ... I got it!" instant revelation.

With regards to Stop Motion , there are a few rare books that are Stop Mo specific and you can
see the thumbnail links on this page. I do give much praise to The Survival Kit for Animators book. It is the best out there, however, IMO, it does not cover everything. This 342 page book mostly covers human type character animation, but only 6 pages devoted to animals or creature animation. Where have you seen in any how-to or book, detailed lessons or tuts on animating spiders, snakes, crabs, , etc.? Since nothing was out there, years ago, I figured my own way. Also, The Survival book gives you no information on how to feel or sense the timing, or technicalities of breaking down the frames into decimal fractions when using Stopwatch and/or using Metronome 'beat' numbers to HEAR the timing. I have yet to see a good how-to on specifically using stop watches for timing. Personally, I do not time the entire animated action choreography, but instead, I breakdown the overall animated action into smaller sub-actions, by timing the individual segments/parts of it, and then add all the timings to get the approximate whole (adjustments made for overlapped actions). No one showed me this, and again, I figured out my own way. It sounds confusing but a tutorial with pics, illustrations, or better yet, a video demonstrating it, would reveal how easy & useful tool a Stopwatch can be.

All the above what I briefly touched on, is actually basic stuff but seems to be overlooked or not fully explained. Maybe some of you 'Teachers' do 'teach' some of those tips & tricks (I don't know). I am just going by what is out here and in books. I have always used reference conversion/equivalency charts for using Metronome & Digital Stopwatch. Also, 24-fps to 30-fps reference chart and other formulas. IMO, 24-FPS pushed in how-to animation material, is not the only framerate standard anymore. You got 25-FPS (PAL video rate) and 30-FPS (USA, video rate). The
Preston Blair publication did do a cursory mention of the metronome & stopwatch (not too detailed). Animation does require some technical foundation or understanding, and is not purely an organic or black magic creative process. Painting & Drawing is the same; it first requires knowing techniques & principles.

Anyway, I will be generous today and reveal some links on my secret list . Just random, about animation timing/principles. They are not 'perfect' (I have to write those ), but each one reveals a little bit. They focus on 2D drawn animation methods, but you already know, the 'principles' applies to all animation techniques. For now, I am not going to critique them or give you details. Offered as is, and no refunds:
Shaffers Notebook: Training Blog for artists/animators - Craft of Making Cartoons - Animating Rhythm And Dance - Gene Deitch - Toon Timer (for PC) - Metronome Online - Animation Stopwatch & Useful Formulas. Yes, I know; one does not usually think of using 'Keyframing' in Stop Motion (which is classifed as straight ahead style), although, it is very do-able to apply some key framing principles to Stop Motion. Example, "In a certain number of frames, I should approximately Hit this pose" (referring to your timing log sheet, rough thumbnail key frame sketches, your storyboards, animatics, etc). Okay, I am finished here. 'Hasta La Vista' EDIT: 10.15.07
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10.06.07
* Hyper-Harryhausen continued .... Just to summarize since our last news, someone anonymously replied to my little tirade but maybe did not get the point I was trying to make. It could be someone known in the animation or FX biz. Even if the person identified him/herself, I still would never reveal their identity unless they specifically granted permission. The IP address shows that email came from a certain location in Southern California. Anyway, I posted at Stop Mo messageboard to clarifyget some feedback. I believe, I am not nuts and your and positive support validates my observations. I am merely echoing what is in many of your thoughts. Some positive vibes came from that rant, including a most surprise contribution that Nick Hilligoss premiered at StopMoShorts.Completely unknown to me, Nick was working on a parodyClassic Harryhausen Cyclops and it absolutely blew me of the away.with Nick's sooo very motivational masterpiece of Maybe animation parody, it will re-energize me. This is the messageboard topic, Hyper-Harryhausen: I've tweaked somebody? where we discussed that, and Nick's No awesome animation work.

* Another one for CuppaCoffee & Whassup with Stop Mo Legos? .... Sheeeez, I am losing track of the Stop Mo projects Cuppa has going. This is another one called Life's a Zoo and website underconstruction, to tie-in with series.

Lego Stop Motion seems to be on a publicity rampage. Last month, a segment was aired on ABC TV series,
i-Caught, in addition to this article on their site. Then an Wall Street Journal articlePersonally, I do not see this thing with Legos (other figure-toys better for animating) but . whatever floats your boat. We need this kind of PR for Harryhausen style Stop Mo!
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