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September 2009


* The Yoda Factor: CG or Puppet? ..... This is not specifically about Yoda. The CG Yoda vs Puppet Yoda is only 'Symbolic'. An article I read just blew me away. IMO, strikes at root about certain problems with CG and its overuse. You may have to read a number of times to try and grasp it.  It's kind of from a brain evolutionary POV and 'humans' intuitive ability to visually perceive imagery that is believable or not believable I could never make such deep analysis & observations like this author. This article is cogent and validates what I sometimes have rambled in past .... That audiences already are aware of the over-hyped process of CGI and many can unconsciously sense the separation of the 'live' & computer generated elements. I'll try to give a quasi summary of article: When CGI is used to create entire environment including characters, audiences are forgiving and accept in full, that synthesized world. However, when digital creatures occupy the same living area of tangible objects and humans, especially when they interact with recognizable actors .... the level of believability becomes more complicated and problematic. This is partly because the fake digital characters where not created in that environment. It does not have a real texture element that exists in the real world.There is a disconnect. However, if it were REAL Puppets, there is more believablity. The 'real tangible' special effects forces a different CREATIVITY to tell a Story. At the end of the article, it also validates what I have always said .... MIX-UP the Special Effects methods. It will help make the product more believable and will not have that homogenized CG flavor

Think about this: Since the first 'Jurassic Park' (1993), from layman's POV, I DO NOT see that much Qualitative improvement when you compare it with today's Realistic-type CG creature characters. Sixteen years after JP and supposed mega-million dollars in more advance 'Puter Software tools technology, and so, where is that humongous leap in CGI Aesthetics/Look IMPROVEMENT on the SCREEN?? How more supposed realistic can you get? Perhaps the slight advancement that I, 'the general audience' SEEs on the screen, is CGI's ability to show-off and clone hundreds to thousands of CGI characters, space ships, animal/creature herds, flocks, swarms, ad nauseum. All to overwhelm you and you are suppose to be impressed? If you see this repeatedly over & over, it GETS really OLD (CG empty eye candy calories). Hey, you can make a DAMN GOOD MOVIE with just 3 fuggin characters!! (solid story & character development) If you have a keen eye and look at all the realistic-type CG synthesized character effects, they all have a 'Signature' to it. It's because the VISUAL IMAGERY are synthesized manufactured and filtered through the same Computer production pipeline. It may be a good performance by CG animator, but you cannot escape the 'Synthesized Pixelized Material'. It has a recognizable feel, look, and motion characteristics. That is the Aesthetic Signature of CGI. Hey 'Suits' .... Maybe the audiences want a VARIETY in their Movie Entertainment DIET? You cannot live on only Peanut Butter (CG) 24/7. It will make you sick. Anyway, light-up your pipe or cigar, pour yourself some wine, slip on your reading glasses & read the article Digital Creatures (authored by Landon Palmer) Comments to article

* Is Excessive CGI and 'No Plot' becoming a trend in Movies? ..... This is kind of related to above. Good read written by Chelsea Doyle but perhaps, her article maybe not reaching the specific or wider audience. So far, she has only received minimal replies. Excellent points she makes but in Softer Tone than me. I like to hit you on the head with a hammer with my sometimes 'In your Face' commentary. You all know, that in past, I have equated excess CGI similar to 'cocaine-like high visual eye candy calories'.  It's all empty & temporary satisfaction if movie does not have solid foundation of story & characters. I am no expert, but I got GUT INSTINCTS and my observations tells me ....that is the contributory factor why audiences get jaded & bored very FAST .... same homogenized crap they're being fed .... the drone masses addicted thanks to the mainstream 'Tinsel Town' pushers .....'Every high (eye candy) becomes a new low (needs more to get the fix)'  To help reach a more targeted audience such as you and me, here is link to Chelsea's article plus a bonus article District 9, and the failing of CGI Effects

* Laika Studio does second round of lay offs ..... The last lay offs were back in Dec '08, specifically the 'computer animation department' with about 65 let go. This current lay off is about 63 employees and again, in the computer animation department. In general on mass scale, hundreds of  thousands of people have very unfortunately lost their jobs in this depressed economic/financial period and I will attempt to restrain myself from going off on a TIRADE about, how the current 'USA leadership' is contributing to it.

The arts and entertainment industry is not immune to these economic times. It also has to contend with the general fierce competiveness of this business. According to the news byte article about Laika ..... due to positive critical praise and audience favorable reception of 'Coraline', Laika will be focusing on Stop Motion Animation projects.  What can we read into this with regards to the bigger picture?  Personally, I have always sensed a GLUT of CGI. Is it finally reaching a SATURATION point? The public relentlessly being bombarded with CGI and they are getting JADED. No more 'Wow' factor. The Tinsel Town 'Suits', as usual, running IT into the ground until the people are bored of it. These are observations that I have ranted many times in the past and I know you all thought that I was nuts. It's okay, I 'forgive' your blindness tetttttt. I can see the trends and how mainstream 'Hollywood' works.  Just think, ONLY LAIKA Studio in the USA, a semi-mainstream, semi-large studio is offering Stop Motion production services. The majority of studios in the USA and probably worldwide, large or boutique sized, are 'Mouse Clicking CGI'. Of course, we do have the smaller boutique studios that offer 'some' Stop Motion, but they are in the micro-minority compared to CGI. Read Laika lays off 63, scrubs plans for computer-animated features  

Message to Laika: "Yo Travis .... whassup, whassup. Maybe suggest to your dad to forget about Laika Campus Studio. Economy is volatile right now. Concentrate your resources on your People/Talent. Good ol' warehouse works just as well. It is the END FINISHED PRODUCT that is of priority IMPORTANCE".

Addendum: I am not casting aspersions at the CGI technique or the people who do the work. My primary complaint is that CGI shutting out OTHER animation styles/aesthetics. It's almost like a monopoly. It's likely the myopic 'Suits' responsible for the CGI saturation and refuse to give the public VARIETY of PRODUCTS. 'Suits' (not being creatives, visionaries, artists) just $EXPLOIT$ until its DEAD. EDIT: 09.20.09

'Pursuit': Stop Motion combined with Live Action ..... A demo quick rough test that the ISMC group executed. It was added to Ron S. Cole's demo reel for review by an independent production studio, Giant Flick Films. NO .... this is not for computer animation special effects work aka CGI. In this age of worldwide take-over by the same ol', same, ol' homogenized CGI, it is a rarity that this very savvy and  thinking out of the box company Giant Flick Films are considering the inclusion of State of the Art Stop Motion Creature Effects for some of the scenes in their upcoming film Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage, (IMDb), starring world renowned & respected actor, Patrick Stewart.  I already commented about this independently produced Fifth Voyage. What a missed opportunity for the 'Clash of the Titans' remake (they completely ignored our appeal). Finally, where no mainstream studio would challenge the onslaught of CGI creature character effects (ad nauseum), it looks like an independent studio might be doing some trailblazing, and most importantly for me, they would be honoring and paying a heart felt sincere Tribute to the Master of Stop Motion, the one and only .... Ray Harryhausen Take a look at the 'Pursuit' test & Here - Messageboard comments  UPDATE: I received information .... NO STOP MOTION. I RETRACT my previous endorsement of Giant Flick Films until further notice. Their Sinbad will be all CG effects content like all the other CG saturated products. Not a true tribute to Uncle Ray. EDIT: 09.25.09

* 'Clash of Titans' (remake),  'Fantastic Mr. Fox', and 'Avatar' ..... No comment from Uncle LIO . Clash retread, a CGI orgy-fest & nothing much else to sayMr. Fox teaser behind scenes but my Uncle already talked-out too much at SMW News. What  happened to Jimmy Cameron after original 'Terminator'? Production cost for 'Avatar' about $250 million+ . Kind of nice & cushy to devote about 10 years on one movie?? Posted by LIO's Nephew

'The Golden Child' (1986): Butchered Finale Stop Motion Scenes ..... Near the climax conclusion of movie, some extraordinary, albiet truncated Stop Motion Creature Effects done by ILM, specifically executed by Phil Tippett, Randy Dutra, Tom St. Amand, Chris Walas & others when they were doing hired work for that studio. The effects used were Ol' Classic techniques requiring, get your hands dirty problem solving & sweat labor hands on tactile creativity. In 1986 this was well before before the worldwide takeover and domination by 'Mouse-clicking CGI Homogenized 'Puter FX'. The brief Harryhausen-esque Stop Motion you saw in 'The Golden Child' was first tampered by the Director Michael Ritchie, who, during the demon puppet design, approved the wing feathered look but then later (after scenes already shot) being undecided, he changed his mind and wanted a more leathery look to the wings, and so scenes were re-shot and/or cut. Then I guess at the time, Eddie Murphy (the 'star' of movie) was perhaps a hot celebrity property and maybe 'Tinsel Town' dare not offend him? Anyway, Eddie Murphy seeing the preview screenings, wanted 'Golden Child' to be more comedic & funny, and then with Czar-like authority, demanded that the 'Suits' CUT & REDUCE the Stop Mo Demon scenes. I would like to belatedly (23 years later) express to Mr. Michael 'indecisive' Ritchie and to Mr. Eddie 'You're just a FRIGG'N actor making directorial creative decisions' Murphy, my complete disagreement (controlling my rage) with both of you, for shamelessly castrating 'The Golden Child' ending which could have been way, way  more awesome and powerful. Watch:At about 09:05 man to demon hyper-quick transforms then what little is left of the Demon Stop Mo scenes here. If you can tolerate Eddie Murphy, you can watch all of 'The Golden Child' in 9 YouTube chapters (Behind scenes info from Cinefex #30 - 1987)  Hmmm .... are those deleted Stop Mo scenes locked away in a vault at ILM?

* Canada / Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival ..... I received this last week. With festivals, contests, or events that are 'time sensitive', our SMW staff cannot always immediately post them. We somewhat have a schedule when we update the news. Particularly with Animation contests, I would suggest to give much more advance notice. Stop Motion does take more time to produce compared to other animation methods. Deadline for film submissions is the end of this month September 30, 2009. Maybe, if you have an existing finished stop motion animated work, you can enter that in festival. Give it a try. This is the first edition of the festival which will debut October 24 and 25, 2009.  Canada is known to be very friendly to the animation arts with a lot of support from organizations such as the Nation Film Board. Even if there is no prize, you can get some publicity mileage. This is somewhat rare, a festival just for Stop Motion. Consider entering the festival which would help their premiere showing to start off with a big bang. Get info here Stop Motion Montreal EDIT: 09.08.09
*  September SMW Random Cinema:  

Making of 'The Thing' (1982) - Animatronics/cable, matte paintings, miniatures, &  director deleted stop motion  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8
> Making of 'Empire Strikes Back' (1980) - The best of original trioligy Watch


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