Some of My Favourite Stop Motion Brickfilms

Brickfilms website is home to hundreds if not thousands of stop motion animations made with LEGO® bricks. Nathan Wells is a longstanding member of that community and some of his brickfilms are held in very high regard by that community. I would echo that sentiment and have one paticular brickfilm he completed in early summer 2007 called Driven that is excellent.. Copyright Nathan Wells (One Brick Studios) The camera work, lighting, sound  all excellent ..well worth the 5 minutes to view. Nathan has moved over to BricksInMotion now because of the commercialisation of Brickfilms dot com website.   Then there one of the very first stop motion LEGO® animations called “Portal” by Lindsay Fleay. Lindsay created in Perth, Western Australia between the years of 1985 and 1989! Here is a link to the movie.. and website.. http://www.rakrent.com/mp/mp.htm A very modern brickfilm from  Keshen (youtube name) Custard Productions called “Legolibrium 2”  The action sequence here is a stop motion take on the Matrix. Smooth movement..good effects and music etc.

Stop Motion Alive and Well

CGI has it’s place in animation ..thats a given. But stop motion animation still has its place also in media and entertainment. It’s alive and kicking everywhere. I stumbled upon a really good professional animator today called Kirsten Lepore. She’s based in the US (New Jersey). She graduated in 2007 from Maryland Institute College of Art with a BFA in Experimental Animation. “Sweet Dreams” from Kirsten Lepore on Vimeo. Its worth spending the 10 minutes or so to watch the above “Sweet Dreams” stop motion. The two things I like about Kirstens animations and this one in paticular are 1 – they are fresh and 2 – the sound. Fresh – the colors used, the imagery , the camera angles, the simplicity ..all perfect. The Sound – I am a real fan of good sound effects and appropriate mood music etc. In the example above Kirsten could not be more accurate. Perfect. We hobby animators could learn alot from Kirsten. Long live stop motion animation…

Nick Park -Some Thoughts on His Early Stop Motion Animations

I have to say that I am more a fan of Nick Parks early stop motion animation movies than for example the more recent Chicken Run. Nick was born in 1958 (he has four brothers and one sister) in Preston, England and wanted to be an inventor more than an animator. Something that is quiet evident from Wallace’s inventions in all his animations. His very first animation was a flipbook type animation which he spent a few days labouring over and sent to the photographers labs for developing ..but never got it back. He was 12 at the time. He then moved on to a character he created in cartoon (drawn form) called Walter the rat.  Nick’s mother was  a dress maker. She helped him to make cutout characters of felt fabric for “Rat and The Beanstalk”, a 1 minute stop motion animation, his first real movie. He admits making the classic mistake in this early movie that all new animators make of filming in daylight. You can see the image changing light level over the day long shoot during the movie. Later on when Nick when to college he came up with the Wallace and Gromit characters. He invited Aardman’s co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton to come and guest lecture at the college. Nick used some of his own budget to pay for their lecture.         [caption id=”attachment_62″ align=”alignright” width=”268″ caption=”Nicks First Studio Room […]
By |April 18th, 2009|Nick Park|0 Comments

Dromoland Castle – A Break from StopMotion

Taking a break for a couple of days from StopMotion animation here in Co Clare Ireland at the world famous Dromoland castle. It’s a real escape from reality. You drive onto the 410 acres of landscaped grounds and feel like you are entering a different world. We have visited Dromoland castle every Easter for the last seven years and always look forward to it. Dromoland Castle is a famous baronial castle in Ireland. It was the ancestral home of the O’Brien family , Barons of Inchiquin. The O Brien’s were  one of the few native Irish families of royal blood and are direct descendants of Brian Boroimhe ( Brian Boru  941-1014 A decendent of Milesus King of Spain no less) High King (Cheiftan) of Ireland in the eleventh century. The main part of the castle that remains today is built of blue limestone, with its high Gothic-styled grey stone walls. There has been a stronghold here since 1002 AD but it was rebuilt and designed by the Pain brothers in 1600 approximately by the then famous architects of that period. The castle was built by the then Lord of Dromoland, Sir Edward O’Brien, 4th Baronet, at a cost of £80,000. This was a very large amount even at the time (Georgian)..mostly because of the cost of cutting and hauling its stone from a nearby quarry on the Dromoland Estate. The O’Briens kept the property and lands right up to the middle of the 1940’s, however the then Lord Inchiquin sold the castle, along with some 330 acres of surrounding land, and the hunting and fishing rights to Mr. Bernard McDonough, an American industrialist, whose grandparents were born […]

A Teachers Survival Guide to Stop Motion

We visited a number of schools this week promoting stop motion animation as an ICT supplementary teaching aide. There was a common theme that we noticed in the way that the teachers and students reacted to the whole process. In general the students were very enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to get started. The teachers on the other hand took a little longer to both grasp the concept with 22 students rushing to get started and grasp it’s appicability to their respective coursework. But once they were given a few examples of some work that students had done in other school they were sold on the whole concept. We also noted that teachers while trying to be helpful were in some cases stifling childrens imagination by trying to overly control the whole process. Animation is simple and should not get in the way of imagination. I was reminded of the song “So many colors in the Rainbow” …and children do see every one and more.. But in one regard I would agree with the need for some organisation and discipline. A story board is a must when animating in a group. Assigning roles is also important. But once that is established the imagination of children should not be impaired by the rigid structure of traditional teaching methods. Some children worked enthusiastically on set building while others made characters out of clay.  There is something for everyone in the process. Once filming began concentration levels focused keenly on the work at hand.  In this instance we used iKITMovie stopmotion animation software. They plan to make a number of movies in the coming weeks and post them on a YouTube channel. Once they have I will put the link to them here.
By |April 11th, 2009|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Wallace and Gromit at London’s Science Museum

Has anyone been lucky enough to visit the Wallace and Gromit London science museum exhibition. I hope to visit in the summer. The exhibition was developed by Aardman Animation in conjunction with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) and the Science Museum to inspire young people to be inventive and creative. The UK’s IPO are using the exhibition as a vehicle to promote the idea of the value of good inventions and  ideas and to also what can go wrong if they do not take steps to  protect  their intellectual property.  Here’s a link to an interview with Nick Park about the exhibition. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/video/2009/mar/26/wallace-gromit-cracking-ideas They have set up a dedicated website for the exhibition at http://www.crackingideas.com/exhibition/ They have a cool game on the page for children also. The exhibition has cost a whopping £2.1 million sterling. And it will only run for  six months. Starting in March 2009 so get your visit in now..before it is gone forever!
By |March 31st, 2009|Uncategorized|0 Comments

QuickCam Pro 9000 Getting some attention by Animators

Not the cheapest webcam on the block but definitely one of the best for stop motion animation at least in the non professional field. Combine the  Carl Zeiss® optics and improved wide field of capture this makes for a really good animation webcam. I notice alot of the good brickfilm makers especially have noticed the benefits of the Pro 9000. I always personally prefer to use a clip on type webcam (normally designed to clip on to the top of your LCD screen) as their small size and clip allow you to connect the webcam to anything in confined spaces. Here is a good example of someone using the Pro 9000 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs6KF7cRUvc from NickMOCstudios

Sony DCR-HC62 – USB Streaming at last that works!

Just purchased the Sony DCR HC62E to use with stop motion movies on PC. First here is the tech spec. Title: Sony DCR-HC62 1MP MiniDV Handycam Camcorder with 25x Optical Zoom Maximum Resolution: 0.7 Megapixel Focal Length: 2.5 – 62.5 millimeters Zoom: x25 (optical), x2000 (digital) LCD Display Size: 2.7 inches Item Dimensions: 2.5 x 3.3 inches, 8 pounds Package Dimensions: 7.7 x 6.2 x 4.8 inches, 2.3 pounds OK the reason I chose this paticular camera was for it’s USB streaming capabilities. Did it work – Yes. Basically what you have here is a super webcam with 25x optical zoom , 25 fps at 640×480 with a crystal clear picutre and excellent color reproduction. It takes your stop motion animation up a level if you have been using only webcams. Also you have a DV output on this camera which again is ideal for Stop Motion. The other reason for choosing this camera is that because you are using the USB interface only..it will work with any stop motion software out there. The USB drivers must be loaded from the accompanying CD however before you can use it. Recommended..YES !  ( NOTE – Only Tested on a PC…not sure if it works on MAC )
By |October 25th, 2008|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Which DV Camcorders Have pass-through ?

      If you are thinking about buying a camcorder and want to use it for stop motion animation such as claymation etc. then I  have compiled a  list of some of the DV camcorders that have “pass through” capabilities. While this is not a full  listing, it will give you some idea of what is available. What I found is that DV pass-thru is available on most DV cameras with the exception of the lowest priced models and those with DCD writeable media. There are other models out there and new models coming on to the market all the time so just make sure you check the manuals to see if the  camera has pass through capabilities. But note unfortunately “Pass-through” is not always obvious as a feature in the manual or specificiations  and you may need to route through the user manual at the manufacturers site. Canon ZR60 ZR100 ZR200 ZR300 ZR400 Elura 80 Elura 85 Elura 90 Optura S1 Optura 50 Optura 60 Optura 400 Optura 500 Optura 600 No pass through on the DC10 or DC20 Sony DCR-HC42 DCR-HC32 DCR-PC55 DCR-HC90 DCR-PC1000 (3cc) DCR-HC21-NO analog DCR-TRV480 DCR-TRV460 JVC GRD72US GR-D73 and GR-D93 GR-DF430US GR-DF450US GR-DF550US GR-D860 Mini DV Camcorder (also can WebCam Function) GR-DZ7US has analog input but not sure about pass-thru GR-X5US has analog input but not sure about pass-thru   Panasonic PV-GS120 PV-GS150 PV-GS250 PV-GS400 PV-DV852
By |October 23rd, 2008|Uncategorized|0 Comments

USB Streaming for Stop Motion Animation

Up to recently DV and USB on Webcams and in some cases Analog capture have been the main stay of stop motion animators for capturing frames. But now there is a new kid on the block..”USB Streaming”. It is primarily being pushed by Sony at present but a number of other manufacturers are moving in that direction also. The concept behind it is to promote or allow the use of USB rather than DV / Firewire to import video from your camcorder to your PC / Mac rather than to facilitate live capture. Its the live capture element of the setup that is of interest to us however. In the case of the Sony camcorders it is the hard disk based cameras that it is more evident for obvious reasons. However if you are considering purchasing such a camera for your stop motion then be sure to check the model has what Sony describe as “Webcam Function” rather than just relying on it having USB streaming. JVC also have a good range of camcorders with the WebCam function over Firewire (DV) at a good price. While this is not USB streaming per se the result for stop motion animators is the same.
By |October 16th, 2008|Uncategorized|0 Comments