Posts Tagged ‘stop motion’
How stop motion animation can be useful in Homeschooling.
We would like you to consider stop motion animation for education in the homeschool environment. Homeschooling is now becoming a popular education alternative for children and teens who are not able to attend regular schooling either because of their physical limitations, lack of opportunities, difference in culture or tradition, mismatch in schedule, or simply as a choice of parents who want to strictly monitor the progress of their child’s learning. In most countries, this type of schooling is also known as distance learning.
Traditionally, homeschooling materials are limited to printed modules and lessons where the manner of learning for the student is only limited to reading and analyzing. But because of technological advancement, several unique homeschooling ideas were developed. Audio-visual presentations, computer programs, and other high-tech instructional materials eventually came into existence. One of the most recent innovations in this form of learning is the integration of animation in education. This idea is simple, instead of professional looking videos and instructional materials, a colorful and livelier animation is used.
How stop motion animation can be useful in homeschooling
Integrating stop motion animation in education can be the best idea to further improve the quality of distant learning. It is primarily beneficial for children and teens because of the following reasons.
- Stop Motion Animation can maintain the interest and attention of students. Psychologists and teachers alike know the fact that students generally have a very limited attention span. Interest in reading, studying, or listening to a particular lesson can eventually be lost in just a matter of minutes. With homeschooling, several distractions such as toys and the television would further make the learning process even more challenging. And there’s nothing more effective in counteracting this risk or possibility than using children’s favorite, cartoons or animation.
- Stop motion Animation can provide that lacking school interaction. Among the perceived drawbacks of a home study program is the lack or absence of social interaction especially with kids of their same age range. Animation has been one of the best homeschooling ideas because the characters in an animated module can act as children or students themselves who can endure or encourage interaction with the student. If you are observing the behavior of children when watching cartoons or animated films, you must have noticed that kids usually interact and oftentimes converse with the characters.
- Making homeschooling more fun and exciting. There are now several television programs aired that integrate animation in education. And these programs are very much successful in teaching the kids. Animation is one of the best homeschooling ideas because it adds that fun and excitement factor of learning for children. Making the learning environment or tone of teaching fun and exciting is also a proven method in improving the learning curve or capacity of students.
Choosing an ideal stop motion animation software for homeschooling
After getting to know the potential and benefits of animation in home study programs or to education and learning in general, it is now a must to search and look for the best software that would do the animated lesson plan. The program should specifically be designed for creating homeschooling modules or lessons, it should be easy to use, and should possess all the right tools to make a high-quality educational animation. iKITMovie is one of the best software specifically designed for creating stop motion clay animation films which can be used for homeschooling. It is very easy to use and comes with a huge library of sound effects which are essential in building animated lessons. The software’s full list of features and capabilities can be read in here http://www.ikitmovie.com.
It can be difficult at times to decide the best approach to teach stop motion. Those new to the art of animation may prefer to follow written step by step guides whereas others much prefer video tutorials. Most people prefer to watch a video tutorial. ” A picture paints a thousand words” as they say to come up with good stop motion ideas.This leads to a bit of dilemma for a website owner trying to promote stop motion. And as Google does not reward you for good video tutorials simply because it cannot see or understand the quality of a video content. On the other hand google very much likes written content. Thus you are sometimes forced to create a written tutorial in order that google pushes those interested in learning about stop motion to your site!
So the only solution to ensure that both your budding stop motion animators and search engines are happy I guess is to have a balance of both? I have seen some instances where a video promoting the topic in question has a transcription tagged underneath. Thus if you wish you can choose to read what was said or described and also watch the video on the same page.
There – I have got that rant off my chest! From now on we promise to put up more videos on stop motion and transcribe the content on the page also so that you can check on what has been said in writing. That should keep our stop motion animators happy and all search engines happy.
Of even easier still visit our stop motion tutorial page and browse at you ease to pick out what you like.
Bye for now guys. Happy Animating.
Wallace and Gromit ( Nick Park ) are supporting the National Trust Charity in the UK with a short stop motion animation.
Its a summer of celebration ( Queen Elizabeth 60 years reign )to bring an exclusive new mini animation, A Jubilee Bunt-a-thon.
The animation shows the much-loved duo preparing for their Jubilee celebrations and we’ll be showing it on big screens at our tea party events this summer.
Visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallaceandgromit to find out more.
Here is a short interview with Nick Park and Merlin Crossingham about the mini animation…..
Merlin Crossingham: Hello! Welcome to Aardman! This is where we’re making our film.
Nick Park: I think it’s a great marriage for Wallace and Gromit in the National Trust to get together like this because they’re both very British institutions. It’s a great privilege and honor for Wallace and Gromit to be chosen to be involved in all the things British this year because they are often described as a British institution.
Merlin Crossingham: We take the script and we create a story board, a graphic representation, a little bit like a comic strip of the action that then leads us up into the production where we get the sets built, we start bringing the puppets in. Everything in Wallace and Gromit’s world is handmade. So for production of this size, the run up in preparation to shooting was about 6 weeks. That’s really quite tight for us. Once everything is ready, the animation crew steps on to the floor to complete a minute of film, we have 3 animators working flat out for 3 weeks. Wallace and Gromit are a challenge. Gromit because he doesn’t have any dialogue to hide behind, his performance needs to be surprisingly subtle. And with Wallace, he’s pretty bald and he’s pretty hammy in the way that he delivers his performance and that’s largely a lot of his comedy comes from. So, once the animation is finished, we go into post production and then it’s the stage really where all the final parts come together to make a lovely coherent film.
Nick Park: I’ve always loved visiting National Trust puppeteers. One of my favourite place is that I’ve visited, in fact, I took a team of people to visit for doing research for Curse of The Were-Rabbit, was Montague house. We did kind of vaguely base Tottington Hall on Montague house. I think the National Trust would have more than its fresh air of jobs Wallace could get up to. Gromit loves the British countryside. He’d love the heritage, British heritage.
Merlin Crossingham: We fit together so very well Wallace and Gromit in the National Trust. We kind of have the same values and a great sense of humor.
I am a fan of Chris Salts Stop Motion with LEGO. I only recently came across an interview he did for BBC Technology by Mark Ward.
“A scene with Chris above using his set and stop motion software to bring his movie to life”
I have transcribed the interview as Chris describes his LEGO stop motion.
LJ Rich: That was Jane’s Brain, a video shot entirely on location in this Stock On Trent bedroom. Now Chris Salt, you’re the mastermind behind all this. How long did Jane’s Brain take to do?
Chris Salt: In total, it took probably a week and a half, part of that was building everything that you see on the screen.
LJ Rich: What process are you using to do the filming?
“All Rights to Mark Ward – Technology correspondent, BBC News”
Chris Salt: It’s called Stop-Motion Animation. You take a photo of, in my case Lego, you then move the things that are going to move just a tiny little bit and then you take another photo and then you do it again and again and again. For every 15 photos that you take, that’s one second of video.
LJ Rich: So how did Jane’s Brain actually come about?
Chris Salt: Jane’s Brain was an entry for a competition on the BBC News 6 Music radio station. There’s a show called Adam and Joe where they would each prepare a song and then get the listeners to create a video for it. I managed to create the video that you’ve seen at one.
LJ Rich: You had a continuing relationship with 6 Music afterwards.
Chris Salt: Around the time that 6 Music was facing closure, Adam Buxton who’s the guy who did the Jane’s Brain song made a jokey protests on.
LJ Rich: So, we’ve got David Bowie and his Ziggy Stardust lightning across his face.
Chris Salt: Yeah.
LJ Rich: A viewer would think that that was just you moving and focus in and out but there’s more to it, isn’t there?
Chris Salt: There is. You just have to change the focus tiny little bit, take a picture, change it a tiny little bit again. There’s a lot of digital work for the presentation, the reflections on the table. I had to throw all the digital stuff in the background after the focus as the faces came-in in the front. You don’t need an expensive camera. You just need a cheap webcam. The one that I use at the moment was 50 pounds.
LJ Rich: You actually harness your Lego powers for good.
Chris Salt: A year or two ago, I took part in a charity event in aid of prostate cancer. Men spend the month of November growing moustaches. I thought I would make a little video to accompany it and get a bit of publicity.
LJ Rich: So, I composed some music for you to put to Lego. How are you going with that?
Chris Salt: I’ve built a little choir and a piano. I’ve also created a little LJ. You should see that.
LJ Rich: It’s like looking at a mirror. Right, we’re in position for the stop motion animation. So, do I just kind of reach in and lift up.
Chris Salt: Just life up each arm. Lift the arms a little bit more again.
LJ Rich: This is quite hypnotic, isn’t it?
Chris Salt: Yeah. That’s one word.
LJ Rich: You know I keep on nudging the pianist.
Chris Salt: We’re going to play this back and see what we’ve done so far.
LJ Rich: Absolutely! The guy in the background moved because I knocked him over. How long is it going to take you to do this properly?
Chris Salt: It’s probably going to be a few hours to do the Stop Motion Animation itself, a few more hours to put faces on the choir and have them all singing in their different parts.
LJ Rich: Don’t you wish you’ve done something quiet slightly less detailed?
Chris Salt: All the time.
- End of Interview-
I am not sure what stop Motion software Chris uses when making his animations. Whatever stop motion software he uses it sure makes excellent animations.
Stop Motion and LEGO have been synonymous for years now. So many Brickfilms or LEGO Animations out there to choose from. I came across a really interesting interview with three creative artists working with LEGO. Sean Kenney,Alex Kobbs and Nathan Sawaya.
I have transcribed the video narrative here for your enjoyment. All rights to the producers here.
Sean Kenney: There’s something just natural about the way two Lego pieces click together. It just feels right for that moment those two things are perfect and they’re meant for each other.
With the Lego, you can create art. You can create films. You can create models. You can make something functional. You can make something that you can wear.
Nathan Sawaya: Everyone has snapped together a Lego brick at one time or another. It’s such a great feeling just hear that click.
Sean Kenney: Lego has always been a big part of my life. It’s something very tangible. It’s less austere than an oil painting or a bronze sculpture. And because of that, it connects with people in a way that I think art is supposed to. If you look at a computer screen, it’s just a bunch of colored squares if you zoom all the way in. And so I thought, “Well, you can do that with Lego bricks. You can create a mosaic.” So I decided that I was going to take this to another level. I’ve done portraits of a mother and a child together or a father and a child together. They’re so powerful because you can see the bond between parent and child. I need to make it special to you. I need this to reflect what’s inside of you and then somehow get that onto the canvas. I suppose an artist working in any medium has this challenge but then I only have 13 colors to do it with.
Sean Kenney: Recently, I put together an exhibit that’s now touring botanical gardens around the United States that’s showing kids, plants, insects, birds in a new way, and I created 27 larger than life sculptures that use almost half a million Lego pieces. It took my team and I 5,000 hours to put all these sculptures together, some of which are as huge as an 8 foot tall hummingbird all the way through to a life size polar bear. Now you’ve got kids wandering around botanical gardens that would otherwise never be in a botanical garden which is also a really great thing. Whether it’s the message of what my particular piece is saying to you or simply the connection that you have with the piece because of your connection with Lego suddenly you’ve bonded with this in a way but you may not have if it was perhaps the same story told in a different medium. That is really special. It helps bring people out who otherwise might not be looking at art and then speaking to them in a special way.
Alex Kobbs: Every little thing you can think of, Lego has a means or way or shape and a color to create that if you so desire. I went to college for film but I realized there were a lot of limitations to shooting live action film. So the Lego’s are just a medium for me to get what I want to create across. I really, really love the video game culture and I made a stop motion film called Bricks of War based on Gears of War. So I made a two minute stop motion video basically emulating what it was like to play Gears of War, the behind the shoulder view, the camera zoom in. So, whenever I’m setting up a shot, I look at every little aspect of it, the lighting, the camera movement and I build custom dollies to move the camera. When I saw Call of Duty 3 coming out, I took their launch trailer and I said, “Hey, let me try to recreate this.” It was a lot of fun because it gave me so many things to work with. They have a train car rolling in a subway system and I had to represent different countries. Right now I’ve been using cotton balls to make explosion effects and things. And, the little characters, they have pivots, they have joints and you can really get across, not only movement but motion too with a Lego stop motion. It’s almost perfectly made for stop motion animation. There are films where I make it up beforehand or there are even sometimes where I make it up as I go. So every film is different and it will take anywhere between 6 weeks, sometimes it’ll take 3 months. Lego opens up all possibilities. I can literally create anything I want and I love everything about it.
Nathan Sawaya: People can relate to Lego because they have this connection to it. They have it at home. I think there’s something about that. I really wanted to create sculptures that hadn’t been seen before, you know almost take the Lego element out of it. There’s a sculpture called My Boy where it’s a figure holding a small child figure in its arms. When they debut this culture at a museum, a woman started crying. She was not seeing this as a toy. She was just seeing it as art. When I get to follow my passion and create art for myself, it is a lot of art that’s about metamorphosis. It’s about transition. It’s about liberation. There’s a piece called Yellow where this figure is tearing his chest open and Lego bricks are spilling out all over. And, people have said, is this about agony, what is this piece about? For me, it’s about opening one’s self up to the world. Red was a piece I did about transition. You see this figure and it’s emerging from this pile of bricks and is he reaching to the sky or is he sinking into the bricks. I actually don’t really reveal. I want the viewer to have a role when they’re looking at the art. I was trying to put my emotion into my work. Really create these sculptures that really had something to say. The fact that it’s made out of Lego it opens the art world up to this whole new audience that may never even think about taking a Saturday and go into an art museum. And yet because it’s made out of Lego, they’re drawn.
Sean Kenney: There’s nothing you can’t create with Lego toys and so every day is something new, something different, something fun.
Alex Kobbs: How many toys can you really say that you can say – “I can create anything.” It just has that broad span of all spectrums.
Nathan Sawaya: We’re really seeing a Lego art movement that’s emerging. More and more artists are using Lego as a traditional medium and I think it’s amazing.
End of interview.
I hope you enjoyed this transcript of the very cool video from PBS about LEGO, LEGO Art and LEGO and Stop Motion.
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:
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 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 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.
I came across a great interview with Dik Jarman on YouTube which I have transcribe here for your enjoyment. Dik is an Australian animator with some great titles such as Mary and Max and Dad’s Clock and now director at kanga manga studios. The interview is entitled “Creation Through Animation with Dik Jarman”
The interview is the property of
Screen and Media
School of Media and Communication
The interview goes as follows:
“Good animation is like Formula One racing. You got the driver in the car at the end who wins the race, perhaps. But then he’s got all the 21 crew members who pick the car up, there’s people who design the car, there’s all that behind it, ___ people. And it’s the same with animation: there’s the performance of the team – people who make the puppet, design the puppet, build the puppet, paint the puppet, cloths for the puppet. Then there’s the writer for the story. There’s the uh, creator of the set, the lighting, the camera, the way it’s oriented, the rig that is built. All of that, in small production, is probably done by the animator but in large productions it’s a team effort.
I first got into animation in 1985 at secondary school when a good friend of mine and I were acting. And were the only people acting and working in the art department as well. And he was doing a film for his art project. And he asked me, can I act in it? He won an award for that film, he came back to me and said, “Look, I have another film to do and I want to make it puppet animation and I know you can sculpt,” because I was doing sculpturing at the time in the art room and so from then on I started sculpting for him and he was making films. And, 14 years I became his production designer and in the end animator as well.
The animator comes in and it is a dance, if you like, between you and the puppet. The puppet has it’s own integrity – its physical, it has knees, it has arms and fingers. It will move in a certain way. A computer animation you could bend any way, it can be spaghetti arms if you don’t put the joints in the right place. A puppet animation can’t – it can only move in the way it’s actually been designed. And so, you have to work with those set of limitations and create those gestures. I mean, early on you try to create a puppet, which can, if it needs to play the piano, has articulated fingers. If it only needs to run, you can just design fists. So the perfectly designed puppet for the gesture, but once you got the puppet, how do you use those internal mechanisms to be able to create the right gesture?
Animation, I think, is broad spectrum because everyone from kids to adults can enjoy animation depending on content and quality. Um, there’s good animation, there’s bad animation. There’s very literal animation in that it’s figurative. If we look at Wallace and Gromit, for example, it’s like a transliteration of film into animation. It’s just every character you know, every — it coul all be replaced by people. The fact that Gromit’s a dog is irrelevant; it could easily be a person and Davis McGraw and the like. You’ve seen these characters in film and what Nick Parker is doing is just merely transposing that to animation. I think that kind of misses the advantage that animation has, is because you’re creating a world which the audience is ready to sit down and go, “I – I wish to believe in this world,” or, or, or, “open to that world.” So you can take them on a journey to anywhere. So to merely replicate reality is missing an opportunity. So therefore, I think there’s a broad spectrum, as I said, of available destinations for animation and audiences of course, as well.
If you go to, uh, Bug’s Life, for example. The bugs, or the ants, they have four legs they don’t have six. Why? Because they’re trying to make them more like us. They’re anthropomorphizing them so that we can emote better with them. That blue color: they don’t actually look like ants. Where as, the enemy who they don’t want us to have an emotion with, those flying grasshopper-y things, they are grasshoppers, aren’t they? They’ve got scars, they’ve got all the texture, they’re as alien to humans as possible.
Well, in Dad’s Clock, I had a puppet, which was all tin and brass. Of course he took months to build, there’s no way I could build another one. The idea was just to make him stronger, or repair damage should it be required. Yeah, a lot of experience has taught me to build things well to begin with because a lot of animation is just in your feel. Like how much does that joint move? You don’t want to constantly be bringing in a measuring device.
Now with Max (from Mary and Max), for example, he’s a beast, and he’s heavy and he’s depressed. And when you’re heavy and depressed, your weight becomes your enemy. You’ve gotta drag it along. But when you become, proud and strong, suddenly your weight becomes your friend and you can actually use that momentum and start actually knocking down doors with it. And it’s the way you carry that, the way you carry your body is what defines how happy or whatever emotion you’re trying to bring across.
You’ll often see animators walking up and down rooms and, you know, actually performing themselves to feel bodily what it is so they can then transfer that bodily sensation to the puppet. Um, or a lot of animators have mirrors on their stage, they can go (*he makes a couple of facial expressions here*), and just remind themselves of those particular things. As Nick Duncan once said, “You never finish your film, you just run out of time”. and that’s true, you always want to go back and open this bit or fix this but you’ve gotta know when to – like in any creative endeavor – when to stop designing and when to start presenting.”
I came across a very interesting interview with Art Clokey (1921-2010), who died this year. Art was the creator of Gumby, the claymation character animated with stop motion animation that was so popular with a generation of children growing up in America in the 70′s and 80′s. The interview was conducted by Karen Herman on July 19, 2001 for the Archive of American Television. Copyright goes to them, I reproduce excerpts from the interview here for your interest.
Interviewer: Ok we’re talking about the Gumby series in the 80’s and how things were different. Has the audience changed at all? Have the kids become more sophisticated in their viewing? Do you notice any differences?
Art: Well our stories were a little more sophisticated. We brought in historical things and Don Quixote. I’m always wondering about. They say kids are getting more sophisticated watching television, they’re getting more hyper. I don’t see that happening here. When my son shows his children Gumby and I show it to other children here, it’s still complete engrossment, as though they’re hypnotised and can’t get away from their screen. Fantastic babysitters! Up until around 7 years of age, I really don’t care much about reaching the older children. The Catholic Church used to say ‘give us your children until they’re 5. You can have them afterwards.’
Interviewer: In 1995 you produced ‘Gumby: The Movie’ That was the first feature that Gumby was in. How did that come about? Why did you decide to do a feature?
Art: I wanted to do a Gumby feature for many years and we suddenly got the opportunity and the money. With that too we put much of the money was made from doing the series from Lorimar into the movie and Lorimar had bought the equipment for us, camera and lights and space and they were all there ready to go after 1988 after we stopped producing the series. So we produced the movie at a terribly low price. It should have cost at least 6 million dollars but we did it for less than half of that. The animators were working for half salary actually, instead of $1200 a week they were getting $750 a week and then they went right over to Disney and James and the Giant Peach and they got $2000 a week.
Interviewer: How did the film do?
Art: It never had a chance to do anything because I foolishly gave the film to a distributor in New York who was a crook. He didn’t have sense of ethics so he told us he was going to advertise for so much money and he didn’t advertise. He got it in 20 of the top markets of all the big cities and he didn’t advertise. It was in San Francisco and Los Angeles and nobody knew it was there. Except people who would se the little notice on the movie page but no other advertising.
Interviewer: Now today in 2001 Gumby is being used again on ABC
Art: ABC yeah. And Disney, we just finished negotiating a contract with Disney, they want to do a movie with people and Gumby. They also wanted to do a new series with me as an Executive Producer, that would be interesting.
We got them to agree to do most of it in clay animation. We use computers for special scenes because computer animation, no matter how refined, looks artificial. Like in cartoon and clay animation the artist is hands on, he has his paintbrush connected to his nervous system, though hi hand, through his heart and his brain but not in a computer. When you go through this electronic network with a button, you push a button here and a click there, the artist has nothing to do with it. His nervous system is not involved.
Interviewer: Why do you think Gumby remains popular after almost 50 years?
Art: Well, Hans Christian Anderson wrote some stories and they’re still popular. I think it’s just because they didn’t do it really to make money, they did it because they loved doing it for art and they loved children I suppose and people. As I’ve said Gumby started out not to make money but to give the children something of value on television. I didn’t need the money in those days I was making television commercials for Coca-Cola and Budweiser. Doing clay animated Gumby was an interesting challenge. And I had my two children.
Interviewer: Were your children influential in the series? Did they watch Gumby?
Art: Oh yeah. I told them stories every night before they went to sleep. That was an act of love for your children so I considered every Gumby story was an act of love for children. Love, love, love as the Beatles said.
Interviewer: What is your philosophy regarding merchandising and character toys?
Art: Oh I didn’t tell you that. I bought the series and all the right from NBC back in 1959 maybe and NBC hadn’t gotten off the ground as far as merchandising was concerned. I decided that because we had such a good rapport with the parents at the station that I didn’t want to give the parents the impression that I was trying to exploit their children for products or make their children buy our products. So for 7 years from 1957 to 1964 I didn’t allow any merchandising. Then in 1964 some people told me that a lot of children were asking for little Gumby dolls that they could hold while they were watching Gumby on TV. So we decided to form the Gumby Toy Corporation and put out the first Gumby bendable and I got such good response from people I was so glad I was putting them out. That was very idealistic, I studied for the ministry so it wasn’t as bad as I thought.
Interviewer: What advise would you give to an aspiring producer, what would you say to them?
Art: To inspire a producer?
Interviewer: For someone who as just starting out as a producer
Art: It all came about so naturally with me, I don’t know, just if they want to be a producer I thin they should search inside themselves to see why. If it’s just to make money, that’s not good, if it’s to do something for their fellow man or fellow woman or serving society in some way. Service to society, that’s why I’m still keeping myself alive and as young as possible so I can service society more so that new Gumby films maintain their integrity.
Interviewer: What do you consider your biggest career highlight, what are you especially proud of?
Art: Some of the films I’ve written, stories. I don’t know, they all came out of my subconscious so it was like I’d go into like a daydream and I’d write a story and it would come from somewhere, some news would come. I remember Joe Clokey people would ask him about his compositions of music and he would say ‘It’s just the muses I don’t know where it comes from’ it comes from cosmic consciousness. I don’t believe we’re the doers, we don’t do these things, we’re not the real directors of our life. Our true self is the director, which is, I believe part of the overall cosmic consciousness or god so I don’t take any credit for it.
Interviewer: Did Joe Clokey live to see any of your accomplishments.
Art: Yes, yes. I remember he was travelling on a frator travelling across Europe to Paris and to sent him a telegram that I’ just gotten the contract signed for the David and Goliath series, we got the NBC series before that. So that was a great pleasure to him.
It’s been a big miracle.
Interviewer: The last question we ask our interviewees is ‘how would you like to be remembered?
Art: As a lover of children, a server of society. I’d like to be remembered as someone who cared for everybody and tried to act that out in whatever I do. Love, love, love. At the Hard Rock Café, Isaac Tigrett, he’s also a devotee of Sri Sathya Sai Baba and he had pictures of Sai Baba in his new House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard and he has the sayings ‘Help ever hurt never’. Don’t worry be happy, what are the other sayings? I can’t remember them right now
- End of Interview -
The photo is of Art’s father. He died in a car accident when Art was 9 years old. This photo inspired Gumby’s bump on his head. Art fondly remembers his father and always noting the quif in his hair shown in the graduation from high school photo.
I recently came a across a very informative interview done by HTV West production for Channel 4 UK with Ray Harryhausen – the stop motion animation genius of the forties and fifties. I have reproduced some of the 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 hightens 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.”
- Stop Motion in Games – Cletus Clay
Cletus Clay is a unique computer game that uses stop motion animation techniques. The clay characters in the game are all handcrafted by Sarah Webb of TunaSnax – home of Tuna, developers of Cletus Clay.
Below is a transcribed interview with Sarah and Alex Amsel talking about Cletus and the stop motion design behind the game.
Sarah Webb: Cletus Clay is cool and interesting because we made it.
Alex Amsel: Yeah, pretty much.
Sarah Webb: and We’re cool.
Alex Amsel: Yep.
Alex Amsel: Yeah Cletus Clay is homage back to the 1980’s, 1990s arcade games. And this time we’re doing it as we are doing it with clay. And the ?? Is that those games were really really entertaining. They had a set of humor about. They didn’t take themselves too seriously. And I think that is one of the nice things about Cletus. When you hear Cletus talk you know he doesn’t takes himself seriously. He’s the funniest game character that has been for many years. Hi, I am Alex Amsel. I’m the managing director of Tuna.
Sarah Webb: I am Sarah Webb. I am the stop motion artist here at Tuna.
Why stop motion game?
Alex Amsel: We wanted to do something that looks a little bit different, more original. And so we started working with guy called Anthony Flak. He is a stop motion animator.
Average day of Cletus Clay team?
Alex Amsel: Anthony is based in New Zealand and that means he has an eleven hour time difference. So my morning starts talking to Anthony. And as he so starts motor making with Sarah. What we are doing is actually, doing the interesting which is how the game plays. So my typical job is to generally coming and speaking to Anthony, get Cletus running around and beating up aliens and finding new ways to make the aliens die.
Sarah Webb: Anthony does a load of level designs, which is what we base our model designs upon. So there are these really long sketches that he does using Photoshop. So we go through those and work out what models need to be made for each level. And for me, I tend to go to make another sketch, particularly if it’s a big model , just so that I can firmly establish in my head what kind of model I’m trying to make. And then I can send them back to Anthony, and he can say that’s really good or no no no, that’s totally not I wanted to for that level.
Sarah Webb: This is chicken house mark II which is a model I built for level 1 of Cletus Clay. It took about 12 hours to make.
Sarah Webb: It’s all squishy!
Alex Amsel: I kill stuff. that’s my day, mainly aliens.
Why your game is unique?
Sarah Webb: I guess it is its tactile nature. It’s like when you watch a film like Coraline or Fantastic mister fox, because what you’re looking at are a set of still images. It has its own little em, idiosyncrasies. And so people can pick up on that ,as you can’t really mimic that with any medium which is why clay is quite special.
Alex Amsel: And the interesting thing for me is I’m a pro ??. I have to work with all the art work produced by the artists. As he gets, you never quite know what you’re going to get. And because you never catch your way and look at it at anytime and they can take a slight different photo of it. You put it in the actual game and you can see the thumb prints, when you are actually playing the game and that’s really different from doing CGI. CGI is really really dull in comparison and lifeless.
What was the first feedback so far?
Alex Amsel: There are people who didn’t like it. We don’t have to lie.
Sarah Webb: No, we don’t have to lie. There was a very little negative feedback from we trying to both the scenario came out. And there was one Japanese who called, who played the same level for about 10 times, over and over again because he said he can’t stop playing it which was really awesome.
Alex Amsel: He kept playing over and over again.
Sarah Webb: Yeah
Sarah Webb: Mark hid one of my clay models and said that it had been squashed and there was a moment of gullibility where I did think he was serious and there was this model that took me 12 hours to make had been squashed and the evidence has been swept away and it can’t be produced and it was cake and that was pretty bad.
Alex Amsel: Anthony had a very bad day all playing to making all the clay models. This was supposed to be the first previous game of Cletus. And we got back home and his house was burning down with all his discs and all his models, everything he’d been doing back for back two years. And, luckily he’d been showing the game to a friend, and his friend had the discs. So he didn’t lose all his works completely, just his house and his belongings.
Sarah Webb: I am gonna be with one of the bunnies. The bunnies were cute. There were really cute clay bunnies so it might be a bunny. And you could be the really cute gun terror.
Alex Amsel: I can’t be the gun terror because it’s destructive.
Sarah Webb: The most exciting moment for me the first time I saw was something I had created actually in the game. It was just a little test level. Cletus running back and forth and I was “that’s my tree!”
Alex Amsel: And there’s been a lot of things on Cletus. But a friend of mine Betamin Weirs, the first game I ever made that was so commercially was going to the shop and seeing it, in the shop in like a top 10. And of course it wasn’t a no. 1 but what I did do is picked up all the copies and moved into no. 1. And I did that in every shop I went in to and so all around Sheffield as well.
Alex Amsel: There’s been a lot of learning on the way because there is no model to follow, no one has ever done this before in the way we are doing it. So, some deadlines we’ve met but other deadlines we missed badly I have to admit. But it’s inherent when you’re trying to do, when you’re doing research and development. We’re doing new things therefore, some objects just go wrong and we have to do it differently.
Alex Amsel: 14 years worked on platforms from the older Amiga days, and now working across onto the IPad, the latest platform we’re working on. And I think the experiences we had across all these different products and all the different platforms, working with a wide range of clients and licences and now we work with clay. I think it makes us interesting and I’ve got experiences that so varied that we have a lots of things to table.
Sarah Webb: Yes, it is really good to see the clay graphics on the ipad. I think they were really well. I know we’re still developing the actual mechanics of the game but even playing upside down and backwards. It’s still pretty fun.
Alex Amsel: Something I think is interesting, that is happening more and more now is more and more people playing games on facebook or console or on their iphone, I think there’s a quite a lot of scope for new products to be created or appetised by creating a game around those products instead of traditional boring advertisements, which tended to speak – 30 seconds adverts on tv or a boring flash ad on the web. I think creating proper interactive, interesting adverts, which is our base of the game. I think that’s the move we really would like to get involved with.