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December 2009


* Harryhausen-esque Stop Motion: The Minority ..... Although 'Stop Motion' seems to be alive & well on the Internet, I have to be direct here, the majority of it online (I would say maybe around 95% plus) is of the all puppet, cartoon, caricature style or other variations of Stop Motion. Those of us who have a passion for the Uncle Ray form of the realistic-surreal fantasy otherworldly Dynamation style, we thirst for updated 21st Century Turbo-charged Stop Motion which would incorporate elements of Traditional special effects combined with modern effects tools.

On YouTube and other video host sites for example, there are a micro-scopic niche of amateurs and beginners attempting 'Harryhausen'. This is GOOD. Keep on doing it and carry forth this Animation Art/Craft. With repetition, you get better at it, however, I also strongly suggest that you raise the bar and challenge yourself. Make an effort to improve the production quality and finesse it more. Even though there are beginners going for Harryhausen, there is unfortunately almost ZERO, current/new Advanced Turbo-charged slick-style Stop Motion Uncle Ray style examples on the video hosts sites. I am not referring to past classic Stop Motion creations released onto the Silver Screen, but in reference to NEW & FRESH sophisticated & slick Stop Motion creature style creature effects. That is one of the reasons ISMC was created in attempt to experimentally explore classic special effects and Stop Motion methods that is updated, advanced, contemporary & modern and not CGI faked. However, ISMC has been on hiatus, as personal lives and real life commitments delay our efforts.

There are a extreme minority few, doing B Movie work (or direct to Dvd) and getting somewhat paid (income) who are still using some of the ol classic special effects techniques. Off the top of my head, Brett Piper comes to mind, then Larry Arpin has been working on Galactic Raiders for awhile. Also, I just remembered, Peter Montgomery trying to get his inprogress independent feature noticed for possible distribution arrangement. Then you got Ron Cole contributing some Stop Motion effects for the independent feature Sinbad: The 5th Voyage. All these however, are extremely rare, the use of Stop Motion creature character effects animation, compared to the plethoric volume of general independent works out there today. Of course, it's a struggle because usually, these are very limited funded projects, but a positive 'Testament' to much creative resourcefulness in attempting to produce reasonable quality Stop Mo creature effects, on a poor man's budget. As you can see, Stop Motion seems to be always struggling even in the Independent Flicks arena (needs financial help, but 'suits' not willing). I'm rushing this final SMW News post for 2009, and much more I can 'free flow thought stream observate' about. Maybe....to be continued.

* I can say 'Merry Christmas' but not 'Happy New Year' ..... A long time idiosyncrasy of mine. 'Christmas' and other holidays are a 'specific day' but ONE generic greeting for an entire frigg'n year? That time period is much too broad and wide. I usually say jokingly, "see you next year", or "you too" but not "Happy New Year". Anyway to me, everyday you should appreciate people that are meaningful to you. Do not wait until the person is on their death bed or has died (missed your chance). I do not need Holidays and such to remind me.

If you are in touch with current events, you likely already know that many national polls/surveys confirms the undercurrents of people's general pessimism. These are uncertain times, specifically, the events happening in Washington DC and Geo-world unrest & volatility. Of course, Change is good, but not at the expense of dismantling & subverting the foundation of the USA, our Constitution. We are (or were) a shining light beacon to the entire world, however, I know other countries/nations, their citizenry/people are indoctrinated by certain political & ideological forces, to envy and HATE us. These forces are slobbering with anticipation that the USA become another Socialistic Nation. I am not criticizing my Euro brothers and sisters. You have your form of government and we have ours, and they all have their flaws as evidenced by thousands of years of history that has seen the rise and fall of civilizations. Just because we are technologically advanced and supposedly more intelligent (NOT) than our ancestors, that does not matter. 'Humans' are still susceptible to the poison of corruption, greed, viciousness, depravity, etc. (aka Evil). Hey, I am almost going off, on a 'rambling detour trail'

My USA brothers & sisters, no matter what your political affiliation or personal beliefs, consider what is morally, ethically Right & Wrong. In my past, I have made errors as to which politicians I voted for and I recognize that and try to fix my mistakes. There is no perfect choice and compromises must be made. A FACT: In the entire history of the USA and world, our current leadership in DC, are further plunging the USA into the most mind numbing DEBT to the tune of Multi-multi Trillions of dollars. A possible 'perfect storm' brewing where this recessionary period could later kick into hyperinflation. Who is going to pay for the Government reckless out of control spending?  You, your children & your grandchildren will suffer the consequences. That is immoral and abusive to the future generation. Draconian Mafia-like enforced government thievery of their hard earned incomes. They (your children) will NOT have any 'Happy New Years' for many, many years into the future. Get involved and fight back - Professor LIO EDIT: 01.01.10 

* Stop Motion Lab ..... I received some information about this very interesting new service based in the UK, but I'm sure they provide their products internationally,"Welcome to StopMotion LAB, a unique and affordable professional standard mini studio, for the production of Stop Motion Animation. When you purchase  StopMotion LAB, you will receive the essential elements of a professional Stop Motion studio, at a fraction of the price ..... StopMotion LAB is ideal for schools, colleges, stop motion enthusiasts, and professionals on a budget."  That describes it accurately. One of the proprietors behind this company has worked on projects such as 'Corpse Bride', 'Coraline', and 'Fantastic Mr. Fox'. You want to see Stop Motion gain more inroads into Schools & Colleges? Perhaps,this new company may fill the gap. So, any of you that have websites or blogsI strongly urge that you place a permanent promotion link to Stop Motion Lab. Do not B.S. procrastinate (introverted Stop Moes usually do ) and just ADD the LINK to your websites & blogs. EVEN if you are are not buying anything, CONTACT them, ask questions and give them positive feedback and encouragement.EDIT: 12.22.09 

* 'Skeleflex' poseable modular jointed creature toys ..... These are similar to the classic Stikfas and Bionicles. The thing that fries my pinto beans  is .... Skeleflex has a slick website but NO mention at ALL that their products can be easily adaptable to Stop Motion animation techniques. Are the Skeleflex people so into their other generational world of the MySpacey, H-Techy Toys, and CG digital fakerization and it's as though, Stop Motion does not exist or they never heard of it?? Stop Mo is  HOT on YouTube and Skeleflex does not seem to see the   marketability of their products by tying in with Stop Motion.  How about Skeleflex animation contests or similar promotion? Here is their website Skeleflex and feel free to contact them.


* Joining forces again: Henry Selick & Neil Gaiman? ..... This is followup to previous SMW News posting. I did get some reader feedback about news media in general regarding them spewing mis-information (or could it be CG studios providing false info to media/public?), Sample: "Although I'm irritated the article says stop-motion is harder and takes longer than CG, considering it takes a single Pixar team 4 years to make a film. I wish the media--as well as some stop-motion fans--would get the facts straight."  'Coraline' Director Henry Selick Doing More Neil Gaiman; Could It Be 'The Graveyard Book'?

* Second CG 'Clash of Titans' 2010 (remake) Trailer .....The 2nd teaser not as frenetic as first CG Clash trailer but still somewhat very quickly paced in attempts to get your heart 'A Pumping'. Second trailer includes a micro-quick glimpse of the Medusa and Kraken. Of course, all CGI digitally faked synthesized. It appears that the Director, Louis Leterrier decided to keep within the 'Spirit' of the original Stop Motion character designs. Maybe, 'somewhat' of a homage to Uncle Ray? Or, a 'marketing strategy' in attempt to draw in the Ol' School Ray Harryhausen passionate followers & fans? Stop Motionist Students out here: Pay CINEMATIC TECHNICAL ATTENTION to the hyper quick editing, the thumping & pounding rhythmic music soundtrack beat, and the 'Dizzying Camera Motion on CRACK' . The YouTube postings of 2nd trailer are being pulled by Warner Bros.. Maybe prematurely leaked?? (Wad blown?) I do not know, if by the time you read this, the trailer teaser clip might also be YANKED (off the internet) by the Warner Bros Suits. Watch here, here or here. Or do a news search or here.  Pirated/Leaked Trailer As I have ranted in past, these are Cinematic Techniques that can ALSO be applied IF it were Turbo Charged Stop Motion EDIT: 12.15.09 

* Henry Selick 'Reveals' about 'Whas Go'n On' with him ..... Looks like my Puppet Pusher comprade Henry, maybe not kicking back or chilling out. In the post Laika era, he's got a few things on the 'Project' burner. This is from November and a little late but just in case you have not seen it yet, but more importantly, you'll get MY piercing & cogent micro-comments  (that only I can do). Some video interviews from Collider website: "A few days ago I sat down with director Henry Selick ('Coraline', 'The Nightmare Before Christmas', 'James and the Giant Peach') for a very extensive interview. While I spoke to him earlier this year before 'Coraline' got released, with Focus Features trying to get 'Coraline' nominated for Best Animated Feature (it absolutely deserves a nomination!) Selick has been talking to journalists and I was lucky enough to land a spot. While we touched on 'Coraline', most of the interview covered other subjects ....".

For those of you lurkers who have amnesia, I will repeat what I sometimes tiraded in the past. With Stop Motion, especially in Feature work of the ALL PUPPET ANIMATION variety (not the creature Stop Mo FX), there is the question of ramping up for a production and getting a specialty Stop Motion Crew together. With CGI, it's way easier to assemble the staff because it's somewhat like a plug'n play crew, but Stop Mo, especially on features, AIN'T SO EASY. So, just deep cogitating here .... With possibility of finite Stop Motion crew-personnel resources, there could be potential of competition if there are multiple Stop Motion features going on at same time, I can see some rilvary between studios in in their attempts at wooing Stop Motion crew. Henry says in interview, there is "No bad blood between him and LAIKA" (yet). We shall see, we shall see . Stop Motion News usually not abundant, however, go pig-out here Henry Selick Exclusive Video Interview. Talks Future Projects, CORALINE UNFIXED, Why He Left Laika Studios, More  

P.S. I could not find recent official confirmation but 'I heard' Laika's next Stop Motion Feature film will be Chris Butler's 'Paranorman' ..... "A sweet comedy about a boy who communes with his dead grandma and ends up having to face down an army of angry zombies.? My KEEN WISDOM/ADVICE : CONTROL YOUR PRODUCTION BUDGET and try not to, take too many YEARS. LEAN & MEAN and HUSTLE to get the IT DONE & FINISHED in reasonable time. If it costs less & does not take forever to finish COMPARED to CGI Animated Feature, it will be more ATTRACTIVE to SUITS. Also, more potential to make your INVESTMENT back because of 'your resourcefulness & cost effective budgeting' 

* Stop-motion and Puppetry making CG nervous?..... Quote from a 'Velly Intellesting' article: "What happened in the '90s was that the studios got caught up in the fad and newness of CG," he says. "I think now they're starting to realize that applying it to cliched stories with dull characterizations doesn't guarantee box-office success anymore. Films like Waltz with Bashir and Ponyo are becoming huge hits while Astro Boy and Planet 51 ? which were CG, 3-D and had celebrity voice-overs ? completely flopped."

Many of you STILL Judge & Gauge Stop Motion's success by the Mainstream Movie Biz standards. How many frigg'n times have I stated here and at messageboard, DO NOT DO THAT! This is the new era of plethoric alternative distribution outlets and creative marketing (the new media, cable TV, web 2.0, viral promotion, etc.). Stop Motion content products are obviously viable for these new venues which can be focused towards NICHE audiences & tastes. Just because you see a few current Stop Motion flicks on the mainstream Big Silver Screen, I find it fascinating that 'you all' get most emotional about it. Sure, it's 'nice' to have all 'positive & good feelings' but do not let your 'Over-emotional Mind Smoke'  blind you about, how the mainstream movie biz model actually operates. You got to remember, 'Suits' cater to the Homogenized tastes of the masses. Looking at it from today's 'Suits' POV .... the few Stop Motion MAINSTREAM flicks are always scrutinized more harshly, constantly being subject to rigid LITMUS TEST if Stop Motion is a success or failure. Suits are unforgiving. In mainstream feature arena, they seem to apply a double standard to Stop Motion content products (vs easier slack standards of supposed CGI success). If Stop Mo does not make the box office profit numbers, they will dump it in a heartbeat. Of course, studios have no pragmatic business commonsense such as BLOWING Mega-Mega Millions on an animated feature. The 'Suits' then masochistically-like, subject themselves to tons of pressure from the studio/investors who demand immediate profit returns. How about this novel approach?: DO NOT FUGG'N SPEND SO MUCH FUGG'N CASH ON YOUR FUGG'N MOVIES?? (The Battle of Avatar's Budget) It's FUGG'N RECKLESSLY OUT OF CONTROL. We got all these 'PUTERs & DIGITAL tools? Are they not suppose to SAVE you TIME & LABOR?? Right? Wrong?  

With regards to Fantastic Mr. Fox, according to Rating Reviews at RottenTomatoes, Fox is in the 90% favorable range. It's difficult to judge if we go by Hollywood's preoccupation with wannabie blockbusters ($$$). Suppose that said 'Stop Mo content' flick receives 'positive critical acclaim' in spite of so-so/mediocre box office performance, will that convert the 'Suits' to be more forgiving & charitable and they'll give Stop Mo a break? (yeah, sure) 'They', always profusely salivating for that instant/now box office cash-cow. Can they not see that Mr. Fox could gradually make back it's production budget costs in post USA theatrical release (worldwide release, dvd rentals, sales, cable tv, maybe become a perennial classic, etc.)?? Example: 'Nightmare Before Christmas' did poorly at the box office. Read the following articles which may seem a bit in the over optimistic opinion but interesting good feelings about Stop Motion. My observations (which you just read) are just as perceptive & cogent (maybe more than those self proclaimed so-called pundit experts) Back to the drawing board: Why stop-motion and puppetry pose a threat to computer animation

* Robert Zemeckis says New Award category for Motion Capture ..... Okay, so you maybe do not dig Motion Capture Performance techniques. I can understand that but I also have an open mind and can see it as another means/tool/technique of visual storytelling. My primary BEEF/COMPLAINT about Motion Capture has been, their attempts to call it Animation. MOTION CAPTURE is not frame-by-frame generated/createdLast month SMW News, semi-quoted James Cameron (the directorial ruler over the mega-hundreds of millions $$$ opus, 'Avatar') who said that, Motion Capture is NOT Animation. Well, guess what? My new buddy/pal  Bob Zemeckis just made it more widely known and is on the record, stating that Motion Capture movies should have their own CATEGORY. "Right On" Brother Bob! To you lurkers/readers, isn't that what I have tiraded in the past??

I am guessing, that the STUDIOS are the one's who are pushing 'Motion Capture' as 'Animation' because The OSCAR people offer no other Awards category. I think, the real root of the problem lies with the Motion Picture Academy (aka The Oscars) for being so FUGG'N SLOW with not changing or not keeping pace with the rapidity of technological advancements in the Motion Picture making processes. Mr. Oscar can easily address the problem. The Academy should IMMEDIATELY (i.e., RIGHT NOW) add a New AWARDS category. I do not know yet what to call the MoCap created movies, but perhaps a  new extension to the 'Special Visual Effects' category? There are a few micro-blog write-ups that are unnecessarily 'bashing & dissing' my friend, Robert Zemeckis about his 'new Oscar category statement'. The authors of those blog bytes are Pea-sized Brain Ignorant Idiots, including some of the replies by the readers. Those opinionated bloggers/authors are  Myopic Tunnel Vision FOOLS and they cannot SEE the big picture that 'Motion Capture Performance' technology is a viable storytelling, movie making methodology and that it should have its OWN Awards category that is SEPARATE from Animation. Stupid Blog/Article 1  Stupid Article/Blog 2  Stupid Article/Blog 3  Here is 'okay' related article Jim Cameron vs. Robert Zemeckis? An insider's view of the rivalry Do something and encourage the Academy for new Motion Capture Performance Awards category

* 'Fabulous FurryFreak Brothers' continuing funding campaign ..... I posted about this Stop Motion project in the past and perhaps, I might have been slightly harsh. Here is example of how Stop Motion content products (for mainstream market) are always struggling. If it were CGI, perhaps it might be easier to get Studios to fund this because 'Suits' have simplistic illogical mindset, equating CGI with supposed success at box office. 'Grass Roots' is an independent feature stop motion project that has been stuck in 'Limbo' with regards to getting a production budget. They have been appealing to individuals to participate in donating. I suppose, it is a creative form of acquiring funds, but geez, it seems like a very SLOW & 'Pain in the Arse' process! EDIT: If it's taking soooo long, why not the producers of this project reconsider and re-purpose this project as a stop motion short or series??? It seems like, an ambitious feature length stop motion project is not going to happen without 'deep pocket backers' (aka MONEY). Furry Freak Brothers site - Teaser/Demo - Production Pics - New Funding Campaign

* December SMW Random Cinema©:  

> Off topic: Meet Sayaka Alessandra, 1/2 Italian, 1/2 Japanese and fluent in English. Retro music 'Chick' who also performs Elvis classics!  A Jazzy & Smokey voice taking center-stage. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

> Related to Christmas Season & to irritate politically correct whiners. I see the reckless
direction of USA & unsettling world events. We better pray for something to help us  Watch


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