May 24, 2013
I have known Webster Colcord for a number of years. When he lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the golden age following The Nightmare Before Christmas, when stop motion opportunities where more abundant here … our paths would cross on projects. Also a few times, I got to visit his home studio set-up.
Webster is most eclectic as he is proficient in Stop Motion, 2D animation, and CGI! Sometimes, I kind of envy him but actually, I more impressed by his abilities. I say to myself, the Animation principles & skills he has acquired, must really be embedded into his genetics now, because he can apply his talents to any medium! I do not know if he planned it that way from the beginning, or maybe just a natural self-survival sense, to expand his skill-sets as needed, so he can pay the rent & bills! Here is a project Webster worked on. Cool behind the scenes presentation via still photos & time lapse ….
Webster, lives in Los Angeles now. In past years, many in animation & related that previously lived here have also relocated to Southern California which they say is the hotbed of entertainment business activity. Although like everywhere, the economy and these more precarious times affecting all of us in different ways. I hope that animation work activity picks-up so artists such as Webster and others can apply their talents and share their finished creative works with the audiences … you, me, & everyone!
May 20, 2013
Just a small disclaimer – The following might be recommended for mature visitors here. From the SMW vast audience, I received notification from one of our readers about this. Something called CHILLERAMA. I never heard of it. It appears to be 4 shorts combined into a feature, I think released last year, or so. Definitely has intentional B-Movie look and Roger Corman’esque, and a dose of Grindhouse style. Humor & subject might be low brow, but for pure fun & escapism, maybe that is the medicine I need to get away from the daily onslaught of stress inducing & depressing news in the real world
One of the shorts in Chillerama is ‘Wadzilla’. So I find out that a long time Animation/Artist/Craftsman colleague is Justin Kohn who worked on the Wadzilla stop motion animation sequences at the infamous Chiodo Bros Studios! Here is preview of the Chillerama feature ….
This is specific teaser from Wadzilla segment ….
Wadzilla seems to be, perhaps a slight homage to ‘Little Shop of Horrors’? Some behind the scenes too ….
May 11, 2013
With Ray Harryhausen’s passing there of course is great sadness for those in the special effects field, from some of the public (fans) who were already aware of Ray, and in the general commercial mainstream movie biz, they acknowledge his contribution & legacy. Perhaps the press media about Ray, has exposed to a slightly larger segment of the public, about his significance from a cinema historical perspective.
Image © Peter Montgomery——————–
I would hope with Ray’s passing, that would now embolden the Stop Motion Creature-Character FX movement (a micro-movement indeed), however, practically ALL the reviews & comments in recent days speak of or imply that Harryhausen’esque FX as a methodology is for history. In other words, Ray’s brand of filmmaking is anachronistic in these current times where CGI mouse-clicked special effects has a monopoly. I do not know what it’s going to take to increase awareness of Stop Motion as a viable tool for Modern & Advanced Dynamation style special effects for Independent type film projects. There is micro-minority that are aware of stop motion creature character effects, but outside our circle … deathly silence it seems. Obviously, the mainstream film business will never accept the ol’ school classic methods of special visual effects creation.
Within our niche, I can almost count on ONE HAND, the Stop Motion ARTISTS who are actively pursuing or practicing their passion in the tradition of Harryhausen. They post their work samples on Youtube, but hardly get attention by public. Maybe the short attention span public are so jaded with CGI and general bombardment of online content that when people actually see sophisticated advanced stop motion, it has no impact on them? Even within the Practical Effects & Creature make-up groups, when Advance Stop Motion is posted on their forums, there is not a deluge of comments or reaction … it is kind of silent. There seems to be some kind of unspoken ‘divide’ between us and the practical-creature effects, I am not sure.
Yes, Stop Motion of course is popular and the internet has greatly exposed this animation art form to larger audiences, but I can see that only applies to a certain niche of the stylized stop motion all-puppet look cartoon aesthetics, as we have all seen these past years … Stop Motion has had some degree of success with the Nightmare Before Christmas’s, the Paranormans, the Frankenweenies, the Ardmann creations (Wallace & Gromit style) and so forth. However, let us not forget, that mainstream motion picture awards, known as the Oscars … even denied all those three nominated stop motion features … NOT one received an Oscar … zero, nada, zilch. I do not know the if there is a ‘message’ in what ‘Hollywood’ did.
Is the only way to grab the attention of public, studio/suits, to maybe have Lady Gaga in a movie, battling Harryhausen’esque (real Stop Motion, not CGI) created dinosaurs & creatures?? Will that get a million hits on Youtube? It is perhaps still too early, with Uncle Ray having just left us. Just as in Ray’s days, he always had to struggle promoting his brand of film-making & special visual effects. It appears that still exists today. All I can say to the die-hard Harryhausen’esque Troopers who are out in the battlefield trenches … to not give up, push on, use modern marketing & promotion methods now available via this high-techy communications … and perhaps we can preserve this unique creature character effects art/craft, keep IT going, so that we will keep ‘alive’, The Legacy of Ray Harryhausen into the 21st Century.
May 9, 2013
Back in 2010, some in the Stop Motion community decided to do tributes as Uncle Ray turned 90 years of age. This was an earlier Stop Motion Works News post before I joined facebook, and might be your first time seeing this. I am highlighting one of the tributes done by Dave Conover. I have not seen it for a few years and watching it again made me feel subdued and sad, especially now with Ray’s passing. I do not know if this is boy-guy thing as we were more likely into our escapism imaginations with Monsters & Creatures stuff!
See the other tributes here ….
May 7, 2013
Not much to say but verrry saddened, a hollowness within me, hearing of his passing. A historical icon gone. Not only Ray Harryhausen, but for me, another influential person in public & cultural arena passing away. Seems like ‘younger generation’ or this internet bred culture disregard history, our predecessors, our roots/beginnings, etc. I get feeling they disrespect the Senior population … but I digress. Ray Harryhausen back in the days, from my perspective, contributed to the popularization of ‘commercialized/marketable genre movies‘ pertaining to fantasy, science fiction, and similar. Tinsel Town ‘Suits’ called them B-movies. However, the difference is, the common B-Movies in those days, the 1950’s circa and onward, had a cheap production look. ‘Uncle Ray’ was able to achieve a very high production aesthetics in his works, especially on a a very low budget.
The Stop Motion animation technique as a special visual effect tool was never really accepted when Ray lived in Los Angeles, so many years ago. He had difficult time selling it to the ‘Suits’. It is when Ray Harryhausen met Charles Schneer (Ray’s long time producer), and also re-locating to Europe (away from the orthodox Hollywood system), that the team were then able to bring forth, more of the Magic of Ray Harryhausen films to audiences. The Harryhausen quasi-realistic-surreal stop motion animated creature character special effects, was like the CGI in those earlier days of cinema. Almost NO ONE else did those type of special effects. Again, Stop Motion was like the outcast sheep. ‘Suits/Studios’ preferred to use ‘men in monster/creature suits’ and rejected Ray’s fluid character creations of the otherworldly. Ray in much later years and after he retired started to get recognition and awards but during his active period in making his classic films, Hollywood (mainstream movie biz) did kind-of dismiss his brand of movie making.
Personally, I am not too fond of these current times … moving at extreme pace, complexity, volatile society/world, etc. Even though Ray Harryhausen obviously older than me, but I have ‘gut feeling’ that he perhaps felt similarly about these present times. I only met Ray a few times when he made appearances. In later years, I did phone interview withUncle Ray during the promotion of the DVD set, Ray Harryhausen: Early Years Collection. I could pick-up the underneath layers of his comments when Ray gave interviews. Ray was a gentleman and in later years did not harshly criticize CGI but he never fully embraced it. Ray was not ‘politically correct’! He did not cave in to the the CGI mantra of ‘it’ being supposedly superior. His creative roots is hands-on tactile. It is like saying to an Fine Arts Oil Painter, that you should give that up and create all your art work paintings in the COMPUTER? I say SCREW YOU and I know Uncle Ray would agree but he would not say that himself!
I have not much watched ‘Television’ and do not know how much coverage about Ray Harryhausen’s passing, however, it appears on the internet, if you search Ray Harryhausen they are giving Uncle Ray much deserved recognition & respect. There is a micro-scopic Underground of Stop Motion Animation artists who are determined to keep Harryhausen’esque ALIVE in the 21st century. The mainstream motion picture business obviously has no interest. I say again … SCREW THEM …. with home plasma television theater systems and new distribution outlets for independent films, we do not need your mega-hundreds millions theatrical distribution. People can now have similar entertainment experiences in their homes.