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Previous News

JUNE 2004

* Here is a rumor that someone passed on to me and I have not yet seen announced anywhere, regarding the King Kong remake (motion-cap/computer animated) to be helmed by LOTR fame Director, Peter Jackson. We know that LOTR Academy Award Winner & former Stop Motionist, Randall W. Cook will not be involved with Kong as animation director. Also, another master Stop Motion artist-practioner but lesser known to the public, Barry Purves was initially hired by Peter Jackson to do some kind of work on Kong project and he spent many months in New Zealand but he also was just nixed/ let go from Kong. Well .... here is the juicy unconfirmed news:
Eric Leighton might be traveling to Weta Studios in New Zealand to work on King Kong.
I think he might be doing stint as
Animation Director, maybe a replacement for Randy.
Eric's roots are in Stop Motion and I remember his early beginnings at
Gumby's New Adventures TV show ....pushing clay around in the San Francisco bay area at Premavision studio.. His big, last mainstream project that I know of, was as co-director of the CGI Dinosaur animated movie for Disney. Since then, we have not heard much from Eric except the on & off Astro Boy movie that has been reported, he will direct.

Special Weekend Edition -
* Why can't we have something like this....Museum Brings Hollywood to Chicago ...... in California? The supposed mecca of Special Effects here .... ILM, Pixar, PDI, Tippett Studio, Hollywood, etc.. I have to go to Chicago to see a cool museum about Moviemaking-Special Effects?? Seems like we should have a permanent attraction covering the history & state of the art of Special Effects here on the West Coast, perhaps with the help of a little $donation contributions$ from a few of the studios making the mega million dollars from the blockbuster hits .... giving something back ....for public education about the Moviemaking FX industry (perhaps tax deductable for studios?) Anyway, if you live near Chicago or will be travelling there ..... you are lucky ....
The Museum of Science & Industry

* Here is a great little audio segment from National Public Radio (NPR) spotlighting Ray Harryhausen. About 6 minutes of streaming audio and you can use RealAudio player or Windows Media player (I think is better). As you may already know, Uncle Ray has always had mixed feelings about Cgi, and you might think that he is just stubborn, nostalgic or old fashioned. I think, to the contrary and I agree with some of Ray's observations .... Everything is just tooooo fast paced these days with MTV-like, quick edit-cuts, visual gimmicks, etc., at the expense of good storytelling.

Special Weekend Edition - 06.12.04
* If you are new to my periodic whinings, grumblings & rants. I need to ocassionally remind visitors, to NOT misinterpret my position or not to catergorize me as a "hater" of all this pixel digital imaging technology. I have nothing against CGI & computer technology as an additional tool for the artist-filmmaker. As I said below in my previous commentary .... it is when Cgi is starting to be used as a crutch in lieu of good stories or characters and also the Cgi technique is excluding other kinds of "visual styles". Did you know, the just released Garfield movie did not get that many positive reviews? See 1- 2- 3- 4 . I can guess the thinking behind the "suits" ..... they possibly said in their production-board meetings ...."If Scooby Doo can be turned into Cgi let's copy them and we will do it with Garfield!....."Cgi will guarantee it to be a blockbuster hit!" I made-up that scenario but you can see how pretty stupid & myopic the mainstream movie biz studio suits/producers, are. They seem to have no concern for quality and the pattern seems to be heading towards, pumping out quantities of pablum. All formulaic and no originality. Also, notice the new fad or trend towards re-makes of previous movies? You see, I am not the only one with these observations and I saw it coming awhile ago ..... all this computer digital-pixel mania. Here is somebody else's commentary who similarly thinks the same Wizards with No Soul

* Revolution Threatens Puppet Regimes is an article about how digital pixels have invaded the domain of puppetry & animatronics. IMO, mainstream biz perhaps over relying on CGI to purely sythensize all the visual imagery. As the mainstream market is getting flooded with all the Nemo or Shrek, Spiderman, etc. wannabies, audiences maybe are getting jaded to the homogenized looking products. Maybe there will be a glimmer of hope .... some directors on low budget features, are cleverly mixing-up the techniques.... traditional methods combined with pixel image generation. I think this adds more texture and depth to the images .....using Cgi as flavorings and as a tool-aid and not as a crutch. Of course, the "suits" do not give a rat's pink butt about the subtlties of how the images are made. It is only $$$$ to them. "They" will run Cgi into the ground until it no longer attracts the audiences (cgi overdose). As the ol' saying goes, perhaps one day, "What is old (traditional) may become new". Just a side note ....the upcoming Alien vs. Predator ... I have read comments by the director, Paul Anderson, that he intentionally used more puppetry and animatronics, and kept the Cgi only to a minimum where absolutely necessary.

* News is, that Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas) will be working for Vinton Studios. It is not Stop Motion project and will be Cgi. Not much I can say and I suppose, that one needs to "pay the rent and bills" and hence, one must give in the the Dark "pixel digital" Side. Selick Joins Vinton Studios

* Continuing with the previous mention of Master Phil Tippett here.... it seems there is a little more exposure on the internet about Phil because of the just released ST 2. Anyway, I just found this nice article giving a brief retrospective of Phil starting from his Star Wars days, to the present, with some brief soundbytes regarding his recent directorial debut and his other insightful observations. Enjoy, Phil Tippett: Hands-On Effects

* With many interviews that Ray Harryhausen gives and especially now, with his more frequent tours promoting his book An Animated Life, some of the brief articles about him are kind of repetitive but I found a quickie book review by James Adams which I thought, he was pretty good in extracting the essence of Ray and the impact of his pioneering work on the current CGI & Special Effects over-abundance. I like this quote from Ray and Jame's commentary throughout article.....
"Unsurprisingly, he has a jaundiced view of contemporary filmmaking's fondness for CGI. "It's a wonderful tool, certainly," he averred, "but I don't think everything else should be discarded just because you have that. I mean, Kermit brought back the potency of the hand-puppet. Nick Park showed the vibrancy of stop-motion animation with Chicken Run."Here is the article Ray, Fay Wray and destiny

* Well .... this is not about Stop Motion specifically, but a brief mention about Phil Tippett and his venture as Director of the just released, direct to DVD movie, Starship Troopers 2. Always great to hear Tippett's past cogent observations about the biz. In other articles & interviews, Phil has usually commented about the reality and insanity of the special FX field ....the ridiculous demands by the studio suits and of course, all very rushed scheduled and they want it done cheap. Others in the special effects field are usually quiet about this but Phil has the chutzpah to say the truth! If there was any mainstream market for Stop Motion, Phil perhaps might still be doing it today. I always get the feeling he is somewhat relunctantly doing the CGI stuff because he was forced to. Redford, Tippett & Monsters, Tippett Talks Troopers 2



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