First off: language warning for the kiddos. Stop-motion animator Dillon Markey works on projects for animation powerhouses like Robot Chicken and PES. While on set three years ago Markey tired of moving back and forth between the set, camera, and computers for each shot and conceived of a numerical keypad he could use to help control some, if not all, of the devices he uses for animating.
In a stroke of nostalgic brilliance, he realized Nintendo’s failed 1980 Power Glove—a wearable device that was supposed to offer novel ways of controlling video games—posessed the form factor he needed. While the Power Glove itself was a commercial flop because of imprecise and awkward controls (not to mention crummy games), Markey teamed up with an electrical engineer to completely rewire the device so it could interact with his stop-motion software via Bluetooth. In a move that would make Inspector Gadget proud, he further modified the glove to incorporate animation tools like retractable tweezers and special sensors that emit the perfect phrase when you use the glove for a fist-bump.
One would think such modifications would be interesting for the purpose of making a quick concept video like this, but that in practical application it might not really work. Not the case: he’s now used it for over 1.5 years on projects like this. It makes you wonder what other outmoded technology had the right form factor but wrong application? Film by Ava Benjamin.
One of the most gratifying aspects of watching stop-motion films is the knowledge that every bit of motion seen on screen is created by human hands, frame by frame, millimeter by millimeter. While an animator might tell you it takes an entire day just to film a 3-second sequence, it’s still difficult to imagine how much physical labor is involved to accomplish it. Lucky for us, the animators behind Laika’s Boxtrolls snuck in a short post-credits timelapse that reveals a brief glimpse of what happens behind the scenes to make two characters come to life.
I first saw Boxtrolls in the theater last September with my son, and this single scene caused a more vocal response from the audience than any other moment in the entire movie. People were literally gasping, myself included. Over the holidays, Focus Features finally made it available online through their YouTube channel.
Director and stop-motion animator PES just released his latest animation titled Submarine Sandwich, the third short film in his cooking trilogy which also includes Western Spaghetti and Fresh Guacamole, the shortest film ever nominated for an Oscar. This latest film takes us into a retro deli where we witness the creation of, yes, a submarine sandwich using vintage sports memorabilia and other sliced objects that resemble food. PES has an uncanny ability to not only identify the perfect props for his films, but also sets them in motion in the most unexpected ways. Submarine Sandwich was funded through Kickstarter earlier this year. If you’re interested in some sweet stop motion animation merch, PES now has a shop where prints and props from many of his films are available for purchase.
Animator Marty Cooper just released a sequel to his wildly popular Aug(De)Mented Reality video that blends stop motion with hand-illustrated cels that he holds in front of his iPhone while shooting. Whimsical characters interact with both foreground and background elements like clouds, buildings, animals, and even real people. Earlier this summer, Cooper was invited to stop by Adam Savage’s legendary workshop where he discussed his process and animated a short piece incorporating Savage.
Update: Cooper posts many of his animated clips to Instagram.
The Bigger Picture is a new animated short from filmmaker Daisy Jacobs and animator Chris Wilder about two brothers struggling to care for their older monther. The film is notable for its animation technique that blends life-size wall-painted characters who inhabit full-size sets, interacting with real objects. Included here is the trailer and a nice making-of video that goes behind the scenes. The Bigger Picture is currently screening in film festivals around the world and has won more awards than you can shake a pair of leaf-covered sticks at. I seriously can’t wait to see this.
Circle of an Abstract Ritual is the latest stop motion timelapse from artist Jeff Frost (previously) who creates short films that defy description. This latest work gathers hundreds of thousands of photographs taken over the last two years during wildfires, riots, and inside abandoned houses where he created a series of optical illusion paintings. Frost says the film “began as an exploration of the idea that creation and destruction might be the same thing,” and that it is in part “a way to get an ever so slight edge on the unknowable.” Whatever it is, or is not, it’s really up to you to decide. I definitely recommend watching through to the end for the scene with trees—keep in mind the entire film was created without digital special effects or graphics. (via Vimeo Staff Picks)
Designer and woodworker Frank Howarth has a passion for building things with his hands, he makes everything from shelves and chairs to toys and tables. But there’s one thing he might be even more passionate about: showing people how he does it on his YouTube channel. In some of his most popular films, the Howarth removes himself completely to create stop-motion animations with thousands of photos, where the objects appear to build themselves. In the two shown here he builds a trio of bookshelves and a lawn chair. If you liked this, don’t miss the Triumph Spitfire clip. (via The Awesomer)