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Previous News

MAY 2003

* Whooaaaa! Three news items for me in a week and about Stop Motion specifically!? I am working too hard You know, this is not easy. Takes lots of research & effort for this news page and I wish, I had the time. Anyway, had to post about Ray Harryhausen events this June. First, he will finally be getting a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star on Tuesday, June 10th. Then starting Friday, June 13, there will be a series of Harryhausen classic works presented by American Cinematheque at the Eygyptian Theatre in Hollywood and Uncle Ray will be there in person for some of the showings. I will not be able to go, because of my other "straight job" that pays the bills/rent. There is still time for anybody out here, to journey to Southern California and attend this rare event. If you have a Camcorder; take extra batteries, a tripod, and please record it so we can share with everyone! Ray Harryhausen was into CGI-like stuff (stop motion) before it was COOL! Mainstream Film Biz largely ignoring his 3D animation, in years past. This article Monster Man, is recent about Ray.

* Just a continuation and update of Vinton Lawsuit per previous news item
Will Vinton Sues Board Members

* Soap Opera Drama at Vinton Studios! Yeah, looks like Will Vinton may be taking Phil Knight to court. Apparently, Will's separation from the Studio was very contentious and Will says he was unfairly forced out and wants adequate compensation. I worked for Vinton Studios in the past and I have nothing bad to say about Will and do not really know him personally. I only heard rumors that Will was not that great a business person and that sometimes his decisions may have unintentionally caused potential projects to fall through. If you want to read all the ugly behind-the-scenes, check it out Squabble in 'Toon Town. You should read it soon (or copy & save) because sometimes those online news articles go into archive and you cannot access them at a later time. How can such a simple thing like Puppet/Stop Mo Animation, merely using metal, rubber, clay, etc.; evolve to such unimaginable complexity and huge amounts of ego, greed, power struggles, etc.?

* See the USA Flag on this page? Well, it is Memorial Day here. First widely observed in the year of 1868 to acknowledge those soldiers who died in the United States Civil War, then later became a day to honor our dead USA heros in all Wars. While, I am currently very cynical about our politicians/bureaucrats and their sometimes, stupid policy decisions and also wreckless efforts to economically destroy this country via endless spending of our tax dollars, I have the most respect of what the US Constitution stands for and I do take a moment of silence and deeply think about the soldiers who sacrified their lives for me to exercise my free speech and freedom.

* I am making a correction to this news item: Cuppa Coffee Studios (in Canada) are in pre-production on a new adult Stop Motion show that will be a TV series for a major US channel. This new stop mo show is not for Disney (I mistakenly reported). Currently, Cuppa Coffee is shooting 52 episodes of  Jo Jo's Circus, a Stop Motion pre-school show which is for Disney. My "source" is keeping me posted about this good news for stop motion!

* Pre-order your copy of Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation at Amazon. The author is Susannah Shaw. She consulted with me about a year ago during the writing of her book, and I gave her some feedback and referred her to other contacts she might consult with or interview. Congratulations Susannah for your perserverance in getting it published! Compared to the plethora of computer animation books, there are only one or two published books (in the entire world!) covering some How-to, about Stop Motion, and therefore, Susannah's work will be a much needed contribution! Remember, a single book cannot possibly cover all aspects of Stop Motion production but I am sure this new book will be a great help for many, in the beginning understanding of this unique animation art and craft. Even if you are experienced, just as collector's item, a unique & rare book about Stop Motion, would be a great addition to your reference library. Update 05.25.03 : Just checked the above Amazon.com link and now the page for the stop motion book is not available? I just emailed them to see why book is no longer at USA Amazon. It is available for pre-ordering at Amazon.uk (in England)

* Do you have any news, inside info, or rumors about the animation business? Do you work for a studio involved with a movie project, TV commercials, etc.? It does not always have to be directly related to Stop Motion. We know that Peter Jackson will be making King Kong and then there is Tim Burton's, Corpse Bride; so any behind the scenes information, buzz or rumors would be welcomed. If you choose to remain anonymous, that is okay. In fact, it is not necessary to use your own email address and you have the option to use my Contact page to email me any juicy information I will not know who you are! Even if you identify yourself, I will never reveal my sources (unless you give me permission). Let us work together to generate & share some excitement and interest!

* Did you know back in 2000, that ILM was involved in a never completed project called Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman? I accidentally found this site/link and this is my first look at the Frankenstein CGI Test (a quicktime movie download). As always, incredible work by ILM and verrrrrry interesting; however, I ask, What is the point? One could have just used a person in the monster make-up. Among some of the obsessed in CGI community, I have always read or heard that there is this ultimate unspoken holy grail goal to create a purely pixel generated synthetic human actor. Anyone remember Final Fantasy? It also looked interesting, but to the public it perhaps seemed like a novelty and eventually FF seemed to have fizzled into obscurity. I have commented in the past, that studios do not seem to know what the hell to do with their God-like CGI/Digital Special FX Powers. They are bombarding & saturating the masses with in your face imagery and numbing the people's intellectual capacity to participate in the story. They do not have to think or use their brain cells anymore. The visual digital imaging technology far exceeding human's evolutionary sensory ability to absorb it (my theory). So you wonder why movie audiences become jaded so quickly now and the popular longevity of mainstream movies are shorter? I have also said Less is More can be much more powerful. Mainstream biz might be forgetting that the "real human" audiences (at least those that are older than teenagers) will always want to vicariously experience and relate to REAL human's emotions, feelings, etc. through a flesh & blood acting performance. A synthetic human is not going to substitute for that. Maybe if used sparingly as with Gollum in LOTR 2 which was pretty impressive (not a human though) but this synthetic character was inter-acting with real human actors and Gollum was mostly motion-captured via a real human actor, which I do not think it's "technically" animation ( scroll to question 2). I strongly believe Stop Motion can also be used in an intensive "dialogue-type" tour de force acting performance which of course will be in a very different aesthetic style than CGI. Stop Motion animator extrodinaire, Barry Purves has come close but mostly through movement and gestures. It is not about how Photoreal it is it, but has to do with good story, dialogue, and characterization. In my opinion, in the realm of interpretating or presenting Fantasy & The Surreal, "Photorealism" is not necessarily applicable.

* Weekend Edition: Actually, I would prefer not to do News on Saturday or Sunday (I need a rest!) and may do it once in awhile on weekends. Just doing it a few times during the weekdays is difficult, especially on "stop motion only" (not that much news about it) so I sometimes fudge or stretch to include news, stories, or commentary that are not always directly related to Stop Motion; however, this news is pure Stop Motion..... Conan O'Brien of NBC's Late Night will broadcast an all stop motion clay animated version of his show, this Thursday night, May 15 'Late Night' becomes 'Clay Night' and you can see a preview of the Conan puppet Conan show all Clay-Stop Motion It sure looks very crude and amateurish. Even the Clay/Stop Motion that use to be broadcast on Mad TV -Corky Quakenbush or MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch looks much better than the Conan clay puppet. This somewhat gives Stop Motion a bad image and possibly reinforces that perception to the public & studio 'suits' that Stop Mo is primitive. Well, I guess we cannot have everything, so I suppose that any kind of Stop Motion exposure to the public, is better than nothing.

* Where is Henry Selick? Press Release from Carl's Fine Films, "Roster of commercial directors; The move by Selick, who made such films as Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone, marks a return to commercials, where he first made his mark, including some of the best of the early MTV station IDs. And it was for MTV that he made his classic short, Slow Bob in the Lower Dimensions, which led to his first feature film gig". The website looks new, and not much on it yet. To any advertising agencies out here: Try Stop Motion and grab the audiences attention in this Sea of CGI commercials. We wish the best for Henry at his new home. Let's keep Stop Motion alive!

* Damn, Marc Spess! You beat me again to a news item about the recently posted Davey & Goliath Christmas preview pictures. This is a project I have been doing some occasional work on and Anthony Scott has been serving major duty on that D & G project and that is why we have not heard much from him at his SMA.com website.

* Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Primarily a Mexican rooted event but widely celebrated in California, Texas and where ever there is a latino population across the USA. In this economic down turn and strange times, I am for any reason to escape.

* CGI New World Order or Brave New World? The panacea to all; synthetic, artificial and homogenization? The latest news from Disney powers that be is, that CGI Rules . Yes, they are dumping traditional Cel Animation and going to the other side of synthetic pixel generated animation. I have only heard rumors in the past, that the Mouse Empire can be ruthless. We in Stop Motion have always been shafted, screwed or never been given a really good opportunity by mainstream biz and so we are accustomed to the rough treatment, but what an instantaneous blow to traditional Cel Animation! Disney now totally rejecting their cel/drawn animation roots and heritage. It is all about the $ green cash $. I do not understand something; if computers supposedly saves production costs, then how was $140 million accounted for to make Disney's Treasure Planet? This feature was basically cel animation combined with CGI in a cartoon style (no realism special effects). Where did all the money go? It was a box office disaster.

* You may have heard of Animation Magazine. They publish a hard copy magazine available by subscription for 12 issues at about $50. a year. They also have had an online presence and presented brief headline news in the animation field. Unfortunately, most of the news was about Cgi or Cel animation and very rarely anything about Stop Motion. Well, I just visited their website and they have completely changed format. They now only provide a few teaser animation headline news but then you must subscribe and pay a subscription fee to read more about the stories, online. I suppose, in this negative economic times, free is getting to be less and less. Anyway, to my surprise, Animation Magazine has two news stories about Stop Motion! What a miracle! They are about Corpse Bride & Jim Danforth. If you want to read the rest of the story, you have to subscribe. I might consider it, but first I am thinking of emailing Animation Magazine to suggest they make more of an effort to cover Stop Motion!

* Stop Motion Works website address has just changed to its own URL Domain name as www.stopmotionworks.com. If you click on the link right now, it may be buggy or a little slow because it was just switched over, but give it a few days. So, Bookmark your browser to reflect the new site address. The old site name www.geocities.com/stopmoworks will always be up as a mirror (back-up) site only.

* I do not really collect photographs of early armatures, but ocassionally, I have been given armature photos and I usually just store them away. Well, while I was cleaning up my shop I found these previously misplaced amazing photos and did not realize what they might be until the subject was briefly brought up at the Stop Motion Animation message board. I have real photograph prints of this and in full color. Could this armature be one of the versions for Obrien's Gwangi Project? I should let you know that this will be a temporary page because my website is going through some file name changes and also Stop Motion Works is not really focused on historical armatures. So maybe I will keep this temporary page up for about a month. I suggest that you download these Obrien Gwangi armature photos for your own records. I think Anthony Scott's Website (when he has time), might be a better place for Past & Present Armatures and maybe he can later devote a link/page specifically for this at his Library Link (submitted to Anthony by visitors)



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