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Archive for September 1st, 2011

Remember Curious George ?

Curious George – I came across an interview given way back in 1994 by John Matthews , the stop motion animator behind Curios George. Remember him?
Stop-motion director & animator John Clark Matthews and family are interviewed entertainment tonight about animation and their film, Curious George.

I have transcribed the interview here for your interest:
Stop Motion - Curious George

And that famous Man in the Yellow Hat meets his maker.

“Hey George, say hello to Entertainment Tonight.”

We’ve got more monkey business for you on Entertainment Tonight this weekend.

Baby Boomers grew up curled up in an armchair reading the tales of a curious monkey named George. Now, a new generation gets in on George’s adventures on video and we went to visit the young at heart guy who’s doing the work.

“This is George. He lived in Africa. He was a good, little monkey and always very curious.”

That curious little monkey has been a favorite with kids since the late 1930’s. Naturally, we were curious about how George and the gang came to life.

“Hey George, say hello to Entertainment Tonight.”

This is John Matthews, the animator who created the video in his southern California studio using a process called stop motion.

“This is one second of movie film. There are 24 little pictures here. That means, if I want to move Curious George here, I have to move him 24 times for one second.”

These home movies John gave us show the process. After each little movement, John takes a picture with a camera. Many moves and several hours later, this is the result.

“In a half hour, you have about 35,000 little moves like that. That’s why we usually have about four to six setups going at once. Most people ask, ‘When is the film going to be done? In the year 2000?’”

Obviously, it is a very time consuming process. It took John more than a year to complete the video. He showed us the secret to what the stars are really made of.

“It’s an armature. It’s the size of the Man with the Yellow Hat. You can do about any movement possible for a human skeleton and even some that can’t be done with human skeletons.”

As John’s home movie shows, each puppet had interchangeable faces with different expressions.

“The Man with the Yellow Hat had hundreds of these face plates that came off when he talked. It was really a pain to animate because you had to change his little eyes every frame. It would take ten minutes sometimes have him say a word like ‘George.’”

John gave away some other secrets as well. The clouds Curious George is flying through are really made of cotton. The waterfall in this scene isn’t really water at all – it’s plastic. George is able to swing through the jungle with the help of thread. For John, making family videos is a family business, with his four kids and wife Nikki all involved. It’s an ideal situation – John gets to spend time with his kids and be a kid at heart at the same time.

“It’s like magic. You take these puppets…they’re not alive; they’re puppets. You do stop motion by moving them frame by frame and getting out of the way of the camera, they come alive. They walk, they talk, they run, have bad habits… That is fun.”

Curious George is in video stores now. By the way, the books are still very much in demand for kids in the 90’s. Fifteen Curious George stories are still in print.

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