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* Well, a few weeks ago I had the honor and privlege of doing a phone interview with the Godfather of Stop Motion, Uncle Ray ! I was contacted by the PR agency promoting his new DVD set, Ray Harryhausen: The Early Years Collection. The schedule of the interview was in flux & kind of changing but the date finally nailed down. Tom Brierton was available at the last minute and served as a co-interviewer with me. Here is the Ray Harryhausen Interview and also with a dose of my penetrating commentary (I toned it down a little!) and my brevity review of Ray's DVDs! On short notice, Anthony Scott and Marc Spess pulled through, helping spread the word about this. I gave notice to other websites that were animation related, but so far, they seem to have ignored posting on their news. The Article-Interview is already listed in Google Search

* Just got word recently that renaissance man, Larry Larson will be teaching again a course in Puppet Making & Armatures at Detroit College of Creative Studies. He says there will be about 16 students. I am guessing that this is part of a major degree, and Larry's classes are part of the overall animation curriculum, so you possibly cannot specifically enroll in this one. A few years ago, Ray Harryhausen did visit Larry during his class session! Larry ....a musician, singer, sculptor, painter, and years ago known for his Stop Motion work in the Detroit Area. He had a small independent animation studio at one time. One of Larry's past gigs a number of years ago, was on Evil Dead 2 working on the stop motion sequences. Larry is listed at IMDb and it shows he worked on other film projects. I did not know that?! It looks like some of Larry's website site is under construction but hopefully later, his About link will give us a glimpse of his past work in the biz. Larry .... keep us updated!

* We recently got this buzz from our "sources" ....." Cuppa Coffee Studios is in production and shooting a Stop Motion pilot for VH1. Not sure what it's about...under wraps...but Andrew Horne is directing (Leunig / A Very Barry Christmas), Christine Davis producing. Dave Thomas is directing a Stop Motion series for Mattel ( Directed Henrys World, Super Why, The Wrong Coast). Season 3 is about to start on JoJo's Circus for Playhouse Disney, a preschool Stop Mo series ....Tim Snyder directed seasons 1 and 2.

* At the Stop Motion Forum, some are going gah-gah with excitement over the just released Tim Burton's "The Corpse Bride" Teaser Trailer. It does looks fantastic but some at the message board are already saying that audiences may think it is CGI ? (computers) My view .... I do not think so. First, it will be strongly promoted as, from the creator of "Nightmare Before Christmas", and that will associate CB as Stop Motion or Puppet Animation. Second .... it just does not look like CGI. Look at the teaser again. CB does have somewhat fluid animation but the unique and stylized design of puppet characters, the more limited facial movements (nothing wrong with that) conveys its own unique aesthetics and feel that is soooooo different than the past & current hyper-fluid signature of the computer animated synthesized products such as "Shrek" series or the just released "The Incredibles". Yes the CGI products are dimensional but has no similarity to the reality dimensional quality of REAL puppets, sets, miniatures, etc.. What might give "Corpse Bride" a more slick look compared to "Nightmare", is, that CB might be tweaked with post computer effects, especially compositing of puppets or the extension of miniature sets or creating entire computer virtual sets and scenery, atmosphere, etc. (digital matte paintings). "Nightmare" came out about 12 years ago, so there is much technology improvement today that can be applied to the final product of the Stop Motion process. Again, take a look at the CB trailer and try to be objective. It very much has a real, tactile, dimensional look and the animation does have the distinctive Stop Motion quality, because it is Stop Motion! Just having real mechanical armatures within the puppets dictates the art direction of their look-design and also the gravity restrictions of real puppets just automatically differentiates it from the aesthetics, look, feel of CGI. You do not want Stop Motion to look exactly like CGI. Anyway, Stop Mo cannot duplicate CGI and it should not have to. P.S. McFarlane creates Corpse Bride Toys

Weekend Edition
- 01.15.05
* I got a little present for all you Windows' users. More accurately, just revisiting some hidden gems here to remind all yous people. You want to have a Stop Motion set-up at practically free cost for software-programs? Well this is your lucky day and you have come to the right place. Let us start off with a basic and efficient frame grabber program called MonkeyJam (it is free). The creator is David Perry, an animation insturctor primarily, and he wrote this MonkeyJam capture program (for Windows only). It is initially designed for 2D pencil testing drawn animation but David has included some features that makes MonkeyJam very useful for Stop Motion. Go to his site and checkout MJ. One of their specs requirements says that you should have the latest version of DirectX. In Windows, go to start > run .... type in "dxdiag" (without quotes), hit okay button.... you should have 8.1 or higher DirectX. If you cannot determine which version, go to Microsoft Update. If you get MonkeyJam, he asks that you provide some info for statistical purposes only. Also, you can be put on MJ's update mailing list. A few other free program pearls to include with your Windows-based Stop Motion software package ..... for voice track analysis there is the freeware version of MagPie (for Windows) and there is another free one called WaveTracker (for Windows). Okay there you have it ladies and gentlemen of the vast Windows users audience radiance, out here .... .Free, Free, Free. I know in the present internet age, there is that unspoken expectation to not pay for anything. You should not think like that my little Elflings. It may be free ..... but you should not just Take and Take without giving something back (my Gandalf-like wisdom here) Share your knowledge .... spread the word, help others (to only those who are sincerely passionate in wanting to learn), do not hide in your closet. At the very least, please be proactive .....encourage, email, phone, or give positive feedback to those who are providing these freeware programs. Not just one email but many (even use alias') If they do not hear from you, then no more freebie stuff. Is that motivation enough for you? (your $ wallet $ )

* So .... it's been awhile since I posted here. Have you deserted me? I see that my traffic ranking has diminished (scroll to bottom of page). You cannot hide ..... the figures do not lie. How hard is it to click on Stop Motion Works link so I can get some page hits? Anyways, just seems kind of dead with regards to Stop Motion specific buzz. I will stretch it here .... Randal M. Dutra : You heard of that name? A former Stop Motion dude who worked along side Phil Tippett at ILM and also in the beginning days of Tippett Studios. Last big movie type gig he did was The Lost World and our paths crossed (at link scroll down) on that project. He then seemed to drop out for years. Randy is a wild life nature artist. Guess what? ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) has appointed Randy as animation supervisor on Speilberg's updated version of War of the Worlds. Kind of unusual, Randy suddenly getting back into the film biz? Hmmm .....I wish that ILM would call me. There are a couple of "War of the Worlds" being made this year. Spielberg's is comtemporary, modern & updated but the other version being done in UK by Pendragon Pictures, is more true to HG Wells as a period piece. I am actually more interested in the latter one. It is suppose to be darker or more serious. We know Spielberg's WOTW publicity machine may smother the UK version. Too bad .... audiences easily swayed by media onslaught. Here are some articles and info of Pendragon's WOTW ..... 1 2 3 You can see some concept art at the link. At least, this version will maintain the insect-like look of the Martian machines that do not fly but crawl on the ground .... very Stop Motiony flavor! I do hope the UK, WOTW version has some success in it's theatrical release or maybe might have a cult status popularity and do much better in the DVD movie distribution market.

12.31.04 --- 01.01.05
* Well .... last day of 2004. I am so sick and tired of political correctness ....I see nothing offensive about using CHRISTMAS 1 2 These radicals with a bug up their butts and too much idle free time to create trouble over stupid insignificant crap. I am not a Christian practioner and saying the word Christmas, does not offend me. Life & everything seems to be moving too fast .... everyone being assaulted by too much media & advertising .... so much information overload. Many of us by conscious or unconscious choice, being kind of brainwashed and swept up into it .... we subject ourselves to being jerked around by these forces. Some call this phenomenon, The Quickening .... so much online about that with different interpretations. I only know that ....I FEEL IT. Maybe that ol' trite line ... "Stop and smell the Roses" should be practiced much more often? It should not be all about material things .....your cell phones, video games, 500 channel digital TV, and other hi-tech electronic toys and diversions ....everything done in excess. As a collective, our egos delude ourselves, thinking we are ever more superior and we have this false sense of security in completely believing that so-called technological advancement is our supposed Savior & Magic Silver Bullet .....but how fragile we still are. Most recent example ..... the Tsunami Devastation .... the POWER OF NATURE or whatever Force way beyond our understanding, still dominates. "We" are merely temporary inhabitants of this place called earth and we better start realizing what is most important in life. What is that other saying? Not exact but paraphrasing ...."At the end of the day, never go to bed, angry towards someone you care for or love .... or quibble or fight about meaningless stupid things ..... there is no guarantee that any of us will be here tomorrow"
P.S. Almost forgot .....Happy New 2005 Year !

* Recently, "Davey and Goliath's Snowboard Christmas" was broadcast on the Hallmark Channel. I did do a little bit of side work on that project here in my shop. That was done last year and the show was not able to be completed by last Christmas. I designed and fabricated some Davey armatures (2 or 3 ...my amnesia .... I actually forgot!), 4 Goliath armatures, 2 Bear armatures which I also molded and foam casted. I did not sculpt the Bear or Goliath puppets. There was the need for more human puppets for the show, and as always, there was the ever present production schedule pressures .....so Premavision Studio who produced "Snowboard Christmas" decided to use other lower cost armatures made by someone overseas. The armatures did not need to be strong and did not require high joint tension strength because the puppet fabrication department merely padded the armatures with cut foam or cotton, then made miniature clothes to fit over them. The resin heads, hands and shoes were then added. So, there was no sculpting, molding and foam casting for the human puppets which saved a lot of time. The Goliaths were foam casted, but not by me. Kathi Zung did that. There were also, all wire armatured Goliath puppets used for certain long shots or stunt-type animation. I did not have a chance to photograph the Davey armatures, but took some pics of the Bear and Goliath. There were two versions of the bears .... one was sculpted as a 4 legged version and the other was scuplted in a 2 legged standing version. The reason is ..... because the foam rubber would not be able to properly anatomically deform, bend or stretch between those extreme positions of upright standing and walking on all fours.



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