Thursday, July 19, 2012

The many joys of classic stop-motion

Yes, I am aware that I've been neglecting this site.

This past week I've been on a bit of a mythology kick. I've been thinking a lot about stories like Thesis and the Minotaur, Jason finding Golden Fleece, Perseus slaying the Gorgon Medusa...

And all this led me to one conclusion. There is just something special about classic stop-motion animation.

Take the giant octopus in the 1955 It Came From Beneath The Sea as an example. It's real. Not in the sense that there really is a colossal octopus attacking an ocean front city, but in the sense that somebody MADE this with their own two hands. The Kraken from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies may LOOK real, but it's not. It is just a computer generated image displayed on a screen.

This may sound like a backwards mentality from a student of computer graphics, but it's true. Classic stop-motion has more personality than digital special effects.

I've yet to see Clash of the Titans. Either of them. That's right, I haven't seen the original classic, and I haven't seen the modern re-make. I would like to someday. But I am sure that the 1981 movie has more character than the more recent Clash.

Somehow, my older brother convinced me that I needed to watch the 1996 television show "The Adventures of Sinbad". I must say it is FAR far cheesier than anything that came out of the '50s. This is mostly due to hammy acting, but also in part to the early attempts at computer generated special effects. If stop-motion has more personality than modern special effects, you can bet that I like it better than this cheesy animation. (Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying the show. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I happen to LIKE cheesy things.)

If any of this makes sense to you, I recommend you seek out the classic movies “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963) and “The Seventh voyage of Sinbad” (1958). They may both be dated and maybe a little cheesy by today’s ever-rising standards…but they are a whole lot of fun.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I've been learning a bit about Adobe Illustrator. Since I was thinking about going in a steampunk-ish direction with one of my class assignments I figured it would be helpful to learn how to make gears.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Dappling in Steampunk, I've been trying to make a pair of goggles. I'm pretty happy with my latest attempt. I used old glass bottles for the lenses, soda cans for the frames, a piece of wire to connect the two eyepieces, and suede for the strap.

If you haven't yet, you should check out this awesome blog.

Monday, February 13, 2012

King Kong (Part 3)

Well, I finally tracked down the original 1933 King Kong to refresh my memory and finish up this series of reviews. (Guess that means I'll have to find something new to write about...)

I thought the movie held up quite well, especially when you consider the fact that it was made 78 years ago. The cinematography was beautiful, and the stop-motion effect were obviously groundbreaking. Although it wasn't the first time dinosaurs appeared on the big screen. The first time would be the silent movie The Lost World, made 8 years earlier. King Kong had much more interaction between humans and colossal creatures though.

Kong's first appearance was much more suspenseful then I remembered, with a silhouette of an unknown beast tearing through the jungle, masked by the trees, as a helpless Ann Darrow looks on in fear. (You've gotta give Ann some credit though, she had just about broken free of the ropes when Kong grabs her.) Face it, Steven Spielberg uses similar techniques when the dinosaurs first appear in Jurassic Park.

The film's dialog is just a little stiff in parts, particularly some of the mushy stuff between Ann Darrow and Jack Driscoll, and I'm pretty sure I heard the natives chanting "Costco" at one point.

King Kong himself reminded me of The Incredible Hulk, only he isn't green and doesn't have a catchphrase like "Hulk SMASH!" But that makes sense, since Hulk is already a sort of mix up of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein's Monster.

Well, Those are my thoughts.

Friday, January 6, 2012

King Kong (Part 2)

Well, here we go, I've watched the 1976 King Kong. I'm afraid this won't be the most favorable review ever.

This movie is set in the "Present Day" (the seventies)
Instead of a film crew out trying to shoot a jungle picture, the story starts with an oil tycoon out to strike black gold on a newly discovered uncharted isle. The hero, Jack Prescott, is a paleontologist who stows away on the departing tycoon's ship hoping the legends he's heard about an ancient civilization and giant monsters may be true.

The cast is joined by a shipwrecked wannabe actress Dwan. ("Y'know, it's like Dawn, but with two of the letters switched!") She's a dumb blond. Not quite blond enough to be funny, just blond enough to be annoying.

So they land on the island, Dwan gets sacrificed to Kong, Blah blah blah.

Kong looks and moves like a guy in a gorilla suit. In classic jungle movies and serials, when they put a guy in a gorilla suit, he at least tries to move like a gorilla.

If you were expecting skull island to be inhabited with a ton of monsters, you'll be disappointed this time around. All you get is a blink-and-you-miss-it fight between Kong and a giant snake.

While this is going on, the executives discover the island is a bust as far as oil is concerned, and they decide to head home, taking Kong with them as an advertising gimmick.

Jack had potential in the beginning, but he was all okay with the native rituals and sacrifices until
he found out Dwan was the one being sacrificed. And then as soon as Kong starts stomping New York he's saying "You can't kill him! He's an endangered species!"

They didn't even get the ending right. Helicopters shoot King Kong off the top of the World Trade Center!

While I did enjoy parts of the movie, I was just bored by the end. Perhaps it would have been better if it was about half an hour shorter...

Well those are my thoughts.
See you next time.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

King Kong (Fan Art)


A bit of King Kong fan art. I had fun working in black and white.

If you have any fan art requests, just leave comment on this post.

King Kong (Part 1)

The original 1933 King Kong was my introduction to the world of monster movies. Unfortunately, that was so long ago I don't remember it real well. Also, I was so young and naive I didn't appreciate the time period, the style, and the achromatic (That's a big fancy art word for 'Black and White') film. I had difficulty following the plot (Big gorilla chases Fay Wray, what's to get?) and telling the characters apart.

Fast-forward to 2012. I'm now a big fan of older movies, and I've just seen the 2005 King Kong for the first time. (Yeah, I know, you're asking yourself where've I been for the last 6 years, right?)
So: Here's the plan. I'm going to compare and contrast the movie I've just seen, to a classic that I hardly remember.

Firstly: I really appreciate the fact that Peter Jackson set the 2005 movie in the depression era. I don't think that this pulpy story would work well in the present day. This also shows proper respect to the original story.

Jackson draws a nice parallel with the scene were Kong fights the Pterodactyls... (Wait...What? Oh, sorry.) ...I mean Giant Bats... with the climax of Kong fighting the bi-wings atop the empire state building. I also liked how after Ann Darrow is sacrificed in the beginning, she is willing to sacrifice herself to stop Kong's rampage. That's a strong dynamic I didn't feel was in the original.

I'd have to see the original again to give my thoughts on Fay Wray's Ann Darrow. Famed for nothing more that a scream queen, I've seen a few of her other movies recently (The Most Dangerous Game, The Vampire Bat, and Mystery of the Wax Museum) and discovered that she wasn't a half bad actress.

One thing that bothered me in the 1933 movie, was the fact that 20 zillion redshirts die trying to save one woman. I know now that this is just typical of this kind of story.

Since everyone knows how the story ends, Jackson went for drama, trying to stretch out the iconic finale as long as possible. Personally, I thought it was a little melodramatic, but you can't really end the story any other way.

Well, That about wraps up MY irrelevant thoughts on the latest movie. I plan to also watch and review the 1976 King Kong in the near future.

Stay tuned.