Saturday, July 29, 2023

It's About the MOTION - Step up your Harryhausen Game

There is a lot of information available on human/people character animation (colleges, online, books & courses, etc), but not as much on 'Creature Animation'. In the realm of the very niche art & craft of stop motion animation, Ray Harryhausen popularized realistic-surreal creature animation ... he commercialized it as a marketable entertainment product. However, since Jurassic Park (1993), Creature Characters has been taken over by CGI, but just my observation ... the digital creations are perhaps becoming homogenized or having similar aesthetics? Audiences are becoming more finicky and looking for variety, something different ... Stop Motion can and does provide that visual flavor difference & uniqueness. Is Retro in general, now becoming a marketable thing?

For the Harryhausen Stop Motion Warrior who wants to keep ALIVE, 'Old School Retro' Creature Character animation within the Stop Motion medium ... you ... have to Teach yourself ! When exploring fantasy, monstrous, alien, other-worldly creature characters, you should study from actual 'nature' which can inspire your creative imagination. How would a 2 headed, 4 legged with 4 arms & 2 tails creature-monster, move and behave?😮 There are plenty of Nature & Wildlife documentaries out there and many are free to watch. One resource that I have known about for many years and I particularly like ... is the BBC Motion Gallery.


The BBC Motion Gallery can be used as a resource for studying motion from real existing animals, birds, fishes, insects, or whatever real natural life forms that exist on this planet.You can use their search engine to find specific items and study the motion of different creatures.

It is a comprehensive collection going back to the early beginning days of BBC broadcasts in 1922, to the present day.With more than 125,000 license-ready clips to choose from plus over a million hours of footage from the BBC’s Broadcast Archive.

As I said before, you can still do a general online search of Nature & Wildlife videos ... Youtube, Vimeo, Daily Motion or free movie channels that offer documentaries. Although, you have to watch the entire video until you find what you need.  If you cannot download video, there is option to screen capture record with specialty software. The BBC Motion Gallery is just a good additional motion studying & analysis resource for animators.


They have available for free ... sample clips & snippets that can be downloaded. The video clips have the BBC watermark and are very short, but for animation purposes, that does not really matter. We can use those sample clips and loop it (repeat cycle) to study the motion, movements & behaviors. Check out the BBC Motion Gallery!

Visit - BBC Motion Gallery

NOTE: I did not download these sample videos. They are embedded here in the blog and play/run from the BBC's servers. If you are on a computer or laptop. place the Mouse pointer inside the video player, then right click the mouse (PC Windows) and sometimes a menu will appear giving you options to play back video at different speeds, or Loop the video.


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Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Original Kong Armatures #1 & #2 - A Technical Inquiry

If you did not know, back in 2009, Peter Jackson (movie director) acquired an original 1933 King Kong metal skeletal armature, at a Christie's Auction. It is now in his private collection. Most everyone is familiar with the Bob Burns (collector, cinema historian) as the custodian of the other original Kong armature #2. Kong armature #1 was somewhat underground & remained hidden, but many years later it made a reappearance, and in 2009, Christie's offered it as an auction piece and that is when Peter Jackson purchased armature #1.

In 2016,  Adam Savage ('Tested' Youtube channel), visited Peter Jackson's 'Collection Cave' at his New Zealand home.When I first saw Adam's video, it has always bothered me that someone altered or mis-positioned the PJ Kong Armature Torso/Chest block section. PJ's Kong armature chest block is backwards, and for a Gorilla, that is not anatomically correct. Both LEFT & RIGHT Kong ARMS are attached to the Chest Block which should be on the FRONT of the upper armature section. Adam Savage's video interview will be included here. Pay attention to the the armature upper shoulder area.

At the Christie's Auction, the Kong armature was correctly posed & displayed with the chest block in the front forward position.

However, afterwards, when Peter Jackson has the armature in his possession, we see this. Peter Jackson and Bob Burns displaying their Kong armatures.

When Peter and Bob met, they laid both armatures on a flat surface, side by side.

Historical Note: KONG Armature #1 (Long Face), was the FIRST armature made and used for the Log & Sailor encounter scenes, the infamous Kong vs T-Rex battle, and also the distant shot of Kong climbing the Empire State Building. Kong #1 might also have been used in other shots. KONG Armature #2 (Round Face) was the SECOND armature made. Kong puppet #2 was used in various scenes such as the Kong & Anne Darrow first encounter, also the final scene at the top of Empire State building. Armature #1 was larger (22 inches / 55.8cm) than Armature #2 (19.5 inches / 49.5cm). After all  the rubber & fur taxidermy is done, covering the armatures, then when both puppets are posed & positioned in the hunched over gorilla stance ... the final puppets appeared to be approximately 18 inches (45.7cm) overall size. Gorilla's do not have a straight posture stance like a human.

In the photo below this is a close-up of the Bob Burns armature with the chest block in front, in the forward position, which is correct!

My theory is ... when Peter Jackson purchased the Kong Armature, it was delivered / shipped to him at his New Zealand residence. I am speculating that perhaps the New Zealand 'Customs', first inspected the armature shipment and perhaps the customs agents handling the Kong armature, twisted and wrongly positioned the armature upper section with the chest block facing backwards.When Peter received the 'inspected' shipping box with the Kong armature inside, and then he opened & unpacked it, and then perhaps, Peter was not aware of the error that the armature chest block was backwards and left it as it is. An imaginative possible scenario? 😁

Take a look at this, from the Adam Savage video.

Here is Adam Savage's interview in 2016, talking with Peter Jackson about the King Kong armature. If needed, you can play back key parts of the video in slow motion!

One more piece of evidence for you. Look at a real Gorilla's skeletal anatomy. Observe the Side View ... the upper shoulder collar bone / clavicle. Those bones are in a forward protruded position (front of neck). A gorilla walks hunched over ... called Knuckle Walking and basically, mostly walks on four limbs. So apparently, Willis O'Brien and/or Marcel Delgado designed both armatures with some degree of anatomical accuracy.

It is now the year 2023 and I have no knowledge if Peter Jackson is aware of this technical armature detail. Personally, I think it is important and why my 'lone voice in the wilderness', is calling attention to this for Cinema Historical accuracy! 
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury ... I rest my case!


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Sunday, July 16, 2023

Ray's 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad' Making Of Memories

Even though Ray Harryhausen has done many interviews, I was not previously aware of this one and perhaps others, may also have not seen it. Comparing to other interviews of past, I am estimating that this might have been recorded about 2007 when Ray was only 87 years young!
Foreground miniature, puppets, and rear screen projection

It was produced by Rosas Production, and Ray's long time friend & associate, Arnold Kunert (RIP 2018) was the co-producer. It is my understanding that this interview was possibly included in some of the Dvd / Bluray released versions of 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad'. This presentation is about 24 minutes long. If you do not have time, you can always watch later.

I won't give away any spoilers ... Ray is just reminiscing about the making of 7th Voyage. You do not see or hear the interviewer ... it is well edited to make it appear that Ray is storytelling without any interruptions. I am surprised that he was able to ramble that much😉. As I was watching, I said to myself, "RAY ... please pause and take a drink of water to soothe your dry throat!"

He does reveal some interesting details about 'the making of' 7th Voyage that I did not know about. See ... if you can recognize them (the reveals).


For the hardcore technically minded Stop Motion Fans, here is a bonus surprise for you ....

BONUS 1  Before you click ... please be seated, relax, & breathe deeply                                  
BONUS 2  This one, I think 'they' somewhat made a mistake. Can you find it? 
Visit >>> UNCLE RAY

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Thursday, July 13, 2023

THE PRIMEVALS - Advance Previews of Scenes Not Seen Before

It appears that Charles Band (Blue Moon Entertainment), producer of THE PRIMEVALS, was generous and released this to Screen Anarchy, for the anxiously awaiting FANS. They are naming it, 'Never Seen Before & BTS Clips'. I believe, the first clip / scene will be in the final film and the other BTS (behind the scenes) here, are individual clips. Yes ... there are FIVE clips / scenes. ENJOY ....






This was from the Screen Anarchy website ... and sharing here to perhaps help expose The Primevals to more people (audience).


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Wednesday, July 12, 2023

'The Inventor' - Unknown Indie Feature gets Big Boost

Blue Fox Entertainment will distribute this mixed animation comedy using Stop Motion with 2D animation. They say in theaters (in the U.S.) August 25. Not sure if available later for stream watching. Details here, Animation Magazine - The Inventor distribution news

There has not been much 'public' information on the progress of  'The Inventor' only until now, with this distribution deal. Some years ago I heard about 'The Inventor' ... it is a very, very Independent film ... it has been percolating & moving along. I also recall that the project acquired some funds through a KickStarter campaign. As stated, it is not a full stop motion feature but is combined / mixed with 2D drawn animation.

As far as I know, the stop motion crew was not humongous like a Del Toro 'Pinocchio'. 'The Inventor' crew seems to have been small. I recognize the names of veterans & highly talented stop motion animators, Justin Kohn and Timothy Hittle, also, both Nightmare Before Christmas Alumni, however, I do not know the names of other Stop Motion animators who may have contributed.

I could not find any current, new trailers or teasers for 'The Inventor'. There is only this one that has been available since about 3 years ago. It was originally for the promotion of the KickStarter campaign. You can watch below ....

Oh ... I did find this micro-behind the scenes but I had to go to 'European' websites to find this. They seem to get the good stuff.  You have to go directly to website, to watch it ... CineEuropa - The Inventor teaser

Just me speculating ... I wonder ... if the success of Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio perhaps, may have helped motivate Blue Fox Entertainment to distribute 'The Inventor'? ... Hmmmm 😏


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Sunday, July 2, 2023

FAN Tribute: ATTACK of the ID MONSTER ... Making Of

This is from about 18 years ago ... I think around 2005. Dan Anderson an eclectic artist, creative, & animator, produced this Fan Tribute of the ID Monster, from the 1956 Sci-Fi cult classic 'Forbidden Planet'. 


I am trying to remember ... I think Dan first posted his ID Monster fan tribute on Eric Scott's small StopMoShorts community message board & website that had a brief run many years ago (2004 - 07). Recently, I made an upgraded website page copy from StopMoShorts, of Dan Anderson's, Original 'Making Of' article about the stop motion ID Monster scenes. Go to this link and read the newer version ATTACK OF THE ID MONSTER IN STOP MOTION ... the 'Making Of' by Dan Anderson


Just to remind you again ... that this was about 17 - 18 years ago and at that time, high resolution still cam videography and smart phones cameras were not abundant back then. Dan shot this with a Canon XL1 digital camcorder that can save single still frames onto a memory card, and at same time, he used a 'Video Lunch Box' frame grabber to monitor his frame by frame incremental movements.

I do not remember if Dan posted his ID fan video on Youtube in 2005. In 2005, Youtube just started and was still a new beginning video sharing site. Because I wanted to preserve Dan's work, I made a copy of it (from the StopMoShorts website), and  later (in 2010) uploaded to my Stop Motion Works Youtube channel. However it is a copy, so the video quality is not that good .

Dan's photos when originally posted at StopMoShorts ... the resolution was low & blurry and so I had to resort to some up-scaling resolution sharpening software and that is why photos may look somewhat cleaner & sharp edged.

I first met Dan about 2002 or 2003, at a unique small gathering in Las Vegas, USA ... I believe it was called the Stop Motion National Expo. Dan lived on the East Coast (USA). Himself and others made the long trek journey from far geographic distances, attending this one of a kind Stop Motion specific event.

Dan was a good guy, soft spoken, low-key personality but passionate about the creative process. We and others discussed much and talked 'Shop'. After the expo event, in the following years, a few of us kept in communication at the website / messageboard.

In Dan's 'Making Of' the ID Stop Motion ... he list resources links. Again, because this was many years ago, those links are likely 'dead' ... do not work.

I cannot say what is the current status of Dan Anderson. He previously had a website 'Animation Daddy' but it no longer exists. He still has a Youtube channel with a few videos but there is no new activity & is dormant. Also, it appears that Dan is not much into 'Social Media' but maybe that is a good thing! I did attempt a quick search, but no luck 😕  I hope that Dan is doing okay & hanging in there, or perhaps he has retired and 'chilling'! Here is his animation reel from some years ago. Again, he is an eclectic creative doing a variety of animation techniques & styles ....

AND without 'Further Ado', here is Dan Anderson's 'Pièce De Résistance'....


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