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March 2008

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* MAX & CO. : Why not nominated for Oscar? ..... A Stop Motion feature of the highest caliber similar to Corpse Bride and Aardman's feature work. Or possibly I am mistaken, because I am not sure if it was released in time to get nominated? I would think Max & Co. should be strong contender against any CGI animated product. However, looking at the Max & Co preview clips, I do not see subtitles or dubbed into other languages like English. "Hey you, to whichever Studio or Suits in France who produced Max & Co., why don't you consider subtitles or dubbing it?" You know how it is, we are USA-centric and we have been trained (by Suits here) to only absorb American cultured entertainment. I bet that 90% of people here and in Tinsel Town have possibly not heard of Max & Co? Anyway, some links for you to check out, Variety: Max & Co, Max & Co. Website, or you can watch here, Making of Clips or smaller size clips

P.S. I just got the word that Max & Co. has been dubbed into German and released in theaters over there, this year '08. It remains to be seen, if the French Suits will consider English. Although, I do understand their possible uncertainty about marketability in America. I would like to remind our French friends, that Les Triplettes de Belleville (2D animation), did achieve some recognition & notoriety from the non-mainstream USA audiences and was Oscar nominated. EDIT: 03.30.08

* Rant @ You .... What's up with you people? Mysterious Ron, posted his first how-to tutorial, volunteering his own personal time and he gets minimal response? Ron, do not get turned off by the low feedback at message board. Most likely, many at message board saw your tutorial. Your compositing technique is very manual method and using minimal software tools, however, you have demonstrated what can be done with loads of resourcefulness, problem solving & creativity! You also have a home at StopMoShorts and we can also post your tutorials.

Another beef: I always get a number of email inquiries through Stop Motion Works website. I do read all of the emails, but I cannot reply to everyone. I also get some questions that are already answered at this website. Some people just lazy to put a little effort to search. When I do reply to some of the emails (you out there submit), why is it that you have no courtesy to respond with a simple Thank You? I spend my personal time replying and you out here, just vanish into the Internet
ether. Do you do that in-person with people; you sponge off them and then, just blow them off?

Update: Okay, I am chilled out now. Just unfortunate that is what the Internet has bred, creating depersonalization & especially anonymity to hide behind. If you want good karma in your life, you got to do right. You cannot just take & take for your ego selfishness & greed. As the wise Captain Kangaroo says, "Remember the magic phrase, Please & Thank You" EDIT: 03.30.08

* Thinking Outside the Box .... Just a follow-up to last week's commentary. That is what it takes, some entrepreneural creative thinking for Stop Motion. As I stated before, Do not judge Stop Motion's success by only mainstream Stop Mo features (which are minimal) such as Nightmare Before Christmas, James & Giant Peach, Chicken Run, etc.. Like I also said previously, there are emerging different or new niche markets via other ways of distribution. I just received this email feedback by someone:

"My only comment about your article on stopmo money makin, is the absence of any mention about the potential to start up small businesses of our own. If there is to be (I hope) an upswing in the amount of stopmo in the media at large, the number of companies that currently exist for producing that product isn't enough ..... I guess my point is, that sometimes we animators think in terms of somebody else giving us our opportunities but, we should be thinking about giving those opportunities to ourselves. Don't wait to be hired BY a producer... get your own interested clients and hire a producer for it!"

I completely agree with those comments but only applicable to those with true Stop Mo passion and drive. Also, one has to have a strong willingness to learn additional Stop Motion skillsets, to become somewhat, more independent; or, one can establish partnerships or alliances with others who can add certain skills/services that you may not have. For the individual Stop Motion practioner, making a living at only Stop Motion is not consistent, so, you must have other means of back-up income. However, there are some professional studios out there, a few in USA, and more Internationally, that do offer some Stop Motion as part of their production services. If you do not know already, Stop Motion Works has listed some of them
Studios & Artists. EDIT: 03.23.08

* The Struggling Life of Stop Motion .... In the mainstream biz that is. Even in Uncle Ray's days, he had a hard time selling Stop Motion to the Suits. Even though, Ray could produce lots of special effects bang for the buck, 'they' still were cheap with the budgets. He was lucky in teaming up Charles Schneer and eventually Ray moved to England as far away from Tinseltown, California, USA; which never accepted Stop Motion (& IMO, the prejudice against Stop Mo still exists today). Internationally, many countries or cultures outside USA, usually have more of a history; deeper roots, connections, and traditions with Puppets.

Sure, you see cyclical moments of Stop Motion popularity
in the mainstream market, but as I have said in the past, do not look to Hollywood for Stop Motion's success. It has always been from the grassroots & independents that has kept Stop Motion going. However, the Internet now seems to be helping Stop Motion stay in the public consciousness.

Ahhh .... but you say, "Look at the independent work & success of
Suzie Templeton's Peter & the Wolf." I say, you are only seeing the Surface. Read the undercurrent Money Politics about it, Rejected Peter & The Wolf wins Oscar. To my surprise, P & W struggled to get investors & funds and it was rejected many times by the myopic Suits. Then, there is this other Stop Motion project which seems to be in Perpetual Limbo, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Their website feels abandoned or minimal activity. I think the Furry Freak Brothers marketing strategy could perhaps, be improved such as re-doing their website, include better behind the scenes info & more photos, and especially, a cleaner quality Teaser clip, instead of relying on the rough & pixelated flash video version that they uploaded at the freebie YouTube.

For the moment, CGI seems to rule and Suits way more generous in dumping loads of cash to subsidize the computer stuff, however, we will see how long the CGI flame will last. The public perhaps getting jaded with CGI Saturation & Homogenized flavor. You, me, us; are the ones that will keep the Stop Motion Torch burning & alive; and it will have its own unique popularity and acceptance in other niche markets.

Addendum: It appears that
Lumenas Studios 1, based in the state of Utah, USA, is no more. Lumenas website is now only selling their DVDs. No money, investors, or what? They were initially connected with another group Evergreen Holiday Classics but they split-off from Lumenas. It is confusing. Lumenas & Evergreen have an almost identical animation style, look, & feel. No announcement why they have terminated themselves. See? It is your fault . I remember, Lumenas inquirying a number of times that they were looking for people to hire. See this 1 - 2 - 3. So what, if it is Utah! Much less hedonistic than Sin City in Southern California . EDIT: 03.16.08

* KING KONG Forgotten ..... Last week, I somewhat abstained from the message board. I also noticed, that a few of the regular forum contributors, seemed to be in withdrawal mode? However, a very small minority of others, attempting to fill-in & help by doing some commenting contributions. Good; 'they' will be blessed with positive Stop Mo Kharma . Some posters though, strangely, dig up old archived topics of some years ago. I am taking a guess that they are not aware how old those topics were? Do not do that! In hindsight, I flinch now , looking at some of my old comments. Our News/Blog topic, now begins .....

I did an observational message board Audit-Test this past week: NO ONE mentioned or posted about the 75th King Kong Anniversary which was LAST WEEK . A deathly silence from a Stop Motion message board? Duh? You just forgot, or maybe, you knew about it but did not post it or share? You will be going down into CGI Purgatory , while a select few of us, will be welcomed by Grandpa O'BIE, up there, in Stop Motion Heaven .

It was March 2, 1933 that King Kong premiered in New York City. Actually, I am not much into celebrating anniversary or historical milestone dates, but if you are; something for you to chew on. Definitely, a unique, very commercially successful movie of sooooo many years ago, using Stop Motion special effects. That Classic, still seems to hold up.

Many do not criticize Kong too much, but IMO, perhaps, a major flaw in the original by not including scenes, as to why the sailors ran onto the log and so stupidly just stood there (on the log) to be shaken off by Kong? Of course, I am referring to the Styracosaurus dinosaur that chases the sailors, but is said, to have been cut/deleted. Dumb, dumb mistake.

In the King Kong Collectors DVD, there is a very good behind the scenes of how Peter Jackson & his crew did a reasonable re-creation of the Chase onto Log & Missing Spider scenes, in which the special effects re-creation where mostly true to the 1933 techniques (no CGI fakery, but using real puppets & miniatures). Long lost scenes & re-creation. Some of you Kong purists may think that this will be heresy, but I think, that at least, some of the Peter Jackson's 're-created' Stop Mo Styracosaurus shots should be edited into the original version as a Special King Kong 1933 Fan Edition. Take a look. Also, maybe even colorized! IMO, that would remedy the most serious story point flaw of the original Kong. So, how could you have possibly missed King Kong's 75th Birthday? It was sooooo plainly in front of you 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 EDIT: 03.09.08

* Beowulf revisited ..... Did you know Beowulf is already out on DVD? Geez, that was Hella FAST (from theater to a plastic disc). Also, in 3 different versions? In addition, Art of Beowulf book is available, which I have not checked out yet.

In the mass media, I have not noticed much regarding the Making of Beowulf. Maybe because it is so technology & computer dependent and perhaps somewhat dry and not as interesting compared to watching & immersing one's self in the ol' traditional special effects behind the scenes??? Well, Beowulf did not spring from just nothing. Someone had to do concept character designs as real hard copy tactile sculptures. One of them was Master Sculptor/Character Designer (& Stop Motionist), Tony McVey, who worked for Doug Chiang's Ice Blink Studios, which did significant contributions on Beowulf. For your visual enjoyment, behold the beauty of Tony McVey's character design sculptures. EDIT: 03.08.08

* A couple of Stop Motion pieces .... I suppose, that I should have some news or commentary about Stop Motion?? Okay. The first one is a Stop Motion Ad opening for the Adidas website splash page. It is kind of interesting BUT, it seems that the Studio Ad Agency who created it, did not have much experience with Stop Motion. Read this seven page diary about the making of. IMO, the Stop Motion is not extraordinary or complex, and they even used live action reference footage for such basic animation. Take a look at their website with the Adi Dassler commercial (you really need broadband connection & latest Flash). Here is a smaller YouTube version.The finished work looks professional, but maybe, the studio could have produced it with less difficulty.

This other Stop Motion piece, at first, it got my attention but then it started feeling a bit too long or repetitive. It uses Stop Motion (in computer) graphics animated  images of 'Foods' from specific countries to represent an abridged 'History of War'? Well, judge for yourself Food Fight (This is graphics animation. NOT Stop Mo) EDIT: 03.03.08



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