Stop-Motion Animation

Battling statues, lassoing dinosaurs, flying high on the back of a horse, watching a two-headed bird hatch, releasing the Kraken, sword-fighting with skeletons, staring into the eyes of Medusa. We will miss Ray Harryhausen, but we will celebrate with his movies forever.

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Drinking Games

Even though October passed us by almost a month ago, Focus Features has decided to drop its brilliant stop-motion animated film ParaNornman during the Christmas season. Consider it a gift to all of us scary movie fans who can adore this sweet-yet-spooky film in the comfort of our own homes without kids in costumes ringing the doorbell, constantly interrupting to demand candy. Of course, since you’ll be enjoying this film at home, possibly eating the last reserves of your plastic jack-o’-lantern bucket, you can knock back a couple drinks in the process. But go easy on the spirits, considering this movie is good enough to remember without a hangover.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? This might cause a flashback to playing the Micro Machines game on Nintendo. Director Paul Greer has crafted a thrilling car chase complete with an army of police cars, a mystery Corvette and a Mustang with a few tricks up its gear shaft. He managed it all on a tiny budget because…all of the cars are tiny. It’s a strong example not just of stop-motion work, but of playfully energetic camera work as well. It’s an excellent diversion that gets a lot of mileage out of real-world sound effects placed behind a toy-built universe. What will it cost you? Only 3 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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Editor’s note: With FSR favorite ParaNorman opening today, we thought it was only appropriate to re-post our very special set visit from the film, originally posted on May 21, 2012. I recently visited a nondescript building outside Portland, Oregon that would feel right at home in any corporate office park in America. Nothing about the bland, uninteresting exterior even hinted at what to expect beyond the front doors. There’s no sign outside to tell you where you are. No iconic sculptures alluding to what they do inside. Nothing at all that even hints at the harmonious blend of magic and technology within. But make no mistake, what LAIKA Studios is hiding inside those four generic-looking walls is nothing short of a revolution in film production…a revolution 115 years in the making. LAIKA is the studio behind 2009’s critical and commercial hit, Coraline, a film that utilized creepy but beautiful stop-motion puppetry to tell Neil Gaiman’s dark childhood fable. Their follow-up feature is an original work called ParaNorman. It’s an Amblin-like tale of a small New England town, a very special boy who can see and talk with the dead, and a zombie uprising that threatens to destroy them all. And yes, it’s a comedy. Keep reading for a peek behind the scenes of LAIKA Studios’ upcoming production, ParaNorman, and their secret, high-tech weapon…Rapid Prototype 3D printers.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? In the first few frames, it’s natural to wonder how The Eagleman Stag was made. It’s simultaneously easy to figure out and utterly simple to deny you’ve got the right answer because it just seems to painstaking. Make no mistake. This is highly complicated, insanely detailed stop-motion animation. It’s also more than a miracle of sweat and mechanics. It’s a thrilling, epic tale about a man’s full life and the important discovery that defines (and redefines) it. Sweet, stirring and expertly crafted, this is the kind of film that deserves standing ovations and a shelf full of honestly-earned awards. What will it cost? Only 9 amazing minutes. Skip Work. You’ve got Time For More Short Films

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? In this world where CGI can do just about anything, it’s monumentally impressive when an artistic endeavor is achieved through sweat and a hundred clocks ticking. This video for Benga‘s “I Will Never Change” is the kind of short film that shows off one specific thing, but it’s a specific thing that’s infinitely impressive. Us Studios crafted a soundwave using 960 vinyl records, some precise placement, and a lot of movie magic. Plus, you can check out how they did it because the team has given a ton of information from behind the curtain. What will it cost? Only 2 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve got Time For More Short Films

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? This is absolutely breath-taking work featuring stop-motion mastery and an entrancing story. In Juan Pablo Zaramella‘s Luminaris, a young man who makes light bulbs just like he’d blow up bubblegum plots a plan he can’t execute by himself. It’s stunning work that puts smiles on faces like it was its job. With a whimsical score and a grounding creativity tied to a little light romance, it’s a must-see. What will it cost? Only 5 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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While Tim Burton’s recent live-action films have still been raking in gobs of cash, they’ve also taken a bit of a downturn in quality that have left longtime Burton fans feeling a bit cold. Affection for his stop-motion animation efforts seem to still be ever-present and warm, however, so this new trailer for Burton’s Frankenweenie should play as a fun, bow-wrapped surprise to a lot of people. Check it out after the break, you might just be in for a pleasant shock.

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We’ve featured a few of Lee Harcastle‘s short films before, and they’re always good for a bloody violent, clay-filled time. Now, according to Twitch Film, he’ll be teaming up with Kill List director Ben Wheatley for a clay animated prison exploitation flick called Megaevilmotherfuckers. Score one for good titling. There’s limited information at this point, and Wheatley still has a black comedy (Sightseers), a non-black comedy (I, Macrobane featuring Nick Frost) and a science fiction movie (Freak Shift) on the table after Kill List hits theaters this week and The ABCS of Death  becomes available later this year. He’ll also probably have to stop to eat or sleep at some point. Great title, great pairing, great genre. Both Harcastle and Wheatley are about to be very busy filmmakers, so be prepared. Also, just imagine what sort of gore and sex and violence they can get away with when it’s all clay.

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Why Watch? It’s the story about a snowman with no arms on an adventure to find some. It echoes Rankin & Bass, and it’s pleasantly low-budget the way the first South Park Christmas videos were. Plus, it’s delightful and only a little bit creepy. Enjoy the ending! Happy holidays! What does it cost? Just 8 minutes of your time. Trust us. You have time for more short films.

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Why Watch? It’s brief, beautiful, and the music has the power to jackhammer your heart rate. Doing magic is a bit easier when you’ve got the trickery of stop-motion, but it’s no less stunning. This short film from Steven Briand is a filmic flip-book featuring some geometric prestidigitation and a driving beat. You might have to catch your breath by the end, but you’ll definitely be asking, “How’d he do that?”. What does it cost? Just a minute and a half of your time. Trust us. You have time for more short films.

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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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For those of you new to the column, I’m revisiting formative events in my life that have made me what I am today: A Special Effects Make Up Artist looking for relevance in the 21st Century. I have completed one year at the California Institute of the Arts Film Graphics program, and I have returned for my second year, I have moved off campus and have a small garage shop to make monsters. I am nineteen years old… My second year at CalArts, I ended up on Academic Probation. That was no easy task since students were not graded on an A, B, C, etc. scale. Instead, it was High Pass, Pass, or Incomplete. There was no “fail” but every two years (sophomore & senior) all students were “reviewed” by a board made up of a few faculty members. It probably had something to do with my cessation of attending classes primarily because they truly weren’t much more than glorified “wrap sessions.” It would be unfair to mention faculty names, but I will mention some of the classes to illustrate what I mean. I took a class called “Direct Animation” which the course description promised the manipulation of three-dimensional objects in front of a camera. To me, that is a description of Stop Motion Animation, right? It was finally something in which I had a passionate interest.

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Why Watch? Because PES is a master of stop-motion animation and a great chef. You’ve probably already seen this short. Hell, you’ve probably seen everything PES has done because as soon as you see one thing, you have to watch every single frame he lays down. Still, that’s no argument to avoid watching it (and everything else) again. In this short, he uses household items to prepare a delicious plate of pasta that can only exist in the vibrant, imaginative world where post-its can be used as butter, and you can cook over a fire made of candy corn. It’s delightful, funny, innovative, and PES continues to be one of the most creative minds in the short film game. What Will It Cost? Just 2 minutes of your time. Check out Western Spaghetti for yourself:

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Deadline Celebration reports that a new 3D stop-motion animated Pinocchio, based on the images from a Gris Grimly illustrated version of Carlo Collodi’s classic fairy tale and co-directed by Grimly and The Fantastic Mr. Fox’s Mark Gustafson, is in the works. The script was written By Del Toro and his frequent collaborator Matthew Robbins (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark), and every pain seems to have been taken by everyone involved to come up with something that is going to scare the bejesus out of your kids. When explaining why he wants to make little girls cry, Guillermo del Toro said, “There has to be darkness in any fairy tale or children’s narrative work, something the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and Walt Disney understood. We tend to call something Disney-fied, but a lot of people forget how powerfully disturbing the best animated Disney movies are, including those kids being turned into donkeys in Pinocchio. What we’re trying to do is present a Pinocchio that is more faithful to the take that Collodi wrote. That is more surreal and slightly darker than what we’ve seen before.” Okay, so read that again. People tend to forget how “powerfully disturbing” the Disney version of Pinocchio is; yet he feels that they must make something even more dark and surreal. As somebody that was completely freaked out by the concepts of donkey children and starving in the belly of a whale when I was five or so, I say hell yeah. This generation […]

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Mike Johnson is an animator, the co-director of Corpse Bride and an Oscar nominee. For his next trick, he’ll be treading on the sacred ground of Oz in a way that none of the other twenty-nine directors of forthcoming Oz-based movies are attempting. He’s taking the characters into stop-motion territory with Oz Wars. This couldn’t be a better idea if it came with free gold bricks. Johnson has a short but focused resume, and the thought to take these beloved characters into a medium they’ve never been before is inspired. According to Variety, Vanguard Films is taking the task here, and they’ve already used the words “dark,” “sexy,” and “dangerous” to talk about the project. That’s cause for some concern (especially the sexy part), but the original 1939 film was always a bit dark and dangerous, so there’s nothing wrong with that. Now, if they could somehow get Henry Selick involved in some capacity, the excitement here would really go up to 11. As it stands now though, it’s pretty damned cool.

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The fine folks over at ComingSoon spoke with producer Christopher Melendandri who confirmed that, yes, a stop-motion version of The Addams Family was definitely headed down the pike, and that, yes, Tim Burton was involved and looking to direct. A fifth grader could have predicted that Burton would be interested in directing, but he’s the wrong man for the job.

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Holy hell! Our spy inside the production snapped off a picture of a work-in-progress for one of the Titans! Harryhausen magic is back! Feast your eyes on…The Kraken!

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fantastic-mrfox-header

‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ is definitely a Wes Anderson movie; it’s full of whimsy and alienation, and it explores troubled relationships. It’s also animated and about a family of foxes. The combination makes for a unique experience.

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A little peek into the tiny world of Wes Anderson’s Stop-Motion

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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