Monday, July 8, 2024

Tony McVey visited by 'Tested' Adam Savage


Years ago, I use to hang-out at Tony McVey's studio He is very much a hands-on 'renaissance man'. He can practically do it ALL, not only creative artistry as most of you already know about, but technically, Tony has much expertise in the fabrication aspects. I picked up many tips from his armature construction methods. Also, his molding & casting skills are absolutely incredible, doing involved multi-piece molding of complex puppet figures shapes ... and also he does miniature props fabrication!

For many years I have worked at a grave-yard shift blue collar job which just mentally exhausted me ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ . As a result, for years, I've been pretty much 'Socially AWOL' ... kind of like a lone wolf. This video below from Adam Savage visiting Tony, is perhaps a reminder to me that I should maybe get out of the closet more and hang-out a bit, in person, and say 'Hi' to Tony and other fellow artists. But ...I digress! Check out the video below where Adam has some great conversation with Tony!


Below are some past spotlights I did about Tony, if you should want to revisit (click on blue facebook logo)  ....



I had a T. rex Stop Motion Puppet Made (OC)



Gardens of Miranda -Years ago, a very ambitious project from Tony. He was hoping to do a series and managed to get one episode finished. Tony doing practically ALL the work by himself. I would sometimes visit him, and see the in-progress work. As the usual course of 'passion projects', I am guessing, a conflict devoting personal time to a project verses the financial necessity of real jobs to pay the rent and bills. Look at the many years it took Phil Tippett to complete 'Mad God'. To me, Gardens of Miranda has an especially serene ambiance to it. Everything moving at a calm pace as the story unfolds. It would be something if this could be completed as a completed short maybe 20 or so minutes. I KNOW ... more money & time, which most of us do not have these days!

Gardens of Miranda Episode 1 from Tony McVey on Vimeo.

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Sunday, June 23, 2024

A Boy, Cars, & Forced Perspective Talent

The video below was about 3 or 4 years ago when Anthony Schmidt was around 12 years old ... he is in the neuro-diverse autistic spectrum.Very satisfying to watch and appreciate his creative talent! He has an obsession with cars and has a huge collection of miniature vehicles. Anthony is also self-taught in the old school special effects skills of forced perspective miniature photography, and has combined both of his passions. It appears that Anthony's forced perspective is done using only mobile phone cameras. Anthony does not use a costly SLR digital camera. Update: I just realized that mobile phone cameras usually have wide angle lens. In Special FX work, 'wide angle' used in photography can give the illusion that miniatures are larger in size.

Anthony is now about 16 years old.  His mom Ramona, manages all his social media and he sure has strong online presence. He must be doing okay and establishing some financial security, In addition, Anthony is now actually just starting to acquire actual full size vintage cars and says he will try to restore!

This is only some of what is available online about Anthony.  Here is link to his youtube channel click > Anthony Schmidt  and click > Anthony Schmidt Facebook  and also click > Anthony Schmidt Instagram

He even has published his SECOND coffee table lush book ๐Ÿ˜ฎ displaying his creative forced perspective photography talent click > Shifting Perspectives  

Remember ... Forced Perspective photography is a powerful old school & classic special effects technique. You CAN use it your stop motion animations.  Create & film the forced perspective background scenery, then in post production, you can digitally composite your stop motion puppets (green / blue screen) in front of the background.

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Friday, April 5, 2024

LYNDON J. BARROIS - Gum Wrapper Mini Figures

This is interesting.It serendipitously appeared online during my random web surfing. Artist & Animator, Lyndon J. Barrios. I have not previously heard of him. Apparently he has an eclectic background. He does work in CGI, also has done directorial duties on various projects.  He recently was spotlighted in the (click >) New York Times. The article is not easily available.If you want to read the article,NY Times says you can sign in using your Facebook or Google account. I will post alternative informational sources about Lyndon, here at SMW & RetroFX ๐Ÿ˜Ž

This is a text version of the NY Times, Lyndon Barrios article without the photos (click >) Sculpture Doesn't Get Much Smaller than This

Here is a video of Lyndon in an interview, this was back in 2014 on NBC's Today Show. This will introduce you to Lyndon about his unique art work.

Here is behind the scenes, more details, very recent (2024)

Here is an example, of one of his works, where the micro gum wrapper figures are stop motion animated. It is very stylized, kind of free-form organic aesthetics. Click on the Photo below to watch.


To my surprise, Lyndon directed an episode of The PJs  many years ago in 2000 I also did some freelance work for Will Vinton Studios (1998-99) helping setup their armature department & designing the armatures for the stop motion characters. Here is Lyndon's episode that he directed. 

UPDATE - I forgot to include this short animation by Lyndon ... called 'Prizefighter' (2020)

Lyndon has an eclectic resume, including his work in CGI animation. Below is the link to his Website.



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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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