Posted in Animation, tagged Academy Awards 2017, Animated Feature Film, CG Animation, Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, Oscars, Stop-motion, The Red Turtle, Zootopia on February 25, 2017|
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Each year, mediateacher posts pieces that discuss Oscar nominees or winners — often focusing on those under-the-radar treats: animated, live action, and documentary shorts — and today will emphasize a standout category from this year: animated feature film. The lineup of movies nominated in animation highlights a strikingly diverse quintet of movies, including two foreign selections, the French-language My Life as a Zucchini and non-dialogue The Red Turtle; along with a new stop-motion treasure from Laika studios, Kubo and the Two Strings; and two thought-provoking, delightfully spirited Disney CG offerings, Zootopia (discussed in this earlier post) and Moana.
Interestingly, of the three movies, a majority are animated using (relatively) old-school techniques — drawn, 2D animation and figure-based stop motion. Yet again, when it appears that digital advances will steer moviemaking in a particular direction by making things “easier” for craftspeople or “more realistic” for viewers, such as with CG-based animation, filmmakers will return to — and reinvigorate or sometimes reinvent — traditional techniques that help them to communicate the most meaningful and emotionally vibrant expression of their stories.
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Posted in Animation, tagged Aardman, Brickfilms, Brothers Quay, Christopher Nolan, Ken Priebe, Kirsten Lepore, Laika, Michel Gondry, Stop-motion on August 22, 2015|
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Brothers Quay at work
Stop Motion is one of the most accessible and productive ways in which young filmmakers can explore visual communication and storytelling. This is clearly demonstrated in the popularity of Brickfilms (for some particularly inspiring Lego work, check out Fell in Love with a Girl directed by music video maverick and eternal kid-at-heart Michel Gondry for The White Stripes) and the continued success of such studios as Laika and Aardman. Right now at Film Forum in New York, a surprising partnership has emerged in the realm of stop-motion: Christopher Nolan, director of mega-blockbusters including the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, has made Quay, a short documentary about the Brothers Quay and their films, and curated a touring program showcasing their groundbreaking, influential, thematically challenging*, and technically astonishing body of work.
Still from Street of Crocodiles by Brothers Quay
Earlier posts on this blog have highlighted the work of PES, Kirsten Lepore (see Stop Motion Restarted), Karel Zeman, Tim Burton, and other stop-motion creators, and another post presents a short documentary by one of my students, Frame-By-Frame, which provides an original, compelling introduction to stop-motion (and 2D animation, by extension). In addition, for interested educators, The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation by Ken Priebe is an excellent resource for classroom use.
(*Or “extremely creepy,” as many of my students would say — although I have noted that for many kids today, anything in 3D animation that isn’t from the slick world of CG is almost automatically “creepy,” which is even more disturbing, I think.)
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Posted in Animation, Chapter 5, tagged Grant Munro, Human Skateboard, National Film Board of Canada, Neighbours, Norman McLaren, PES, Pixilation, Stop-motion, Twisted Films of PES, Western Spaghetti on May 1, 2012|
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Images from PES's "Western Spaghetti."
A bunch of very fun and visually striking shorts are available on the aptly named website The Twisted Films of PES. In particular, I would recommend Western Spaghetti, Game Over, The Deep (produced for Showtime), and the commercial Human Skateboard.
Innovative animator Norman McLaren
Here is a recent interview with PES.
In this interview, he discusses his use of pixilation; as he explains, this is a method that has been used by filmmakers since the earliest years of cinema. One of the most important examples of its use is the classic short Neighbours, made for the National Film Board of Canada by visionary filmmaker Norman McLaren and featuring fellow animator (and performer) Grant Munro.
The works of PES and Norman McLaren can offer many interesting examples for educators as they explore questions of film forms that are raised in Chapter 5 of Moving Images. Other examples will be discussed in upcoming blogs: stay tuned!
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