January 16, 2015
When film director Peter Jackson took on the King Kong CGI Orgasmia Remake of the original 1933 Kong, there were many critics pro & con. At the time, I was leaning towards the con. Many of us Stop Motionists at the time, thought it was somewhat sacrilegious to remake Kong with CGI and we had foolish hopes that Peter Jackson might consider using modern State of the Art Stop/Go Motion.
Because Peter Jackson very much admired & was passionate about the original King Kong, in addition to directing the CGI 2005 King Kong re-make, he did something extra that NO other director would have done. As sort of a tribute or homage to the original King Kong, the Weta Studio crew in New Zealand re-created the infamous lost Spider Pit and some other missing scenes. If you are not familiar with the Kong ‘fokelore’ … many years later after the original 1933 King Kong was released, film historians & fans have generated much mystery surrounding the missing scenes. You can look that up on the internet.
The Weta Workshop studio re-created the missing spider pit & other scenes, specifically, a Styracosaurus dinosaur chasing the sailors through the jungle. They were edited into the original King Kong scenes, trying to be as seamless as possible. Some people/fans are sometimes too serious and have even negatively criticized these re-recreated scenes. Peter Jackson and the Weta crew were likely having so much fun using the ol school classic special effects techniques that Willis O’Brien and his crew used way back in the 1930’s circa.
An extra bonus, for you die-hard special effects technical geeks, some ‘behind the scenes’, of the Kong re-created missing scenes. If you do not have time … save this for later or Friday night … enjoy with your cheese loaded & pepperoni topping pizza, or heavily buttered popcorn, and plenty of sugar infused soda pop
Here are more links directly to player ….
The clips/video links listed above were available online, however, for the hard core Stop Motioners, ALL the behind the scenes & extras are available Uncut & in Continuity on a 2 disc DVD set. I purchased that 2 dvd special edition years ago. I just looked and I cannot believe the LOW cost now, for the King Kong (2 disc special edition) re-mastered & digitally restored … much more affordable compared to when I bought it ….
January 12, 2015
For years, I have not and still do not watch award ceremony shows or even mainstream general broadcast television … very rarely sometimes. Just heard that the 2015 Golden Globes awards event took place yesterday, Sunday night. The Boxtrolls (stop motion) & The Lego Movie (cgi) were a few of the contenders for the Golden Globes. Well, guess what … How to Train your Dragon 2 (CGI) won Golden Globes award for best animated feature.
Back in 2013, the Academy Awards Oscars awards included 3 STOP MOTION FEATURES that were nominated for best animated feature … Frankenweenie, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, and ParaNorman. Again, guess what … the all CGI animated Brave won the coveted ‘Oscar’. Hey stop motion studios … do not release too many stop motion features in one year! Instead, spread out release dates to maybe increase chance of winning one of those awards?!
But seriously, it has always been a bumpy ride for stop motion to crack through mainstream market. The audiences constantly bombarded by & indoctrinated to CGI visuals. Hopefully, mainstream Stop Motion will continue but they need to generate profits for the studios and perhaps will have more long term longevity via subsequent video streaming, satellite & cable TV, dvd rentals & sales, and other distribution outlets, to reach niche audiences seeking alternatives and more variety of entertainment choices.
Awards Ceremonies … well … I am neutral about them. If you think it has value, then ‘whatever floats your boat’
January 7, 2015
Back in 2005, at the old Stop Motion Works blog (now buried in the archives), I briefly spotlighted this indie animated short, Fast Film. I have not seen it for years until recently. It still very much impresses me as a creative, original, & fresh film work.
NO CGI and no computer digital enhancing. Basically: Very detailed planning of the scenes and in post production, basic editing work and then adding & mixing the sound, The sequences are stop motion animated IN the camera using a collage of photo backgrounds, photo cut-outs, & origami-style fabrication of models/props. It appears to me, this was filmed ‘In the camera’ means WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) and that is exactly what appears in the final visual imagery of this animated short. A very good example that one does not need excess in equipment or hyper-inflated production budget. Again, pure resourcefulness & creativity, and 100% hands-on tactile. Take a look … about 14 minutes long ….
Making of Fast Film ….
Virgil Widrich was the director. His other prior indie film was in 2001 and was Oscar nominated, COPY SHOP. It is not stop motion and appears to have used some early digital compositing special effects, but subtle (making of Copy Shop). I do not know if Virgil is still active in filmmaking. It appears FAST FILM was his primary venture using the stop motion technique. IMO, still stands the test of time … a unique & original creative work. Here is the link to the original FAST FILM website still online since 2003.
January 5, 2015
From The California Sunday Magazine, a nice fancy & splashy article write-up about Meister Phil Tippett.
Phil Tippett is perhaps kind of a renegade and/or iconoclast in the biz. Years ago, just about every major effects studio that switched to CGI, eventually disposed of most of their ol’ school, tools of the trade methods & equipment, whereas Phil, still has kept much of his traditional special effects equipment, tools, & stage/studio. He has not abandoned his roots in the tactile hand-crafting of visual effects with real world materials, puppets, sets, miniatures, The original 1993 Jurassic Park forced Phil to jump into CGI in order to stay in the visual effects business and he has been very successful in transferring his ol’ school creative sensibilities & philosophy to CGI.
IMO, much of today’s creature character motion, choreography & style that you see in many of the genre sci-fi, fantasy, etc movies done by other special effects studios, borrows from Phil Tippett. There is high kinetic energy in the creature character animation. Look at my earlier post about the Dark Overlord as one example. Phil inspired by Ray Harryhausen who’s characters (the Cyclops only one example) had an incredibly dynamic signature in those days (before Cgi), when compared to men in suits & mechanical puppets (of that time). Ray was ahead of his time. Of course Ray as a young boy, strongly inspired & motivated by Willis O’brien (the original King Kong). The torch passes on to the next …. however … there are only very small minority who still have passion for this hands-on tactile creation of creature character animation & special effects. I just hope ‘it’ continues, in spite of all the excess bombardment of mass produced CGI sameness out there.
Here is the article … a good read & overview about Phil and brief revelation of his observations about the biz.
January 1, 2015
You will first see puppets moving & speaking, then gradually the animator is dissolved into & superimposed onto the animated scene and you can see him actually pushing the puppets ….
Do you wish to see this clip in Slow Motion? Click this link ….
Instructions – At the above link, you will see below the player a box that says SLOW MOTION … First click that, then click the box that says 1/4 SPEED. This will slow down the time lapse so that you can better see the animator doing the frame by frame manipulations of the stop motion puppets.