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November  2008

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11.29.08
Independent '$9.99' a possible 2008 Oscar Award contender ..... Might be some confusion about mainstream Stop Motion features being released??  Read at forum then come back. I will wait. Yes, there could be several all puppet Stop Motion films released in 2009, however, for the 2008 feature length animations, out of 14 submitted for Oscar nomination consideration, there will be ONE independent Stop Motion that might be nominated (2008 released) which is  '$9.99' from Tatia Rosenthal. This is what I prefer .... not blowing our 'Stop Mo Ammunition Wad' all in a single year, but stretch the 'Stop Motion fire power' over a longer period to compete with the mainstream ubiquitous CGI onslaught. The scenario might be: The 'underdog', '$9.99' competing against the likes of the dominating Pixar and other big players! The dark side though, what are the chances? Some Tinsel Town politics or back door favoritisms involved? These pundits, reviewers and commentators are actually just guessing and who do you believe? This brief article-byte suggests '$9.99' has a chance at the prize. The Oscar is supposedly the highest status symbol of recognition but in reality, there are many high quality film works out there that the Academy Awards will never see.

I have to be straight with 'you all', again. If '$9.99' is trying to get an Academy Award nomination consideration, it seems late (almost end of 2008) especially without the benefit of aggressive marketing/promotion campaign. I was not able to find a '$9.99' movie website and there are not, any teaser/preview clips online that I could locate. There are still photos which is good but let's see preview trailers of movie! In my view, not the best marketing pre-planning by whoever is in charge of '$9.99' public relations. Tatia does have a YouTube page showing her dramatic Stop Mo short, 'A Buck's Worth', but again, nothing, zero, zilch, nada on '$9.99' . EDIT: 11.30.08

Guillermo del Toro's  'Pinocchio' Artist/Director, Gris Grimly speaks ..... As I stated in a previous SMW news this month, I do not know anything about him but maybe this quick article-byte interview with Gris might give us clues who the dude is.

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11.22.08
* 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' News Blackout? ..... This has been bugging me since last week's news. I briefly asked about 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' and why there was very minimal publicity about it. I KNOW there is some info already online but I am talking about CURRENT info, and not the old stuff that has been floating around since about 2004.

Originally, 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' (FMF) was going to be overseen & animation supervised by Henry Selick under the production company Revolution Studios, which then folded,  and 20th Century Fox Animation picked it up. Later, Henry Selick left for 'Coraline' to serve as director. So FMF needed a new animation supervisor/director and they got Mark Gustafson, formerly, an ex-Vinton/Laika director, producer, animator, etc.. However, at IMDb about FMF, NO credit listing showing M. Gustafson's name as one of the FMF crew? Do you see the contradiction of information about FMF? A lot of old buzz floating out there, like here for example at Wiki (not always current or accurate). I did receive some anonymous replies, informing me that 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' was being shot in London which confirms what I somwhat already knew. According to my 'anonymous sources' , the new current info is, that FMF has been in full production and supposedly, finishing up in a few months. Also, this 'source' claiming that after the 2008 holidays here in USA, some of the Laika Stop Mo animators who are eligible to get 'work visas', will be exported to London. I contacted a few of those anonymous confidential sources, asking, "Exactly where is FMF being shot (which studio)?" and also specifics about their production crew. I got NO reply. Geez, thanks for not sharing . Stop Motion Works News policy has always been, to never  reveal our sources or identities of the informants .

With some wandering digging, I found this abbreviated profile about Allison Abbate. I remember her from 'Nightmare Before Christmas' when she was 'Artistic Co-ordinator', and since then, she has worked as producer on other kinds of animation projects (not just Stop Mo). In her brief profile, I know that she was producer on 'Corpse Bride', which was done in the UK (England) , then it says, she is now producer for 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', and also going to be producer for the possible Stop Mo version of Tim Burton's 'Frankenweenie'. So, it then hit me .... BINGO. Since Allison was in UK for 'Corpse Bride' and also for 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', I said,"Could it be the SAME studio?". During all the publicity of 'Corpse Bride' back in '05, I recalled that CB was shot at 3 Mills Studios in London. It is not an animation studio, but a facility-complex that rents out Studio space & Production services for Motion Picture or Television projects. Check it out, 3 Mills Studio and read the project credits. You will see that 'Corpse Bride' & 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' are listed. Then, I accidentally found this online Hiring Help notice in the UK, which further confirms that FMF being done at the '3 Mills' rental studio.  A little more digging, revealed a few people and in their C.V., it shows they have done or currently working on FMF, here, here, & here. It looks like the FMF production, primarily focused on hiring people from the Euro countries and ignored USA?

Look at all the frigg'n work you people put me through!  Won't you ever come out of your introversion & tight lipped syndrome that seems to plague Stop Motion people? 'Yo no comprendo'. So .... IF 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', is supposedly being finished, then where are the teaser photos & press releases or a website??? Nothing, zero, zilch, nada. I already know that www.fantasticmrfox.net is not online. Again, why all the stealthy secrecy?? Stop Motion (the outcast renegade) as a creative and still very viable animation technique-style, needs to get their asses moving and use more effective promotion methods especially with the 'New Media' and apply some 'viral' marketing. Some of the publicity techniques, such as releasing or 'leaking some behind the scenes, rumors, and buzz to get people jazzed & frothing at the mouth with uncontrollable excitement , in anticipation of the MOVIE. 

For your information ....'Fantastic Mr. Fox' (2009 expected release date) and 'Coraline' (February '09), might be in competition with each other for the 2009 Academy Awardsanimated features category. You say that is Good?? Not me! This is a repeat or déjà vu of Corpse Bride and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, both of which were Stop Motion features that also competed against each other for the 2005 Oscar™ prize. 'Were Rabbit' WON the coveted award. I call this 'Blowing your Stop Motion WAD' too soon. Releasing two competing mainstream Stop Motion features in the SAME year?? Because Stop Motion is far and rare in between in the mainstream movie biz arena, if I had the controlling power , it would be better to schedule any mainstream Stop Motion releases at separate calendar time periods. Following this strategy, Stop Motion gets much more 'publicity mileage' from one year to next, instead of blowing it ALL in one year. Stop Mo will stay in the public consciousness longer. With blowing all our Stop Mo WAD in one year, we will have to wait, maybe another 3 or more frigg'n years for the next possible Stop Motion features.

Hey, you in the dark, lurking out there ..... if you think I am NUTS because of my 'Thinking Out of the Box' and 'In your Face' style, no one is forcing you to read this, so just LEAVE if  you CANNOT deal with my cogent & penetrating observations!! EDIT: 11.23.08
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11.15.08

Guillermo del Toro thinking about Stop Motion 'Pinocchio' movie ..... Some article-bytes out there just released November 13 about an ALL Stop Motion feature based on the Pinocchio story. It is a dark version of the tale and will have the style of illustrator/designer, Gris Grimly who will also direct this animated movie. I never heard of Grimly. He likely has some sort of cult-like following who are familiar with his work. What is definite though, if Guillermo does pursue this project, he is partnering with The Jim Henson Company, which is interesting choice. Henson Company does not specifically do Stop Motion Animation effects work but obviously, may have the capability & logistics to adapt their knowledge & expertise to the miniature Stop Motion world and utilize their crew to execute the physical props, stage and  puppet construction. Who knows, if Henson people does Pinocchio, it  might be mixture of techniques, not only Stop Motion, but also puppetry & animatronics? According to article-bytes, if you read it carefully, Guillermo has TWO Stop Motion projects he is thinking about, the 'Pinocchio' one of course, but also another one, that he will not reveal any details.

So, Guillermo's 'Pinocchio' news, was posted at message board by an impatient 'Wannabie Stop Mo Matt Drudge', trying to steal my thunder?? Almost no response or very minimal reaction by the message board lurkers to this news. My questions are: Where would Guillermo's Stop Motion project be shot? Jim Henson Company is listed as located in Los Angeles and New York. Or, will the Stop Mo work be exported to some other country? Guillermo has done that (Hellboy) using outside international boutique specialists studios. You think there is a Stop Motion Animation 'Industry'? No, I would not call it that. There is perhaps a niche sporadic Stop Motion interest/field out there and a minority few (including boutique studios) doing Stop Mo on more professional level. In the USA, I would say, for full blown, all puppet stop mo features, finding and hiring the required skilled talent is difficult. I have stated a number of times in past, and I will repeat for those that have mild case of amnesia .... In USA, mainstream animation is primarily CGI dominated or 2D animation. For a major ALL Stop Motion feature, it can be Time Consuming to Ramp Up a production, find qualified crew, and also requires special logistics to get the shooting stages & equipment together at a centralized location. Usually, the Stop Motion specialists talent have nomadic lifestyles and unfortunately, are 'expected' to uproot their lives, travel ahd temporarily relocate, just to get the Stop Motion jobs. That is sometimes, the nature of the general Arts/Entertainment biz. With CGI animation, the crew is more Plug'n Play and they are more ubiquitous, easier to find, hire, and replace. Also, with mouse clicking animation, the production does not necessarily have to be at 'One' centralized studio or location.

According to my 'observations' , in the past and right now, even with just Coraline, a sort-of mainstream Stop Mo feature shot in USA; just that ONE Stop Motion project Sucks-Up a high number of Stop Motion talent/skills/specialists, which puts them out of circulation for a few years, making them unavailable to work on other Stop Mo projects. So, how can TWO or THREE major Stop Motion projects in USA, be concurrently (at the same time) produced?? I believe, there might not be enough Stop Mo talent/specialists to support 'multiple' large scale Stop Motion projects. I suspect because of this possible talent pool shortage in USA, any big, all Stop Motion features might be outsourced outside of USA if the 'suits' and/or 'directors' cannot find the talent/skills here. I am not just talking about Guillermo's Stop Motion projects, but Laika, likely has other Stop Mo projects on the backburner. Then, whatever happened to Wes Anderson's, Fantastic Mr. Fox?? Is it in production in some other country? On hold or cancelled? No updates about its status. Then you got Ridley Scott's Brave New World, which supposedly will have Stop Motion? Does the silent L.A. Stop Motion Underground Clique have anything to share or reveal about any of the above or my observations, or are they just zipping their lips and keeping any inside information all to themselves?? Inquiring minds want to know. Read, Del Toro's Puppet Pinocchio - Grimly & Del Toro Team For Stop-Mo 'Pinocchio' - Del Toro's Two Full Puppet Projects - 'Pinocchio' to feature Gris Grimly as director - Guillermo del Toro plots 'Pinocchio' If you would like to inquire or wish to seek professional advice, tips, consultation services. etc. contact me  EDIT: 11.17.08
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11.08.08

'O Apóstolo' feature from Spain: Stop Motion Anonymity & Struggles ..... I found this accidentally / serendipitously. Just about zero mention anywhere in the 'English' Internet sphere, including the animation sites/blogs. Looks like this ALL Stop Motion feature is aiming for high production values which is to be released about 2010. Described as humor & drama terror. Length about 80 minutes. O Apóstolo is Spanish for The Apostle. When you go to their site (link listed later), some behind the scenes information, pics, & brief video. Interesting style & look with a unique ambiance/flavor different than USA produced stuff. This is NOT clay animation. Some of the ignorant news media writers mislabel Stop Mo as that. The puppets are fully constructed similar to Nighmare B4 Xmas, Corpse Bride, etc.. O Apóstolo puppet design appear to use the 'Replacement Animation' method for the facial features. The lower jaws, 'removable' and looks to be similar to technique used for Jesus: The Miracle Maker.

It's likely, MOST of you never heard of this Stop Mo project from Spain. The reason I stated 'anonymity' is because, in USA we tend to be ego-centric and only 'our news' seems important and supercedes anything outside our borders; everything revolves around 'us'. With the 'New Media' (internet & satellite/cable TV), all of you obviously now realize there is an entire world out there. With regards to my other reference to 'struggle', as I have tiraded in the past; it is the constant rejection of Stop Motion by the 'Tinsel Town Suits'. If it is anything ambitious with Stop Motion, 'Hollywood' becomes tightfisted CHEAP Scrooges and usually, NEVER 'monetarily' supports Stop Mo, however for CGI, their $Wallets$ suddenly are generously opened.

The online news bytes articles about O Apóstolo, are all in Spanish. From what I interpreted, they did something interesting with appealing to the 'public' to become co-producers via donation appeal for contributions of about 30 Euros from individuals. I do not know if they reached the production budget needed to complete this Stop Mo project. The ENTIRE Stop Mo feature they estimate at maybe €1,976,000. (million) Euros which equals $2,512,863. (million) Dollars. When compared to the typical, obscene high budgets of CGI animated features (where does all the 'money' go?), O Apóstolo, is hyper-extreme bargain basement dirt cheap budget. Again, 'Stop Motion' always has to STRUGGLE. It is the 'shunned outsider' of the animation family.

Will there ever be any progress or hope for Stop Motion to be 'accepted' by just a few of the mainstream movie biz 'Power' players'? Where is George Lucas, or how about Disney or even Laika?? (NOT Dreamworks: they dumped Aardman) Perhaps one of YOU being generous and help with co-producing this 'Internationally' made animated feature from Spain? Extend your hands across the borders as symbolic gesture of Cross Cultural International Friendship . You know, infusing some $funding$ aid towards O Apóstolo and some 'assist' with distribution? Does every movie have to be a wannabie blockbuster appealing to the Lowest Common Denominator audiences?? Again, an appeal to Lucas, Disney, or Laika; bridging or partnering with our Euro brothers & sisters in the 'Arts'?  Easy to contact them in Spain. Something that is different & unique, to more 'niche audiences' instead of the same ol' homogenized empty 'eye candy' products pumped out by USA movie biz.

I can see O Apóstolo being entered in some of the well known International Film Festivals, then later, Dvd distribution with extensive behind the scenes in which audiences usually enjoys these kinds of extras. The O Apóstolo website (in Spanish) is Flash-heavy with bells & whistles. It does give it a slick look & generates anticipation. Check it out, O Apóstolo.
You can copy & paste the spanish text here. Their production funding campaign is creative and thinking out of the box BUT maybe difficult and time consuming when compared to the FREE FLOW of CASH (from the movie biz 'Suits'), given to CGI productions. Some article-byte about O Apóstolo, but they are all in Spanish which I translated to English using Google translation which does a poor job. You can 'sort of' get clues what the articles are saying. Here you go, O Apóstolo is plasticine with spirit (NOT clay animation) - Want to be a film producer? - Producer for 30 Euros - Stop Motion technique gives me freedom to fantasize Addendum: Someone just reminded me about Phil Dale's Fund my Short campaign (appealing for contributions). As usual, tediously slow to get donations from 'individuals' EDIT: 11.10.08
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11.01.08

* 'Blu-ray' High Definition Dead? Regular Dvds 'Good enough'? ..... You all know how I have sometimes gone into a tirading rage  about the mega-schmega™ HIGH RESOLUTION obsession with many of you Stop Motionists or wannabies. Instead of focusing on the creative art aspects and producing & cranking out your product, many of you get all caught-up and consumed with the 'technical' aspects. For example, with YouTube and most of the free video hosting sites, High-Definition does not necessarily give you that much advantage (of course it depends on nature of content). In the YouTubified Internet medium, from general perspective, the audiences are mostly concerned with CONTENT that GRABS their ATTENTION. The 'Myspacey YouTuber-ites' are NOT so preoccupied with the minutia of ad nauseam image resolution details.

This high resolution 'eye candy' in the consumerism arena is being forced-fed onto the public. It is part of today's hyper extreme Planned Obsolescence insanity from the Techy-toys Product Pushers to unecessarily WASTE your MONEY. People are NOT going to dump their existing Dvd movie collections and then pay higher prices for duplicate Blu-ray disc versions of movies they already have. Also, the public have other choices such as Dvd upconverting which is kind of a 'Simulated High Definition' and it seems 'good enough' for them. Although, I am guessing that you 'videophile' anal retentive-types, will likely dis (criticize) 'Upconverted Dvds'. I have seen standard res Dvds played back in 'upconverted' mode on High-Def flat panel LCD TVs and for my commonsense and reasonable 'tastes', I think it IS 'good enough'. For myself, I have noticed that the excess detail and sharpness from the high resolution images, seems to be a distraction from the 'story telling' and can negatively affect my viewing experience. The imagery is too hyper exaggerated than what we actually see with our natural vision.

For you Stop Motionists out there, consider the possible flaws in your miniature sets and Stop Motion puppets that will be greatly magnified and nakedly revealed with these extreme higher resolutions. Just something to think about. Hey, do not get on my case! I already KNOW with SPECIAL EFFECTS work when shooting at 'higher resolution/quality', it is a technical post production 'advantage': You shoot in sharper higher resolution and in post, you do image tweaking, filtering, softening, etc. etc.., then you downsize-reduce the pixel image resolution/size to whatever final distribution format. My RANT here is about the end product distribution to consumers and the 'Corporate product pushers' shoving excessive and wasteful 'planned obsolescence' down your throats.

Anyway, brew yourself some fresh JAVA , chillax, slip-on your reading glasses, and check-out the evidence: Blu-ray is dead: heckuva job, Sony! - Blu-ray is dead: the sequel - Blu-ray, Not the Right Idea In the First Place - Big Stores Offer Blow Out Blu-ray Prices - Recession hits Blu-ray where it counts - Sharper, brighter, crisper, but is HDTV better? - A low tolerance for high definition - Too sharp, too much resolution, new paradigm - About DVD Upconversion. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I rest my case
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