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Previous News

JUNE 2003

* I receive email inquiries about stop motion capture programs and I am not an expert on this and have personally tested only a few which work okay for me. There are a number of animation capture programs and I do have a page Animation Framegrabbing Overview in which at the time, I did research to see what was available out there. I do not necessarily recommend any particular frame grabbing animation software or hardware but only list them with a brief description. Here are some additional animation frame capture programs not listed yet in my overview link....Tepee Animator for PCs which costs 35 pounds or about $57. USA and they have a freeware trial version for testing before you buy ..... MonkeyJam for PCs which is for drawn/cel animation but can be used for stop motion and it is in beta and free .... iStopmotion for Macs in three versions, Lite (free), DV at about $40. and a Pro version not yet available.. I am amazed that some of these animation programs are free and at only about $40.-$50. plus, which is really affordable for a critical & essential tool that will enable one to do animation so one should not really complain about these prices. Even if they were $100. I still think that is reasonable. Remember, you should first research carefully or contact the companies to find out the compatibilty with your camera, computer, and other software/hardware.

* It is my understanding that Ray Harryhausen has a few homes. I am not sure if he still has one in Los Angeles area but we all know that he definitely has been a long time resident in England and I heard he might have a place in Spain? Anyway, in one of Uncle Ray's houses, someone was hired to make some Fantasy themed stained glass windows based on a few of his stop motion classics. Here is the studio Powell Bros. Glass Art and you can see the custom stained glass pieces that were created for the Godfather of Stop Motion.

* If you are a regular visitor here or at the Stop Motion Animation message boards, you will recognize the name of Nick Hilligoss. Not too long ago, in Australia's "The Age", they did a news piece on Nick, called Rubber Man. Nick just completed a series of 5 animation shorts called, Good Riddance, about the mis-adventures of an Eco-friendly animal/pest controller. This was done for Australia Broadcasting's (ABC), natural history unit. I was able to see a preview of his animation work. Nick of course being a true artist, was perhaps too close to this project which was about a couple of years in the making and he sees some of the so-called "flaws". Myself, being more objective and seeing it for the first time, I did not personally notice any. Nick's unique & warm story telling style is what grabbed me and any lack of quality is not apparent to the viewer. Nick told me that he had to work with a modest budget and only a few people assisted him with the actual "hands-on" during the animation & set building stage. You should know, amazingly, Nick used good ol' wire armatures for the puppets on this project. NIck just has sheer genious to work with his overall restrictions and yet he can produce outstandingly creative work. In Good Riddance, much of the action is "visual" and with limited dialogue. If any of you remember the old TV shows from the UK, Benny Hill or Mr. Bean, many of their live action comedy skits were also done with limited dialogue. Even though Nick would have liked to use more dialogue, I think the limited verbal style, creatively/artistically, works well for Good Riddance. It will be aired in Australia this year and hopefully, will be available to the public on Video/Dvd.

* Here is an upcoming how-to Stop Motion workshop which is very rare these days:
Stop-Motion Animation Workshop / August 15th - 17th
Location: Chicago, IL (exact address TBA)
Chicago-based stop-motion filmmaker/educator Tom Brierton will be holding a two-and-a-half day intensive workshop on stop-motion animation August 15th - 17th in Chicago, Illinois.
For further information, please contact Tom Brierton at:
773.924.1424 or Email armatures@sbcglobal.net
Tom Brierton Website

* From AWN website, here is brief article Harryhausen joins Hollywood Walk of Fame. Also, courtesy of Heather "Guzzy" Milne, here is a nice photo of Uncle Ray's Star. She went back the next day of the event on her trusty scooter just to take to photograph the star. Thanks Heather!

* Here are a couple of more articles about continuing saga of Will Vinton 1 - 2. Looks like Will already has some projects in mind and also advertising he is available to collaborate. May you succeed Will, in your new re-birth! Even though it might be a great disappointment how this has turned out maybe something positive will result .... an infusion of new creative energy. Do not disappear from us Will. We need you to help keep Stop Motion alive in the 21st century!

* Well, Uncle Ray now has a Star in Hollywood. Here are some photos Ray H. Gets his Star! I previously suggested that someone perhaps might video record it. If you have any other photos please contact me or perhaps you might consider posting some of the photos on the SMA message board. If you live in Los Angeles area, pehaps a nice close-up photo of Uncle Ray's Star? The man who pushed for Harryhausen to get his star, is Arnold Kunert Beast That Wouldn't Quit. He also created the buzz that may have contributed to Ray getting his long deserved Oscar. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is run by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and it took Arnold FIVE long years to convince the stubborn bureaucrats to give Harryhausen his recognition. Once the Chamber of Commerce approves, there is a $15,000. fee and by Hollywood's opulent Lifestyle & Money standards, it is not that much $$$ and we can gratefully thank actor Tom Hanks and also, director Peter Jackson which was reported that they donated the most. IMO, Tom & Peter not only praise (others do that too) Harryhausen, but also "walk the talk" with their $$$.

* The Life Aquatic starring actor/comedian Bill Murray is in the works to be shot in Rome, Italy. Here are five brief news articles about it 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 . The story will have a Mythical Shark Creature. The Big News is that Henry Selick will be directing the underwater sequences. I assume it is going to be Stop Motion? If anyone has heard of any additional info, buzz or rumors, at your option, you can anonymously contact me.

* As usual, for the summer, all kinds of mass media hype about certain movies. The Hulk directed by Ang Lee is really being pushed & marketed (it's a franchise!). Just do Google search on the Incredible Hulk. One article from Australia caught my eye How Bana became The Hulk. Personally, I am starting to feel that the word Animator as applied to certain types of CGI character work is starting to be a misnomer or not applicable anymore. Much of these things are motion captured and even Ang Lee was doing some of the acting bits for the synthesized Hulk. What the CGI person does now, is to function as a motion technical adjuster (I made that up!) and augments and tweaks the existing live action motion capture data. Is this really Animation? In the traditional sense, I consider "The Art of Animation" as, creating motion/movement from the artist's hands which is done in an altered stated of time; frame by frame. Again I ask, is real time live action motion capture, really Animation? On another item related to The Hulk, here is a quote from that article, "ILM was under pressure to create a Hulk that supersedes the visual effects breakthroughs made by the Gollum character in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. With Gollum coming out I think everyone is going to be really nitpicking and analysing The Hulk to death". I ask myself, who is creating this pressure? I see it as their self imposed endless obsession about all this computer-technology driven CGI/Special Effects. Studio "suits" and the big special effects houses think that the audiences are also obsessed with it too. At my other blue collar-type job, I talk to just regular people who are part of the masses that watches these movies. They really do not excessively nit-pick and analyze; as a matter of fact, they seem to be mildly impressed by the special effects nowadays. Initially it is curiousity and a novelty for the movie goers when they get blasted with visual eye candy, but they soon get jaded and even more bored if the story is not so good. Some of you may have already read this, Tippett, life of Fantasy (he does not think so). His cogent observations about the reality and insanity of computer special effects biz and refreshing to hear some of the Truth from the Tippett Meister!

* If you did not notice, I added a store link above. There is nothing set-up there yet. Just trying it out and no definite plans yet to sell items because stop motion is such an extremely niche/esoteric market. Perhaps I will make more of an effort to offer some of my services. I am, kind-of working on an armaturing/jointing system for the masses. Anyway, in the past, I have designed & built some injection guns and here is one of the prototypes, I call the SMW FOAM INJECTOR. I am amazed that foam latex companies do not advertise more or push foam injection guns which is a necessary tool to more efficient working/handling the foam latex. Sure, you can build one yourself but I already did the R&D and my injector design is guaranteed to work.You can also buy the $70. small Burman foam gun (which I actually made one similar to theirs) or spend $235. for Monster Makers injector, and GM Foam's gun has one for $348.. Mine is not clear plastic barrel/tubes like the higher priced injectors. The clear plastic does not contribute to a better working injection gun. You can cast puppets without using an injector but it is not always applicable with the more complex puppet/armature designs. When you close both halves of the molds together, to squeeze out the excess foam, sometimes the armature will shift or move. Injection allows the foam to flow around the armature without disturbing its position within the mold and it's just a more quality but low-tech way to do it. Price? A little more than the Burman injector but much less than GM's or Monster Maker's injection gun. If you want to find out or have questions, just contact me. Mine holds same amount of foam as the so-called professional injectors: about 3.75 quarts of foam which equals the quanitity of the large bowl used with the Sunbeam Mixmaster. That is plenty of foam capacity for stop motion work! I also, don't just offer the injection gun only, but as a bonus, will include tips & tricks how to effectively use the foam injection method.

* Sick and tired of the news, dismal economy and world events? Well, if you are in the USA or you have a satellite dish somewhere on this earth, near the end of this month you will want to tune in to the Turner Classic Movies channel, because starting June 27 to the 29, there will be a Ray Harryhausen Festival showing 12 of his stop motion classics, including the television premiere of the restored and finished Tortoise & the Hare. What a month this will be for Ray. As mentioned in 05.30.03 news, Uncle Ray will be getting a Hollywood sidewalk Star and other events will be celebrated in his honor. So, forget about the current depressing news and escape to a more innocent and quieter time, from about 1949 to 1981 when Ray was King of 3D animation well before the current plethoric onslaught of computer animation. Set your VCR's, get your fresh pop corn, and kick back in your favorite chair or couch and enjoy the fantasy & dream world of Ray Harryhausen!



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