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April 2006

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* Lionel Ivan Orozco: The Early Years Collection ... Okay, that's sort-of a parody of Uncle Ray's Dvd title. Had some old tests and things but film medium can be subjected to damage due to storage conditions .... moisture and other elements that get to them. This must be almost 20 years but for first time, revealing to the public, micro-brief Stop Mo tests of Organic Alien Flying Ship, all shot on ol' classic Super 8mm film. Also at that time, saved some of this via home brew, poor man's film-to-video transfer, and so, that combined with graininess of Super 8mm contributes to its overall rough look. I still have that ship model and some other unnamed items (keeping secret for now) that could save me time in starting off my new tests in the digital realm. You first see straight-on view of this organic ship coming towards you. It's suppose to be zooming through space and avoiding human created space garbage. Then shot cuts to side view of ship heading down towards planet earth (in turmoil ). Remember, this is old, so don't criticize too much. My visual and cinematic creative sensibilities are now much more advanced . All the elements/composites done IN-CAMERA (No 'puters or digital-schmigital), using film backwinding, double exposures & multiple beamsplitter glass setup in front of camera lens. The alien model ship was suspended by fishing line from overhead aerial rig. The stage background just black bed sheet. I underexposed it would be blacker. The lights on ship where reflective "Scotchlite" pieces stuck on the model and lit via Front Projection using beamsplitter 1 to direct white light source onto the model. The first shot, with zooming starfield was done via a couple of rotating black construction paper discs, cut with spirals & slots and lit from behind. You turn one of the discs, animating a frame at time and it gives optical illusion of moving star points. Difficult to explain but maybe this will help. I first animated the alien craft, then back-wound the film, then the zooming star field was animated separately double-exposed (in-camera) onto the flying ship. The floating space garbage was just foam chunks suspended via nylon and animated at same time as the flying saucer. The side view moving background starfield background was done using a 6-1/2" x 30" black art poster board with painted white dot specks to create star points. This side view starfield background was also animated (sliding it each frame) seperately then later double exposed (via film backwinding) over the already animated space ship. The model ship was basically in static position and I just animated it pitching & weaving (via nylon wires/overhead rig) and then the underside rotating spinning was also incrementally animated. The moving starfield background & space garbage gave the illusion of the movement through the environment. The glowing force-field effect surrounding the ship, was done via black construction paper, with cut-out opening matching the silhouette outline but a little larger than alien ship and then orange gel taped to cut-out/opening and softly lit from behind . This was front projected using beamsplitter 2. The animated pulsing orange glow was controlled with light dimmer. This glow was animated at the same time as alien saucer. The beamsplitter allowed me to see the in-camera composite and I was able to eye-ball motion track the glow to the saucer movements. Okay, this was a fricken struggle to write & explain without any behind the scenes pics (none available). I am not sure if I can blog like this regularly. Got to take behind-the-scenes pics from now on, to make 'splaining easier. Oh I forgot .... you want to see it? Don't blink .... it goes by fast, take a look.Edit: 04.30.06

* B-Movies, Drive-ins, Harryhausenesque, escape, fun .... back to Retro-Comfort! This is maybe my semi-official announcement: I have been procrastinating long enough but as I said in the past .... crap and unforseens in my "life" have been interfering, but hopefully, I have finally reserved plenty of time ahead, for me to "create". At the moment, I do not yet have any specific Stop Motion projects in the works, but for years, I have thought of many Stop Motion & Special Effects scenes that I would like to have done. Very much in the Harryhausen-like style/genre. Back then, maybe complex & difficult using ol' school filming methods, but now with all these digital-schmigital tools currently available, it is obviously very do-able. To get my very rusty Stop Mo gears lubricated again, I'm thinking of doing random Stop Mo test shots, composites, special effects elements, etc. and then show & blog about the behind-the-scenes, sort-of like the ol' Cinemagic Magazine, but on the Web. They are not going to be tutorials but more like, you looking over my shoulders. NO ...at this time, I will not use a Digital Still Cam and the more involved digital workflow & computer horsepower which Hi-Res requires. If you regularly read the message board, a plethora of Stop Motionists (and wannabies) are Hi-Res digital schmigital obsessed . The Video Resolution class are now looked down upon as though "we" are outcasts? In my tests & work, I will try to follow the "principle" of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Some of the tools for my tests: The infamous & now a collector's item, the Sanyo IDshot. Even though the IDshot can shoot still image jpegs & tiffs, I will primarily use it to grab video resolution images for doing the tests. The other very important tool will be the Stop Motion software. I will be using the just released .... Stop MotionMaker Advance. Craig, the author of SMMadv, has designed & included many features into this software. I like his philosophy, "Variety of animation & image working tools in one program". Also ....soooo affordable. Incentive for people to Stop Mo Create. I want to test drive SMMadv and try to push it as much as I can. I have no idea what the results will be. You will be there with me during the ups & downs. Looking through my storage, I found my old diary, notes, and scribblings of scene/shot ideas from many years ago. I even did thumbnail storyboards of some of them. Here is only a sneak teaser of my original quick rough storyboard sketch of a Stop Mo sequence, Insect Aliens Among Us . Maybe, I got your salivary glands dripping with restless anticipation & excitement? Please, wipe that slimy spit off your chin

* Uncle Ray in L.A, PowerRanger Contest, iStopmotion and Cuppa Coffee feature .... Looks like George Lucas & James Cameron paid their respects to The Sultan of Stop-Motion. Hey George .... how about funding some little Stop Mo projects .... experiments .... for cable, a special, or something? Go back to roots .... Retro is Cool. Use the real stuff .... not pixel imitations . What's James Cameron been up to? Sort-of semi-retired? Next .... Some sort of contest by PowerRanger people .... looks like it has to do with Stop Motioning of their action toy figures but their site about contest seems vague to me and does not provide any useful Stop Motion resources for the kids. Next .... update of iStopmotion frame capture program for Mac-heads. It's suppose to have some added features. Finally .... Cuppa Coffee apparently has had success with "A Very Barry Christmas" and it won some awards. It looks like a major movie will be in the works ....The Big Stuff, a feature length spin-off starring Barry Buckley and his animal friends set amongst the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. About 90 minutes and maybe budgeted at $7 million! Who says that one has to spend $25 million and more on Stop Motion? Of course, the way Tinsel Town does movies .... their budgets are obscenely over-inflated. Hollywood could use some Walmart business sense

* Inspiration for Stop Motionists (veterans & beginners), Producers, Ad Agencies,"Suits", etc. ..... It's the weekend. Let's order some pizza again. For me, good ol' basic pepperoni & cheese .... also get me some Diet Coke .... with all the caffeine please! Turn off all your room lights, turn-up the volume and kick back. Here goes: Curious Pictures did these 3 animations (QT player) : Texas Lottery "Rodeo" (paper, cut-out, compositing), Reebok "Foot Soldier" Ad (directed by the late Paul Berry) This one is funny, shown on Saturday Night Live (I think back in 2001), "The Narrator that ruined Christmas" (It's 5 minutes long!). Here is another animation studio, Bix Pix Animation that seems to do a lot of Stop Motion and especially Clay methods, "NBC 75 Years", promo/bumper clip (QT player) . They also did this "Christmastime for the Jews" for Saturday Night Live, aired Dec '05. At the Bix Pix site you will find more Stop Mo clips. Clay animation still seems to be a powerful medium (e.g., the NBC spot).

More Info & Stuff for You .... Stop Motion maybe percolating in Salt Lake City, Utah -- USA.? A studio there will soon releasing a direct to Dvd all Stop Motion feature. I have mentioned this studio before but read this new article, Motion Slickness. Next ... G4-TV cable network will be launching the old Star Trek series and here are a few of the Star Trek Stop Mo spots. Next .... Animation Magazine looks like it now has free access to their short articles, newsbytes & other links. Previously, you had to subscribe to the hard copy mag in order to access their online website. Finally ..... interesting little website about special effects. Includes some how-to tips (mostly computer software FX), interviews, podcasts and news/blog about special effects related stuff. Take a look, FX Guide and if it interests you, bookmark it.

* Hollywood actually believes that American audiences have lost their taste for Anglo-style animation? That's not my headline title but given to an article that relates to major theatrical mainstream films, and some reference to animation. Guess what? The author is slamming the Tinsel Town mainstream "Suits" . Here is quote, "Well, over the past 30 years, there have admittedly been many huge changes in the entertainment industry. But one thing (sadly) has remained the same. And that is the empty-headness of most studio execs." Read full article. It kind of ties-in with my, last month's DreamWorks/Wallace & Grommit tirades. Then you got this article giving us opposite view....Animated films riding huge wave of popularity. So you see .... spin & hype. It seems very haphazard how the "Suits" run the movie business. Did you know, an old '70's TV show, "Welcome Back Kotter" is going to be a major film with Ice Cube playing Kotter? What the F----? Stupid Hollywood and their remake-itis sickness. No fresh ideas, originality, or willing try something different.

* Forget about Stop Motion in major theatrical films .... If it happens, well good, but I am kind of pessimistic about that. I do not yet see a mad Stop Mo rush by the "suits". I am not referring to the sort-of, underground Stop Mo movement in Tinsel Town, like Robot Chicken & Morel Oral; that's different. I'm more positive about Stop Motion's viability in other venues & markets . In my continuing series of showcasing independent stuff, here are a few more, "Bare" & "The Demon Within" (they give you choice of movie download formats). Created by Paper Plane Creations. If you like their work, contact them. Another one, which is a quick commercial promo piece done through an Ad Agency. The actual studio name is Convert (I think in Los Angeles area). I could not locate their website. Here it is ... The Underground (QT format). With the CGI saturation upon our visual senses, pushing their homogenized hyper smoothness style, do not compare Stop Motion to that (Apples vs. Oranges .... not the same). There are many other styles & aesthetics and primary consideration is, good story telling and characters. Last news item here .... an announcement of some deal between AtomFilms & Verizon to showcase original films & animated shorts via their upcoming V-Cast wireless network. So you see .... different outlets for animation. You will not get rich, but hey ... one way to advertise & get name recognition of your animated works. Although, kind of wierd to me .... you can now watch animation & film shorts on a tiny cell phone screen? Okay, maybe while you're waiting in line at Home Depot or at dentist's office before you get your your gums injected by sharp needle, followed by your teeth getting drilled on

* Trail of the Screaming Forehead .... correction .... I blogged about it last month. I thought Screaming Forehead was going to be direct to DVD. The Director of movie, Larry Blamire, contacted and reminded me that his film will be making the Film Festival rounds, before any other kind of releases. Well .... there you go .... another way to distribute & show your works and you do not need to do it via the obscenely costly mega-millions Hollywood system

* Robot Chicken Festivities .... Looks like a lot of partying down there in Tinsel Town and also some schmoozing at the Playboy mansion. The mardi gra atmosphere is not for a feature film, but for a roguish, undergroundish, renegadish Stop Mo animated cable TV series .... Robot Chicken. RC and Morel Oral even got a favorite voting plug from Entertainment Weekly Magazine. T. Reid Norton's and Ethan Marak's March blogs has more details about all this. Hmmm .... viewing some of photos, I see that Ethan likes to partake in those adult refreshments and has that certain look of being in another dimension Do I see pics of Misha Klein visiting down there too?

* 30-Second Bunnies Theatre ..... was posted at Stop Motion message board. Again .... more evidence of animation's potential and does not need to be slickified CGI with millions of dollars production budget or huge crew. Bunnies stuff is Flash animation and concept works well .... in Simpsons, South Park style. Would not work as CGI. Obviously, Stop Motion is more technically difficult to produce but it is just as viable an animation medium. With Stop Mo, you just got to dig deep into your creativity, imagination and resourcefulness. Here is brief TV interview (flash format) with Jennifer Shiman (scroll down page), the creator of this very home brew, do-it-yourself animation series

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