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DECEMBER 2002

12-31-02: At Anthony Scott's SMA.com message board, there have often been little rants in our frustration about Stop Motion. A feeling from traditional artists that the current flavor now is CGI, leading to a possible glut or excess. This year old article CGI's Impact on the Traditional Animator is a nice summation .... mostly focusing on Cel & CGI, but applicable to Stop Mo. Article mentions CGI is perhaps the so-called New Look, but when there's eventually too much of it (a glut of CGI product), audience may not respond (they get jaded).

On New Years Day, after you recover from the hangover and you want to kick back ..... here is a forum's thread titled, Computer Animation vs Traditional ....it is pretty long but interesting reading. Again it's mostly Cel/Drawn animation that's mentioned as "traditional" but it could be applied to Stop Motion. Just a side note and only my opinion.....Stop Motion's history is like that of the "black out-cast sheep" in the animation "family". Stop Mo has to struggle even more to get any minor recognition or respect. Of course there are those exceptions or positive accidents, like Ray Harryhausen's career/success & a few others, and then Nightmare Before Christmas somehow got made & survived the Hollywood system, and maybe Chicken Run was moderately successful (stop mo done in England)
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12-30-02: Remember Vinton Studios was kind of sinking and then was just recently bought-out by Nike, to rescue them? Well, there is a well known independent studio in Canada by the name of Cuppa Coffee Studios. They do lots of Stop Motion but also other kinds of animation. Click on this Cuppa Coffee Not for Sale......apparently, Cuppa Coffee is surviving in this CGI glut & recessionary times. They have signed a deal with Disney to produce a 52 episode Stop Motion series for pre-schoolers. That's a hell of a lot of shows! Why can't Vinton swing a deal like that? Maybe Cuppa Coffee is more "cost-effective"? I am not dissing Vinton Studios but just making observations to hopefully see a comeback from our once, big USA based Stop Mo studio. I do like Vinton Studios and I did work for them !
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12-25-02: Stop Motion Works News will be on vacation until Monday or maybe I will return after New Years.... I cannot decide. Hey ..... I am suppose to be an Arteest and I have no fences and free as the wind and I will not be bound by this "thing" called a calendar?
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12-24-02: Can someone explain to me why it cost $140 million to make what is essentially a cel animated feature with some basic CGI backgrounds? Disney's Treasure Planet (96 minutes long) was released this past month ... it then BOMBED at the box office .... a failure. There were no big name actor's voices so we know Disney didn't have that expense. Like I said, it was cel animation for the characters and the backgrounds and some other elements were done CGI-digital but with a cartoon-cel look (more simpler for computer to render than photorealistic backgrounds). Were did all the money go? Why do I bring this up? Check this out ..... The total budget for The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) was about $18 million and for James and the Giant Peach (1996), about $38 million. Just an example how mainstream studios somehow screws Stop Motion with minimal budgets when you compare to other kinds of animation (cel or cgi). Hollywood never really gave Stop Motion a chance or respect. Anyway, end of my mini-rant. Here are some links about the Disney dud and they have no real idea why it fizzled .... they are just guessing .... `Treasure Planet' flop is a blow to Disney's animation unit - Treasure Planet' a Bust for Disney Animators - Is the Magic Fading at Disney - Moneylosing saga of 'Treasure Planet'
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12-23-02: Jim Danforth nominated for Gordon E. Sawyer Award? This is the special Oscar that Ray Harryhausen got in 1991. I am surprised that this Danforth nomination effort has not been publicized much. This page explains the various Special Awards/Oscars and here is the Jim Danforth Award Lobby Page where it looks like "informed" site visitors can post supporting nomination reasons. Various special FX people have been nominated on this site, but Jim Danforth seems to have the most response. This website does not seem to be officially from the Oscar / Academy but perhaps it looks like an online lobbying effort? I do not know the actual process how people get nominated for Oscars but if there are any working pros in the special FX / CGI movie business, perhaps you know people that can officially nominate Jim? He is truly an eclectic talent probably second to Ray Harryhausen. Jim is known as a master stop motion animator and many other skills .... matte painter, special FX designer/director, sculptor, technician wizard, etc.. Jim's career credits too numerous to mention, including TV work and commercials. Like Ray, Jim was the predecessor to all this CGI & Digital special FX deluge. We should honor & respect those trailblazers ... Jim Danforth .... one of the unsung heros in the biz. Many people in the business know Jim. George Lucas also knows Jim. Spread the word !

I also heard somewhere that Uncle Ray Harryhausen might be getting a STAR on the Hollywood Walk of Fame ? It's about time !
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12-20-02: Mac users, pay attention! Just announced on some Mac websites, the release of a stop motion animation software that will allow recording of your animations using a camcorder. It is in the Beta testing stage and if you have the time, give it a try (Free) and offer them your opinions & feedback so that they can improve newer versions. It is called iStopMotion and has a very important animation feature called onionskinning .... allows you to see previous animated frames with the live image. If you want more info on some other stop motion animation programs check-out Stop Motion Software Overview.
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12-19-02: Should "it" be called animation? This word in the history of cinema has been associated with traditionally & classic animation methods. What am I talking about? Lord of the Rings 2 has a CGI character, Gollum. Acting Performance all done through human body & facial motion capture (high tech rotoscoping) and seems like the CGI people mostly filled the role as technicians to "skin" the human actor. Gollum scenes were interesting but I still think it is a gray area to call it "animation". There is a new hi-techy buzz word called Synthespians. One of the articles here says, one might refer to this as an "actor in pixelated prosthetics". Anyway here are a few links you might find interesting ... Gollum Slinks into Quest, The Rise of 'Synthespians, For Virtual Actors, Putting a Human Face on 'It'
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12-18-02: Well, after hearing buzz & rumors on other forums about the decline of Will Vinton Studios and also, that studio will be co-owned by Nike Inc., I decided to check-out www.vintonstudios.com website. It has recently changed, or maybe a better description, a downsized internet presence? It says, they are working on a New Vinton Studios website. If anyone knows what is happening in the now, quiet Stop Mo ghost town of Portland .... let us know ! I am sure, we all hopefully wish some kind of comeback or resurgence of more Stop Motion up there in Oregon.
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12-17-02: From the Toronto Sun, Toon Boom Gone Bust? A Canadian perspective of the Animation field and if there is any reason for optimism. Of course, mostly concerns the mainstream Cel & Cgi, but Stop Motionists should also know what is happening in the general animation market.
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12-16-02: A small item here about someone who I briefly lost contact with. We met around 1985 in San Francisco. His name, Tom Sullivan ..... a superb artist / illustrator and character designer with experience in good ol' traditional & classic special effects. Way back in the early days in Michigan, Tom met & worked with Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell & Rob Tapert ...these three giving birth to the now cult classic movies, Evil Dead. The original Super 8 demo, Within the Woods, the 16mm Evil Dead, and the remake, Evil Dead 2 used some of the Stop Motion technique. In ED2, examples such as the headless dancing corpse lady by Doug Beswick, the decapitated stop mo hand & Henrietta transformed creature by Rick Catizone. Tom did the very creative stop mo opening scenes of the animated Book of Dead (see SMA.com forum-thread), the winged flying Deadite creature and other stop motion shots. Later, Evil Dead 3 / Army of Darkness also used some Stop Motion by the veteran animator Pete Kleinow. During ED2 post production in Detroit, I visited Tom and Larry Larson (another stop mo / artist veteran, stop mo instructor & fine arts oil painter) during the Deadite stop motion shoot and even did some minor assisting. Tom now has a website presence known as Dark Age Productions . Also you can catch some behind the scenes photos at his Evil Dead 2 Gallery.
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12-13-02: Animation World Network known as, AWN has been online for a few years which is a long time for internet survival. Their online Animation World Magazine is still being published and FREE! AWN is a comprehensive animation informational resource that is still not too commercialized (good for us!). A few months ago, they just launched their Animation Industry Database. This is basically for people or studios that already have experience and offering their services. They have a plethora of listings for Computer animation & special effects services, however, not that many for the Traditional Skills areas. Also, it seems like an oversight that they did not include a specific Stop Motion Animation category, but instead, they have puppets, clay, and object animation (that's odd specialty?). So, if you have done professional or paid work, offering some kind of animation service, you can be listed and you can be in any country (not just USA). For those looking for work, see the AWN Career Page and you can put your resume online. In stop motion category, they have lots of wannabees claiming stop motion as one of their skills, but they do not give specifics on resume about their experience or training. Sometimes I just wonder to myself, the effectiveness of these online resumes. There are just so many of them. Perhaps there is better luck by just "knocking on doors"?
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12-12-02: I mentioned Wreckless Abandon before in News and I am not really plugging them as I don't know much about this studio which is located waaaay over on the East Coast in the state of Connecticut, but I just found this brief behind the scenes of the Davey & Goliath Mountain Dew spot.
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12-11-02: For a more intimate group forum about Stop Motion, don't forget to check out Neil Hughes' (down under/Australia) Stopmotion Group at Yahoo Groups . You have to register to be a general member of Yahoo (Free) and you can always improvise or fudge the information you give. Neil did have a website for his studio, Dog House Films but it seems unavailable.
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12-08-02: Just a reminder that two, stop motion animated Robbie the Reindeers will be broadcast on the CBS network, this Friday, December 13, at 9:00 pm. To be sure, check your local TV schedules. Both Robbie animations will be aired (one hour). Here is a Review of the Robbie animations. Before Robbie's broadcast, Rankin Bass' 1964 classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer will also be aired. So, that will be a total of two hours of Stop Motion !
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12-07-02: This seems to be a new or recent website (I never heard of it before), Animation Products. Unfortunately, it covers mostly CGI and Cel Animation and seems to ignore Stop Motion. On their links page there are some more interesting sites, including some forums. Again, even though Stop Motion content is non-existent at this site, at least you can find out news, rumors, etc. of what is going on in general animation field. You might want to email them and inquire about "Lack of Stop Motion?" or suggest some LINKS about Stop Mo.
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12-06-02: Here is Anthony Scott's (aka Mr. StopMotionAnimation.Com) page, about the GodFather of Stop Motion, Mr.Ray Harryhausen, who was in Los Angeles, California, this past week.


 

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