1) How are you experienced with stop motion animation? (How much time of your life have you spent either watching or producing stop motion animation)
I, like many others, first encountered stop-motion through the Rankin/Bass holiday specials like Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and Here Comes Peter Cottontail. Plus, a lot of older movies (pre CGI) used stop-motion for the special effects (everything from King Kong to the spaceships in Star Wars).
I started making homemade movies with action figures around 2006 or 2007, and used an old video camera. I discovered that the camera had an exploitable glitch: if you pressed the pause button (mean for playback) while filming, it would freeze-frame the video. I used this as a sort of on the spot editing.
One day, I accidentally got things mixed up, and ended up keeping the pause button pressed when I wanted to film, and vice versa for the in between shots. When I looked over the footage, it looked like a stop-motion, so, I decided to tinker with that for fun one weekend. That weekend never ended; I've been working in stop-motion animation on and off for about 10 years now!
I pretty much spend every day watching or producing stop motion animation. I'm a big fan of the "dying art," and have a soft spot for brickfilms. Plus, since most brickfilms are shorter than movies, I can easily squeeze in a viewing on a 15 minute break.
2) Do you enjoy watching/creating stop motion animation? Why?
Yes, I very much enjoy watching stop-motion. There's a certain charm to having real objects on screen that I think we've lost in the era of computer generated images. Plus, there's an added nostalgia for seeing tiny objects (such as LEGO minifigures) move around a la Toy Story. And, similar to those who follow film festivals and the independent scene, I love to see the works of many new and up & coming creative minds through their work on brickfilms and the like.
As for creating stop-motion; that's a bit of a double edged sword. I love watching over my footage after I've filmed it, and I really enjoy re-watching my own movies; partially for entertainment (the director is the first audience, after all), partially to watch my own improvement. However, filming can be a varied process.
Sometimes I really love animating - even menial things like walk cycles. But other times, the long and slow process bores or frustrates me. I know that sounds like a writer who can't stand reading - but, stop-motion is a different beast. There's a reason movies (and others) are using CG more and more. The technology is making it quicker and easier to make something good - and stop-motion takes a long time.
But I'd argue it's worth it. I mean, why else would I have stuck with it for the past decade?
3) What do you think is a positive aspect of stop motion animation that other forms of film do not have?
Definitely the charm. Seeing real tangible objects seemingly move on their own in miniature little sets can be on one hand charming, and on the other hand an effective tool. Stop-motion, very similar to traditional 'on paper' animation, both strive for realism through their limitations. CG & live action, on the other hand, try to recreate photo-realism and make things look like there actually there. Everybody knows a drawing or a LEGO figure can't move on their own - so there's a different suspension of disbelief for those.
I prefer stop-motion because, while it does take a long time, it allows you full creative control over costumes, blocking, acting, lighting, settings, and cinematography. Those are things live action doesn't allow.
4) What do you think is the most important thing a stop motion animator needs to have to create a high quality video?
A good story. I've seen too many people showcase beautiful animation that I'll forget about by the day's end because the plot was pointless or nonexistent. Just like any sort of creative medium, the goal should be to captivate the audience. In painting, we have realistics and abstracts. In music we have classical and rap. And everything in between.
Generally, people can overlook bizarre brushstrokes, looped instrumentals, and poor animation if they're invested in the artwork itself, be it the emotion of the painting, lyrics & meaning of the song, or great story.
Look back at the Rankin/Bass specials. The stop-motion animation is fairly average at best, and, especially nowadays, comes off as fairly choppy in bits compared to even mediocre brickfilm hobbyists. But, we keep watching, year after year, because of the charm, the stories, and the nostalgia.
To make a high quality video, you need to captivate the audience. I make fictional dramas - so I need to rely on the story. Stop-motion, at the end of the day, is just the medium by which I present my stories to the world.
5) What is your favorite stop motion scene/video? (Or your favorite stop motion scene/video that you have created)
It's a bit of a
running joke absolute truth on this site that Beast is my favorite brickfilm & The Citizen of the Year is the greatest stop-motion dramatic work ever created.
Presently Doug Vandegrift's two 30-minute epics, America: Outlawed and Pirates!, atop my list. Great films.
Of my own work, my favorite stop-motion has got to be De Mortem. It was made for THAC, the twenty-four hour animation contest. I had to make everything from scratch in 24 hours - from writing the script to uploading and submitting the finished product. It's a fun challenge for stop-motion animatiors of LEGO, and I really impressed myself with that entry. It may sound a bit egotistical, but it's one of my favorite stop-motions too.
I make movies that I'd want to see - and I am my first audience, after all. If I don't like my own film - I consider that a failure. But if I love my own movie, no matter how well it does online or connects with others - I consider that a win.
My favorite stop-motion that's not a brickfilm has got to be Year Without A Santa Claus from Rankin/Bass. I love the settings, the songs, the story, and the characters - and of all the Rankin/Bass productions - this one stands out as having above-par animation in my book. I love it, and anticipate watching it soon!
Thanks for posting this thread, PuffyLion. I think it'll spur great discussion!