Stop Motion

Nitro Warriors 2

Why Watch? A year ago, we featured a fun stop-motion car chase called Nitro Warriors and now it has a sequel worthy of all the matchbox-sized explosions. It could be a tiny Fast and Furious in the making. Pure entertainment with adrenaline poured over it, this one takes to the sky while delivering an entire cityscape and a few iconic cars at the street level. Excellent animation, thrilling camera work and wacky tourists — asking for more is just selfish. Here’s to 6 more installments!

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Iron Man vs Bruce Lee

Why Watch? Let’s pretend for a second like the title and concept didn’t snag you already. With funk trumpets blaring in the background, Patrick Boivin‘s short fight scene is a pinpoint example of execution meeting the spark of a concept. Not simply content to deliver quirky fun, Boivin has crafted something technically impressive that plasters smiles on faces like it’s its job. Plus, there’s even a hint of a story (who knew that was really Iron Man’s secret identity?). This is a hell of an entertaining film, and it’s no surprise that it comes from the guy who made these. What will it cost? Around 1 minute. Skip Work. Watch More Short Films.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Holy. Hell.  It took 6 months and 2 states for Marc Donahue and Michael Williams to create this epic piece of stop-motion mastery called Dream Music: Part 2. The sheer amount of labor (up to 8 hours for each 3-4 seconds of film) is astounding, but what sets it over the top is the attention to detail and the visual connectivity they manage (from bits of nature found in urban areas flowing out of forests to snowboarding on train tracks). Not to mention the overt and subtle nods to the lyrics that push the piece forward. More than mere gimmick, this is transportational filmmaking. Consider the ambitious experiment a success. If there’s a stop-motion piece larger and more detailed than this, I’d love to see it. What will it cost you? “Only” 8 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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Henry Selick

According to Variety, Disney has shut down production on Henry Selick‘s forthcoming untitled stop-motion animated movie. He’ll continue to work on The Graveyard Book – based on Neil Gaiman‘s book – for the studio. There’s no telling what the world will be missing because no plot nor concept image has been released at this point, but there’s a possibility that Selick will be able to get another studio to help carry it across the finish line. All hope is not lost for those of us who blindly trust Selick to make something magical – something we don’t even realize we want yet. The article claims that studio insiders pointed to the movie not being where it needed to be. Originally set for an October 2013 release, they hadn’t even hired voice actors yet. Someone, please get on that. The world needs more Selick. However, the mystery remains why they would dump the project wholesale instead of simply push it back. After all, it’s in 3D! That’s guaranteed money!

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? It’s stop-motion! In space! This clever music video for Matt Mendez features a furious blast through the great beyond in a paper cassette tape. Commentary on the journey music can take us on? Or just a really cool video? You be the judge, and see if you can spot the Planet Express spaceship in the background while you’re at it. What will it cost? Only 3 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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Why Watch? Sometimes short films are used to deliver a punchline, and when Lee Hardcastle is at the wheel, it’s a sure thing that he’ll steer the horror comedy truck right off the cliff and it’ll only take him 5 seconds to do it. The guy is damned good, and this short movie is definitely good for a (very) quick laugh. What will it cost? Only 5 seconds. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

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Why Watch? The end of the year is a time to reflect, and this outstanding music video let’s us remember everything from the Big Bang to…the end. And what a splendid thing it all is. The animation has a youthful sense of fun to it (especially when a monkey discovers weapons and murder), and the constantly rotating, fabric-covered globe is inspired. What does it cost? Just 3 minutes of your time. Trust us. You have time for more short films.

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Why Watch? Early Tim Burton, late Vincent Price, and a stop-motion nursery rhyme for the gruesome ones. This 1982 team-up between Burton and Price was one of the director’s last short films before landing the directing gig for Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and going down the path we all know he followed. It came 11 years before The Nightmare Before Christmas, but the tones and design concepts are all there (just no Henry Selick). Instead of a skeletal hero, it’s a little boy who wants to turn his dog into a zombie. What does it cost? Just 6 minutes of your time.

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Why Watch? A horse, a cowboy, and a Native American (as the title suggests), run from a bear, launch a few cows into space and run around like idiots. If you aren’t already privy to the insane splendor of A Town Called Panic, this short film is a great introduction. But what can you expect? Colorful stop-motion made with children’s toys, surreal randomness, and head-slapping humor. Drink an energy drink and try to keep up, please. What does it cost? Just 5 minutes of your time. Check out A Town Called Panic: Cake for yourself:

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Why Watch? Anything that took 1,357 hours of work and 288,000 jelly beans is at least worth 3 minutes or your time. This Greg Jardin-directed music video for Kina Grannis‘s In Your Arms is a testament to the vibrant visuals that can be made by extreme patience and a quarter of a million candies. The song is a little too sugary, but the effect is really sweet. What does it cost? Just 3 minutes of your time. Check out In Your Arms for yourself:

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Why Watch? It’s from Spike Jonze. There’s no reason you should need to know more about it, but in case you’re curious, this inventive short film (which channels a few of the old Merry Melodies shorts set in libraries) was born out of a partnership between Jonze and artist/purse designer Olympia Le-Tan. With co-director Simon Cahn, Jonze tells the stop-motion story of a skeleton and a young woman from the covers of two famous novels, falling in love and getting into trouble. Vibrant and sweet, it’s a must-see. What does it cost? Just 7 minutes of your time. Check out Mourir Auprès de Toi for yourself:

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Why Watch? Give this short 12 seconds and you’ll stay for 12 minutes. It features a ton of inventive objects in the service of inspired stop motion animation, and the story is one that’s halfway between abstraction and simplicity. And, of course, it was featured at Fantastic Fest a few years back. Its chaos is currently reigning over us, but it’s nice to look back on some quality shorts from the festival’s past. What does it cost? Just 12 minutes of your time. Check out Teclopolis for yourself:

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Doug Beswick’s career, like many creature makers, began with a love and practice of Stop Motion Animation. My understanding is that he met Rick Baker when they both worked at Cascade Studios (most famous for doing the claymation for the series Gumby & Pokey) and later had joined Rick’s crew as a mechanical, animatronics designer. I don’t know the details of how and why Doug decided to open his own shop, but his facility was in a small, industrial park, north east of the San Fernando Valley in Sunland. Prior to my arrival, Doug had gained some notoriety with a couple of projects. The first was Terminator in which, Beswick had built and animated the endoskeleton miniature for the few full body shots of the robot walking. The second was a Disney live action film entitled My Science Project. For that film, Rick and Doug had teamed up to build an impressive, miniature, mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex puppet. It is interesting to see how logical progressions occur (albeit rarely) in Hollywood. Doug had built a sophisticated, miniature, mechanical puppet that looked phenomenal on film, AND he had prior experience working for James Cameron. The result: Doug was hired to build the miniature mechanical puppets for Aliens. See how that worked?

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Why Watch? Because this is painstaking, stop motion genius. Some of the best shorts we’ve featured have been stop motion animation. Why? Because the art form (when done right) is captivating and playful. Perfect for the medium. This particular gem from Tomas Mankovsky is a shining example of those two traits. It was made with a camera aimed straight down at the floor, and the result is young man hurrying to get to an important appointment. Lighthearted meets blood, sweat and effort here. It’s nothing short of amazing. Plus, you can check out a ton of behind-the-scenes information on how it was made. What does it cost? Just 3 minutes of your time. Check out Sorry I’m Late for yourself:

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Why Watch? Because one of us has a home. A lonely traveler sticks his thumb out against the cruel world trying to get somewhere. He fills up a canteen at a riverside. He looks on down the road. The trials and tribulations of the highway are made even more drastic and even more endearing when its an action figure attempting to hitch a ride. This stop motion short has a simple method to it that 1) shows how difficult it is to create stop motion outdoors and 2) delivers something magical that stems from seeing a tiny humanoid entity surviving in a giant world of fast-moving cars. What does it cost? Just 5 minutes of your time. Check out Chief Serenbe for yourself:

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Why Watch? Because it’s the best Sweding job out there. Back when Be Kind Rewind came out, the cultural phenomenon of Sweded movies jumped out of the plot and into real life. Filmmakers of all stripes were recreating famous movies with household items and borrowed aesthetic. It was such a movement that a contest was hosted by Michel Gondry. The winner of that contest comes from a filmmaker we featured yesterday as well. Chloe Fleury certainly has a passion and knack for stop motion animation, and her recreation of King Kong is absolutely brilliant. There are a million great things about this short. What does it cost? Just 3 minutes of your time. Check out King Kong for yourself:

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Why Watch? Because it’s a brief history of stop motion animation done with stop motion animation. There’s really nothing else to say when it comes to selling this thing, because Chloe Fleury has hit upon a clever idea and executed it with flair and charm. Plus, we get to learn a little film history, and that’s never a bad thing. What does it cost? Just 2 minutes of your time. Check out The Story About Stop Motion for yourself:

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Why Watch? Because it’s not easy being nothing. With gorgeously detailed yarn-based stop motion, this inspiring short tells a tale of determination even as we stare out on the beginning of a lonely path. While the 9s of this world live it up, the 0s have a much harder row to hoe. But even in the face of hardships (or because of them), a particular 0 can avoid being a negative number and find his true worth. The design here is as sharp as the storytelling. Plus, it’s not such a bad short for this Father’s Day weekend… What does it cost? Just 11 minutes of your time. Check out Zero for yourself:

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Why Watch? Because dry humor, zombies, lumps of clay, and Evil Dead go together surprisingly well. This short from Lee Hardcastle had its world debut at Cannes this year, and I would have given an undead right arm to be in the room when it played. Like yesterday’s zombie exploration, this is sweetly endearing for taking the abject horror of the genre and taming it with stop motion animation, tons of clay carnage, and a few simple jokes. Watch the short, and you’ll see Evil Dead all over it. What does it cost? Just 3 glorious minutes of your time. Check out A Zombie Claymation for yourself:

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The director of such celebrated kiddy fare as The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Coraline is putting together his own production studio in San Francisco. Their first project, Shademaker, looks to frighten children and is already boasting some impressive talent behind the scenes. A job recruitment post for the production dug up by Cartoon Brew says this: “Cinderbiter is a new stop-motion company whose mandate is to make great, scary films for young ‘uns with a small, tight-knit crew who watch each other’s backs. Joining Henry on Cinderbiter’s first production will be veteran team member Eric Leighton and the celebrated production designer, Lou Romano. That’s right – Lou Romano!” Cinderbiter has since been renamed to Shademaker Productions, but clearly the important bit of info in that blurb is Lou Romano. He is a production designer who has worked on Pixar projects like Cars, Up, and Ratatouille. Pixar is probably the most successful movie studio going today and Selick’s films have legions of devoted fans (even if 90% of them think that Tim Burton made his movies).

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