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Previous News

MAY 2004

* I do not know if it's just a perception of mine but I think there seems to be an increase of animated products coming out of Canada? I am not sure but this may be one of the reasons according to The Financial Times and Guardian Unlimited .....
"UK animation companies were being squeezed by the decreased buying power of the large UK broadcasters, low-cost production resources in the Far East and the existence of public funds, subsidies and tax breaks for animators in other countries, such as Canada, France and Germany"
The UK animation industry/group is the one making this siren call and perhaps their British bureacracy might listen? I believe in the USA, the NEA, National Endowment for Arts is kind-of, sort-of our equivalent to government subsidies for the Arts but that is general and not animation specific and also these groups seem to be overseen by the Artsy-Fartsy types. Remember the Cross in Urine so-called "arteetistic" statement? My view is .....these Fine Arts Elitists sitting on these grant approval boards obviously have no interest to help artists-creatives in the commercial aspects to promote industry or commerce.

* Check out a few video tutorials for beginners about how to create clay animation. They are done by Mark Sawicki who is somewhat eclectic and worked as a technician doing optical composite/special effects work (before CGI takeover) but also has done small gigs as an actor, an educator, artist, etc. Speaking of teaching yourself .... if you have the determination, perserverance, etc. ..... you can do it. I ranted about this before in my Workshop and Books links. Not all information about Stop Motion or related arts/crafis available for free online and you will have to make some purchases .....books, manuals, videos, etc. if you really want to learn. A little bit of cash investment in your own education will save you much time in trial and error and consider this ..... way cheaper than paying for this at college. Anyway, there are not that many schools/colleges teaching the traditional methods (it's mostly CGI indoctrination). There are a few but I cannot remember. I know that Rick Catizone teaches some Stop Motion as part of general animation curriculum. One of a rare breed who has done a variety of animation techniques and probably has a good perspective of the industry.

* I do not know how interesting this would be to you..... an approximately 27 year old magazine article by S.S. Wilson. It is about the old Stop Motion TV series Land of the Lost. This was originally published in Cinefantastique magazine in 1977 and someone put this up online.

* We already mentioned this in our News here in another article, not too long ago. This AWN article, again announces a new upcoming TV series Green Screen created/produced by comedian Drew Carey. Live actors will do actual improvisatiional comedy bits in front of a compositing screen, then in post production, animation will be added to the improvisation. They will use different types of animation ..... computer, drawn, and supposedly stop motion.

Special Weekend Edition -
* So what is going on in a distant, far away studio in East Granby Connecticut, USA? I am talking about Wreckless Abandon Studio. This was posted at SMA.com. I know some in our micro-scopic Stop Mo biz that have relocated there and I was even contacted by Wreckless, but not given details. I kind of heard some buzz but not confirmed yet. Wreckless is somehow affiliated with this other site called Animation Content and I found this on one of their pages. In the smaller window on that page, click on the first link . I am not sure about anything but the clues are out there to do your own guesstimation about what they might be up to. If anyone has more info or buzz, you may contact me anonymously, if you would like to share with the hungry & thirsty Stop Motion fanatics aficianados out here.

* Here is some more info about a Stop Motion TV series The Wrong Coast that seemed to have had a mysterious production history and some delays in debuting. In April, "04, this series finally started broadcasting on Canada's, The Movie Network. Here is a small promo page I found at TMN site. Has anyone seen the shows? You might be surprised to know, that according to the article, the puppet heads are hard cast resin with animateable eyes & eyebrows (nothing unique about that), however, the animated lyp-syncing of mouths were computer/digitally composited in post production! It is no wonder why this could have helped made the hands-on Stop Motion animation go Faster. Of course, this mouth animation method applicable to mostly humanoid type puppets with humanoid type lip-mouth structures, but nevertheless, a clever way to do the sometimes time consuming mouth syncing on Stop Motion puppet characters. This mouth compositing method is not new. Something like this has been hilariously done with Steve Oedekerk's Thumbmation Movies (started back in 1999). Here is another Wrong Coast article about behind the scenes.

Special Weekend Edition - 05.08.04
* From one of our sources .....Cuppa Coffee Studios is well underway on a self-financed $2 Million Christmas Special, called A Very Barry Christmas. Directed by Andrew Horne, Exec.Produced by Adam Shaheen and Written by Brendan Russell. The Christmas special was sold at this year's MIP to possibly 14 different countries. Shaheen has also created a show rumored to be sold to Nickelodeon worldwide called Bruno. It is not certain if this show is Stop Motion. There was word that Cuppa was talking to Disney about Stop Motion feature, still no news there, but it is confirmed that they are doing a second season of Jo Jo's Circus for Playhouse Disney. They are also in development with a Stop Motion musical. Maybe we might get some pics for you to be posted here at SMW news.

* Hey .... whatever happened to another book about Uncle Ray..... Ray Harryhausen: Master of the Majicks This page is dated from year 2000. That is about four years ago. I heard that Ernest Farino was involved with it. Anybody have news or rumors about Majicks book? I don't know if Animated Life will be the definitive Harryhausen book (Ray seems to be promoting that more) but would be nice to see a different take or perspective from other books. Come on people .... it does no good to keep some of this secret. Stop Motion will surely die if we do not talk-it-up and generate interest. I always say, you can contact me and I keeps my informants confidential. You can skewer me with surface guage points and I will never reveal my sources.

Special Weekend Edition - 05.02.04
* Of course as we all know, to the mainstream movie biz, Stop Motion has generally been the outcast black sheep of the animation family and so we usually have been screwed. 2D (cartoon style) animation seemed to be supposedly "safe" until Disney announced, pretty much abandoning their 2D classical animation roots in favor of hi-techy CGI, and is setting a possible precedent, as though CGI is the panacea automatic answer to the Mouse's problems. So I wonder now about those working in CGI when I read an article....
"Using artificial intelligence, the researchers have developed a new software technology that allows computers to learn to animate a computer-generated character through examining animation examples provided by a human. The computer then makes choices based on those examples regarding how the character will behave and react, even if the computer is presented with an unfamiliar situation"
To me, how unexciting, dry and so sterile. Gazing into my Crystal Ball..... enabling the studio corporate suits to pump out more homogenized CGI at a faster rate and just oversaturate the audiences more quickly?? How about the possibility of this affecting employment of CGI artists .....FEWER working on a production with predominately motion capture and this automation animation?? I know, Lord of the Rings used some similar technology
Massive, specifically for the battle scenes. How depressing .... Brave New World is here. Read it for yourself....
Computer animation taking new steps

* In my opinion, this article Imperfection Animation is one of the best observations why real tactile animation techniques such as Stop Motion, Puppet/Clay, Cut-out animation has a uniqueness all its own and computers cannot match (they have their own look) or CGI attempts to fake it. I have done my past rants covering some of what article says but this is the most concise & cogent analysis. Most Hollywoodized producers & studio corporate suits will never understand the subtlety of this. To them, they myopically think it has to be computers only because that is the supposed flavor right now (until the flavor may eventually sour because of market glut or overexposure. Article was written by Tom Gasek, a long timer in the biz. Our paths crossed way back.... he was one of the animation directors of the Gumby TV series.



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