Sunday, February 22, 2015

Stop Motion in the Digital Age #04

In earlier postings we touched on replacement animation used in stop-motions history, and facial animation  replacements as early as 1935.  We also tracked the replacement evolution with computer sculptures exported as 3D prints being used as early as 2004.

My friend Raphael Cordero posted some images that helps define a timeline for the facial replacements evolution even better with these hand cast test pieces for the 2001 production of the Will Vinton TV series "Gary and Mike", a production that has greater relevance with the digital age, which I will explained later.  These were hand sculpted, using a frame grabber, (see previous post Claymation, Techniques and Innovations ), to ensure registration, and then cast in resin.  The faces were split through the eyes and held on the head with interlocking magnets.

It must be remembered that the 1993 production of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" used both facial replacements and a stored image/live image form of frame grabber. The G&M faces were the first to split the face into two pieces.

These G&M replacements precede Laika's "Corline" which used the same split face and magnetic registration, by eight years.  The difference here being these were hand sculpted and cast replacements, as opposed to computer sculptures exported as 3D prints. 

I'm not sure why this technique wasn't used in the actual production, which went with wax replacement mouths, (I feel it may have been too expensive), but the craftsmanship is astounding and the seam on the face is almost invisible, at least in this still image.

As have been stated before, the computer allows the ability to do more easing into and out of facial extremes, making smoother animation with less chatter, and a way of previewing and modifying before exporting to hard print copies.

 "Gary and Mike" has the distinction of being the first stop motion production to be done digitally. Before then, it was customary for animation to be shot on film and then transferred to video.  This bypassed that method using small lip stick sized digital cameras placed on sets and a custom made data storage system was built to accommodate all the digital still images that made up the action.

The initial cost was hoped to be made back by avoiding film development, and film to tape transfer expenses. It was quite an undertaking for the time, and because of being digital, effects work and other elements could be combined without a film to tape transfer.

The infrastructure for the Will Vinton digital pipeline used for "Gary and Mike" in 2001, created a template for much of the feature work being done today.



Friday, February 06, 2015

Three Facial Animation Tests


Three Facial Animation Tests from Joel Brinkerhoff on Vimeo.
 
It's rare that I get to do much emoting in commercial work so I've been playing with some acting exercises just for fun.

What I find interesting is how the same character can have a different personality depending on the voice and the dialog.

 The first voice I chose is actress Piper Laurie, and the feeling I get from her is a middle aged woman who has had it with a disrespectful younger lover, (this is all fabrication on my part because I've never seen the movies). I don't know who the next British actress is but she sounds much younger, like a teen, or early twenties, and is either proud of or embarrassed by having been caught in a lie. The last is the late great Phyllis Diller, who always brings a wacky flare to all her work. I think of this test as a princess possessed by a crazy witch. She looks very cute but her actions give her away.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

General Reel From Yesteryear

General Reel From Yesteryear from Joel Brinkerhoff on Vimeo.

This is a mix of computer, stop-motion, and drawn animation from various projects I've worked on.  All the animation is mine, most of it very old.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Water-color Roos

I found this old water-color of mine which dates back to the 70's.  I remember this was done after reading about Maxfield Parrish who had experience with color printing.  He painted in color separations like a printers plates, using a layer of varnish to separate each color layer.  I don't remember if he had any order to which color got applied first, but essentially he did a blue, yellow, red, and black layer, all separated by the varnish. It allowed him to wipe off or alter a color without disturbing the color layer below. Then he would commit the whole thing by sealing it with a last coat of varnish.  I guess to see one of his painting was almost like looking into a 3D image because of the depth achieved by the many layers he used.  Pretty cool, huh?

Well, now, back to my picture.  I tried a quicker version using a translucent water color and doing a red, yellow and blue wash just to see how it might work.  I did the kangaroos and laid in the background but never felt inclined to finish it for some reason.  Anyway, having rediscovered this picture, I kind of like the dreamlike quality to it now, so I'll frame it and hang it on my wall.

I tried two other water-colors using this technique and they have appeared elsewhere on this blog, but here they are again.  I'm not sure if it's more effective than mixing colors using water-color, but I think it may be cool to try in oils, like Parrish, and using the varnished layers.  Maybe one day I will finally try it.




Thursday, January 01, 2015

Heinz Edelmann, a Brief Review

I hope you all had a splendid start to your new year. With sometime till things kick in for me, I thought I would write about one of my favorite artists: Heinz Edelmann. There are many good reviews of his life and history so mine will be more about his range as an artist and the impact of his work shaping an era.

So much of the 60's was about 'change', and I think much of it led to very positive changes that are now being challenged again. I'd better stop there before going into a full blown rant on politics, but it was within this environment of experimentation and change that Edelmann influenced a generation or two with his work.

Any cursory viewing of his paintings and illustrations immediately show a diverse understanding of drawing and color, and a multiplicity of styles. Edelmann was a chameleon, always changing media and design. His commercial works show a playful and radical departure from the normal conventions in composition and layout which suited the radical changing times these publications were trying to address. This spilled over to his book illustrations which look just as fresh and exciting today, if only a little nostalgic.

It's not surprising that Heinz would be contacted by other prominent artists wanting to make an impact: The Beatles. Heinz singlehandedly created the look of Pepperland and all its residence, including monsters and mop-tops for "Yellow Submarine". It was such an arduous task that it almost killed him and he hated to talk about the experience in later years. A little taste of his discontent can be seen in the picture showing Ringo's head served on a platter, and the people of Pepperland tearing the flesh, and drinking the brains of the Blue Meanies! 

Because he was influenced by innovators and was an innovator, Heinz work became lost in the psychedelic haze of the times. Other people with louder voices started putting their stamp on the 'groovy' look and even his work on "Yellow Submarine" was for many years thought to have been done by imitator, Peter Max.

Heinz went on to teach a new generation of artists to think in radial terms.  His wide ranging abilities show a draftsman of great imagination.  Heinz Edelmann was no one trick pony, and I'm glad he left a body of work that attests to that fact.








Friday, December 26, 2014

"Peace On Earth" Commentary


Scott Thill has provided a thought provoking article for the Christmas day post of Cartoon Brew.  Scott tells the story of the 1939 MGM cartoon "Peace On Earth".  I recall seeing it on television as a child and recognizing it as something unusual, and suspecting it as a piece of propaganda left over from WW2.

Scott does a good job of covering the intentions, and difficulties faced by filmmaker Hugh Harman, of Harman & Ising fame, in making this theatrical short, so I'll leave this link where you can read it for yourselves and see this now 75 year old film:

 http://www.cartoonbrew.com/ideas-commentary/peace-on-earth-is-75-years-old-and-more-relevant-than-ever-107274.html





Monday, December 22, 2014

The Thief and the Cobbler Rough Animation and Reconstruction


So much of "The Thief and the Cobbler was removed that we may never know what the finished film may have looked like. These pieces reveal a rich and amazing artistry and effort done the old fashioned way and without computers!

 
"The Thief and the Cobbler" Rough Animation Montage from Kevin Schreck on Vimeo.

Below is the special fan edit of The Thief and the Cobbler reconstructed by Garrett Gilchrist of Orange Cow Productions combines the fabled uncut work print with other footage from the released versions, as well as other rare materials to create the most complete film - not to mention the most faithful to the original vision.