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View Full Version : The 21st Century Stop Motion Creature FX - The Revenge of Dynamation®



Isomer
07-21-2013, 02:49 PM
Hi, I'm new to this message board but, not new to the business. I could do a long intro about me but, that's kinda irrelevant to what I'm bringing to the table here... affordable creature special effects for independent films that definitely competes with CGI for realism and definitely beats it's price tag!

I'm talking about good "old fashioned" stop motion creature effects with all that today's technology can do to give it new life and believability on the screen. I could try to convince you but that's never enough, so let me just show you.

Here's the link (this will only take a minute of your time) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiYfpvELXkE

So for you indie film makers who think they can't afford what the 'big guys' can... most of what you just watched was done on a shoestring budget but, through the magic of Photoshop, After Effects - stop motion creature effects can very once again make indie films rock with monsters, aliens, dinosaurs, robots and whatever else you need done... and it isn't going to cost you more money than you film will make.

Nick Soares
07-21-2013, 03:22 PM
Wow, this seems cool and interesting. I am checking it out now

Nick Soares
07-21-2013, 03:25 PM
Ok, so you did this?

The creature at 39 seconds - How long did that take and what project was it for?

Isomer
07-21-2013, 03:28 PM
That was for the 1987 film 'Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor'. Even though that's the oldest clip on the reel, it still holds up really well. (and that was long before we could help anything digitally in post!)

Oh and I was careful to note what my duties were on each project (bottom of the screen text) because I wasn't always the animator. That clip in particular was animated by Kent Burton.

Vance Baryn
07-22-2013, 12:53 AM
That looks really cool. can you give some indication of price range? You say "shoestring budget" but that can mean a lot of different ranges depending on a lot of factors. There's a good possibility I might be contacting you at some point in the future if I can afford it.

Isomer
07-22-2013, 03:14 AM
I really can't give a price range simply because just like many other aspects of indie film making, it can be done super cheap or expensively depending upon what the acceptable look is and how it gets shot. Meaning that the puppets can be made out of wire, tissue paper and liquid rubber for a cost of about $20 worth of materials or they can be sculpted in clay, molded in plastic, cast in silicone over a mechanical armature that takes months of highly skilled labor to create.

So I suppose the best way for me to answer your question is by letting you know that I'm married, pay bills and have a college bound child... meaning I need to actually make money that's 'reasonable' and I'm beyond my 'working for screen credit' years. (been there/done that for too many years) So I'm totally willing to work in the most cost effective way to get a cool project completed because that's in my own interest.

There's also the matter of what it is that I'm responsible for, am I just creating the puppet and shooting the animation or do I need to make arrangements for the compositing as well? Are there real or post camera moves involved with the shot? How long is the effect on screen? Does the creature fly? Is it wet? Does it speak?

You get my point? There are just so many variables involved in the creation of each and every project, that putting a price tag on the unknown is a real danger and job-specific details are a must. So if you're considering creature/alien/robo/dino effects, get in touch with me early in the planning stages and I can help you plan for getting the most bang.

Vance Baryn
07-22-2013, 03:40 AM
Right. I do realize asking how much it would cost is like asking how much it costs to go out to eat. :-) I was just kind of wondering if we were talking hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars. But probably best that I just contact you when I have need of it and discuss it. Right now I don't have any projects that need it, but I'll be in touch if I do in the future.

JHar888
07-22-2013, 04:04 AM
Great to have you here, Isomer. Please stick around!

Isomer
07-22-2013, 04:23 AM
Let me try to give you an example of what I'm talking about in terms of what is needed and what can be avoided in terms of time and cost...

I the video I posted here there's that flock of pterodactyls. There was actually only one puppet created which was animated 5 times for different wing speeds and motions. The puppet was created in the simplest way possible with just tissue paper over wire coated with liquid rubber and painted. There was no really special rigging other than securing it to a flexible rod in front of a green screen nose-up so that the wings didn't sag from gravity and animated.

I animated the five shots so that each one of them could be played as a loop, meaning that the wigs go up and come down once and that can be played over and over in a cycle. That footage then went to my good friend Peter Montgomery who is very experienced and creative with compositing, he added the depth of field, moved the bird around in the frame, wracked focus, changed the lighting and all sorts of stuff to make numerous usable pieces of footage out of just that one series of animation shots.

In this next video, you'll see that in several of the shots, he's managed to take the same footage and recycle it into new backgrounds and lighting situations in a way that makes it look entirely new and different!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN2Op5PaIBg

But all these birds needed to do was fly, so there was no armature made to move it's fingers, legs or feet in any way that would be good for anything other than flying. So if you had a scene with one that needed to land and walk on the ground, that would take the cost up because a puppet the could better perform those motions would be needed.

BTW - The exact same thing is true for CGI.

JHar888
07-22-2013, 05:21 PM
Your Santa claymation is amazing.

Isomer
07-22-2013, 05:33 PM
Disclaimer! - Disclaimer! - Disclaimer! Santa was a CGI creation... only the sets were real and that's what I worked on.

EricTheMan
07-22-2013, 10:24 PM
Yea..... That was about the damndest coolest claymation I have every seen!

JHar888
07-23-2013, 05:29 AM
You should definitely consider posting more of your work here.

Isomer
07-23-2013, 05:43 AM
Thanks! Well if you have 11 minutes to spare, here's a film I made while I was a 'stay at home Dad' during the years when the world was telling me "Stop motion is dead" (because of CGI) and I thought for sure that my careers was over. Making this film kept me upbeat during those years as I slowly made it in my spare time. By the time I was done with this film, stop motion had indeed returned to the big screen and there are more people shooting it than ever before. :D

Everything you see in this video is original art I sculpted, painted, built or otherwise made myself... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PacDj_7GX3M

Vance Baryn
07-23-2013, 08:25 AM
That was simply amazing. I can't imagine what an enormous effort that was to make. Excellent!

The wizard guy does seem to contradict himself though. Toward the end, he says "learn to alter the music within ourselves and we alter the events of the dance" and yet he seems to have been explaining (quite well) up to that point why that would be impossible to do...

Isomer
07-23-2013, 09:31 AM
The premise I went for is really the classic argument about psychology and whether we are 'just' logical machines reacting to our environment or if there's something more significant about the consciousness of the individual mind. The "Learn to alter the music..." line was intended to hold out hope and imply that the wizard had been describing the lives of 'ordinary' people and then there are the few who know the truth and can manipulate it in their favor. Mind you, my intent was only to inspire thought and possibly debate on the subject because the nature of consciousness has literally never been adequately explained. (I personally hope it never is)

The main reason for this film was the invention of the facial mechanics in these puppets. At the time this film was made, nobody had ever mechanized puppets like these. I also have a background in creating live action puppet that work with cable controls and I always wanted to marry the two techniques... this was the end result of that effort.

Thanks for the kind words! :D

Isomer
07-23-2013, 07:03 PM
BTW - I don't take kindly to my Realistic Stop Motion being referred to as "claymation".

Jimmy
07-23-2013, 08:14 PM
Such a wonderful piece of work. Do you mind explaining how at the end of the film you got the sunset to look the way it did?, the way the light pored through the railing as if it was real....? Awesomeness

Isomer
07-23-2013, 08:22 PM
Thank you for noticing that, because that decision came at a price. I had to make the decision to take a jigsaw and cut a hole in that back ground painting (on wood) in order to place a light in it in order to get that real light spill around the railing. That was a hard decision for me because that was one of the most detailed pieces of original artwork I've ever painted (4 foot by 7 foot) and so picking up that power tool to cut a hole in it was a gut wrenching moment for me... but it paid off . :D Thanks!

Jimmy
07-24-2013, 08:02 AM
Thank you for noticing that, because that decision came at a price. I had to make the decision to take a jigsaw and cut a hole in that back ground painting (on wood) in order to place a light in it in order to get that real light spill around the railing. That was a hard decision for me because that was one of the most detailed pieces of original artwork I've ever painted (4 foot by 7 foot) and so picking up that power tool to cut a hole in it was a gut wrenching moment for me... but it paid off . :D Thanks!

Wow, what a great story, I am so happy I mentioned it then! Where can I find the video with your cyclopse, (Your avatar)

*EDIT - BTW your IMDB link is not working, I think you need to add the link in your profile like the other links

Isomer
07-24-2013, 08:14 AM
The Cyclops is for the yet still unreleased film 'Sinbad The Fifth Voyage'. All of my animation for that film was completed late last year but, they're still working on finalizing all the other post production work.

I also animated a realistic stop motion sequence for a film called 'Legend of the Golden Fishcake' which is also still in the post production phase... so as an artist I'm sitting on pins and needles waiting for both of those films to be released.

Nick Soares
07-24-2013, 08:56 AM
The Cyclops is for the yet still unreleased film 'Sinbad The Fifth Voyage'. All of my animation for that film was completed late last year but, they're still working on finalizing all the other post production work.

I also animated a realistic stop motion sequence for a film called 'Legend of the Golden Fishcake' which is also still in the post production phase... so as an artist I'm sitting on pins and needles waiting for both of those films to be released.

Cant wait to see those! You are a very dedicated and talented person!

khathawayart
08-13-2013, 10:40 AM
Love it! Love it! Love it!

I'm a huge stop-motion fan having been inspired by Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen, of course. Spoke to David Allen on the phone once--that was a thrill.

Even did some of my own in my younger years--though nothing this good looking! Still have my custom-made "Kong" armature. Think that goes to the grave with me.

And I totally understand your bristling at the "claymation" term. To be clear to the others, what you do isn't claymation. While claymation IS stop-motion animation, all stop-motion animation isn't claymation. These characters are not made of clay.

I'm wondering if the Fifth Voyage is a SyFy Channel film??

I could watch good stop-motion all day long!



Kurt Hathaway
-------------------
VikingDream7 Productions
Video Production & Editing

khathawayart[at]gmail.com

Isomer
08-13-2013, 11:30 AM
The release of Sinbad the 5th Voyage is something I'm personally left out of the loop on. (I'm just one of the 'lowly effects guys') All I do know for sure is that the producer has recently promised a new preview for the film soon that he says will contain a release date. :)

Lecasm
10-02-2013, 06:24 PM
Terrific work, Isomer! So many fine details! I think there will always be a place for stop motion, just like there will always be a place for practical effects. CGI is just everyone's go-to.

Last year, T is for Toilet won the ABCs of Death competition and that was stop motion (claymation).