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January 2007

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* Czech Stop Mo Short: 'One Night in the City' .... Discussion at the message board. Very Euro style and interesting. You can check out their website (not user friendly to navigate; too much Flash). Quote from an article about the animated short, "The story is only about 16 minutes long, and we made it in 140–150 takes," he says. "The animator does about two takes per day, which means that it took us six to seven months to finish this 16-minute story." From The Prague Post, read, Hands-down Indie Film

* What the Hell is UGC ? .... An internet techy trendy acronym that suppose to mean, User Generated Content. Also another internet marketing lingo du jour is, Going Viral. I have in the past, blogged about possible ways to market animation. It is not easy and requires 'thinking out of the box'. I will only add: If one is going for online internet distribution (or DVDs), then why the pre-occupation with Xtreme high-pixel schmixel resolution? All that added labor, 'putering energy, and excess pixels will be lost for viewing on the internet. It seems, if one desires to make any kind of $dinero$ (internet), one has to be able to pump-out the animation hella fast (for volume/quantity). IMO, using Digital Still Cam Workflow, just maybe too involved and overkill for the end distribution. I rambled already too much about it in past. I do not know if you read them or what, since you all are so tight-lipped . Anyway, here is a nice 4 page article read, Animators Printing Money: User-Generated Opportunities Edit 01.27.07

* Juergen Kling's Stop Motion Workshops .... If you are in Euro countries, and desire to seek some hands on crash course stop mo tutoring, you might want to check this out. Stop Motion is mostly self taught. In most schools or universities, they do not offer Stop Mo curriculum. This is an alternative way to learn, through specific workshops. At Juergen's website on the left side of page, click on workshops, March 23 - 25 '07.

* Brett Piper: The 'B Movie' AUTEUR .... made an appearance this week at the Stop Motion message board here 1 & here 2. All I have to say, "It's about time Brother Brett!" Although, I am guessing that Brett is probably soooo fugg'n busy in the trenches cranking out the work, with minimal crew & budgets and stuggling to get as much bang for the buck on the screen. It looks like Brett has a passion for the Classical methods of Visual Special Effects, especially Stop Motion, miniatures and full size mechanical puppets, props, etc.; but also, combined with some post production digital tweaking for compositing and other minor digital effects enhancements. The best of both worlds. No mention at board yet, about his recent work, Bacterium; capturing the 1950'ish B-Movie Sci-Fi Retro feeling. Here is the only Bacterium trailer clip that I quickly found. A couple of Review links, one & two. For those who are not familiar with Brett; an interview with him; here is another one (scroll to pages 7-13) at an online magazine; PDF format & you have to unzip (it's safe) but be warned, the mag is 'somewhat', for mature audiences. I could not yet find the availability of Bacterium DVD, for purchase or rental. Maybe not released yet (I'm not sure) Edit 01.21.07

* Neil Gaiman 'buzz-leak' about Coraline .... Well actually, Neil wrote the Coraline story and I am sure that Laika Studio, who are currently in production on the Stop Motion feature, allowed Neil to reveal some behind the scenes. This is at his personal blog. He comments a little bit and posted some teaser pics inside Laika facilities. Here are the links, one & two. Do not whine to me that there are only a few pics. Hey, you are lucky getting these . Edit: LIO Micro-Rant © deleted and saving it for another time, later Edit 01.21.07

* GBDeflicker, a Free Beta Plug-in .... A critical thing for all you Mega-Schmega ©LIO Pixel-holics who insist on using Digital Still Cameras for Stop Motion Animation, inspite of all the information (raw truth) that our SMW staff has presented; you compulsively seem to thrive on Masochism in dealing with the constant plague of Flicker-Illuminance variation issues. It does not matter what level of digital still camera model, be it low cost consumer DSCs or the high-end Digital SLRs: 'Flicker' will get you. Do not blame the camera manufacturers. You are using a camera which is not designed for single frame animation work. IMO, I am guessing that Digital Still Cams may be an interim-temporary method to shoot animation. I believe, eventually, HD Camcorders might be the technique and it will be good enough for HD-TV broadcast. It just depends if there will be Stop Motion Software to directly interface with with the HD video resolutions. Stop Motion Pro is working on that and I believe Animator DV already has HD source feature (I am not sure).

Back to topic .... Flicker. You can bust your ass trying to control or stabilize the voltage in your studio, or use certain kinds of lights to hopefully reduce the flicker phenomenon, but from what I researched & heard, that is no guarantee. It seems to me, Captain Kirk (you); that it would be Logical (me .... Spock), to USE a post production fix-workaround to address flickering matters. From my past research, there seems to be no 'cost-effective' program for us 'poorbies', specifically designed to efficiently remove-reduce or balance the exposure variations of each of the still frames, with one exception; there is TinderBox's Deflicker Plugin, however, it costs up the $Yin Yang$ because you must purchase 'all' the plug-ins in the bundle. I heard of the free Virtual Dub using a free plugin called MSU Deflicker filter, but no one at the message board has given feedback (or either, they are tight lipped secretive) IF the MSU plugin will actually work for post animation flicker fixing. An individual, who has considered flickering, a serious issue, is Craig from Stop MotionMaker. He seems very pro-active & motivated in attempting to finesse, try-out tools and features for his products and in particular, Stop MotionMaker Advance, which I believe, is the only Stop Motion framegrabber & compositing/chromakeying program that offers a Flicker reduction feature.

So, "without any further adieu", let us welcome another proactive & customer responsive company, Granite Bay Software, that has the foresight vision to offer a specialty plug-in to do battle with flickering issues .... GBDeflicker (for Windows/PCs). You will see a video demo with very revealing info and IMO, is also most applicable to the Stop Motion Photography Arts. Granite Bay offers programs for Time-Lapse work, using the Canon Powershot line of cameras. I posted about them back in '05. At their website, they offer informative tips & tricks that is relevant to us (also read here and here too). If you test their featured GBTimelapse program and especially GBDeflicker ..... give them feedback. Get out of your closet & speak-up, peoples Edit 01.14.07

* Glenneroo .... a new member .... at the message board. According to his profile, he is located in Vienna, Austria. He has interest in Stop Motion and is in the learning-apprenticeship stages, but it looks like he has much technical & creative prowess in the area of TimeLapse Photography which is kind-of a kissing cousin or related to Stop Motion. He just posted at the message board and has provided some good technical info of his experiences with the Canon Powershots. Also, he contacted 'our' SMW staff with similar information and has given me permission to post at Stop Motion Works. I think, I will later include his insights-comments at the Digital Still Cam link. Of course ..... credit acknowledgement to Glenneroo. Visit his website at www.glenneroo.org and look at his TimeLapse work. He also is an artist in the area of Still Photography.

* Pete Kleinow 1934-2007 .... Passed away January 6. One of many reports; read this, LA Times. The last time I saw Pete, was at the Gumby 50 Year Celebration in San Francisco, in the summer of '05. He made a quick appearance to pay his respects to Art Clokey. Iworked with Pete on some ocassional freelance Stop Mo gigs. A music career he also had which I somewhat knew about, but not in much detail. Apparently, Pete was well know in the music industry.He lived in a modest home out in the Sunset district (near the ocean) in San Francisco. I recall visiting him there sometimes to discuss the projects and when I delivered the work to him and I did see sitting in his garage that unique musical instrument he mastered, the Pedal Steel Guitar. I had no idea about the Alzheimers.I just looked at Pete's website Sneaky Pete Kleinow, and apparently, his illness was announced there.I don't remember when or seeing it in the past.

Pete was a mild manner gentleman, low key, most friendly, and a good story teller. Much experiential wisdom about the biz & life; earning the 'School of Hard Knocks Degree'. I cannot say that I knew Pete well, but it was an honor for me to cross paths with him. An unsung hero in our small Stop Motion community. He did a lot of bread & butter work in the biz, commercials, B-movies, series, etc.I am further humbled, after reading up about Pete, not only his work in Stop Motion & FX, but also his Musical background ..... Musical Photo Montage, late 1960's Live Concert about 1970 Burrito Deluxe Promo Lifetime Achievement Award 2005 Amazing .... Pete has rubbed shoulders with many well known musicians & vocal singing artists. At the message board, there is a Pete Kleinow topic/thread, if you wish to look at or post comments.

* Why Hollywood Sucks .... Those are NOT my words, but from someone named Tucker Max. He has a website-blog; which can be in your face, low brow & raunchy and kind-of, full of himself arrogant. All, I am sure, a persona created to draw attention and it probably works, attracting certain segments of the population. In spite of IMO critique , 'he' did start an interesting topic at his forum. It is about an 8 page thread, so it should last you a week if you read a page a day . Some interesting and cogent comments and observations about 'mainstream showbiz'. In the past, I have alluded to it in my own way, but I think you should explore what others say. You see, I am not just a ranting maniac here alone. Others, also 'see' how Tinsel Town works, in general. No, nothing about Stop Motion, but you should enlighten yourself about the bigger view of the politics of the biz .... CLICK & READ. Addendum: Somewhat SLOW with regards to Stop Motion news or related subject matter. Also, it is not easy for me writing extensive blogs. I was maybe on a 'roll' for a few months, but I 'gotta' take a break once in awhile. You dig?

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