Friday, May 25, 2007

Animate the world

The Barbican promises to Animate the World this weekend with their final days of the 6th annual children's animation festival. Their last items are:

The Ugly Duckling and Me!, Badgered, Brave Story, Lotte From Gadgetville and Trumptonshire Tales

They are also celebrating the 40th Birthday of Gordon Murray's Trumpton series with a Trumptonshire Tales special with special guests Brian Cant (Narrator and Voice artist), Bob Bura (Chief Animator), and Phill Jupitus (Radio Documentary and Trumpton Fan )

Monday, May 21, 2007

Film Distribution

The promotors of Shrek III have demonstrated just how to make Americans watch your film with major sales this weekend, knocking Spiderman 3 off the top of the charts.

Luc Besson is not so happy though, he has criticised the film distributors for the poor response from US audiences to the Invisibles film. Normally about half a film's takings comes from the US and the other from the rest of the World. The Invisibles made only $15m in the US but made over $90m which does give cause for concern over how it was released. The distributor Weinstein Company are not particularly well known for promotions to a younger audience, Besson speculates other reasons why the film did not float well:
"Why the critics didn’t like Arthur was because they changed so much of the film and tried to pretend the film was American. The critics aren’t stupid. They watched the film, they vaguely smell American but they can feel the film is forced for an American audience. The film is European. It’s made by a Frenchman."

Arthur and the Invisibles is now available on DVD.

Other useful links on film distribution:
Big Film Shorts

Friday, May 18, 2007

Spitting Image and Bee Movie

In the film news today, it seems that the satirical series Spitting Image will be returning to ITV next spring with new characters and a switch from rubber puppets/animatronics to CGI but all the political satire of that we loved back in the 1980s.

See the British Sitcom Guide for more details.

Jerry Seinfeld has been in Cannes this week promoting the Bee Movie. Although the film will be CGI, the trailer is done with comic actors such as Seinfeld and Chris Rock dressed in insect costumes with Eddie Izzard as director. The film will be voiced by these three along side Renée Zellweger as a florist with John Goodman and Matthew Broderick as other characters.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Whilst searching for information on digital camera suitable for stop motion filming, I stumbled across Stop Motion Pro's website. Stop Motion Pro (SMP) has a very clever bit of software but that's not what I'm going to mention today.

SMP are selling Stikfas figures with their software. Stikfas are an excellent idea from SMP as they are ideal for stop motion beginners. The basic figures click together and can be posed in various ways. The range of figures available as you can see above is quite extensive, however the figures are designed to be customised with paints or stickers so you can have something quite unique.

Stikfas are available in the UK from

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Depth of Field / Zoom and Dolly

Following on from a previous entry about still vs video and how the aperture can control the depth of field in Stop Motion. I got thinking more about adding a depth of field effects to the close up shots of the flea circus to help focus the attention on the acts and emphasis that it's a close up shot that's being magnified. You can see below how the settings affect the scenes. I'm not convinced that it's a significant difference and it does take a bit of extra effort to setup so I'm not sure that I'll apply it to the cameras in the flea film.

This lead on to some experiments with zoom lenses. The software Carrara that I use provides three default lens sizes for cameras, wide angle 25mm, normal 50mm, telephoto at 200mm. It also has a zoom option with a variable length. Changing the focal length of the camera allows you to "zoom" in on a object just like a conventional still or video camera.
If you zoom in whilst dollying out you get the classic effect sometimes used in horror films, the video below shows an example of this, as it zooms from 25mm to 500mm the scene flattens and the depth of the image is shortened till at 500mm its almost isometric providing a quite spooky effect.

An article on Depth of Field from Mason Resnick
All about CGI cameras fromthe Advanced Computing Centre in Ohio

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Anime Studio™ Pro Linux Now Available

E-Frontier have announced the porting of their Anime Studio Pro to the Linux platform. The Mac and Windows versions of the software has been used by professionals for a range of adverts and short films.

Because there are many distributions of Linux it is difficult for E-Frontier to test with all of them, however there are many versions listed on their website and you can download the software to test it on your platform before buying it. The cut down Anime Studio version is not yet available.

So far, Anime Studio has been checked on the following systems: Ubuntu; Red Hat 8, 9; Fedora Core 1, 2; SuSe 8.2; Mandrake 9.0, 9.1, 10; Gentoo; Debian SID; and Knoppix.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Animation Tools Bundle

I've used Gif Construction Set some of my early animations and if you are creating things for deployment on the web then they are very suitable. The tools have gone through a few changes since I've used them last and now have the ability to export animations as GIF/MNG/AVI/MOV and now SWF. You can see some of their examples on their website. They have just sent a press release:

Press Release from Alchemy Mindworks

For a limited time, you can own
Alchemy Mindworks' suite of state-of-the-art animation tools at a substantial discount. Buy the Animation Tools Bundle and get:

  • GIF Construction Set Professional 3

  • PNG/MNG Construction Set

  • Animation Workshop

  • e-Paint

The Animation Tools Bundle will help you:
  • Build web page animations using the world's most popular animation package.

  • Modify existing animations to suite your requirements.

  • Create and maintain complex animated banners.

  • Access Alchemy Mindworks' suite of animation plugins (sold separately.)

  • Pre-process your digital photographs and other still graphics for use with animations.

Bought separately, these applications would cost $110.00. The Animation Tools Bundle is available for $79.99, a $30.00 saving.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Linux and Stop Motion

I was reading an article about the French amateur programmer Michel Xhaard and how he'd written over three hundred drivers for Webcams, this got me thinking what software might be available to help with animation on Linux workstations.

There's quite a few bits of software available but I'm not sure how many of them fit in with the above drivers.

Stop Motion




See also previous article on Multimedia Linux.