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September 2005

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* It seems kind of slow or quiet, or maybe everyone is basking in Corpse Bride "Goodness"? I did see it. No doubt .... incredible artistic, creative & technical achievement! Everyone has favorites .... right? Like Uncle Ray's works .... you like some more than others. The general mass audiences and reveiwers-pundits who usually know nothing of Stop Mo history, will compare Corpse Bride to Nightmare Before Christmas. IMO, wrong to do that. Both are different stories but of course, the similarities are there, with Tim Burton's influence. Do not forget, Henry Selick (at Laika now) directed NMBC. My favorite is still Nightmare and I think the animation is just as good. IMO, with Corpse Bride, the animation, choreography, scenes, puppets, set-ups, were just more complex. Touchstone Pictures originally did not seem to promote Nightmare much but it gradually built up a following and has become a timeless classic now. Edit: Forgot to mention James & the Giant Peach .... IMO, animation also about as as good as CB.

* "Sigh" .... I am "behind" .... "stuff & circumstances" here. Also, some "health" thing. Don't worry ....in the big picture, I am generally okay. As posted before here, I wanted to finally get going in September, getting back to animation and also, other obligations got delayed. My graveyard shift job (pays the bills & rent) sometimes seems to play havoc with one's internal body clock and mind. I have been doing this vampire schedule for some years now and "still", I do not seem to be fully adjusted to it. Sorry for delay .... looks like October, I hope it will happen, and also honor my other commitments to "others" (you all know who you are).


* Finally, some small recognition ..... I am referring to an article giving some mention to our low key & mild mannered, "The" Anthony Scott and his StopMotionAnimation.com. As I tiraded so many times in past, Stop Mo & Hollywood never got along. With the frenzied CGI saturation upon our senses, since 1993's Jurassic Park (12 years now); those forces just about hammered the nails shut on the Stop Motion Coffin. Just remember people .... Stop Motion requires constant vigilance. Also, do not forget; just some are pro-active & contribute at the message board. Soooo .... maybe try to participate more? At least, just introduce yourself to let us know, we are not talking to black cyberspace. I also ranted before; only we can keep Stop Motion Alive and it will be the outside maverick's who will do it. Do not look to mainstream to keep Stop Mo going. Here is article Stop Mo Fans Hail Tim Burton & Nick Park. It's not only article where Anthony is mentioned and he has recently popped up elsewhere, in print. Edit: Do not forget about AnimateClay.com. Marc has been online just about as long as SMA.com & SMW.

* Hi-Rez-holics: PowerShot remote capture that works for Stop Mo? Since you are all now nuts about Corpse Bride and you now want to copy & imitate them , using intricate screw control mechanical puppet heads, advanced silicone skins and capture at crazy high resolution; this might be the software for you. Sorry, I cannot help you with cheap screw control driven heads or a poor man's way to create the CB puppets. Software is called GBTimeLapse. It is for PCs & works with the Canon PowerShot digital still cams. GBTL has one frame onionskin allowing you to see previous frame you shot but unique thing about this remote capture is, that you are able to view an instant low rez preview of what you have just animated. For this software to work on your PC, if you don't already have it installed, you first need to download Microsoft's.NET. Only questions I would have: I assume the hi-rez still images are captured directly to hard drive? With the low-rez preview, can you scroll through frames while you are animating? A free demo download is available. Here is website GBTimelapse. I do not have a Canon PowerShot and cannot try the software. If you have the PowerShot, give GBTimeLapse a test, then contact Granite Bay Software feedback

* Corpse Bride Page & Contest .....You might already know that Warner Bros. Studio are the backers and releasing Corpse Bride. The Studio has been offering various online contests through different sites and I was recently contacted by them. The prizes are not huge or fancy but a chance to get something free? Contest deadline is Sept 24. Here is Stop Motion Works' new Corpse Bride Page

* Stop Motion Software Customer Service ..... Some Stop Motion software updates: TePee Animator for PCs, not really a stop mo specific program but I thought could be adapted. Well, the website is down. They say it might be only for "short while" (yeah, sure). Animaatiokone Stop Motion software for PCs and created in Finland. Someone emailed me that the free Beta might have expired but Animaakiokone is not clear or is vague. Their site does not appear to be updated. They have so far ignored my email inquiry. I have ocassionally heard rumblings about FrameThief, which seems to be the first choice for Macs. I heard the software needs updating or there are some ocassional bugs with it? I re-visted FrameThief forum and it seems that many, want all kinds of FT bells & whistles features, however, no one mentions the very affordable cost of FT at only $40.. IMO, if one wants extra features or better customer service; that should comand slightly higher cost? You Mac people .... there are practically no Stop Motion specific programs. The other Mac specific major ones are iStopMotion and BTV Pro . What are you going to do if FrameThief vanishes or if just left in its current state with no updates or improvements? If FrameThief were updated and more features, IMO, even at $100., it would still be worth it. Mac users, if you're concerned .... be a little more pro-active and do not take it for granted. Encourage the creators of the Stop Motion software and do not be cheap (you spend big $$$ for Mac set-ups). Let Roman Blok know your appreciation. How much creative enjoyment and value do you get from the software? Oh .....one more program, I Can Animate. I am not sure, but it appears that there is no trial demo download for you to test their software? You just buy it and then take your chances? All this is just my observations .... talking straight. Please correct, update or inform me Edit: I looked at BTV PRO site again. Actually .... looks like a pretty good program for Macs. It does have 1 layer onionskin (to compare live & previous frame), but does not say if it can do frame flipping/scrolling. It can capture in variety of image formats (like FrameThief). It does not have sound-dialogue feature though, but you can breakdown sound track using another program. Mac people: Why don't I hear BTV Pro used as much? Did you ever try it? Let me know

* $30 thousand puppets & $40 million movie .... That's what I'm hearing; about $30 thou for the cost of each of the Corpse Bride lead puppets. I have always heard of very high prices for Stop Motion puppets. Supposedly, the Robocop 2 Cain Stop Mo puppets, I am not sure, but I think, was quoted at about $60 thousand each or more. I do not know how the "book-keeping accounting" is done or juggled to arrive at final production costs for specific items. Just so that you know, you "suits - producers" .... Stop Motion Puppets usually do not cost that much! In Ray Harryhausen's time, he probably had a $30 thousand budget for the entire frickin movie! If yourself or small crew have more skills in different areas of Stop Motion, that will make Stop Mo very cost effective. However, in any pro or mainstream productions, the budget radically escalates. More "specialeests" are hired and a much bigger bureaucracy, staff, crew, etc.. Corpse Bride had a budget of $40 million (that's what is being stated). Actually, Corpse Bride cost about the same or often less than many of the CGI animation products! Where is all the supposed "savings" using computers? Maybe, CGI waaaaaay overpriced? At the message board sometime ago, I did look-up quoted budgets of animated mainstream films Stop Motion & CGI. I have heard bull crap arguements in the past, that Stop Motion is more expensive to produce. Nowadays, "suits" will pour money into CGI ...but for "Stop Motion", they are tight ass cheap. Ray Harryhausen, Jim Danforth and other Stop Motion productions were always plagued with that .... never adequate funding for Stop Motion. No surprise .... I said it many times, "Hollywood & Stop Mo never got along". I prefer to follow Uncle Ray's philosophy .... creativity and problem solving resourcefulness .... a sense of pride and accomplishment putting sweat equity into it. IMO, enlightened audiences can subconsciously sense that effort & energy when seeing tactile real, quality done Stop Motion. Check out these recent articles, Burton revives Stop Motion - A Manual Labor of Love - Animators keeping Craft Alive

* SlamDance 2006 .... We just received this reminder: "The 12th annual Slamdance is the number one alternative to the Sundance Film Festival. Last year, a new Grand Jury Award for Best Animated Short Film was added and also, a monthly online film competition called Anarchy, which frequently features animation months." One can submit here Read more details about the other, more prominent animation shorts competition at Slamdance

* Katrina Donation Scams .... IMO, this is one of the negative aspects about the internet. It seems this so-called wonderful hi-tech World Wide Web communication information medium; is a breeding ground for these slime dung vulturistic non-human A-holes ... Donation Scams to Escalate - Don't fall prey to Scams. Katrina is not the only one; this happens with other past disasters or events. Any kind of disaster or disruption, and the USA seems to become more vulnerable and we are in all kinds of turmoil and especially, this country's economy. Our $resources$ are not endless. "Something" is eventually going to "pop". I could rant on about other aspects of Katrina and other previous political and worldwide events; and then, there is 9/11 (4 years ago). For those of you that like to immediately "blame"; that is naive and too simplistic. It is deeper and it has been a very slooow & gradual process why we are in this current state. The ol' USA of long ago, it seemed, we could kick butt and take care of business and ourselves. Things, events, happening waaaaay too Fast for me. If I only had the power to Stop Motion in humans ... so that everyone would slow down and approach "life", one frame at a time. Katrina: Salvation Army

* Loose Moose Animation .... I realize the above was a bit sobering, but I am human and we cannot pretend that societal & global reality does not exist. Hey, it's the weekend. Do you want to momentarily escape? You know about Loose Moose? When did you visit them last? Website has been redone. This studio is very generous. It appears that they have QT clips of their best work, all in their entirety! Also includes the Brisk Ice Tea commercials. Check-out the puppet's facial animation! Yes ... Corpse Bride and Wallace & Gromit mainstream films may remind the masses about Stop Motion, however, other unsung heroes already doing Stop Mo in other markets. Here we have an example ... this studio producing incredibly creative & entertaining stuff, however, thanks to the "Suits", the CGI indoctrinated masses being deprived of visual variety ... aesthetics & styles. They are doing some CGI but most of their work is Stop Motion. Make yourself some popcorn, grab a soda pop, turn down your room lights, and kick-back! Here is Loose Moose. Let them know how much you enjoyed it and for helping keep Stop Motion very much ALIVE! Do it now .... Contact Loose Moose

* Rotoscoping Special FX Tool .... It has a variety of uses and I mentioned a few times at the message board here and here, but I do not know if you realize the pearls of insight & keen observations that I throw out here, to you! Talking is good and message board a gathering place but we also got StopMoShorts. Now .... do the walk. I don't yet see any overflowing submissions to SMS. If you want to procrastinate .... go ahead. Only a few, are perservering Stop Motion Soldiers no matter what. Stop Motion first, family second (or equal) . As I explained in those past topics (which seems to have been dismissed?), with rotoscoping you can kind-of achieve a Ray Harryhausen Dynamation-type interaction of your puppets with background action while you are animating. Some years ago, you saw a major film that had Stop Motion mixed with live-action and you probably were not aware that it used rotoscoping type methods. The film was MonkeyBone which had mixed reviews. IMO, Henry Selick was restricted in certain ways, so do not blame him (hint: the "Suits"). Webster Colcord was one of the MonkeyBone Stop Motion animators and he has available at his site, a behind the scenes of himself animating MonkeyBone puppet. It is a camera assist preview setup where the puppet is layered over live-action (rotoscope method) so that animator can animate & synchronize puppet to the actions of the actor. Then later in post production both elements are composited. That is oversimplified, but the general idea. I am guessing, possibly thousands of dollars for the customized or proprietery software used on MonkeyBone. Now you can use software that can do similar tasks such as rotoscoping and other features & tools. You may take it for granted, at the low cost of Stop Motion Software. How much money do you spend on your beloved Cell phone addiction (also click 1 & 2) but you are cheap and whine about the now, verrry affordable software? Here is Webster animating on Monkeybone (Windows Media) Clip 1 Clip 2 (clips hosted by Marc Spess ). I will soon announce some of my Stop Motion experiments. It will be using rotoscoping, blue/green screen compositing, traditional effects, etc.. .... all to achieve Harryhausen type special effects and then maybe, it will penetrate your brains , the tools that are now available & accessible, but you may have not yet, explored its creative possibilities.

* Taking it One Day at a Time .... Not just Stop Motion but in the big philosophical picture. Too much information overload bombardment;mass communication technology. Everything seems to behyper-accelerating; local and world events; economic, political, disasters and conflicts .... restlessness, paranoia, uncertainty. We trust the leaders, politicians, beaurocrats but most ALL, have their agenda being pushed by special interests. It does not matter which political party. We arepawns and "they" will increasingly leech off us (taxes) for their own preservation .... legalized theft. If you have family, kids & such, you may need to somewhat plan "life". Personally, I attempt not to plan "life" more than 60 days ahead! Future seems volatile, up & down. fog to me where it is heading. What kind of society or world will it be for the kids All a today being exposed to this current insanity? I suppose, as I said, just try to be in the moment. Easy to say and I try to practice it but difficult and I do not always succeed. Escaping from all this seems to be solution? Shut off your TV's, radio, cancel newspaper subscription, and now, the internet which is a mixed blessing .... rumor spreader, hype and mis-information. Do not believe everything you read online. On that happy note, I shall now escape into my Stop Motion Cave and create my own fantasy worlds

* Reading "LIO Blog" Tip .... Although, you will notice that I can sometimes write extensively .... not come easy for me. Actually, in school I was not that great in comprehending or it does memorizing all the anal retentive English grammar terminology ..... participles, gerunds, dependent & independent clauses, appositives, predicates .... ad nauseum. Why don't they make the grammar rules understandable in English!? I write by how it feels & sounds and notthe grammatical rules. Here is the tip: When I first post a news or blog item, knowing sometimesis a draft version when it's online. Maybe a day or two later I will re-edit it. So, it even if you already read the current news or blog, you might check it again because I could have slightly revised it. I have been doing this since the beginning of this news page, but thought I would tell you. Maybe strange? It is my website and I can do anything I want

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