I’ve been a huge fan of stop motion animation since I was a kid. AT-ATs in the Empire Strikes Back, the original Clash of the Titans, and countless Harryhausen flicks made a huge impression on me. I used to sculpt dinosaurs and cavemen out of plasticine clay and stage epic battles, that I could only imagine being animated. I’ve always wanted to make films, yet never had the resources when I was young and brimming with ideas. As I’ve gotten older I can now afford the fancy cameras and expensive software, yet the creativity seems to have faded. Years of working in the corporate world does that to you. All you want is the paycheck and a reasonably hassle free existence. That of course leaves you jaded and dulled, you become a consumer of other people’s ideas. The hours I spend watching movies and crap TV boggles the mind. It’s an endless cycle that feeds my laziness and apathy towards exploring my new ideas. I know plenty of other artists that are able to channel that corporate boredom into outside projects and creative endeavors to great effect. Brian Krueger, for example, used his boredom in his corporate job to publish a book, Make Time For Tom. Well, it’s time for me to jump on that band wagon and and reinvigorate my inner child. I’m going to make a stop motion animated short film, by god!
Of course this will leave my comic book project high and dry. This isn’t the first time I’ve told myself to get off my ass and do something. I’ve got an unfinished film project called The Jar that’s sitting on a hard drive waiting for me to finish it. Unfortunately, I’m not in the right frame of mind to do that. It’s too big. I need something smaller. A stepping stone that is able to engage all my little obsessions and skills, what little I’ve acquired over the years, into something good. Something interesting. Most importantly, something I can do on my own and in my free time.
Shouldn’t say I’m doing this completely on my own, though. Kurt Andersen has done some cool character designs, that I’m sure to mangle in the puppet fabrication process. Can’t make an omelet without cracking a few eggs…and then burning the shit out of said omelet.
I’ve been watching some recent stop motion releases in the last few weeks. Most notably Paranorman. An amazingly slick production, that still has the look of having been touched by human hands. Yet, the video that got this ball rolling was this awesome music video for the Shins.
It has a deceptively simple look to it. Very hand made looking, yet it uses motion control cameras and computer controlled lighting. The animators a were able to do their job without worrying about what the camera was doing. Really quite cool and WAY outta my league. My goal is to have the look of the Rankin/Bass Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the classic Christmas special that ran all throughout my childhood.
I’m just getting started on the main puppet for the Krampus character. It’s a first pass armature made out of aluminum wire and epoxy putty.
I have no clue how to build up the body and add fur. I stumbled across this cool Vanity Fair article about Fantastic Mr. Fox, one of my favorite stop motion films in years. I also happen to be a huge fan of Wes Anderson. It covers how they made their puppets using fancy armatures, foam latex, fur, and intricate costumes. Incredible craftsmanship.
I haven’t even thought about set construction. In due time, I guess. I did manage to find a miniature Christmas tree that seems to be the correct scale. It’s a start…
I plan to update the blog with lots of pictures. Don’t hold your breath or anything, I do have a day job after all.