Sunday, February 25, 2024

Stopmotion (2024) ... A Thriller-Horror

Note - Any photos ... click once, then click again to enlarge or zoom in

Just released at select theaters in USA. Check movie listings such as Fandango, or other movie listing resources in your area or country.  Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the price to see 'Stopmotion' is $18.  for a  ticket ... OUCH ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. It has been a number of years since I  actually went to a movie theater. Also, as you know, the Pandemic really hurt the movie theater business. 

UPDATE - Stopmotion will be later available for online streaming May 31 on Shudder which is a subscription platform. They offer a free trial. Phil Tippett's Mad God is also on Shudder. You can watch both then at your option, cancel the subscription.   

Overview (no spoilers) ....

"Directed by Robert Morgan ... it is a blend of live-action and stop-motion elements. It falls within the horror-thriller genre, offering viewers a chilling experience that combines traditional filmmaking with the painstaking artistry of stop-motion animation The film’s premise revolves around Ella Blake, a talented stop-motion animator who becomes consumed by the grotesque world of her horrifying creations. As she delves deeper into her project, the line between life and art blurs in increasingly nightmarish ways"

Movie length is 93 minutes. I see that  an Apple Macbook is what she (the animator) used. That is not a spoiler! You can clearly see it in this Trailer ....

My impression from the trailer ... it appears to have high production quality, with good horror-thriller filmmaking style. My only minor criticism might be about the movie title 'Stopmotion'. Perhaps gimmicky or a  marketing ploy to get attention?  Come on  ... the animation technique is the name of the movie? They couldn't be more creative with the movie title? I could think of better alternatives such as, 'Puppet Nightmares'. or maybe 'Animator's Terror Dreams'

The director, Robert Morgan has been creating indie stop motions shorts for many years. To me, Robert's work has somewhat of a  Brothers Quay, creepy style with that grungy &. rough aesthetics.. Here is one of his early stop motion shorts from 2001, that is not as grimy looking or shocking, but still has creepy vibes ... The Cat with Hands ....

The above is from Robert Morgan's Youtube Channel

Interview with Robert Morgan ....


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Thursday, February 22, 2024

'The Batman' - Stop Motion (Hot Toys)

Best viewed on your laptop or tablet. These are Instagram links and they attempt to force you to go to their site. To watch videos again, just reload / refresh this Stop Motion Works page.

This puppet poseable figure is modeled from the more recent version of The Batman (2022) as portrayed by actor Robert Pattinson (Bruce Wayne).

 In the first clip here, you see the finished stop motion animation ....

The second clip below is a time lapse, showing the stop motion behind the scenes ....

Stop Motion animated by Lawrence Becker. I am not familiar with him but in the past, I have sometimes seen his other animated works. Apparently, Lawrence has much experience in the traditional animated arts & crafts ... 2D Animation & Stop Motion. Here is his Sampler Times website 

These present day very realistic collectable poseable figures are astounding in the quality of execution ... the clothing, exterior suit & armor details, miniature accessory props, etc., especially the flawless exact replication of the human faces. I wonder if they scanned photos of  the real actors, then made 3D molds and cast in a resin plastic. I have no idea as to what kind of armatures are inside these figures.  I am taking a guess that the armatures are not made to withstand  the rigorous environment of stop motion animation for many, many frames. The armatures may eventually give-out or fail.  Collectable Figures are not necessarily made for Stop Motion.  Collectors purchase these figures in which they occasionally change the poses for display purposes.  

One sixth scale Batman Collectable Figure

One sixth scale Batcycle Model


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Saturday, February 10, 2024

MARK GUSTAFSON, 1959 - 2024 R.I.P.

On February 1, 2024, Director & Animator in the specialty of Stop Motion ... Mark Gustafson passed away as a result of a sudden heart attack. He was only 64 years of age.

Not much I can personally say about Mark but his close friends and co-workers can obviously elaborate much more about him. I casually knew him back in 1998 when I was hired by Will Vinton Studios in  Portland, Oregon USA, and I initially helped the studio with setting up their armature department and doing some basic armature construction and training of the small 4 person armature crew.. This was for the very first season of the,'The PJs'. When I did see Mark in the hallways or meeting rooms of Vinton Studios, talking & discussions with others ... Mark had a most relaxed personality and a low key, dry sense of humor.

Mark Gustafson mostly known in the the the Portland, Oregon USA which has now become a center of stop motion creation. Mark finally getting some international & public recognition on his  last film which was a blockbuster hit. Both Guillermo del Toro and Mark were co-directors of 'Pinocchio' (2022) which earned some awards including an Oscar for best animated feature ... a real rarity for the Stop Motion Craft.

OREGON LIVE, very much knows the creative animation culture in Portland, Oregon and here is a write-up about Mark's passing.Click >> Oscar-winning director Mark Gustafson remembered as irreverent soul who was serious about animation

CARTOON BREW, also did a good write-up Click >> Mark Gustafson, Stop-Motion Veteran Who Co-Directed Oscar-Winning ‘Pinocchio,’ Dies At 64

MARK GUSTAFSON, Bio / Credits, Click >> IMDB


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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

OCTOPUS - AI Generated Stop Motion Armature

 Note - Any photos, 'click twice', then again 'one click', to zoom in or for larger image.

There are many AI generators out there, and now, free one's which I used here. My opinion of it ... "Meh" ๐Ÿ˜•. To me, it does NOT feel 'creative'  ... you know, just typing 'words'. Like many Artists, Craftspeople, and Makers, we all have the PASSION to WORK with our HANDS to create & build with the Real & Tactile.

Maybe AI ... to spark some ideas but I am not sure. I gave AI something that is 'technical' and of course, 'it' does not understand the actual technical & mechanical workings of a stop motion armature. 


This is the prompt / text I typed ... "A stop motion jointed armature for an octopus creature".   Apparently, Mr. AI cannot determine how many tentacles to use. See below, photos 1 to 4.





For Photos 5 to 8 below, this is what I wrote, "A stop motion jointed armature for an octopus creature having 8 tentacles".  I specifically requested eight tentacles but as you can see, in some of the photos, Mr. AI is still confused






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Tuesday, December 12, 2023

'No CGI' Marketing & Promotion

Note - Any photos, click, then again, for larger image. Also, the video player option at Full Screen 

As your know, the few big stop motion features of today are loaded with CGI post production digital manipulation and enhancements.  Stop motion is copying the same as 'live action' movies ... a plethora of computer mouse clicked cgi and digital compositing.

The following two videos were authored by Danish filmmaker, Jonas Ussing, who has done work as a Special FX Supervisor. He is on Instagram & Linked-in but he just started his YouTube channel. He does not seem to take a specific position. Jonas presents a phenomenon with regarding to marketing some mainstream movies that are NOT the superhero on monster-verse variety which are obviously heavy with CGI.  He gives examples like 'Top Gun: Maverick', Napoleon, 1917 (WW1), and others.

It appears some studios are de-emphasizing (minimizing) the CGI and suggesting their features use much 'Practical FX'. You have to watch the actors and movie reps LIE about NO CGI.

You should also read the many comments to Part 1 and Part 2 ... very interesting. A few CGI artist take offense of the studio's 'No CGI' marketing. This promotion ploy is not exactly 'new'. I recall some of the Star Wars prequels/sequels where they throw in some minor Practical FX shots and then BRAG about it, but the VFX are still, predominately computer CGI and heavy with digital compositing.  

Here was my comment on Jonas's The Rabbit Hole YouTube channel, Part 2 :

"The host here Jonas, says 'Journalism Media' is supposedly saying 'No CGI', as though it is their fault pushing this notion. It makes no sense blaming the media. Why would they just blatantly lie about 'no CGI'? Those 'no CGI' talking points / directives must be coming from the corporate STUDIO Marketing.
Why are some of the major studios, DIMINISHING the CGI aspects? Personally, I think general audiences may just be getting weary of the more obvious CGI special effects ... overdone, beaten to the ground,  becoming stale, etc. Studios perhaps feeling this negativity that the public may have about CGI.
It is blatantly obvious how the actors, movie directors, the Special FX directors, following the Studio marketing script, are parsing their words and doing hypocritical double-talking, saying ... 'No CGI' but make exceptions for many scenes that are almost 100 percent CGI"


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Thursday, November 23, 2023

GUMBY DHARMA (2006) - Art Clokey's Life & Work

Note - Any photos, click, then again, for larger image. Also, the video player option at Full Screen

This hour long documentary is an overview about Art Clokey, the creator of the 'Gumby' stop motion clay character. In the documentary, some well known 'in the animation biz' names commenting about Art. As for myself, I interacted with Art back in 1987-1988, working as a stop motion animator, for 'The New Adventures of Gumby',TV animation series.

Art Clokey's experiences were somewhat, a 'roller coaster ride' as part of the evolution of Gumby, especially his personal life. Very interesting and much nostalgic times when it covers the social counter-culture period of the 'Hippie' phenomenon, in which Art got into 'it' and explored other non-mainstream alternative life style.

 GUMBASIA (1953) Art Clokey

MANDALA (1977) Art Clokey

Art Clokey born 1921, passed away in 2010 at 88 years of age.

Art Clokey's son, Joe Clokey took over the Gumby estate, brand, & marketing. After Joe's unfortunate death in 2018, Fox Entertainment acquired the Gumby franchise in 2022.The acquisition includes all characters from the Gumby universe, with plans for new series on various platforms.


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Monday, November 6, 2023

ROBOCOP 2 (1990) - Making Of

Note - Any photos, click, then again, for larger image. Also, the video player option at Full Screen

On my facebook page, someone reminded me about Robocop 2. This was released in 1990. WTF, that was 33 years ago?  Also, just think for a moment ... the original Robocop came out in 1987 ... 36 years ago. NO, I cannot take this anymore ... somebody ... SLOWN DOWN the fricken TIME CLOCK! ๐Ÿ˜ 

Robocop 2 was directed by Irvin Kershner (Empire Strikes Back). He replaced another director and there was some minor controversy about that. The original Robocop was directed by Paul Verhoeven and his style was more gritty & expicit. By comparison, Irvin has a more sanitized style.

We are not here to discuss about directors or the mundane aspects of filmmaking, but instead, to explore the Special Effects of Robocop 2. For its time, it was a tour de force in blood, sweat, & tears in producing the effects work. In 1990, there was NO digital or CGI.  All the visual effects done ol' school. Of course you know that Robocop 2 used the stop motion animation technique. There were NO Frame Grabbers, NO DragonFrame, NO Stop Motion Pro. It was literally Harryhausen method of stop motion. You only had Surface Gauges to keep track of the frame to frame incremental movements. 

Take a look  below at this end battle scene between the Caine cyborg robot and Robcop ... astounding work!

It was not just stop motion but much 'practical effects' were use ... model makers, full size props, explosives, make-up & suit prosthetics, etc. As I said, no digital computers at the time. Robocop 2 used Rear Projection Harryhausen style, to composite the live action with the stop motion puppet work. In addition, Bluescreen composting using the Optical Printer. In those days, that sure was painstaking work. It's a miracle how traditional effects were done compared to today's comfy computer mouse clicking effects. In general, Robocop 2 production was humongous ... the screen/film credits is lengthy.

According to the official screen/film credits of Robocop 2 ... it was primarily Seven Stop Motion Animators that did the hands on 'pushing of the puppets' ... Tom St. Amand, Randall Dutra, Justin Kohn, Mark Sullivan, Eric Leighton, Peter Kleinow, and Don Waller.

This MAKING OF / BEHIND the Scenes, appears to be from the 2017 Robocop 2, Blu-Ray, Special Collectors Edition.  It is LONG at about 1 Hour & 49 Minutes.  Here is the cut version, focusing on technical aspects of the Special Effects, about 30 minutes long. Again, this was from 2017. You will see Justin Kohn, Randy Dutra, and others commenting.  Also, some unique behind the scenes in the Tippett Studios BEFORE it later went CGI.  Watch ....


If you wish to watch the entire Making Of Robocop 2 ... go here LINK

Here is another behind the scenes , going back to 2014 from the Youtube TESTED channel ... Phil Tippett discussing Robocop 2 ....



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