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November 2006

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* Meister Tony McVey slowly emerging ..... About 5 months ago I gave you an exclusive peak at what he was up to in his spare time. I got another update. He finished some animated test shots/compositions. Looks cool .... very Willis Obrien .... miniatures & matte glass painting-like surreal but with the aid of digital compositing .... the best of both world techniques. Take a look at this photo of a stop motion puppet of a large beak pterodactyl species. I am guessing maybe 9 inches length by 11 inches wingspan, thereabouts. Not a big puppet and why does it have to be? IMO, some Stop Motionists sometimes go overkill on large puppet sizes. Whatever zips your zipper. Personally, I prefer smaller puppets, which then can be supplemented with some larger puppets for close-up scenes. Anyway, I cannot say much at this time about this, but wait until you see what Tony does with this "singular & small" puppet in the animated scenes! . He said, maybe next month he might have ready and reveal the test shots to you all. As usual, we here at SMW have our fingers on the pulse of Stop Motion and you will be the first to know when that happens.

Chiodo Brothers (pronounced Ki-odo) and I wish they would also HURRY UP .... get back into some Stop Mo on more regular basis, before I start pushing up daisies . Last month as reported by freelance correspondent (hired by SMW) Keith Brett (aka Stop Mo Pho); the Chiodo's have written a childrens book, "Alien X-mas", and the plan is to turn it into an actual Stop Mo project. It seems they also have other things percolating. Come on Suits! Don't just sit on your asses with your little security blankets. How about being trailblazers, take a little chance, with some funding for these Stop Mo projects. You already know we got CGI up the yin-yang and maybe soon to be drowning in it. Stop Mo = Retro = Cool. Here is an article somewhat giving us a rough idea what Chiodos are currently up to, An ''Alien Xmas'' with the Chiodo Brothers. Also, check-out the Chiodo Brothers very early years, Beast from the Egg Edit 11.25.06

Let's Escape: Society and World Sucks (partly due to Cell Phones & Flash websites) .... That's maybe for a future blog-tirade . Let us return to more 'calmer' times where there appeared to not be as much stress & dysfunctionality in the psyche of the masses. Make yourself some popcorn, get some soda pop, and turn down the room lights and crank up the speaker volume. Are you ready to hop into my Time Machine and abandon this insane world?

Okay, here are some beginning Harryhausen-esque Stop Motion examples. A little rough around the edges, however, pretty good. Lots of energy and enthusiasm went into it .... Death by Dinosaur , Dino Dreams, Toxic Nightmare, & Encounter. That was kind of Fun . Give them feedback & encouragment.

The following clips have the Jim Aupperle karma on them. Here is an oldie from 1974, Flesh Gordon, a scene of the Beetle-man dueling, animated by Jim Danforth. Jim Aupperle worked on that cult classic, including a few other well known special effects people. In this clip of Planet of Dinosaurs about 1977, Jim A. did much of the camera work and special effects compositing using Front projection & 2. Jim Danforth did some glass paintings too. This next one, a USA TV series, about 1978, called Jason of Star Command & 2. I believe Jim A did the Stop Mo animating in that episode of the bug-like creature. Finally, lets end with a compilation from the Godfather of Stop Motion Classic works; a YouTuber edited this together .... Uncle Ray Harryhausen Creature List Edit 11.25.06

* No one 'Owns' the 'News' ..... That is maybe not news to you. Anyway, whatever I post, say, or rant here, is free for everyone and you can spread the word. . I cannot FUGG'N do this by myself. I swear, Stop Motion people have got to be the most uncommunicative and introverted group . Let's get some Action going. In the past, I have hinted that you are welcome to re-post anything from here, at your own blog-news or at the Stop Mo message board. Geez .... be pro-active and get your butt moving. Maybe use some viral marketing techniques? I do not want any credit. I am just the messenger. I guess many of you just have a disconnect in your brain and cannot see it. You do not have to ask me. I am giving this info away ... no charge! Edit 11.26.06

* OUT OF THE BOX 'Thinking' with Stop Motion ..... I would say, the general public mostly associates Stop Motion with only 'Puppets'. Many of you may already know that there are other variations or categories of 'Stop Motion': You got Object and Cut-Out/Photo animation, Replacement animation, Clay animation, and then there is Pixilation. Aardman's Angry Kid shorts, has used combinations of these Stop Mo variants. A Mike Jittlov's cult classic of many years ago, 'The Wizard of Speed & Time', was a good special effects 'textbook' examples of pixilation, cut-out/photo animation, stop motion and other resourceful traditional special effects techniques. Here is the original Wizard 16mm film short from 1979. About10 years later in 1989, they did a full length low budget feature film remake of the Wizard short, with many of the original special effects scenes newly re-done. Here is that Trailer.

Let's zoom forward to 2006. We now have this thing called 'The Internet' which now provides a wide open public stage where anyone can display their talents (or no talent), especially since the invasion of YouTube and other similar free video hosting sites. Plenty of so-so stuff out there, but some creative gems, not just animation, but also personal and/or video shorts employing good filmmaking methods & storytelling. One of my Stop Motion Works 'Groupies' , turned me on to this YouTuber whose name is Lasse Gjertsen, from Norway. First, take a look at what he has done, Hyperactive and Amateur. Then, read some of the veiwer's comments at YouTube. What would you call this? A hybrid of Pixilation? Stop BeatBox-mation, Stop Looping-mation, or Stop Music-mation? Whatever you want to name it, I think it's kind of Groovy . He seems to be one of the original ones that started this on YouTube and it looks like other YouTubers inspired by Lasse, doing similar or homages to the Norwegian talent.

I already mentioned Object Animation. One of the better practitioners that I have seen is from Eat PES. He uses and animates common items that you see in your house or just all around you. Roof Sex, Kaboom and Fireworks are creative & clever. Most of the PES shorts available online. Just watch all of them. Simple objects being given life and character, but more importantly, GOOD Storytelling.He also does live action work (Real people! Non-animation).

To sum up, I would suggest, do not be myopic and get caught-up in just puppets and armatures. Other forms or variations of Stop Motion are available for you to apply your talents & creativity, especially for the beginners (at the message board) that are budgetly challenged and pre-occupied & side-tracked with the anal retentive Stop Mo technical aspects and mega schmega, pixel schmixel excess. Just, START ANIMATING! Edit 11.18.06

* Walmart in the Movie Biz ....You remember, some months ago I posted that here? It looks like, on November 21st, Walmart is ready to release their first installment of the Holiday themed Rankin & Bass-style Stop Motion specials, direct to DVD and only available through Walmart. It is suppose to be an hour long and it might have behind the scenes (I am not sure). Here is direct link, Holidaze: The Christmas that Almost Didn’t Happen. If Flash heavy sites bothers you like it does me, you can just see the teaser here. Tennessee apparently has been quiet (or maybe just busy) about this project. I am not sure if he worked on the Holidaze gig. Edit 11.18.06

* Cuppa Coffee is expanding .... with additional 40 stop-motion studios, 50 compositing stations, 7 online editing suites, including one HD suite; a character, sets and prop fabrication department. They say this addition makes Cuppa Coffee the largest stop-motion facility in the world. I assume when they say '40 stop motion studios', that must mean, animation "stages or cubicles"? Their terminology not clear (to me). Read further details ...Cuppa Coffee Acquires New Studio Facility

* FPS Magazine Online Charity Auction ..... to help the Cancer Society. Auction will go live November 22 and end on the 29th. They have a link page of all the items being auctioned. If you do not wish to bid, you can just make a donation.Contact FPS Magazine for details or how the bidding process works.

* Flushed Away: Pseudo Aardman ...I have subscriptions to a number of online news services and that's how I get some ideas of what topics to include here. Whenever a particular movie is about to be released (in this case I'm looking for animation related), I get a flood of press releases, articles, hyping it up, then it dies. Predictable cycle. Just a little behind the scenes for you, revealing my ongoing dangerous Stop Mo Missions .

Back to Topic: With Flushed Away, for some reason, just not interesting to me. I have much respect for Aardman. Maybe it's the thought that they sold-out to CGI and also let go of "control" of their product to become somewhat pop-culture Americanized. Flushed Away may have Brit voices but from the clips I have seen online, to me, their British sensibilities & signature, very much diluted. Not the same as their past true Aardman works.The Flushed Away teasers/clips has CGI written all over it. No amount of hype-spin in the articles and the favorable reviews & interviews is going to convince me that Flushed Away supposedly captures the Stop Motion look & feel. This is a strategy of Studios and their PR departments in attempts to brainwash the general public "to think" that there is no distinction (difference) between CGI & Stop Motion. In addition, implying that CGI is the superior method. Our "Stop Motion" title & heritage being parasited on and HI-JACKED.

Many of the Flushed Away articles parroting the same line from the studio, claiming that the "water" elements was the reason for "going CGI". What a bunch of Bull Crap . If there was a true will & desire, the shots, scenes, storyline, could have been executed differently so that it could be done within the Stop Motion style & aesthetics. Also, I am all for combining different techinques; Flushed Away could have had CGI water elements composited with the Stop Motion. A side note: Most all the pro-Flushed Away articles do not mention anything about Dreamworks & Aardman recent split. I already tiraded in the past about both studios divorcing. Here is the other side (reviews) so you get the big picture, Prototypical Anthropomorphic Fish Out of Water Tale - More of the same in this CG animated feature - A serviceable talking animal movie - Flush the Awful Animation - Wasted Opportunity. Also, good read about mainstream animation biz, Toontown heads for double trouble Edit 11.12.06

* The 3 Worlds of Gulliver .... I am sure that many of us who have watched magician's, we were wowed by their illusions. I believe Uncle Ray followed that philosophy during his career as the king of character-creature animation & special effects. During those times, Ray did not reveal much, however all of us were still in awe of his work. In the practice of Illusions, the audiences just eat it up, but once you find out how the trick is done (i.e. Spoilers), they are perhaps, still somewhat intrigued of the sometimes, simplicity of it, although, thereafter, the illusionary effect or entertainment value might be diminished.

In some ways, I perhaps yearn for that philosophy of keeping things mysterious, but today, everyone addicted to information glut (I have a lot to say about that sometime). Ray used ol' school traditional effects work and tricks he developed on his own. No 'Puters in those days. For me, that is the beauty of Stop Motion .... the journey & process of getting there. You have all the time in world to create the special effects between each frame. All hands-on and tactile. BIG "visual special effects bang-for-the-buck" via much creativity & resourcefulness.

One of Ray's, not as popular classics (compared to his other works) was The 3 Worlds of Gulliver , 1960. It did not have as much Stop Motion; basically an oversized squirrel and crocodile when Gulliver is in shrunken mode. Gulliver movie did use plenty of other kinds of special effects to create human giants & mini-sized humans. Even to this day, we sometimes wonder how Ray created some of his frame by frame illusions. Okay, here is a spoiler. In the Crocodile creature battle scene with Gulliver, Ray used the most simple method to enhance the illusion of interaction between Gulliver and the Croc. Courtesy of Rick Catizone, a faithful Stop Motion Works follower who sent me a nice close-up pic of Gulliver & the Crocs tail still frames.You can see a segment of Gulliver's arm & hand which are image/photocut-outs stuck onto the glass in front of the rear screen set-up. Ray then animated it for a few frames. When in motion, a convincing illusion. Ingenious & simple and you get lots of special effects visual impact-mileage. This other pic shows Gulliver holding a shield. You can just barely see that it is a miniature shield, and to 'me', it appears like 2 mini- sculpted hands & shirt sleeves 'attached' to shield. I have heard, Jim Danforth also has used this technique, where, instead of photo cutouts, Jim would paint on the glass frame by frame. Here is info about Gulliver-Croc scene. The Croc battle clip link does not work, however, here is the Gulliver trailer.

* Jack Palance just past away at 87 years .... Our ol' school actors are leaving us . This SUCKS. Today's actors ... just not the same. A quote from Jack, "Most of what I do is garbage," he told a reporter once. And as for the directors he worked for, "most of them shouldn't even be directing traffic". Real men, you see, don't talk pretty or eloquent. They just say it like it is." I say, Fricken RIGHT ON! Today .... all this touchy, feely sensitive stuff that modern man should emote & display? In general, there should be differences between Women & Men; you know .... Yin-Yang.

Oscar-Winning Actor Jack Palance Dies - Jack Palance, Best Of The Bad Guys, Dies At 87 - "City Slickers Clip". Watch this, how I tie this to "animation". Check out this comedic animated short, "Burnout", where they used actual audio from a voice session where Jack was apparently, being over-directed and he let loose! Will miss you Uncle Jack. Edit 11.12.06

* New Ray Harryhausen book in the works & 1997 Stop Mo TV Ad..... I have it from a very reliable source about the book. Ray Harryhausen TV AdThe contents was not revealed to me, but I can take an educated guess of what this book will be about. That too, I will keep 'confidential' for now. YUJI at SMA forum, just posted a link to a Stop Motion TV commercial. Uncle Ray was one of the directors & also Mark Nunnally, but what is kind of weird; all these years, "we" have not previously heard about it or seen this piece. From what I could quickly find, this TV Ad done back in 1997, through an agency (not really a 'studio') called Bermuda Shorts, in the UK . Take a look at the Ad, Dairylea 'Dino Time'

* MAC users: New Kid on block ... AnimAide XT ... I usually try to look at the big picture with regards to many aspects of 'Life'. I am a PC-Windows general user for many reasons, and the primary one; the greater availability and variety choices of aftermarket products and especially software at more reasonable costs, compared to Macs. Now, IF I were a Mac user and also practicing the Stop Motionist Arts, I would be concerned that there are less choices when it comes to Stop Motion Frame Capturing software. I have nothing negative to say against FrameThief. You should be grateful FrameThief is out there. Sometimes I detect in the Cyber Virtual Ether , occasional quiet whining (from you) about FT, not updating their software and other small issues.

Just a hypothetical scenario: Suppose that Roman Blok, the author-developer of FrameThief, just decided to call it Quits. "What would you do?" You spent thousands of dollars on your Mac set-up, Final FrameThief for MacsCut Pro, Shake, After Effects, etc. etc. Also, more $$$ on your mega-schmega pixel, SLR digital still cameras. In a way, all that Stop Motion production investment is somewhat "dependent" on FrameThief. Now you are up "shite creek"; no more FT . You always have the option to buy the LunchBox. I also know there is iStopMotion, but it does not seem, you are using that one. It is mostly FrameThief that I hear more frequently. At $40.USD for FT, that is an incredible Fugg'n bargain! Personally, I would pay more, especially if you "expect" the software author (Roman) to do updates or add features.

Okay, calm down. Do not get your underwears in a bunch . As usual, Papa-Gandalf StopMoWorks is here (You also, maybe take me for granted? ), to lessen your paranoia . We have a new upstart in town: AnimAide AnimAideXT for MacsXT for Macs has been humming along in the background, I believe less than a year. It looks like this can be a possible Frame Capturing "option" for you Mac people. Someone contacted me and said, "very satisfied with AnimAide XT". As I stated before, I do not use Macs, but looking at AnimAide XT features; to me, it seems similar to FT. AnimAide XT now has some interface features with Digital Still Cameras. Their support link has an online manual for you to look over, and of course, a Free Trial Download too. Why don't you test it out? Give them feedback. Guess how much AnimAide XT costs? I cannot believe this .... it is only $40.USD! IMO, almost giving it away for a professional-type Stop Motion tool. Go to AnimAide XT main page. Edit 11.05.06

* Acme Filmworks: 2D & Stop Motion Rules .... I do not know if you heard about them. They are in Southern California. What a Cool online demo reel they have! Mostly 2D & Stop Motion. We have sooooo much CGI up the wha-zoo, that seeing very creative uses of 'Traditional' forms of animation; it looks & feels uniquely original and refreshing. They also have a specialty known as Sand Painting Animation. I have known of this technique, but Acme presenting some pretty slick & eye grabbing sand stuff. All you suits and ad agencies, check out Acme Filmworks.

* Turner Entertainment getting into Stop Mo ..... A series of animated shorts titled R.I.P. .... Kind of interesting. I am not sure who exactly is doing the Stop Motion, but I believe this is done in France. Looks like good quality production values. Read more details, Turner puts R.I.P. on TCM. The studio in France is called Megafilms. They produced a number of Animation & Stop Mo projects for the childrens market, that in the USA, we usually never get a chance to see. Check out this sample clip of R.I.P (French version)

* Popular Mechanics Behind the scenes with Nightmare 3D .... Just like the title says ..... a brief overview how NMBC was transformed to Stereoscopic 3D. I have not seen it yet. It seems not much feedback at the message board about it?? I hear, release of 3D Nightmare version for home DVD viewing, is not in works. I suspect, that 3D is one of the carrots/baits to get people out to the theaters. I am not sure if 3D really brings out the crowds or maybe for special long term screenings, such as IMAX? Only time will tell about 3D. I am guessing if 3D were available for home viewing, it would be cool seeing it in the comfort of your home. Read New "Nightmare Before Christmas" & 3-D Movie Revolution

* Animation Magazine's Toon Saloon ..... I seem to have a love-hate relationship about Tinsel Town in Southern California USA. Sometimes I have had urges to live there, but then, I said, "not sure". Just the 'Culture' there or 'something' that maybe grates me the wrong way. If one digs all the trapppings of La-La Entertainment Land, then I suppose, Los Angeles area will Float your Boat. I forgot what I was talking about? Oh .... Animation Magazine is going to host a Stop Mo themed event, this Thursday, November 9 @ 7:30 PM. If you want to attend, read this link. Geez .... you lucky bastards that live there

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