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21st Century Stop Motion

May 11, 2013

With Ray Harryhausen’s passing there of course is great sadness for those in the special effects field, from some of the public (fans) who were already aware of Ray, and in the general commercial mainstream movie biz, they acknowledge his contribution & legacy. Perhaps the press media about Ray, has exposed to a slightly larger segment of the public, about his significance from a cinema historical perspective.

Image © Peter Montgomery——————–

I would hope with Ray’s passing, that would now embolden the Stop Motion Creature-Character FX movement (a micro-movement indeed), however, practically ALL the reviews & comments in recent days speak of or imply that Harryhausen’esque FX as a methodology is for history. In other words, Ray’s brand of filmmaking is anachronistic in these current times where CGI mouse-clicked special effects has a monopoly. I do not know what it’s going to take to increase awareness of Stop Motion as a viable tool for Modern & Advanced Dynamation style special effects for Independent type film projects. There is micro-minority that are aware of stop motion creature character effects, but outside our circle … deathly silence it seems. Obviously, the mainstream film business will never accept the ol’ school classic methods of special visual effects creation.

Within our niche, I can almost count on ONE HAND, the Stop Motion ARTISTS who are actively pursuing or practicing their passion in the tradition of Harryhausen. They post their work samples on Youtube, but hardly get attention by public. Maybe the short attention span public are so jaded with CGI and general bombardment of online content that when people actually see sophisticated advanced stop motion, it has no impact on them? Even within the Practical Effects & Creature make-up groups, when Advance Stop Motion is posted on their forums, there is not a deluge of comments or reaction … it is kind of silent. There seems to be some kind of unspoken ‘divide’ between us and the practical-creature effects, I am not sure.

Yes, Stop Motion of course is popular and the internet has greatly exposed this animation art form to larger audiences, but I can see that only applies to a certain niche of the stylized stop motion all-puppet look cartoon aesthetics, as we have all seen these past years … Stop Motion has had some degree of success with the Nightmare Before Christmas’s, the Paranormans, the Frankenweenies, the Ardmann creations (Wallace & Gromit style) and so forth. However, let us not forget, that mainstream motion picture awards, known as the Oscars … even denied all those three nominated stop motion features … NOT one received an Oscar … zero, nada, zilch. I do not know the if there is a ‘message’ in what ‘Hollywood’ did.

Is the only way to grab the attention of public, studio/suits, to maybe have Lady Gaga in a movie, battling Harryhausen’esque (real Stop Motion, not CGI) created dinosaurs & creatures?? Will that get a million hits on Youtube? It is perhaps still too early, with Uncle Ray having just left us. Just as in Ray’s days, he always had to struggle promoting his brand of film-making & special visual effects. It appears that still exists today. All I can say to the die-hard Harryhausen’esque Troopers who are out in the battlefield trenches … to not give up, push on, use modern marketing & promotion methods now available via this high-techy communications … and perhaps we can preserve this unique creature character effects art/craft, keep IT going, so that we will keep ‘alive’, The Legacy of Ray Harryhausen into the 21st Century.

LINKS: Oscars Shunned Stop Motion21st Century Stop Motion group

Topics: Animators, Biography-Books-History, Dynamation, Films - Shorts - Animation, Special Effects, Stop Motion | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “21st Century Stop Motion”

  1. Anonymous says:

    ^ The truth is that all many people have been exposed to in recent years is CG. I think the theatrical market is too high. I think it’s better to shoot for some indie distribution. I also think that people are preconditioned to think of non-digital creatures as intrinsically worse.

    But if you search “not cgi” Peter’s presentation of Tippet’s animation test for JP is the second place. I think viral is the way to get the word out. I think there should be fake “documentary” footage of something unreal circulating to generate buzz. Of course, most would think it’s CG. I think that once the viewcount of said footage reaches a peak, that the truth should be revealed.

    Heck, Peter Montgomery’s Pterodactles should disprove stopmo/gomo’s skeptics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FT-bIsrNNbc

  2. Ron Cole says:

    The public and the suits need to be SHOWN what can be done in realistic stop motion today. I try to bear in mind that those people have forgotten the Tippett years of advanced ‘Go-Motion’ which rivaled the look of CGI with films like Dragon Slayer, The Empire Strikes Back and Willow.

    The suits and the public are completely unaware that not only was stop motion measuring up to a higher level of realism back in the 80’s, they are also completely unaware that it can be done better and more easily and less expensively today! It is up to us to follow in Ray’s footsteps with his level of persistence and determination against the odds because doing so did eventually pay off for him just as it can for us.

    It may be a tough pill to swallow but, as artists and performers we must resist the urge to blame the audience and the producers for what they do not know or appreciate – it’s our job to show them and entertain them. Producers need to convince investors to fork over large lumps of cash to fund these films and must have a strong basis on which to convince those investors to part with their money and promise a return of profit. Everyone wants their job to be easier and the fact is, it’s just easier to sell CGI because of it’s (admittedly) outstanding track record of rewarding those who invest in it.

    We need to demonstrate that not only can modern Dynamation do the same job just as effectively but, it can also be done at a lower production cost… thus far, WE have not proven that to be true. I realize that my saying that may be uncomfortable but, you can never really deal with a problem unless you first understand what it truly is and why it’s happening.

    Blaming the suits and blaming the audience will never get it done. The good news is that steps are currently being taken to actually do what is in fact needed… the actual creation of modern Dynamation effects that will actually be the ‘proof of concept’ that will change minds.

    It’s up to us – and we’re working on it. :D

  3. Paul McConnochie says:

    Great words, and really good pep talk!


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