Thursday, November 6, 2014

10 Short Films Stand in the Oscars® Animated Short Flick Cut

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (science!, sorry, just felt like saying that), announced that 10 animated shorts will continue to go into the voting process for the 87th Academy Awards, out of 58 qualifying films.  And, hurrah, there's one Stop Motion flick!  The Bigger Picture is a fantastically awesome flick and visually stunning (though at the time of writing this I've only watch the trailer and the making of).  I do hope it gets some blog attention, that would be great.  What makes it so intriguing for me is that the entire thing is all done with actual scale props, meaning a insane amount of work, but a one-of-a-kind look.  In case you missed it you should go watch it here.  My other favorite is Symphony no. 42, which isn't Stopmo but 2d and also looks quite exquisite.

  • The Bigger Picture, Daisy Jacobs, director, and Christopher Hees, producer (National Film and Television School)
  • Coda, Alan Holly, director (And Maps And Plans)
  • The Dam Keeper, Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, directors (Tonko House)
  • Duet, Glen Keane, director (Glen Keane Productions & ATAP)
  • Feast, Patrick Osborne, director, and Kristina Reed, producer (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
  • Footprints, Bill Plympton, director (Bill Plympton Studio)
  • Me and My Moulton, Torill Kove, director (Mikrofilm in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada)
  • The Numberlys, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, directors (Moonbot Studios)
  • A Single Life, Joris Oprins, director (Job, Joris & Marieke)
  • Symphony No. 42, Réka Bucsi, director (Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest)
The Oscar® nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 15, 2015 live at 5:30 a.m. PT; and, likewise premier on February 22, 2015 being telecast from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

The Bigger Picture Trailer:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shaun the Sheep Gets First Half-Hour Special

Shaun the Sheep, the beloved Aardman character is getting his first half-hour special that's due to premiere in the UK on BBC One Christmas 2015.  The title of the episode of it is Shaun the Sheep - The Farmers Llamas.  This makes me, a long time Aardman fan really happy in my sole.  It's also a great release time for Shaun because the special goes straight into production following the completion of Shaun the Sheep The Movie (which comes out in February in the UK).

Aardman's original press release went into the plot's detail and also announced that it's going to kick off a further 30*7 season of Shaun that will be released over the 2016 year.
"The new adventure will see the Farmer getting himself into trouble again – when he goes to market to buy pigs, mischievous Shaun goes along for the ride and gets the Farmer to return home with a trio of exotic llamas instead! Shaun is delighted with his prank and convinces the Flock that the Llamas are just what they need to spice up their lives. At first everything’s great fun, but soon their llama roommates get a bit too comfortable in their new home. They begin to take over and the Flock grow increasingly suspicious of their intentions. When things spiral out of control and the llamas install themselves inside the Farmer’s house, Shaun is forced to take action. With the help of a poncho and a set of pan pipes, Shaun may just be able to oust the intruders and save the farm…
Alix Wiseman, Head of Sales and Acquisitions at Aardman comments: “We’re all truly excited to be seeing the story of The Farmer’s Llamas come to life and we hope our global fans will enjoy this fun new adventure as we delve deeper into Shaun’s world.”
Kristian Smith, Commissioning Editor, Comedy added “Aardman are the inimitable masters of beautiful, funny and truly original animation which thrills all ages. BBC Comedy Commissioning is very excited to be working with them again to bring Shaun the Sheep in The Farmer’s Llamas to BBC1 for Christmas 2015″
A further 30×7’ episodes have been launched in the UK this year and continue to enjoy global success, with a particularly strong following in Germany, the Middle East, Japan and Indonesia. Shaun the Sheep is now firmly established as an internationally recognised icon with over 5 million fans on online."
Plus, it'll premier just after the Oscar nominations are in.  And It'd be pretty great if Shaun's first feature could be in the Best Animated Feature slot!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mackinnon & Saunders Case Study: The Invisible World Famous Puppet Makers

This is a really neat video that I found on YouTube this morning.  It's an interview with Mackinnon & Saunders.  They're the company who has pretty much been the go-to for Tim Burton's films for [Stop Motion] puppets, Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie, Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox, and a plethora of other famous puppets have been made there for Stop Motion features, television, and commercials.  So check it out below!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Laika and Focus Features Seal Deal for 3 More Features!

Fantastic news in the Stop Motion World y'all!

Laika and Focus Features, the team behind the Stopmo flicks The BoxTrolls, ParaNorman, and Coraline, have announced a new three film partnership.  Focus, as before, will distribute the animation house's next the flicks with Universal Pictures International handling the overseas releases.

The BoxTrolls marks Laika's best opening ever at $17.3 million.  BoxTrolls is also one of the top contenders for the 2015 Oscar animated feature category (fingers crossed!).

Go read the full announcement here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

This is Very Possibly the Coolest Thing You'll See Today

Ever wonder what Stop Motion looks like between frames? - One of the lead animators on Laika's The BoxTrolls (now in theaters), Brad Schiff (ParaNorman, Coraline, Corpse Bride, and Fantastic Mr. Fox) explains the process in depth in this video...

This is a wonderful explanation of many terms you'll often hear in a Stop Motion production house: shooting on 2s and 3s, exposure sheets, modular sets, and lives (reference videos).  I will say that the people at Laika are truly special.  Very creative, wonderful, and all around great people.  They're a very good role model for a creative team of persons working on an animated film.

I absolutely love that the interviewer cannot wrap his brain around that there's only one animator on a single set, regardless of how many puppets are on set and the insane amount of work ahead of you.  Wait -You do this alone?  Brad once says something that I feel

"It's just the animator.  And his crazy mind.  And his puppets."

"The BoxTrolls" Are Now the #1 Family Movie in America

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"BoxTrolls" Opens Strong and Is Widely Accepted by Critics and Audiences Alike

Drumroll please -The BoxTrolls are here y'all!!

Laika's two previous films, Coraline [2009] debuted with $16.85 mil as well as ParaNorman debuted with $14 mil in 2012, and now their third feature, The BoxTrolls makes their second strongest debut at $16.5.  Aardman/Dreamwork's Chicken Run still stands the only Stop Motion feature to break $100 mil in 2000.

BoxTrolls been widely accepted by the critics as well as the audience, Rotten Tomatoes rates it "fresh" at 71% and the audience raises it at 75%.  Mary Houlihan at The Chicago Sun-Times writes:

"It's a world that runs in a parallel universe akin to that of Charles Dickens, with creatively named characters involved in seemingly outlandish adventures in a Victorian-era city where a moral or two plays out in the end."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Let's Talk About "The BoxTrolls"

Laika's greatly anticipated third feature in association with Focus Features, The BoxTrolls, rolls into U.S. and Canadian theaters tomorrow (or tonight if you're a die hard fan), so I think there's no better time to talk about it than now.

With every great movie, there's a one or two sentence emotional journey that your main character goes through and/or struggles with during the film that's surrounded by a fantastical world, real or imagined.   No doubt that the fantastical Victorian/Dickinson world that we've seen in so many of The BoxTrolls trailers and Instagram photos is utterly gorgeous.  Little has to be said about how grand of a scale and the shocking amount of detail that's put into The BoxTrolls, this goes for the sets and puppets that even goes beyond the stunning feat Laika pulled off with ParaNorman.  We have Eggs as the main character in The BoxTrolls, an adventurous, curious, and slightly crude in his mannerisms little boy.  Though I am as of now not yet seeing the film, unsure of the emotional tagline that he has. This is a note that usually goes unnoticed by reviewers and critics but certainly plays a role in the film's quality.  Let me stage this for you, in ParaNorman the emotional tagline was friendship.  In Disney's Frozen it was a relationship story of two sisters.  This is the thing that ties a film together.  Though something that is not shown in a movie's trailer.

The BoxTrolls (How To Prepare Fish)

So I'm very curious to see what BoxTrolls have to offer here.  Whatever that [emotional tagline] may be, a strong story surrounding the tagline is just as important.  And I am certain that this is an element The BoxTrolls has, it can be seen in the trailers and clips and synopsis.


I consider Laika, as I've stated before, the Pixar of Stop Motion.  So there is definitely an emotional journey and certainly a good story.  One thing can be said about BoxTrolls is that it's a stroke of artistic genius.  The puppets are the most incredible and I could just drool all day over their 3D printed faces.  In case you're unfamiliar, Laika has a rapid prototype printer where they print off hundreds of thousands of replacement animation faces.  This adds a since of realism that cannot be replicated in any other medium.  This film feels a bit lighter in tone and family-friendlyness compared to Coraline or ParaNorman.  So I believe that, equipped with that, I wouldn't be surprised if this is Laika's biggest success box-officewise so far.  Also, I think their release date and timing is very good.  Just look at Marvel's The Guardian's of the Galaxy, which hasn't even hit the cheap theaters yet and it's been out for two months because it was such a hit.  As a final line, if you can't tell I am extremely excited to see this and I'm sure it'll be great.  Though of course the true acid test will come out tomorrow, fingers crossed guys and gals!

If you want more BoxTrolls goodness and BTS go visit their WebsiteTumblr, and Instagram.

More BTS:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Laika Give Us a 15-Second Puppet 'Making-of' The BoxTroll Fish

Laika, the Portland-based company has released this little tidbit of Stop Motion genius (some call it madness).  And in case you're wondering, this specific BoxTroll is Fish.  In case you are unaware, Laika/Focus Features' The BoxTrolls hit theaters in 3 days, guys!

"LAIKA artists pride themselves on using only the freshest and finest ingredients when crafting the creative characters and concoctions in their films. See their full, homemade recipe for bringing a fresh Boxtroll to life in the new featurette, “How To Prepare Fish” on #TheBoxtrolls YouTube channel. #WHPthemakingof"

Thursday, September 18, 2014

RED Interactive and Laika Release 'BoxTrolls' Interactive Game

With the The BoxTrolls' release just around the corner (Sep. 26), Laika, in association with RED Interactive have released their movie tie-in game, The BoxTrolls: Slide 'n' Sneak.  The premise of the game is as you [the player] make your way through Cheesebride, you're on a rescue mission to rescue the captures BoxTrolls from the evil Red Hats' factory lair.

So if your looking for BoxTrolls awesomeness to prep yourself for the movie, this is it.  The game is free to download for iOS and soon will be launched on Android markets.

The BoxTrolls: Slide 'n' Sneak

Gameplay as a BoxTroll

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How Laika is Revolutionizing Stop Motion Animation

Portland Monthly Magazine just did a extensive 'making of' article on Laika's The BoxTrolls for their Fall Arts Preview.  Sculptures, armatures, art, 3D printed faces, and sets, yes, this article has it all.  I highly recommend this.  I will say that this is a microcosm of a BoxTrolls making of book.  So go do yourself a favor and go study this article!

Laika’s first two films, Coraline (2009) and ParaNorman (2012), each grossed more than $100 million and received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. The Boxtrolls, Laika’s third feature, hits screens nationwide September 26, with voices from the likes of Sir Ben Kingsley and Tracy Morgan. The film conjures the studio’s most imaginative realm yet: the decadent, Victorian village of Cheesebridge, where humans live aboveground and garbage-scavenging boxtrolls live below. The $50 million project is the result of 350 people shooting 125,280 individual poses over the course of 18 months. 


Chiodo Bros. Teach In-depth Online Course on Stop Motion

The Chiodo Bros., a Stop Motion company that's worked on projects such as Elf, Robocop, The Simpsons, and a whole lot more are going to be teaching a four-week long web course on the Stan Winston School of Character Arts website.  Sadly, I just found out about this today and they are already half way through the course.  But you can still go here to sign up.

The course promises to take you: "From initial concept to building your own Stop Motion puppet, to building a miniature set and animating a sequence, the [Chiodo] brothers will show you everything you need to know!"

It's going to be an online live web course so it does require a bit of diligence as to when to tune in.

Go here to see the promo video:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

'BoxTrolls' Instagram: For all Your BTS Needs

I have been searching for this and finally found it.  The source for BoxTrolls BTS and making of.  Jam-packed with animation time-lapses, art, slogans, and all else to satisfy our geeky Laika needs.

Go check it out here:

Monday, September 15, 2014

"BoxTrolls" Take over Box-Offices 1# in UK and #2 in Mexico

The box-office numbers are in for Laika's The BoxTrolls overseas release.  In the UK it's in #1 with $3.4 million.  Laika's previous films Coraline and ParaNorman opened with similar numbers in the UK at $3.7 and $2.3 million.

The BoxTrolls opened #2nd in Mexico at $1.8 million.  Collectively, in Denmark and Sweden Boxtrolls made a debut of $260,000.  Taking Laika to new heights for best-ever Laika openings in those markets.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A "BoxTrolls" Featurette!

As is the 'norm' so to speak in our little world of Stop Motion.  Laika, the makers of the upcoming The BoxTrolls (in partner with Focus Features like their past two films: ParaNorman and Coraline) have in the past released little epic featurettes.  This years there's no disappoint with The BoxTrolls.  And it's embedded/linked in below...

A hashtag last year to spread the word for Laika was #WeirdWins for Laika's ParaNorman.  This year it's just simply #TheBoxTrolls! Enjoy spreading Laika love all over the interwebs! :)


Directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi and based off Alan Snow's novel Here Be Monsters! comes Laika's The BoxTrolls, coming to a theater near you sooner than you think!

By the way, I've gotta say that it's good to be back after taking a month long break to get back into Stop Motion blogging again!

And the new poster....