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Thanksgiving Edition - 11-25-04
* Oooookay ..... back online. Been having ocassional glitches with my ISP service. NO, not hi-speed broadband but good ol' cheap dial-up connection! The $savings$ using dial-up helps pay for the frigg'n overpriced gas prices we have to pay in California ....that sucks. Also, I ain't got time to sit on my butt being mesmarized at computer screen using faster net connection.

* Buzz is, that Sam Raimi now better known for his directorial efforts in the "Spiderman" movie franchise .... is considering doing an "Evil Dead" sequel .... Evil Dead Makes a Comeback Evil Dead Will Rise Again. So far, there have been three ..... the original 16mm Evil Dead, then the sort-of mainstream Evil Dead 2 (re-interpretation of 1st one, not really a remake), then the last one Evil Dead: Army of Darkness. There is no continuity with the Evil Deads due to slight variations of the stories in each film and especially with regards to the Linda character. They were all played by different actresses in each of the films! Only Bruce Campbell who played Ash, remained the same. Sam Raimi has perhaps achieved some clout now and the Studios may be licking his feet .... the suits following a potential $cash cow$. Whereas in the past, Evil Dead achieved status as cult movie with a niche fan base, the mainstream mostly ignored these kind of genre films. Ironic ..... major mainstream now doing highly budgeted B-Movies. IMO, problem is ..... those overpriced genre mainstream flicks lose that nitty gritty low-cost B-Movie ambiance which is a more intimate experience because it feels more personal and hands-on crafted. That is the great appeal of B-Movies. Look at Tim Burton's Mars Attacks I think totally wrong to use CGI special effects especially for the Martian characters and also using big name pricey actors. They wanted Mars Attacks to have a B-movie quality but I think, failed. To me, 100% contrary to the B-Movie philosophy and you lose that, once you start pouring multi-million dollars into the movie. The excess cash and movie making bureaucracy in big productions .....kind-of replacing the creativity, resourcfulnesss, and ingenuity aspects ..... and the film becomes too large and you feel a sanitized slickness or homogenity quality to them (dull & uninteresting). One possible exception recently, is maybe Hellboy .... computer effects heavy and maybe somewhat slick looking but still retained some of the B-Movie ambiance. The original, The Terminator has that same quality too .... low budget gritty feel but kick-ass story! So... I am not so sure about the Evil Dead new sequel. All the previous ED's used the more traditional special effects methods ..... miniatures, real practical props-effects, stop motion, animatronics, make-up prosthetics, basic compositing/overlaying techniques, etc. . So, if the Evil Dead new sequel goes mostly CGI heavy with the special effects, IMO, it may lose that special quality of the original EDs. Bruce Campbell's acting career was launched by the first Evil Dead and has been successfully marketing himself as a Top Grade B-Movie Actor! He has a website www.brucecampbell.com, I think, I might email/contact Bruce and give him feedback about the possible Evil Dead sequel. It looks like he is being quiet about the sequel because his website still has old news that ED 4 will not be remade.

* This is only indirectly Stop Motion related. I have to brag a little here. I am pretty certain that we on the Stop Motion Works staff (my sources) were one of the first to announce that Eric Leighton would be the Animation Director on Peter Jackson's CGI "King Kong" remake. This was back in June '04 that Stop Motion Works reported it. For months thereafter, no one else mentioned it or they ignored this. Back then, I did periodic online searches about Eric & Kong and no hits or news about it. Just now, I did a search again and Cinefex / Upcoming page, finally has reported this. Here is the Google Search results and look who is there with the news near top of page? Of course, I am nobody compared to the huge entertainment media/news power players. Eric started his animation career as a Stop Motion Clay Animator on the Gumby TV show, then did Stop Mo commercial gigs for Henry Selick, then was animator & animation supervisor on Nightmare and then later, one of his biggest gigs was as co-director on Disney's computer animated Dinosaur. After that project, Eric seemed to have disappeared for about 4 years and now has resurfaced and it looks like that he is presently a new resident in New Zealand.

* Just got this in from my sources ..... Seth Green working on a Stop Motion TV series For months no title for the show. Rumor has it that the animation series will be called Robot Chicken. I have no idea why this name might be used. I hear series is going to be animated short segments of comedic, parody/satire skits using many modified toy figures, props, items, etc., that will be Stop Motion animated.

* More news about Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer (see news below) .... I also just got word that the Chiodo Brothers are possibly doing the celebrity stop motion puppet animation for CBS' bumper-promo spots for the Rudolph broadcast.

* "Polar Express", quoted as costing about $200 million or higher to produce. I thought computers were suppose to eventually lower the price of movie making? I guess, not in Tinsel Town. Where did the money go .... to Tom Hanks' bank account? I have not seen PE yet. Maybe when released on Dvd. Problem with mainstream studios/biz .... their misguided obsession in striving for the "holy grail" of Hyper-Reality. Even when CGI used as Special Effects .... audiences knows it's "computer effects". One of principles of "animation" .... is to simplify, capture, distill the "essence" .... in a form other than reality .... to suspend or transcend the real world to communicate your message, story, etc.. The Less is More principle. IMO, from the trailers I have seen, I do not consider PE as "animation". See my rant about that here (at SMA.com). If you are going to portray humans as real, maybe just use the real thing? The general public, deep within their core-soul inner being, always want to relate, react and emote to real actor's performances. PE reviews were mixed .... here are some examples: Fancy Express to Nowhere 'Polar Express' a Creepy Ride Dysfunctional Family of 5 Review: Polar Express
I am not criticizing PE and I will definitely see it. Whatever works in the entertainment arena. I suppose, my real complaint is .... Motion Capture (recording & copying live action motion), especially to the extent used in PE, being presented as Animation. Actually, it might be more closer to perhaps, Digital Prosthetic Make-up Performance Special Effects??

* In the USA, on the CBS network, they will be airing the classic "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" on December 1st. I heard it has been digitally fixed-up so it will look better. Also, prior to Rudolph airing, CBS says they will use caricatures of celebrities, to look like the Rankin/Bass puppets, which will do the promos-bumpers for the Rudolph broadcast. I wonder if these celebrity puppet promos will use Real Stop Motion or if they are going to fake it with CGI? Rudolph Dec 1 on CBS

* Hey .... what's up Susannah Shaw? You are almost giving away your book for free at the AWN website?? She has contributed another article to AWN based on her book. It is affordable even for the most financially challenged and everyone should buy it for their reference library as a primer general overview about Stop Motion production. Susannah, no more articles. Okay?

* "The PJ's", a Stop Motion puppet TV series that had a few seasons run a number of years ago. Done in Portland, Oregon by the old Vinton Studios. I moved there for a little while to work on that show & Link 2 Anyways, after it was cancelled it has ocasssionaly aired on TV at odd hours or on cable, and sometimes in other countries outside USA. As far as I know, The PJ's has never been officially released by the studios, on VHS or DVD to the public. Here is someone at eBay (from England) selling four, 11 DVD Sets of the first few season's of The PJ's: Over 30 shows. Somewhat unusual that the shows are available as a block group and in sequence. Seller possibly recorded shows on video tape and then burned them to Dvd's. I suppose you can email him to find out. One should always check eBay customer feedback and that might help in judging the seller. Of course, this eBay ad is written in a very hyped-up manner .... typical of people selling their wares at eBay. From the date of this post, there are about 7 days left. If by chance anyone buys it, let me know your opinion about it or post it at SMA.board

* Anyone remember the Ewoks Adventures?? A couple of made for TV movies based on Star Wars & these furry characters.Originally shown back in the mid 1980's. These previously were released on VHS videos but now it looks like you can only purchase them as used. For your information ..... these Ewok movies will be released for the very first time on one DVD, November 23. If you choose to purchase it you can bookmark the following link or preorder now Ewoks: Caravan of Courage / Battle for Endor. You will have to judge yourself the quality of the shows .... very family-type entertainment. To me, this Star Wars spin-off brings back nostalgic memories of that phenomenon & excitement and of special effects being more of a unique event. If you did not know ..... these Ewok movies have some classic Harryhausen-type Stop Motion done by Phil Tippett, Randy Dutra, Tom St. Amand and I think Jon Berg.

* Sheeeesh ..... seems kind of slow and I do not have much to report. Maybe it is post election blues, however, I am not disappointed at the election results. Maybe in the USA, we are all kind relieved all this political onslaught in the media has quieted down. Well .... here is something non-stop motion. Take a look at the Elephant Man in 3D Caution .... if you are squeamish at looking at physical deformities, do not go there.

* I did get an update from a small studio in Australia called The People's Republic of Animation (it is a Flash enabled website) A unique name indeed that can catch your attention.

* If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you will see two new banners. StopMoShorts.com as mentioned in our earlier news, is a venue-showcase for Stop Motion aficianados/practioners to display their animations. You sign-up as a member, then you will be given a very general theme / guidelines for your short. You do not have to do a complex animation but the website serves as 'motivation' for you to complete an animation within a certain period of time and the focus is on 'creativity' .... excellent way to discipline yourself and good practice. Many times, animators procrastinate because their animation projects are too ambitious. The other new link is Fields of Knowledge an informational resource for students, librarians and teachers. Professors and scholars make selections of who are to be included. Stop Motion Works has been cited & given an 'Award of Excellence'



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