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   DECEMBER 2008

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12.29.08
* Here we go again: '3D Stereo to Revolutionize & Save the Movie Biz' ..... Hmmm, that's sound familiar, especially the 'revolutionize' part. Remember the CGI/Digital special effects hype surrounding the first 'Jurassic Park' (1993)? Sure, CGI & Digi Special FX has had an impact on how movies are made. However, with regards to the end product being done with computers, don't you sense a saturation or glut of it now? It only took 15 years for jaded-ness to kick in. More and more similar CGI Pixar-like animation and Digital Special Effects infused into Live Action 'genre' flicks. The 'wannabee' blockbusters are demographically targeted for mass appeal which tends to dilute & homogenize the movie product. With CGI/Digital Special Effects, audiences are onslaughted with visual empty eye candy calories. Soon, the viewers get jaded with just the visual imagery. There is NO solid story & characters (the foundation) to stimulate the deeper areas of their cerebral minds!

Will the 3D Stereo saturation or glut happen at faster pace than CGI? The big wannabee blockbusters maybe beginning to be victims of their lame or weak stories? Most recent, 'Delgo' (& 1) and 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'. No computer mega-schmega CGI or Digital Special FX orgasims was able to save them.

I do agree, Stereo 3D is very Cool and Fun but maybe reserved for very SPECIFIC kinds of presentations. The 3D thing would be more like an 'Exhibition' event (similar to theme park rides) instead of just a movie. Personally, I would NOT want to view, for example, Chick Flicks in '3D STEREO', or movies that are of dramatic, documentary, or other categories. I see NO viewing experience enhancement for those kinds of films if done as 3D. For me, even High Definition can interfere with my viewing experience appreciation. When I watch High Definition on a Large'ish LCD TV screen, at times, it becomes somewhat distracting and bothers my senses. I have to actually squint my eyes when viewing the LCD screen to soften the excess sharpness & hyper intensity of of High Def images. Your natural vision does not see the reality world in such extreme High Definition. 3D Stereo as a novelty gimmick will likely work to get some people out of their homes and into the theaters, but I think it might follow the same pattern as CGI, and might quickly lose its drawing power. My observation: Today's MySpacer generation maybe spoiled with too much of 'material' & techy-toy diversions and their attention span conditioned to reach 'Boredom' status at hyper-FAST rate (than previous generations).

Just remember, when you read & hear the plethora of hype parroted in the media,  they are referring to mainstream movie biz which caters to the generic mass audience. 'Hollywood' looking for ANYTHING in attempt to attract 'that type' of audience. Suits/Directors going for the eye candy and reject Less is More (& 1) principle. There is a whole world of independent filmmaking that Tinsel Town seems to ignore, however, there are niche audiences who are more selective & quality oriented and more into the story, characters, etc. that the smaller independent films provides. What does this have to do with Stop Motion? Well, indirectly, with 'Coraline' being the singular & first Stop Motion digitally shot in True 3D Stereo. Then you got the converted, to 'Psuedo' 3D Stereo, of the classic 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'. In general, you should keep yourself informed and look at 'big picture' of what is going on in the MoViE BiZ. My observations based on 'Tinsel Town's' historical past habits & behaviors. Everyone has their spin on 3D Stereo Flicks. Brew yourself some fresh hot java, slip on your reading glasses and absorb some sample article-bytes 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5  EDIT: 12.30.08

No Armatures Stop Motion ..... This is to partly counter Barry Purves pessimistic view of Stop Mo's future (previous 12.25.08 SMW News). IMO, he might be restricting himself. Likely, many of you do too including myself. Stop Motion has many variations. As much as I dig Harryhausen style, I realize not marketable to everyone. If you are looking at Stop Mo seriously as a possible monetizing means, one might need to be a Stop Mo Chameleon and expand. You have to pay the bills & rent? Right?  Look at Jamie Caliri and his crew, they are establishing a niche and style. No complex Stop Motion armatures! They are utilizing a high level of Cut-Out Animation with great finesse and quality art direction. I previously mentioned Jamie who was also overseer of the United Airline Dragon Ads. Titles by Jamie Caliri - Madagascar 2 TitlesLemony Snicket Titles

* More on 'Laika lays off 65' .....  Per earlier December 17 & 20 SMW News, the linked article had incomplete info regarding Laika Studio staff/crew numbers. Just got word from Jeremy Spake to help clarify the missing information from that article. At Laika's high point of production in 2008, they had about 600+ total employees which includes all the depts & divisions, and also, all the 'Coraline' production crew. So when 'Coraline' ended, about 200+ finished their work commitments (jobs ended). The news article only focused on the CGI department, of which 65 were laid off. After doing all the math, Laika is a fully operational & busy studio and currently has approximately, over 200+ employees there now. Okay, hopefully this is all done & finish! Three SMW News postings on this same topic in same month!! 
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12.25.08

* Sneak teaser '9' CGI animation going for Stop Mo feel ..... I already tiraded about this some years ago (my former rough urban writing style) when this cgi animation piece was sort of in its 'infancy'. So, 3 years has gone by, and now, this very early teaser-trailer? I am surprised that '9' is still not finished and has many more months until it's released, 09.09.09 (Ahhh, the marketing gimmick!). According to promo teaser, this is Tim Burton produced and Shane Acker is the 'Visionary Director'. In movie trailers and online articles, that 'highbrow' title seems to be overused? Well, I say Ron S. Cole is also a Visionary Director! (reeeeal Stop Mo) Any 'Visionary Suits' see possibilities of 'In the Fall of Gravity'?! EDIT: 12.26.08

* 'Howard the Duck' online ..... The entire frigg'n movie! There are some brief commercial breaks but it's all free. Plenty of viewer comments there too. As many of you might know, the movie finale is the 'sophisticated-ly' done Stop Motion 'Dark Overlord' creature scenes executed by Meister Phil Tippett when he worked at ILM, long before they went over to the CGI Side. Yes, this is a George Lucas movie (from the nostalgic 1980s period) that is refreshingly, not 'Star Wars' related . Kickback, comfy seat, popcorn, pizza, beer and watch

* Hollywood may not be recession-proof this time ..... Mainstream flicks now has competition from consumer entertainment alternatives / choices.

Barry Purves thinks Stop Motion Future is Bleak? .... In a brief interview he provides some comments. Maybe Barry locked into a certain style or format of Stop Motion that he prefers but some 'Suits' not interested at the moment? These fierce competitive and technology heavy times requires experimental ways of 'monetizing', and one has to 'think out of the box'. SMW News regularly reports & comments about entrepreneurs using and testing many variations and facets of Stop Mo (such as in commercial ads). Barry's website

* 'How to Survive a Bear Attack' by Randy Boyum ..... Reminder to 'Suits' immersed in Digital CGI: It's the DAMN STORY & CHARACTERS that is the foundation and not empty 'eye candy' excess. 'Bear Attack' using traditional Stop Motion methods. Watch & read viewer comments
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12.20.08
* Must Drink More Milk ...... Off the wall pro-milk spots done for the British Columbia Dairy Foundation (Canada). Their Flash heavy designed website Must Drink More Milk shows a series of short stop motion ads on their home page which are professionally done. This one is kind of cool. It looks like most of them produced by Bent Image Lab in Portland, Oregon USA. The Milk people offering a contest in which anyone can enter their videos and does not have to be animation. There's a new winner every month and two overall winners at the end of the year.If you click on the submissions, you can tell that they are not as slick & finessed as Bent Image's. It appears, the professionally made Stop Motions are not part of the contest but commissioned to be integral to the website design in order to attract visitors.

* Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland' to also include Stop Motion ..... Originally,was going to be Live Action & Motion Capture CGI. I am 'guessing', Tim Burton & Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox) sharing the Stop Mo operation 3 Mills Studio in the UK, and Burton maybe figures, since already setup for Stop Mo, he will use it  in Alice flick  Read

* MAC trashing PC Stop Mo Ads making its rounds ..... You've maybe seen the live action versions on TV or online. These are 'all' animated puppets of same theme, usually for Xmas season.

* Wallace and Gromit: one man and his dog ..... Some revelations about Aardman's dislike of Hollywood's approach to movie making Read
* Do Something Constructive ..... The blog site of Jeremy Spake. He was one of the  former Laika / Coraline crew people. Apparently, our previous news (12.17.08) was maybe misleading . The article said 65 employees in CG dept laid off but Laika still has a crew of 280?? According to Jeremy, almost everyone, 250-300 who worked on Coraline, when the project ended, were let go and there was no press release about that. So that means, at this moment, Laika studio in Portland, Oregon USA  is almost vacant with a bare bones staff of maybe about 20 people?? Going by the press release, Laika's current employees/staff numbers does not seem to add up?


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12.17.08
* Harryhausen's 'Mother Goose Stories': Music Video 'Acid Trip' version .....  My eye's bugged out when I saw this. Ray's very early fairy tale stop motion is apparently in the 'public domain'.

It appears, an obscure fringe British band/group decided to exploit Uncle Ray's old work, chop it up, and re-work it by adding their 'violent' themed imagery via special effects and not sure if they added actual Stop Mo (or maybe cgi). In my view, their re-visualizing of the fairy tales is warped and I do not see the imagery connection to the song/music (typical of many music videos) which I cannot hear or understand the lyrics. Nothing makes any sense. In spite of all those negatives, I suppose, I have to say that the composited special fx into the old fairy tale, is reasonably okay. This studio did the effects. I wonder if these Fairy Tales were specifically selected in attempt to get some publicity mileage from the 'Harryhausen name', although I assume if Uncle Ray knew about this 'drug trip' music video version of his Fairy Tales, I am guessing that he might not endorse it. At their YouTube video link, you can check out some of the band's groupies/fans comments EDIT: 12.18.08

* Laika lays off 65, shelves CG film .... 'Jack and Ben's Animated Adventure' was a computer-generated feature once slated to be Laika's second film. There was creative differences with writer. Laika decided to shelve the film and push ahead on other projects. There will be more announcements after the first of the year Read more details
* 'Fledgling' .... an 8 minute Stop Mo short from 1999 by Eron Sheean (from Australia). Kind of ethereal Sci-Fi 'Twilight Zone'ish'. In early 2000s this short was submitted to film festivals. Here is ol' Slamdance synopsis (2001) of his work. It appears this was the only Stop Mo effort from Eron. His work appears to be mostly model work and live-action. Watch teaser clip at his website.
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12.13.08

* $66,000. for 'SANTA JACK' Puppet  .....  I was never much into 'collecting & memorabilia' of 'things & objects'.  You cannot take 'things' to the frigg'n grave. There is more to 'Life' than just spending/consumering, but I know for many, material accumilation of STUFF is their compulsions and especially, if they got CASH to blow and waste (then they go into DEBT and the Big Brother 'take care of you' Gov't,  $-Bails-Out-$ the irresponsible A-holes! )  I usually have no  interest with 'Auctions' in general, where there are supposed bargains? (sometimes) Ebay has its purposes but I am no way, a regular user of it. When you get into selling stupid ass crap, that supposedly has 'memorabilia' value like  celebrity's underwear, panties, etc ..... well you can see how low, bottom of the garbage can,  people can sink to, with their  greedy compulsive opportunistism. Or that PBS show, 'Antiques Auction' which I only watched a few times. Their ONLY real interest is, "How much obscene amount of money can I get for this???" Oh, I went Off Topic 

Yeah, someone paid a whopping $66,000. for some props/models originally used in Nightmare Before Christmas. Want to see it? Click Here. It appears, it also includes the reindeer/sleigh model, and the small Zero puppet.  I am guessing that the now, kind of grungy looking Jack Skellington puppet, might be a wire armature version (not sure). Reports are, that this was given (as in freebie) to one of original Stop Mo 'Animators' who owned this since 2001. So what happened? No more heartfelt deep nostalgia about this and then,  succumbed to the Dark Greedy Side?   Also, check-out other obscene $$$ amounts that the  'wealthy' compulsive collectors throwing their money at, Auction of Hollywood archive this weekend.

Correction: Original news media reports/blogs stated $66,000.. Someone just notified me of the Auction Link (on frigg'n eBay?!) and it states sold for $55,000.. Also, original animator owner sold it to 'someone' in 2001 year. That later owner, just sold it again at this auction. EDIT: 12.14.08

* Walsh-O-Matic aka SheridanStopMo .... Focus on Principles of Animation and not get side-tracked into mega-schmega pixel cameras, complex armatures or an Epic Stop Mo project. Walk before you run. Example, watch video then at right side,  click 'more info' and there will be brief text tutorial giving tips.
* New 'A Miser Brothers Christmas' save Christmas' .... not CGI remake, but done using Stop Motion in tradition of the classics. Airs Saturday, Dec 13, ABC Family Channel. Actual Stop Mo done by Cuppa Coffee in CANADA. Hmmm .... USA Stop Moser's not getting the 'sweet' projects. Damn Tinsel Town Suits . Also related .... Rankin/Bass gets ripped off!
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12.06.08

* The Latino Wunder King, Hellboy director gots all kinds of projects!? ..... My Spanish 'soul brother' Guillermo Del Torro announced yet another, maybe in the future, Stop Motion feature project.  Last month we reported his tentative plans about the all Stop Motion 'Pinnochio', and NOW, Del Torro is throwing out this other Stop Motion wanna-do-it .... Roald Dahl's 'The Witches'?? You might call this, an animated  remake of the 1990 live-action version.  Brother Guillermo, where are you going to get the Stop Motion crew specialists?? It seems, a number of potential upcoming multiple Stop Motion mainstream features being planned and shortage of Stop Motion specialist people?? If anyone needs Stop Motion pre-production planning help, I would consider offering my services as advisor/consultant or line producer assist . A messageboard topic kind of dissed Del Torro but I might not be so hard and would only say to my amigo,  "Guillermo, please consider philosophy of less is more and focus on 'Quality Story Telling' and perhaps, restrain yourself from too much CGI bells & whistles distracting eye candy, dizzying barf inducing camera moves, and excessive CGI cloning (too many crowded scenes to merely show off CGI powers)"  Del Torro talks, everyone buzzes 1 - 2 - 3 - 4  EDIT: 12.07.08

* Hollywood Feels the Credit Crunch ..... "Like the rest of Hollywood, Guber is discovering that Los Angeles Dream Factory is not immune when the rest of the country slips into recession". Tinsel Town scenario becoming like the failed & bailed out financial institutions & other failing businesses ? Except, I do not want more of my taxes to bail out the SUITS!! Our political bureacrats might be STOOPID enough and maybe do it!? Mainstream wannabie blockbusters and their obscene overpriced budgets? Only in a CRISIS, then maybe 'they' will see the 'light' of commonsense wisdom practice of being resourcefulness aka  leaner & meaner? Read  EDIT: 12.07.08

* HORROR of RECESSION / Part 1 ...."A look at horror entertainment in a terrifying economy". Even in the B movie market, the budget conscious Suits goes to more extremes in getting cheaper with budget cutting in this genre niche?? Part 1.5

* Hollywood's Big Festival Test ..... "Sundance braces for economy bout".  According to article-byte, it suggests a possible glut of film festivals?
* Sci-Fi's No. 1 Fanboy, Forrest J Ackerman, Dies at 92 (12.04.08)

* Animation Writer Emru Townsend Dies (11.11.08) Go to SMA forum (links there)

* Richard Svensson aka 'The Lone Animator' returns ..... His website, blog & YouTube

* Tatia Rosenthal '$9.99' Website now online ..... Possible Oscar? nomination contender. Talk about it

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