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* Welcome back Marc .... He seems to be gradually recovering and in somewhat good spirits. As you may already know, Marc recently relocated and experienced some bad misfortune with a pond scum moving company ..... read the latest updates at his Zombie Pirates Blog

* Xipster Instant Animator .... Do you remember that Stop Motion software? Well, it no longer exists. When it originally premiered some years ago, I gave it a favorable thumbs up. They have a new program Xipster FreeStyle and it appears to be a replacement to Instant Animator? This different or new version seems to be a graphics animation program with optional plug-ins to expand its features. Hmmmm .... I see that Xipster company is not offering a trial download of FreeStyle for people to test it. I obviously cannot comment on Xipster FreeStyle because there is no online documentation or help files, and potential customers cannnot "shop it", browse, and familiarize themselves with it. In the past, Xipster staff kept me informed about their products but I have not heard from them lately. I am not being critical of Xipster ... just my straight observations here! Edit: Slight correction ... just noticed that Xipster has another site. It's under the name of Xow.com. IMO, the Xow site is more informative than Xipster.com. At Xow they have a program called Xipster FullStop. I am not sure if it is an updated version of Instant Animator? FullStop and Xow site does not seem to be promoted as much as their new FreeStyle. If I am wrong about any or some of this .... please let me know!

* Moral Orel .... I "think", I know what it's about ... well ... sort of. I do know from the blogs, that this cable TV Stop Mo project for Adult Swim Network, was somewhat on a fast track, rush, very tight production schedule. It appears to be some sort of parody of Davey & Goliath? I am not sure. Maybe Moral Orel for the more "mature thinking audiences". It kind of has that South Park flavor but all presented in Stop Motion. Here is a teaser Orel's First Promo ... courtesy of Tennessee, the creator behind an inprogress production of a Stop Mo Adult serial, "Richard Private: The Private Dick"

* Corpse Bride countdown ....You have noticed the above new addition & banner? I have no idea what kind of impact Corpse Bride or Wallace & Gromit will have, or if mainstream movie biz will pursue Stop Motion. In my fantasy .... I would like Stop Motion to be a choice more frequently considered by the "Suits" as a different, unique aesthetic or style to offer variety for the audiences, but I just do not know. It does not matter to me. I do not look to mainstream to keep Stop Motion going. I am most satiated having a life long hobby avocation for creative expression and will keep my brain cells active until I am pushing up daisies. Slight subject change .... a few good links ..... Corpse Bride Co-Director Mike Johnson Interview. Also, a hot little article giving an overview peek about Corpse Bride Puppet Making.

* Ranting to myself here (which I said I was kind-of, going to stop), I think, I can entertain myself more than at the message board! Also, I am guaranteed an audience here.... ME! I posted something that was suppose to be humorous, but there was a deathly silence. Also posted other replies but it seems like a black hole there. Hey, I am almost ranting again! STOP Lionel! Since I am almost ranting .... something that puts air holes in my foam rubber latex. I read all comments, questions, inquiries, etc., that are sent through me via contact link. This is regarding people who initially visit Stop Motion Works. I have a resource informational website here. Many do not make an effort to first look through the website. It is not a big site. What really mills my sockets though, is when I do offer help and a somewhat detail reply ..... many times I get absolutely NO thanks or acknowledgment from these information mongers & leechers, and they just vanish. What a waste of my time I am going to try and use more discretion now, who I reply to! I added this to FAQ

* Corpse Bride Site fully completed .... I have been periodically checking and the site was still under construction, however it seems, sometime this past week, all of the site is now functional and ready to receive visitors. Very atmospheric & visually grabbing but in an understated way. CB site uses the free interactive Macromedia Flash Player 7 plug-in. Most computers usually have the Flash plug-in, so try the site first. Here is Corpse Bride Website Also, soon to be available in September .... model collectable figures of some of the Corpse Bride characters McFarlane Toys

* Joe Ranft Gone Storyboard artist in professional animation field, died in a vehicle accident, last week. Joe mostly worked in the other animation mediums, 2D then CGI at Pixar Studio. I think it was only Nightmare Before Christmas, which was Joe's work in Stop Motion area, helping Henry Selick. I remember seeing that big man Joe when I made my delivery rounds & hung out briefly in the production offices upstairs in the old Skellington Studios. I did not actually know him but I recall, a happy, gregarious and "animated" kind of fellow. Memorial services took place today. Links 1 -2 -3

* ScumBag Movers Just got news from Marc Spess' Blog that some dung head Robbed some of Marc's animation equipment during his move to another state. I guess, those special reports on 20/20, Dateline NBC, etc., of corrupt Moving companies, are true. I'm posting this for everyone. Be cautious! Movingscam.com & Never trust a Mover Keep us updated Marc.

* Wallace & Gromit Hit the Big Time soon .... As you know, they will be debuting in a major Stop Mo Flick, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Here is a nice little article giving you a bit more insight Ay up, chuck Article posted movie premiere date, September 15. I am not sure if that is for Euro or Australian audiences. At their movie website it says October 7, which I think is for USA - North America? Also, here is the Aardman Studio website.

* Stop MotionMaker Plus (for PCs) There are some good Stop Motion programs which you may already know, I have a special overview page here. I try to be objective about them and do not necessarily recommend one brand over the other. They all have different combination of features and prices to suit everyone. I report here when new products are available. Recently, Stop MotionMaker was a "new kid on the block". In testing their affordable basic SMM some months ago; I found it most user friendly for solid & reliable frame capturing. The basic SMM especially easy for beginners & kids, however, the software is also very full featured for "pro use" and includes rotoscoping, instant playback-preview, basic chromakeying, onionskin & toggling, time lapse, crash fail-safe, etc... and useful as video preview assist with your digital still cam. Well, the SMM people just came out with a New higher level version, Stop MotionMaker Plus. So far, I only quickly looked at it. Not only does SMMplus have all the tools of basic SMM, but it is jam packed with added features; background & foreground chroma-keying, import digital still images, rip individual images from movie AVI files, can import sound files for synchronizing with the animation .... has "frame averaging" which significantly reduces video noise & sharpens image quality. I used a cheap webcam and with "averaging frames", the improved & cleaner video resolution was very obvious. SMMplus .... free trial download. It might require a little more of learning curve than basic SMM, however, the support staff seem very responsive to feedback.

* Well, I am not alone ... but I feel like it .... A Lone Wolf crying in the Wilderness. I feel stupid sometimes making this constant noise. I saw it way back then; the first Jurassic Park. Phil Tippett saw it too but he had to give in to the CGI force, to economically survive. Hopefully by now you are seeing the general saturation of CGI-digital excess orgasmic eye-candy imagery. Mainstream suits will run this into the ground until public yawn & tire of the same ol' CGI-digital retreads. Nothing fresh; no original stories, no variety of visual aesthetics or cinematic styles. Mainstream biz are cowards and addicted themselves to formulas and homogenization. They should invest in smaller projects and take more chances instead of blowing their $WAD$ on wannabie blockbusters that often fail. Anyway, this is a welcome trend here; more in news media seeing what you and I already know Special FX ....New Movie Monsters

* No more Stop Mo Matt Drudge? The above might be my last tirade for awhile and maybe less commenting (except for giving technical advice) at the message board in which I am hearing the sound of chirping crickets, more frequently I mentioned it before; will be working on my own stuff. Sorry, I am not fast enough for all of you! Hey, but I do appreciate the periodic flame under the butt! Do not stop! We all need it, as it is so easy to get into the rut cycle of life and all the daily mundane crap that interferes. We are a micro-small community and we should not hestitate to help our fellow Stop Mo brothers/sisters. Once I get going, I will recede into the background and simply enjoy the hobby and blog about it. I got many years ahead and will continue it way into my senior years of 70 & beyond . Quick subject shift .... we should give Ethan Marak "The Patience of Jobe Award". I posted here before; he has been insisting I do this Stop Motion Armature for him for soooo long! It is the other major character for his Stop Mo project. I am doing that now and when finished with it, around beginning of September, there abouts; my own stuff will start happening . Stay tuned for upcoming announcements.

* 50 Year Gumby Celebration .... Friday night (08.05.05) I attended in San Francisco. Whew .... what a bash! Live bands/music, food, cake, and a big crowd! Art Clokey was present and enjoying himself! Joe (his son) and other family take good care of him. Art always surrounded by Positiveness & LUV. Harry Walton, Pete Kleinow was there and a whole bunch of Gumby alumini, some I have not seen in about 17 years . Anthony "Corpse Bride" Scott was there too! He just returned from England a few of days before the Gumby event. Anthony is a resident of SF Bay Area Much talent was born from Gumby and they have worked on many mainstream & big projects. Too many to mention here. There were 3 generations of Gumby series .... the '50s, '60s, and then the 80's which was my involvement with the green dude. For the fans of the IDshot, I took the cam with me for still photo shooting .... worked a few times then got "System Error". I think, it will stay "in the studio" & better suited for animation .... not the best cam for quick spontaneous picture taking, it's a bit slow. At the party they showed selected brief clips of the different Gumby eras and also Premavision's (home of Gumby) recent work on a promo trailer for the video game, Gumby vs. Astrobots. Trailer also available online, QT small, QT large, WMP large. At first, I thought they used post digital tweaking, bluescreen, etc. but then, I was amazed to find out much of it was done using traditional methods, real miniature sets, ingenious & creative rigging, and great, lighting, photography by the highly knowledgable & experienced Ron "Obie-Wan" Dexter (who I just met at bash). They did shoot Astrobots trailer, "digitally" using DSLR's, so Premavision is embracing the "technology", combining traditional with hi-tech. Check out Behind Scenes pics of their Astrobots work. BTW, I found online, a Bring Back Gumby petition

* Corpse Bride ... article mistake? Sharp eyed Animate Clay's Mark Spess noticed, perhaps a publicity blunder or maybe unintentional error by the writer, Robin Rowe of a Corpse Bride article (previously posted here 08.02.05) ..."Jonathan Lucas unveils his editing secrets on Corpse Bride, the First Stop-Motion Animation Feature". First Stop Motion feature??? Look for yourself here. Obviously wrong. Quite a number of Stop Motion features before Corpse Bride. This is full article 'Bride' Stripped Bare

* Going Ape at Christmas .... Appears to be lots of gorilla rumblings as December 14 approaches, when Peter Jackson's version of King Kong premieres. Some new releases of the original 1933 King Kong Stop Motion Classic, as a DVD set, and also a special DVD release of the "making of" original Kong and other goodies and it seems like there will be Collector's DVD set, of original Kong which will include ol' time retro reproduction Kong items Jackson going Ape on DVD

* Harryhausen Presents Co. ....** Ray Harryhausen explores world of Poe. During their Q&A session at Montreal's Fantasia festival , special FX wizard Ray Harryhausen & his producing partner Arnold R. Kunert revealed that the Ray Harryhausen Presents Company currently working on a series of shorts adapted from the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Harryhausen will executive-produce and oversee the minimovies, which will feature traditionally stop-motion-animated characters "performing" against computer-generated backdrops. Kunert told Fango that the first of the shorts, based on Poe's Pit & Pendulum, is already in the works (Fangoria Mag) ** Dread Central: Ray H. Interview


* 24 Digital Canon Cams @ $8000. each? Damn! Each one of these delicate hi-techy still cams costs as much as a good ol' 35mm Mitchell film cam!? Already, we are getting early behind the scenes teasers about Corpse Bride. Looks like Peter Jackson (King Kong) started a trend with advanced publicity which includes storyline spoilers? Also with Corpse Bride, spoilers about story are being leaked out. Anyway, someone at message board posted an article which gives some behind the scenes overview of the digital workflow used on Corpse Bride. They credit much to the Digital SLR's imaging capability but they do not yet mention or reveal specifics about the airbrushy CGI look. Only taking a guess: Since it is all digital workflow (no film), this presents many options in post production to do tweaking, adding cgi/special effects and also, what is known as digital grading. This is now often done with live action movies shot on film in which the entire movie is transferred to digital, for editing and post work, then later scanned back to film. Maybe later, we will get more CB detailed technical info about this. Here you go, the article 'Bride' Stripped Bare. I still have not had time to do the follow-up to Go ahead....spend $8000.! , about possible lower cost hi-res alternatives to "SLR digital still cams". I did not intend to post-blog today but I thought this was a hot piece of Stop Mo News. I was averaging about one blog per week in July but way too lengthy and also maybe too much ranting. It can take time & effort (researching, thinking, re-edits, thinking, more re-edits., etc.). "Writing" does not come easy for me, however IF I was offered $$$ for doing it? ). I may need an ocassional break from this or just keep the news/blog postings, short.

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