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* Same as last week .... pretty dead quiet .... No buzz, news, and no feedback from you. Since no one else is posting too much at forum, and the other Stop Mo blogs pretty much silent, why should I say anything? Maybe all the mass media onslaught of news sound-byte pollution upon our senses, is getting to you? I am not a robot, but a human and maybe I will also just chill out and leave you all on your own .You may have lucked out this time, as I may have something to say (see below) , but next time, I may just drop out like everyone else that is taking a vacation. How do you know if Stop Motion will be around next week, next month, or next year? Live today like it is your last day. Do not B.S. or procrastinate. Too profound & heavy stuff for you?

* HOT OFF THE PRESS: The Art of Stop Motion Animation .... I just received it. It was authored by Ken A. Preibe. I was asked by Ken to be the technical reveiwer of his book and I was most flattered and appreciated the opportunity to assist. I did review the entire book in the initial manuscript stages as Ken was writing it and so, I already knew the contents. I tell you though, after seeing the finished book and its high quality very impressive design & layout, it was like a new book and felt like I never read it before! Thomson publisher was behind this book project and they did a most professional and slick job. Because any hard copy Stop Motion book is rare compared to the plethora of computer CGI animation books, I urge you to get Ken's book and include it in your library. No single book can cover every aspect of this animation art/craft, however, it gives a good general overview about Stop Motion, history, interviews, the different ways of filming/capturing, basic puppet-making, resources, etc.. You can sense Ken's teaching experience and he effectively communicates so that almost anyone can easily understand. It is an excellent introductory material for any school or university having an animation program and perhaps desiring to include Stop Motion in their curriculum. It gives you the straight-up info about the Stop Motion field covering some areas we sometimes discuss at the message board. Ken put a lot of blood, sweat & tears into this and also hustling to meet the publishing deadline schedules. I do not know how the hell he did it! The book does include a CD showing some clips of the basic beginning animation exercises, that Ken describes in book. I am sure, if Ken had more time, he would would have included much more. As I already said, Ken's book is a must for your reference library, including Susannah's book , and Aardman's. I suggest you first focus on the animation, storytelling, characters and how to work the software, camera, lighting. Walk before you run. Do not get caught-up with the Armatures yet. After you get the fundamentals down, you might look at Tom Brierton's more advance & technical books.

* Hmmm .....You hear it too? Listen. Also nutritional . Not much going on these past few weeks with regards to Stop Motion gossip, news, etc.. One exception, the Otafuku Rex music video generated some recent excitement, last month. The message board, kind of so-so with the basic newbie questions. Not too much deep stuff and no flaming or funny posts (like at Ain't It Cool News). So polite and how boring we are, in Stop Motion? No drama, scandals, divorces, no one having affairs or in drug rehab? Most into Stop Motion maybe just closeted types? I think that may contribute to Stop Motion's chronic curse, since the beginning, of always being the underdog / black sheep in the animation family. Stop Motion 'fragility'; always has to struggle in its attempts to stay in the public's & 'suit's' consciousness. IMO, Stop Motion requires ever-constant vigilance and you cannot be a slacker or just keep your mouth shut and let the minority few bear the load in lobbying for our animation art/craft. Excuses you got? I know that most of you check your email regularly, so how hard is it to pay a quick visit to the Stop Mo forum or Stop Mo blogs/sites and contribute some small feedback-comments? Just a few brief words to let us know you are lurking out there. Oh, I just remembered .... finally some excitement & drama? Jim Danforth's original "Mighty Joe Young" stop motion armature was STOLEN-ROBBED some years ago and apparently, found recently and now up for auction. Here is thread about it. Edit 07.23.06

* San Diego Comic-Con .....I hear it's going on this week? That event also seems kind of dead this year regarding Stop Motion coverage or Stop Mo related guests. Do you remember I tiraded a few times last year, that IMO..... bad-bad marketing blunder, to have released "Corpse Bride" and "Wallace & Gromit's Were-Rabbit" in the Same Year. Now you see why? We may have prematurely shot off our Stop Motion Wad. This year, we have little or nothing that is major Stop Motion. You know how the general public is. One has to bombard them as they are all amnesia afflicted & have ADD (attention deficit disorder). What an opportunity to press-the-flesh / promote at Comic-Con. Where are the Stop Motion people who could be promoting it there? Do I have to fricken do it myself? Perhaps Stop Motion Works and StopMoShorts joint venture, with a booth/table at Comic-Con? All manner of armatures & puppets on displays, books, bumper stickers, videos, framegrabber setup etc.. I am guessing that might draw a crowd just merely because of the rarity of Stop Motion in the public mind. P.S. Comic-Con schedule very massive. I just looked again, apparently Ray Harryhausen was scheduled and also Gumby-Premavision's Joe Clokey. How come Stop Motion Works did not get advance press release? All you Stop Motion people, "you" have to get way better at marketing-promoting . Edit 07.23.06

* Kirk Douglas Clones .... Some months ago at the message board, this incredible little animated piece was posted but no one responded. You all maybe just stoned knocked out at that time? IMO, great creative work of caricatured Stop Mo puppets representing the actor, Kirk Douglas. The Big Story (Oscar nominated short) originally done back in 1993. Okay .... follow my instructions on how to watch this for the best experience. Please, do not deviate and thusly spoil my blog-presentation. The creators of this short, apparently did a rough 2D pencil animation of it and used it as a guide. Take a look at it (flash movie format), The Big Story (pencil test). Now look at the finished product, The Big Story. COOL ...huh?! No way could this be pulled off with CGI or even 2D animation. Those techniques would not be as affective and not have the unique aesthetics & style of Stop Motion. The pencil test is an interesting method to block out the stop motion animation but could be more work for those of us that are not experienced with 2D, nevertheless, I think it's, a slick trick-tool to help achieve the finished Stop Mo product. For the Stop Mo purists out there .... I do not consider the pencil test an "animation cheat". If necessary, as an animation aid-tool-guide, I would also maybe consider using rotoscoping methods. I say, whatever works to acheive the finished product. Compared to the CGI mouse clickers with ALL their Xtreme bells & whistles automation software/ tools; "we" in Stop Mo have limited cheat-assistance options, so I think, we are entitled to use some ol' school tricks. That is what I LUV about Stop Mo ....tactile, real world, and creative sweat equity investment. We earned it and a great feeling of pride . Edit 07.23.06

* Animation: Marketing, Selling, Distributing, etc. .... Last week I commented how business practices are becoming more "Niche", this results in the "profit pie" being divided up into smaller segments/markets, and more might have an opportunity to get a slice of it. Sounds great but there is another side, especially if you are thinking about going the verrry independent freelance route and not working for the "studio suits", i.e, few animation gigs in relation to those who want to work in the biz (more supply than demand). The Internet & Technology is said, to be an Equalizer with the big boys, but the by product of this is, humongous loads of mediocre crap (sorry to be blunt). People who "think" they can make films, shorts or whatever (the YouTuber types). However, there are those few rare gems that do shine above the rest. Stop Motion with its very unique aesthetics/style, may have an inherited advantage (over CGI, 2D, Flash), because it is such an involved art/craft to produce, there are much less people that do it. You do however, now see a plethora of kid newbies (mostly the "boys") doing the typical crude clay animation with stylized gory decapitations, blood spewing, ad nauseum. IMO, the greatest difficulty with animated shorts versus live action shorts, is, if one strives for reasonably high production values in their animation, particularly Stop Motion, this can take much time to do for just 5 fricken minutes of animation! Unless of course, IF you had a slick & efficient work flow method to pump out the stuff, that would seem to be the way to quickly produce numerous shorts in order to have some kind of product that can be 'packaged'. Obviously, to help market & sell it, the animation product should be 'kick-ass' unique, entertaining, interesting or original, above and beyond all the common stuff. Personally, I first look to Stop Motion, as a love & passion for the art/craft, as a creative-hobby outlet, and not necessarily for the money. Although, if I can find some formula or secret marketing trick-niche thing to make some kind of side income from Stop Motion, that would be just more icing on the cake . Where am I going with this? I do not know. This subject of "making money from animation" is so overwhelming and brain frying to me . Well, animation is obviously part of the entertainment-arts biz .... volatile, not always secure, etc.. As I said, this subject can be too complex for my brain cells. . Here are some interesting reads for you .... Is My Animated Short Worth a Penny? - The market for indie animation DVD sales? - The Great White Hope of Indy Animators Part-1 Part-2 - Internet: Portal to Indie Film? - IndieFlix Newsletter - Build your own DVD. I am slightly aware of the podcasting video thing and also the all-in-one multi-media cell phone craze, but I am not sure yet, of its potential as an outlet for animated products and especially, if one can get some kind of monetary reimbursement for one's creative works. If you have any ideas, thoughts, comments on this subject, feel free to contact me. Edit 07.15.06

* Niche, Targeting, Niche, Targeting, ad infinitum .... Will mainstream movie business ever get with it?? I have ranted and rambled in the past about it. It's just becoming common business marketing practice. FYI, Superman Returns is reported to have cost over $200 million plus. Why the f---k soooo much? 'Puter Special FX cheaper? Just think, in a few months, you will have the Superman flick in your hands on a DVD. No lasting power of movies in theaters Can Superman Really Fly? How about, more unique/niche movies and spend less?! I ask again, will mainstream Hollywood listen? Frick no. Okay then, they are going to learn the hard way. To suits, save your money and focus on direct-to-DVD with heavy internet marketing, word-of-mouth promoting. One of my underground sources referred to me to a Wired mag article about the music, tv and movie industry. For the third time, I ask: Will the 'suit' controlled, orthodox, L.A. Movie Industry "get it"? It seems, many of these obscenely costly, wannabie blockbusters fail to make it and go to the DVD bin pretty fast. This is a very good read; the points are cogent and clearly defines the trends The Rise and Fall of the Hit Edit 07.08.06

* Creepy, Thurgood, & Rankin Bass .... This is kind of interesting and nightmarish, sort-of like Paul Berry's 'The Sandman'. I do not want to spoil it for you. Just watch it in late evening by yourself, turn off all your room lights, and turn-up speaker volume. If you stubbornly, do not follow my viewing instructions, then it is your loss for missing out on the best experience . Watch The Cat With Hands. Some info about creator of it .... You want some fun now? Remember, The PJs Stop Motion comedy TV series? I worked on that project during first season back in '98-'99. I cannot figure out why the series has not been released to DVD. It seems stoopid of the 'suits' for not distributing this; or maybe it is stupid legal crap preventing this from being available to public? If you newbies never seen it, the only available micro-clips that I know of are on YouTube. Only a couple are in English, and the rest are just teasers in Spanish! Here are the The PJs clips: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 .... You might get excited about this remake, The Year Without Santa Clause . I fooled you; it's only a live action version for the NBC TV network. I have nothing to say about it (yawn).

* Animation Study/Reference discovery .... Found this accidentally. A whole library of short free preview clips. Human movement reference is what is mostly addressed by animation books, articles, tutorials, etc., however, for myself and I am sure many other Harryhausenites into creature, alien, fantasy characters .... we probably want to study the animal, bird, aquatic, insect kingdom. It looks like this site might supply some resource. I have an old tutorial about creating Muybridge-like motion reference using two VCRs, Studying Motion. For myself, throughout the years for my own motion study library, I have recorded many, many hours of wildlife nature TV shows/documentaries onto VHS. This is a much more detailed resource, however, many of you may not have access to my personal video library . At this website you register for free to access their complete motion library. At your option, you can purchase the un-watermarked and higher resolution versions, but in our case that may not be necessary if you are viewing the clips only for animation reference-study. You use their search feature, to locate the movie clips. Explore & enjoy BBC Motion Gallery

* 'Flanimals' Stop Motion series .... This is news from the UK. A Brit comedian by the name of Ricky Gervais is behind this and got the green light. Maybe he is sort-of equivalent to our USA's Seth Green of Robot Chicken? I never heard of Flanimals before and apparently more known in Euro countries. Looking at the pics of the characters, they look pretty crazy. Some former Aardamn animators will be doing the Stop Motion. Studio is called Caramel Uncut in Bristol, England, but I could not find their website yet, TV deal: Flanimals

* Fantasia .... A yearly shindig in Montreal, Canada ..... they call it North Americas Premier Genre Film Festival. Unfortunately I cannot make it and possibly many of you either, except for those who live in Canada. There's a little bit of Stop Mo content, but the entire festival line-up (non-stop motion) looks pretty interesting, displaying works of independents in the genre field. So, I post this here so you are aware, this is a way to publicize your work, via film festivals. Maybe no money, but some exposure and you never know if your work will catch the attention of some "suits" sitting in the audience .

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