Archive for the ‘Stop Motion Movies’ Category
The Simpsons get the LEGO treatment in a special episode to be aired this May 2014. The Simpson’s LEGO episode called “Brick Like Me” looks very cool at least from the trailer shown below. The plot involves Homer wake up and looking in the mirror only to discover he looks rather different. He discovers that Springfield has turned effectively in to LEGOLand. He does not refer to his environment as LEGo but rather calls it “made of bricks”. It makes you wonder if the producers got the permission of LEGO to make the episode in the manner at all?
The entire episode looks to be CGI rather than stop motion but nonetheless really worth the time to view it.
The Boxtrolls Stop Motion animation due out in September 2014 is based on Alan Snow’s “Here be Monsters”. From the producers of Paranorman and Coraline comes these wonderful new animation entirely made in Stop motion animation. The Boxtrolls stop motion will no doubt have a wide appeal for all ages. Adults will appreciate the intricate work involved in bringing the characters to life while children will readily engage in what are very interesting scenes and storyline.
This article gives you a glimpse behind the scenes of the The Boxtroll stop motion animation by looking at the making of the dolls and sets and more. The dolls use the well known armature shown below as a base for the structure of the characters. The armature is covered in clay as shown above and sculpted meticulously to create the characters.
The Boxtrolls stop motion characters seem to be mostly animated using the replacement method. At least when they are expressing or talking as seen by the below image for the “Fish” character. All the mouth replacements are carefully stored in cardboard boxes waiting to be swapped in as required.
The image below then shows the various expressions created with the mouth replacements. This approach saves alot of time when animating but requires dozens of dolls and faces be made for each expression.
I am truly looking forward to the Boxtrolls stop motion movie when it comes out in September 2014.
Ever wondered How they made the LEGO Movie? The below video is I think the best description of how they went about making the LEGO Movie. I have transcribed the audio also so that you can understand how it was made step by step.
Emmet: What is happening?
Wyldstyle: You’re the special, and the prophecy states that you are the most important person in the universe. That’s you right?
Emmet: Uh, yes! That’s me
CG supervisor: So this is Emmet. We spent a long time working on Emmet being the lead character in this film. We went through quite a few different iterations on his hair, but we finally settled on this one. As you can see we try to be quite authentic with the actual Lego product itself. So, there is a lot detail put into the sticker work, the detail work, the mold lines, chips, chunks and scratches. We try to incorporate a lot of that. In fact, we put a lot of the mini figs underneath the microscope and have a good look at those details so we could actually get a lot of that fidelity into our models.
Editor: This represents the storyboard phase of the film. Basically, you do a rough pass of drawing the script by hand and it’s the first thing that we do when we’re testing out an idea. And after that , once it gets approved, it goes through a process, which is called layout, where you kind of roughly put the characters and the cameras into the scene. That’s pretty neat. And then after layout, once you’ve locked your cameras in your sets and your characters in, you get to animate it. And then at last after you’re done with the animation, the lighting and grading team comes in and they make it look really pretty and this is what that looks like.
Modelling Artist: Essentially all you are doing is importing the bricks and snapping them together just like real Lego. And also just like real Lego, the bricks will refuse connections that can’t be made in real life.
Lead Animator: Metal Beard is an interesting character for a number of reasons. Firstly he is so much bigger than all the other characters. He’s got a lot of cool accessories, which I have a lot of fun with. He’s got a shark on his arm. He’s got a canon on his other arm and it kinda plays into the fact that is slightly kind of unintentionally intimidating character.
Emmet: Good morning apartment! Good morning doorway! Good morning wall. Good morning ceiling. Good morning floor.
CG Supervisor: This is kinda the animation review format so obviously it doesn’t have any lighting or anything like that, but it does show kind of the face and it shows various bits and pieces.
Emmet: Oh here it is. Instructions to fit in, have everybody like you and always be happy. Step 1: breathe.
Does the basketball ever come off of the shelf?
So far no.
No, but it could
It has the ability
Do you want that to happen?
If things get crazy enough, it could happen.
Emmet: No. No. Nah-ah. No. Not that. Wrong. And that’s it. Check.
If you would like to make your own LEGO animation check out our stop motion software and tutorial pages.
Stop Motion Action
Have you seen an Epic LEGO brickfilm called “The Wild Crunch” by Jack Gerald Baeumler. If you are looking for stop motion action then you need go no further than this animation. Coming in at 37 minutes and 53 seconds long it is one of the longest stop motion action animations on YouTube. According to Gerald it took 9,274 photographs using his Canon 5D MII dslr camera. Additionally he has added 628 additional graphics images alongside some video footage where appropriate. He has used a whole raft of animation and editing software including Adobe Final cut pro 7.03, soundbooth, Illustrator, Digital Juice, Luca VFX , Videopilot, Kinemac , Smartsound, Photoshop and more. So this stop motion action animation is not a beginners endeavour by any means. Gerald is a German fully qualified film producer who likes to create LEGO animations on the side. The action is this animation is superb. Sound effects are used to great effect. Dialog is perfectly synchronized to minifgs. Atmospheric music and background sounds add to the feel and tension throughout. The storyline involves a bank robbery that is intercepted by SWAT. The result is a major battle of guns and firepower. Trucks , cars, helicoptors and buses are all used to bring the story to a climax of stop motion action madness. Muzzle flashes and lots of smoke, fire and flames litter the streets as the hero’s leave the final scene.
Gerald also gives us a view from behind the scenes in his “The Making of ..The Wild Crunch” on YouTube. Here you can see the sets , lighting , and camera he used to make the animation. Note the use of clamps throughout the various sets he used for his stop motion action movie. It’s worth noting if you are new to stop motion the absolute need for securing your set.
Their are various still images of the sets he used on his site ( see link above ) but here is just one to wet your appetite.
Special Movement effects in Stop Motion
Today I decided to research some special movement effects in stop motion. Did you know that a sheet of glass can come in very useful when shooting special movement effects in stop motion movies. For instance how did the penguin fall through the sky in in Nick Park’s Wrong Trousers? Did the animators use strings and change the position after each shot, which would have been very tedious or did they use some other technique? Believe it or not they used a sheet of glass. In the movie the penguin is shot up into the air and then falls to earth against a background of blue sky and fluffy clouds. So what they did was quite ingenious. Instead of having the poor penguin falling against a fixed background, they photographed him on glass with a parallel sky positioned behind him. The penguin was then held still except for an occasional movement of his sack and the position of his feet. The illusion of falling comes from the sky which is moved slowly from side to side between frames.
This glass technique, an ingenious example of special movement effects in stop motion has also been used by Peter Lord in his filming of Adam, which was released in 1991. Adam won Ardman an Oscar nomination and is another fantastic example of stop motion with clay or claymation as we like to call it. In this stop motion the character Adam ran around the circumference of the world without falling off. How did Peter Lord do this ? Well, he used a sheet of glass of course. They measured the circumference of the globe they were using in the stop motion and then cut a circular hole in a large sheet of glass which fitted exactly round the globe on a north-south axis. They then took their shots looking down from above the set. Adam was essentially lying with one of his shoulders and hips flat on the glass .Using the glass technique made it much easier to animate than if they had tried in some way to suspend him on wires.
Tips when using glass for your special movement effects in stop motion.
If you use glass to help with your special movement effects in stop motion you will need to take into consideration the colours in the glass and any extra reflections. When you move from the scene before the glass effect to the next scene with the glass effect, some colour differences are likely to occur. To over come this all you have to do is shoot a group of scenes with the glass whether or not it is actually needed and then colour differences will not be discernible. Then you should shoot at 90 degrees to the glass to offset any reflection thrown by your character lying on its side.
For those of you who want to see this great technique and other special movement effects in stop motion then, check out, Peter Lord Adam 1991, on youtube.
Stop Motion in Star Wars
Stop Motion in Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back Featurette:
I came across a really interesting featurette of an interview with Dennis Murin talking about “How Walkers Walk with Dennis Murin using stop motion in Star Wars.” I have transcribed the interview here for you.
At one time, there was, like, no decisions how to do any of this stuff and all there were were these wonderful color artworks that Ralph had done of the big walking machines. So we had to figure out how we were going to do this and one of the thoughts was to make a robot. We were going to make a complete robotic one that would actually kind of move by itself – a walking machine maybe five feet tall or something like that. And in that scene, like, it could get very complicated and very expensive to do, but my background before Star Wars was really in stop motion animation and I’d seen King Kong when I was a kid and all. And, so I pushed to do it in stop motion because they’re machines anyway and if they move sort of, like, a little staccato-like, it would just make them look more like machines. So we did it in stop motion and we did it with models that were as big as a person could animate, which is about the size that a person can get their hands in to move it a frame at a time. And we did it in front of big paintings that were, instead of blue screens pausing, paintings that were done to look like sky, but painted so realistically, you thought they were actually outdoors.
The sets that were built were baking soda and with trap doors in them so the animators could pop up, animate the figure and go back down, and you could shoot a frame of film. And at twenty-four frames a second, we could sort of… sometimes, we’d get a shot a day if we were doing real good, which is only, like, a five second shot. So we had scales that were like five foot to four foot tall one for scenes when it sort of blew up, some part of it blew up or it had to fall over.
Those were done with high-speed photography. And we had some photo cutouts that work in the backgrounds or sometimes, when you see about six or seven of them and the ones in the background are just Polaroid photo cutouts that are sort of animated. And then, we have little tiny ones that we used for the very opening shot, I think, when you see them… or some of the speeder shots when you see them off in the distance. Real tiny ones off in the distance there and we just made them as small as we could possibly make them to do it. So we had lots of different scales that we mixed and matched depending on the shot.
I recently came a across a very informative Ray Harryhausen interview done by HTV West production for Channel 4 UK – the stop motion animation genius of the forties and fifties. I have reproduced some of the Ray Harryhausen interview here for all to enjoy.
“The skeleton fight in Jason and the Argonauts were quite an ambitious thing to bite off because I never animated multiple figures. And we wanted to have seven skeletons fighting three men. We had seven stuntmen each portraying one of the skeletons and the actors would rehearse with the stuntmen, so that would give them a chance to count their moves and see just where they had to stop their movements in order to give the impression that they were fighting with the skeleton.
I had to take about four and a half months on that particular sequence which only lasted for five minutes. It took four and a half months in the front of the animation camera to animate seven skeletons because many times I would only average thirteen frames a day.”
Ray goes on to talk about the history of stop motion and how he was inspired by Willis O Brien..
“The combination of live action and animation goes way back to the silent days. We use models of course unlike Roger rabbit and some of the other cartoons we see today. We used a dimensional model which blends much more closely with the live action than a flat drawing such as you saw in Mary poppins.
Then of course Willis O’Brien on the last world combine of live action with animation. And King Kong was the really his highlight of the combination. I wandered into Grauman’s Chinese theater in Hollywood boulevard some years ago in 1933 when I was the tender age of thirteen. And I haven’t been the same since. I just found that this picture haunted me so, so I had to find out how it was done.”
Harry then talks about how he created his own first series of stop motion animation shorts..
“ And when I found out about the glories of stop motion animation, I started to experiment in my garage and after that it gradually developed from my hobby to a profession. I had the great pleasure of working with George Pal for a while, before the war he was doing a series of puppetoons of the time. But they were very stylized figures and they were not the same type of drama that I was really interested in.
Mother Goose Stories.
After the war I made my own series of puppet films. I made a series of five films. I called them Mother Goose stories. I funded the films myself. They were very easy to make because I didn’t pay myself a salary. It was sort of one man job. My family helped me out very much. My father became interested in it, my mother dressed the figures. So it was more or less a family enterprise. The plaster heads were all extreme expressions. They, I made one placid expression and then carved maybe to make ten casernes and carved each one slightly different into extreme expressions. And then I’d dissolve into eight frames from one head to the other.
Of course in red riding hood, the wolf was very dear to my heart because it was the type of thing I wanted to do. Later on, when I got involved with dinosaurs and pre-historic animals, of course they are all creatures of fantasy and I found them much more enjoyable to work with than just a normal character.
We found the melodrama was very useful for the medium of dimensional animations and of course it is always been used with dinosaurs. Willis O’Brien, my mentor, he used the dinosaur and the gorilla animations. Well after king Kong, he was my hero. And I called him up with MJM one time, he was very courteous and encouraging and we became friends and later on when he got involved with Mighty Young (1949), he chose me his assistant. Again a gorilla, a nice kind gorilla, very sympathetic and it didn’t have the same impact of course that King Kong had.”
Ray Moves to the UK.
“Both Charles Schneer and myself came to England originally to make two films and we’ve been here ever since. This was way back in 1960. After the seventh voyage the studio had an old script called Mysterious Island.
I took the shell of the crab, made a mechanism that would go inside specifically for animation. Then you can make the crab to do what exactly you want him to do. We wanted to do some close ups of all the intricate mechanisms in the mouth. So, we got six live edible crabs and when we put them under the lights, of course they got very languid, and they all fell asleep I think. I wondered how you know when a crab is asleep. And that evening we ate our actors. I think Hitchcock would have been pleased.”
Ray talks about how Sound and Music in Stop Motion Animation brings it to life
“The music is very important. I, I have always felt 50% of the success of a fantasy film is the music. The music heightens the emotions and makes the whole thing bigger than life!
You see, medusa is quite a complicated figure. She has twelve snakes in her hair and each snake has to be animated. You roll her eyes by using a pencil eraser, and each frame of them you move them slightly until you get them into the position you want. And inside her lips, she has little levers that give her a chance to have some sort of mobile features.
These types of pictures are not a directors picture. They have to be laid out ahead of time in a very careful way so that they can be made for a reasonable cost. The pictures laid out many times before the director is even brought on to the scene. He has to handle the actors naturally. But the actual film is laid out by Charles and myself and the writer.
I’m retired from making films because it does take too much of your life. We spent three years on the clash of the titans, and there’s long time in preparation and long time in, after everybody goes home and they go on another picture on rest of the crew, maybe do two pictures but I am still putting the first one together. But I’m in hopes that one day that there will be a viable museum that will house all the materials because it is actually is the bridge between Willis O’Brien’s work and the work of today. I have had a great success practically, say 90% in doing what I wanted to do I did. I’m told the stars of my films were my creatures because most of them received the best write ups.”
I hope you enjoyed this Ray Harryhausen interview as much as I did when I heard in back in 2012.
How to Train Your Dragon from Dreamworks animation will be in theaters March 26, 2010. Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrara, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Ferguson, Kristen Wiig and T.J. Miller are the voice actors in the film. It’s directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois. The trailer is below for your enjoyment. I hope they improve on the graphics for the main dragon, as it currently stands it looks out of place with the other characters and background. While it may well be worth going to see if only for the 3D experience it does not look as good as Pixar’s recent offerings.
Cuppa Coffee studios the company behind the stop motion series, Glenn Martin DDS, Life’s a Zoo, Rick And Steve, Celebrity Deathmatch and a number of other very amusing series has struck a deal with foul mouthed celebrity Gordon Ramsay to create a series called “At Your Service”. Adam Shaheen ,executive producer and president of Cuppa Coffee believes Gordon Ramsay’s larger than life personality will be a recipe for success when combined with stop motion animation and it’s classical characterization. They are in the process of finding writers for the proposed show at the moment. The show will be touted to distributors and channels at Mipcoms International TV Sales expo in October. While exact details are not available yet, the show is likely to be 30 minutes per episode and will focus on the wilder side of Ramsay’s outrageous outburst on his shows such as “Hells Kitchen”. It will be interesting to see what characters they bring in to the series to put up against Ramsays outrageous tongue.
Toronto based Cuppa Coffee animation studios houses 42 shooting stages and employs over 200 artists. In house facilities include prop and sets wardrobe, animation and post-production. They produce roughly 145,000 seconds of animation per year.
They have won over 150 international animation awards.
So whether you are a fan of Gordon Ramsay or not Cuppa will no doubt come up with another very funny stop motion series. We hope they don’t take too long to get it up and running on our TV screens.
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