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October 2005

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* Under the weather lately (yeah me) At least, I have a reason for not being as active on message board. What about you? I even dragged myself out of bed to do this blog for you. I do not want to hear you have kids or a real job ..... or you have nothing to post ..... yada, yada, yada. Remember, Stop Motion ..... always FIRST! Anyway, you should fill-in and help out when the regulars are not able to. You can do it, I know you can. I will not always be around, you know.

* Robot Chicken ..... Got word through my secret sources that they have just started animating the second season shows. Actually, my source was at Ethan Marak's Angry Puppet Film blog. He will be returning as a Robot Chicken animator. Also, Ethan said, "There are also some fun things coming soon ... the bones of other Angry Puppet characters are taking shape!" He kind of hinted at it in one of his past blogs (all you lurkers, you find it .... earn your info). I really cannot say much about his reference to the bones

* Tennessee ... what are you taking? Let me buy some off you! He has been doing some recent hella postings at his blog site. T. Reid will also be one of the elite Stop Mo animators on Robot Chicken's second season. I was almost going to post some article links earlier but felt like, just taking a break from too frequent blogging. The Tennesse Meister beat me to those articles but I'm glad he's taking up the slack; giving his own time just for YOU, to keep you Stop Mo informed. The articles are from Animation World Network, about the potential trends for animation. Go visit Tennessee's blog and you'll see the AWN article links there. Also, his past blogs have much info, technical, off topic, and fun stuff too. Come on Stop Mo people! Don't just sit there reading and sucking up info. Do something, participate ... get some Stop Mo excitement in your blood (like T. Reid)

* Kong Re-Animated .... Not talking about the Computerized Kong but the old classic ape dude. The original Kong armature & Bob Burns visited the Weta Studios in New Zealand. Very much a good guy, Bob is! Many in Movie Biz know him. Whenever Bob tours with Kong, he happily permits people to handle the iconic Stop Motion armature. That is the essence & soul of what Stop Motion is about; hands-on, tactile, real, touching, etc.. Bob has been around the movie biz and especially the fun genre film fandom scene for many years. BTW, Bob will do a brief cameo in P. Jackson's CGI Kong version. Coolest surprise to me; an animator at Weta did a very quick animation of the original Kong armature. If you got dial-up connection; sorry. Just be very patient for the download. See Bob, watch the 73 year old Kong, momentarily resurrected! Click Real Kong visits Weta. Just a side bar, Kong CGI 2005 almost finished. *Sigh* . "They", the Suits could have provided reasonable production money for a High Tech State of the Art Stop Motion King Kong .... BUT .... Noooooooooooo. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you .... KONG! ..... The 8th Wonder of the World !" Edit 10.23 Warner Bros. Studios site promoting the upcoming first time, DVD releases of Original 1933 King Kong. Also, get your own King Kong Credit Card?

* Being a "Man" here and I'm holding it back .....Our Stop Mo Brother, Misha Klein, has unfortunately decided to take down his Bad Bullets Blog which was primarily about his Stop Motion project and the puppet character Fred. Elusive and enigmatic Mish was. I could tell, through his brief online revelations ....deep within his subconscious and soul, much percolations & ponderings about all manner of things. Perhaps, the Mish-Meister is following the "Don't Blow your Wad too soon" philosophy (a new LIO'ism). Hang in there Mish and try to stay true to Stop Motion. We march to the beat of a different drummer. You got a significant other to share the highs & lows of "Life and Stop Motion". For me at this time, and not of my choosing, it seems to be the path of a loner . That seems to be the lifestyle for some of us that passionately practice this unique, heavily hands-on tactile art-craft-avocation that creates the Illusion of Life. I feel some angst coming on (in addition to my existing angst). Must ... briefly escape. Let me choose one of my briar pipes, load it with fine baccy & fire it up; grab my walking stick, borrow a Labrador dog ... then trek into the woods ... to contemplate, cogitate, ruminate, wonder, etc.. What does it all mean? Hopefully, Mish will ocassionally resurface and also one day, we will see Fred unleashed upon the world. This is for you Mish (and for me too) ..... My Way & Lyrics EDIT 10.20, 18:42

* Corpse Bride comments .... I never really did any kind of so-called "review" and so here it is: Generally ... very good ! The artistic & creative craftsmanship (sets, puppets, etc.), technically (photography, lighting, etc.), and the Stop Motion execution .... all of the highest caliber, slick, and most finessed .... BUT .... some "buts" here .... Corpse Bride "felt" to me, too short a movie, and the ending kind of abrupt. Not just from me or other reviewers but I even heard a few of the regular theater crowd ....saying that CB kind of short. I wonder .... the "Suits" edict & demanding "expectation" of rushed CGI production deadlines for a "Stop Motion" project; or the budget not enough? Hence, CB ended up being just a One hour, 14 minute movie? This bugs me . Wallace & Gromit is 20 minutes longer than CB! Perhaps, dreaming here .... I would really dig a Corpse Bride DVD extended special edition version! However & unfortunately, with Stop Motion and other "traditional" animation, you shoot exactly to the storyboard, and you usually do not have extra scenes or out-takes .... UNLESS! .... Tim Burton would be BOLD enough to shoot more CB scenes for the DVD!? IMO, Corpse Bride's both piano playing scenes, the first touching one (Victor alone in room), and then, the other fun one (Victor & the Bride duet); the Mr. BoneJangles beat thumping musical number; and the ending fight scene (Victor & Barkis); could all have been a little longer. Also, IMO, Corpse Bride first musical number, not as potent an opening grabber as Nightmare Before Christmas' This is Halloween (midi sound file). I know, I should not make comparisons. They are different movies. Of course, musical composer Danny Elfman, has to work with the story-script that was given to him. Finally .... at the very end, how the story dealt with The Bride, I just do not feel, as satisfied with. Edit 10.16.05

* Slamdance Animation Shorts deadline ....I received notice from them that the original entry deadline was Oct. 11th, however, if you mention "Stop Motion Works", the new postmark deadline will be extended to October 19th. They are especially looking for more Stop Motion entries. Slamdance perhaps is not aware that reasonable quality Stop Motion is not as plentiful as other animation mediums and that we are kind of the underground, outsiders & mavericks. Maybe Slamdance has had their appetites wetted by Corpse Bride and Wallace & Gromit? I know of some great Stop Motion talent that could have some formidable, fresh & original stuff, if they chose to enter, but they are still in progress with their works. I will mention a few .... Nick Hilligoss, Dan Anderson, Ethan Marak, Misha Klein, T. Reid Norton and other Stop Mo talent emerging from their closets! Slamdance, you just have to wait a little bit. Stop Motion has been mostly ignored by mainstream biz and we have existed in the darkest shadows. We are trying to break out of that shell but it is not easy to do with all those years of Stop Motion discrimination behind us. Can we start a Class Action Lawsuit for that? Anyway, if you have any finished Stop Motion short and $25.00 (USD), you can give Slamdance a shot. Edit 10.16.05

* The Curse of the Aardman Studio .... I am not making light of, but what a weird & strange turn of events; already posted at forum Fire hits Aardman Studio. So far, news indicates that the older puppets and sets from their past projects were lost to the blaze. From what I read, this was a storage building and is not their primary studio. Sooo .... their camera and other equipment not affected and all the Were-Rabbit stuff seems to be okay. Still too early to know extent of damage.

* Blowing our Stop Motion "Wad" too soon?... You may think this is unusual observation but here goes .... I kind of wished that Corpse Bride and Wallace & Gromit were not released soooo closely together. Stop Motion usually gets zero or minimal attention by mainstream biz. Now suddenly, in a mere few months, the public is "Stop Mo saturated". I cannot believe the blitz of Stop Mo articles especially all over the net. About a month ago, I was even approached to do a Podcast show but I suggested for better timing, they get back to me when Stop Mo flicks are in theaters. They never got back to me. Also, just this past Friday (10.07), WGN 720 Radio in Chicago, contacted Anthony Scott & myself and they wanted to interview us that same Friday on their late night talk show. Unfortunately, it was too short notice for me and also, I work at night. Anthony was out of town, and so, he could not do the show. It was flattering, though . Anyway ... I think it would have been much better in the bigger long term Stop Mo picture, if these films premiered about a year from each other so that we could get more publicity mileage. You know how it is in show biz, news & media ..... crazy plethoric saturation by them and they exploit to the max. We'll see, we'll see .... I am kind of skeptical about the "suits" now being all Luvy-duvy about Stop Motion.

* Hand Made & Low Tech .... BUT .... sooooo visually cool & awesome. IMO, it would be difficult doing it Digital-Schmigital CGI methods. What am I talking about? A short animated film by German filmmaker artist, Virgil Widrich. No multi-million dollar budget, no latest high techy fancy schmancy proprietary computer software, no huge film crew, and no excess "front office suits" bureaucracy. First, check out the tools used on this animated short which uses frame by frame Stop Motion, employing mostly animated Cut-Outs & Still Photos. Now, go visit their website, Fast Film.Website reveals behind-the-scenes. The only high tech part was that it was shot with Digital Still Cameras. This is another example of animation being shot with DSCs (before Corpse Bride). The other semi-techy tool they used was, the Computer Printer.The Fast Film behind the scenes & teaser clips posted at their website though, are a bit on the small side (hard to see details), but supplemented with other still photos, interviews, etc.. I dig this stuff .... pure simplicity in how it was done but TONS of creativity & resourcefulness and feels & looks soooo original. Kind of a Mike Jittlov approach. My same opinion in a past blog about Rubber Johnny which is not animation but IMO, "original" and no hi-tech excess. RJ .... not high resolution (it's video res) and not necessary. Fast Film website only shows teasers and looks like, the only way to order DVD is through an overseas online store. Widrich's DVD has four of his works. I don't know about the others, but Fast Film is so visually different, unique, organic, and trippy .... I might just get it!

* Chiodo Brothers did it before Corpse Bride .... An article here promoting Apple's products, Match made in Final Cut Pro Some behind the scenes info of CB digital workflow. Author though, not fully aware of short history of Digital Still Cams used in Stop Mo. He writes...."(Corpse Bride) Shot with Canon digital cameras and edited with Final Cut Pro on Power Mac G5s at Three Mills Studios in London, the film marks the first time stop-motion animation has been shot in digital". Some other articles elsewhere also making that wrong assumption. That is not correct ..... Digital Still Cams used before Corpse Bride. An example: I saw Chiodo Brothers Utlimate Action Figures (QT clip) promo spot at ImagineNation Expo '02 . Stop Motion was shot using Digital Still Cams. So that must be almost 4 years ago? Also, take a look again at Chiodo's demo reel and their recent projects page. Fun to watch. Chiodos very much eclectic ..... wide range of creative abilities ..... mostly using good ol' traditional special effects techniques and in this era of CGI overabundance, Chiodo's work's still visually creative, impressive, & energetic

*Animation Innovator: Mike Johnson .... Co-Directer of Corpse Bride will be visiting Canada courtesy of FPS Mag & ACM SIGGRAPH Montreal. When: Wednesday, October 26, 2005 Times: 10:00 a.m. (special matinee for schools); 6:30 p.m. Where: Concordia University, Hall Alumni Auditorium, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West, Montreal, Quebec Cost: $15 ..... More details at FPS Mag website.


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