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November 2007

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11.24.07
* New Stranger in Town: Dragon Stop Motion 1.0 for MACS ..... Move over, iStopmotion (no frame toggling), FrameThief (Abandon-Ware), and Animaide-XT (some missing essentials); and also, I Can Animate (designed more, for kids), & BTV Pro (same for years, not really Stop Mo specific). Dragon, a serious Stop Motion program with the hard core essential tools to help you create the raw frame by frame animation performances, which you then import into After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Shake, etc., and add any finishing embellishments to your Stop Motion Masterpiece. Warning: Not a toy for kids — it's a tool for Filmmakers. Dragon Stop Motion to be released January 30, '08. Also, announcement & topic at Stop Mo Forum.

I noticed at forum, the, 'I want it NOW & give me ALL details'. Typical
of Internet-weaned generation . So, you cannot wait and pushing them to blow their wad too soon? Try to savor and immerse yourself in the anticipation & suspense. Also, I do not want to hear the possible whining or moaning about price. If Dragon is 'Reasonable' for such an essential & critical Stop Motion tool-program (with customer service support) that serves Mac users, then just pay for it! EDIT: 11.25.07

* Tim Burton doing Stop Motion FrankenWeenie & in Stereo 3D ..... For the Disney people. It may be awhile because he is first going to do Alice in Wonderland (also for Disney) using Performance Motion Capture. Hmmm, Deja Vu? Here is one of many news soundbytes about it. My penetrating Gandalfic™ Mind would like to know : Where will FrankenWeenie be DONE, geographically speaking? In England (Corpse Bride shot there)? In Oregon, USA (Laika & Stop Mo resurgence there)? San Francisco Bay Area (Home of NMBC)? Maybe in Tinsel Town (Los Angeles area, home of Disney)? How about New York? Tim Burton seems like a Big Apple kind of dude? I can take a good guesstimation though, where Tim might likely produce FrankenWeenie.
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11.17.07
* Stop Motion rules the Spirit of the Holidays ..... Maybe I am overstating it. Looks like Ad Agencies and maybe a few Suits, finally realize the viability of the Stop Motion technique in marketing to consumers. A few weeks ago I briefly mentioned the small chain stores in USA call Big Lots and that they were using Stop Motion in their nationwide TV ads. I was informed that the Big Lots Stop Motion were done by Laika Studios in Oregon USA. I even got a few names, they were animated by Gabe Sprenger and Wendy Fuller. Also, the designer of the puppet characters was Shane Prigmore. These are the Big Lots ads aired so far.

Another
entry in the the Holiday Stop Motion Spirit are some Ads from Alltel (press release), a Wireless communication company. Coincidentally, the Stop Motion also done in Oregon USA but another studio Bent Image Labs. Take a look at Alltel's first Stop Mo Ad now being shown.

* Oscar undecided what is Animation (Part 2) .... I do not know why I even started this topic. This might be my last one on this. It is starting to hurt my brain and all this keyboarding ramble will just Fall on Deaf Ears. Apparently, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (Oscars) has included Beowulf on their list to be considered as one of the nominees in the Animation category, even though it does not qualify, if one follows the Exact Letter of the Rules, Academy's Animation eligibility.

I hear defenders of Motion Capture saying that the motion capture data is modified or tweaked. I say, what percentage of motion capture is re-touched? So, if a Mo-Capturist tweaks or adjusts 10, 15 or 20 percent of a given motion capture data shot, you (mo-capture proponents) would give IT the Stamp of Approval, as Fully Animated? Seems most illogical to me, Captain. However, I might cut you some slack, if the Mo-Capturist makes significant modifications to, let's say, about 75% of the motion capture data (in a shot/scene), then maybe (not sure) I might call it an Animated shot. I would also apply this criteria to Rotoscope methods if they make claims as Fully Animated.

Do you see the confusion & ambiguity that YOU have created? There needs to be much clearer rules & definitions. In a contest or any kind of competition, there are prerequisites, requirements, & rules. This makes the competition somewhat fair and equal. In my view, this also should apply to any Movie that desires the privilege to be considered for Oscar nomination. For me, such a simple solution. The existing Academy requirements for Animation is:"It must contain at least 75% animation and it must be created using frame by frame technique". I would also add this: "If the Academy has any doubts, then the studio must produce evidence, documention or production logs to show that it meets the Animation category rules". Hold the Studios accountable if they choose to enter in the Animation category.

I received this comment from someone, and to me, it seems to say it all:

"In my not so humble opinion, those who use Motion Capture, WISH to be ANIMATORS, without either doing or being able to do the work required to EARN that TITLE. Plain and simple, it's what happens when jealousy becomes fraud. I cannot create synthetic violin music in GarageBand and call myself a VIOLINIST and anyone who does, deserves to be shamed."

If you have time to kick-back; perhaps pull out your baccy pipe or brew yourself some fresh Java or Tea; here are some sample discussions & articles about the Beowulf controversy. Also, I am not the only one suggesting that the Oscar people should have some NEW categories for these new forms of synthesized moving digital imagery: The Rat vs the Dragon Slayer Why Beowulf is Good for Animation The Question of Beowulf Is Beowulf Animation? Beowulf Begs the Question: What is Animation? Beowulf Animated? I don't get it Wiki's Mo-Cap ramble

Addendum: I have no idea if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has any serious concern about this issue, or just ignoring it. For whatever it's worth, here is their Contact Info EDIT: 11.18.07
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11.10.07
* ' iStopMotion 2' Falling Short? Missing Feature ..... I wonder if they are getting real feedback from the more, experienced Stop Motion Animators. A topic came up at the Stop Motion message board, which unbelievably revealed that iStopmotion (for Macs) only has Onionskinning feature to measure the incremental movements of the animated object. With the recently released new iStopMotion 2, you DO NOT have Back & Forth Frame Toggling. I see this as an astoundingly grave omission in a Stop Motion Frame capture program, especially if this feature is not present in the higher end iStopMotion versions.

From my mingling & schmoozing with some of the seasoned Stop Motion Animators, I find that they prefer to manually flip back & forth between the LIVE image and the previous few recorded frames. I also have preference for frame toggling (over onionskinning). This is a visual kinetic method to check & judge the incremental movements, where the animator wants to see the JUMP between previous frame(s) with 'Live' frame. Onionskinning is a static method of measuring movement. Also, Strobing Onionskinning is not the same as Manual Toggling.

I am not putting down iStopMotion, but just being straight-up. Anyone who produces products for consumers should welcome feedback and try to be objective. It is just commonsense to give Stop Motion Animators, selectable CHOICE whether they want to use Onionskinning or Frame Toggling-Flipping method for guaging the animation movements. YOU Mac users who are still relying on the AbandonWare known as FrameThief, SPEAK-UP and give iStopMotion feedback that you want certain features. If they say, "we will look at it", then you have to pin them down (continual follow-ups), as people and/or companies can be slow or procrastinate. I strongly urge the people at iStopmotion to seriously look at adding, at least this Frame Toggling feature. If 'they' do not read SMW News, then some of you lurkers might direct them here. Also READ: link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4 EDIT: 11.11.07

* Oscar undecided what is Animation (Part 1) .... It is so clear to me that Motion Capture is NOT 'Animation', but maybe more under Special Effects category similar to Animatronics (Links 1 2 ) and/or combined with Suits/Make-up (Link 3). I would suggest that Academy Awards™ consider some new categories; 'Digital Performance Animatronics & Digital Make-up FX'.

Motion Capture: Recorded or Programmed Motion, from Sources that are LIVE, in REAL TIME. This Motion Data is then applied to the Robotic Servo-Motor Computer Controlled Skeleton OR the Virtual DIGITAL SUIT.

Animation: Motion performance created from the ARTIST's MIND in incremental stages, FRAME by FRAME, in an Altered State of TIME (not in real time). Or
read this from about 3+ years ago, I rambled about it.

Do not accuse me of slamming Motion Capture. This is an undercurrent issue about Animation in general, ever since the invasion of these technological toys. As
you read above, I had my definition of Animation, which to me, is commonsense & logical. Later, I found another one by 2D Animator Gene Deitch which is similar. Okay, you are waiting for this good read article from Variety? Here you go, Academy struggles to define animation. In the artcle, it states, "It's the 'frame-by-frame' rule that provides the acid test". My Observation: IF the Academy does not go by that RULE, then they are caving in & selling out to Studio Politics & Hollywood Corporate Power Players. (.... to be continued) EDIT: 11.12.07
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11.03.07
* German Music Video / Big Lots Stop Mo Ad / Who Invented Frame-grabbers? ..... Our own Jurgen Kling & crew are currently working on a music video which will be released in 2008. A trailer with parts of the video was released . The trailer seems to be pre-advertising for the album that will be out in 2008 (around febuary) in which the video will be included.The band is very not mainstream and chances to see the video on MTV is minimal. So, it will go directly to CD/DVD. Check it out still photos & music video teaser. Has a Corpse Bride feel, look to it. This is English version of Music Video trailer. EDIT: 11.04.07

A small chain of nation wide
stores in the USA , called Big Lots, are currently running a Stop Motion mixed with live action TV Ad. The commercial & their web site has strong Rankin Bass'esque retro nostaligic influence. I do not know who or which studio did the Stop Mo commericials.

A
news video clip (WMV player) from Savannah, Georgia (USA) about an instructor at a College. His name is Hal Miles, with work credit & titles that is quite lengthy. The news piece states that he has a 30,000 piece collection of movie memorabilia and that he would like to open a museum. As Miles is commenting in the video, he makes a strong claim or taking credit in stating that he is the original innovator of Stop Motion computer frame-grabbers?? Quote, "Back in 1988, I came up with the principals for digital stop-motion animation and perfected the technique and patented the concept". The story I heard years ago, that it was Will Vinton Studios who were one of the first to use computers & video cams for frame-grabbing back around, the mid-1980's. Also, here is an article written by the college, where he works.

Actually, I cannot say with certainty, about the beginnings of computers & video cams used together for Stop Motion Frame-Grabbing as a previewing tool. Just a reminder to you about anything in media & especially the internet: May not be accurate and obviously, could be subjective-biased. Even
Wiki is not always the 'Bible of Accuracy'. You have to research different sources. EDIT: 11.04.07

* High Resolution Stop Motion Alternative: NO Digital Still Cams .... This is an update from earlier news. Stop MotionMaker has just released a Stop Motion capture program, tentatively called Stop MotionMaker HDMI (for PCs) that can interface with HDV Camcorders if your computer has an HDMI capture card. Stop MotionMaker HDMI allows the Stop Motionist to single frame capture, high resolution 1980 x 1080 uncompressed LIVE image through the HDV camcorder's, HDMI video out port (connected to HDMI capture card). As consumer HDV camcorders make more inroads in the market, it looks like Stop MotionMaker is prepared & ready. Stop MotionMaker HDMI will also accept standard firewire DV camcorders and USB Webcams. More info at this forum topic, What is HDMI?, and direct info from Stop MotionMaker EDIT: 11.04.07

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