by Oliver - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - Permalink
We're a bit late on catching this one, but here's hoping you had a fantastic St. Patrick's Day last weekend! Hopefully YOU didn't get pinched... stop motion animation made by the Animation Chefs!
by Megan - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - Permalink
For the last three years some of us have worked at the same job or taken classes on the road to obtaining a degree. Some of us have traveled the world while others settled down. But for Billy McGlone, these last three years (or, at least, the weekends) were spent on a single project. For the last 36 months, McGlone has taken any spare moment he stumbled upon to retreat to his garage to create “Tumbleweed Valley,” an eight-minute stop motion masterpiece.
Born and raised on Long Island, Billy always knew that art was going to be a part of his life. After making a move to Charlotte, North Carolina in search of fresh air and open skies, he settled into a job as Art Director and Graphic Designer in the medical field. But the days of stealing his dad’s 8mm camera and shooting single frame clicks of everything that happened around his house weighed heavily on his memory. At the time, the lack of funding for materials and impatience of a young boy during the development phase deterred him from pursuing his hobby. Nevertheless, in 1985 the art of filmmaking came back to knock on his door.
“When I first got my hands on an Apple Plus computer back in 1985 I was ecstatic at the possibilities,” McGlone reminisced. “I dreamed one day that somebody such as [Boinx] would develop a program in which I could light this fuse again and let me animate once more!”
Luckily for McGlone, sometimes dreams do come true. In the fall of 2008 during a routine search for stop motion software that would pause and play at the speed of his life, he came across iStopMotion. Overjoyed with the idea that he could shoot, rewind, edit, and see all his work in real time, McGlone downloaded the free trial, and that little boy running around with a camera was reborn.
“That weekend I wrote a silly Christmas script about animals in the woods putting on a show. My plan was to send out a digital holiday card to my family. So I rushed to the craft store to buy the clay, props, paint, and other materials to make penguins dance in a forest. I spent hours and hours on weekends playing with the software and making a short film. It was a learning experience.”
From music syncing to carefully moving around a set so as to not disturb any props, McGlone learned quickly what was necessary to make a successful film. He learned about tie downs, lighting, timing, and other tricks of the trade to create a semi-professional looking first film. Notably, McGlone’s favorite learning curve was the onion skinning option that iStopMotion offers, saying that it “helped out a LOT!”
Now in his fifties, McGlone is still a kid at heart, looking back at his youth wishing stop motion had been as accessible as it is now for him. “I wish I could be a teenager right now and stumble on this wonderful software. To make an object move and tell a story at the same time is one of the best feelings. To create something out of your own imagination, one frame at a time, is magical. I don’t think I would ever get my dream job of helping out in an animated feature film, but as least I can come close by creating my own.”
“Tumbleweed Valley” was a labor of love for not just McGlone, but his wife, Annie, who was an integral part of the entire process. Like most husbands, he drove his wife “crazy with nutty ideas” when he got home from his full-time job. “My number one partner in this project was my wife. Can you imagine a garage held hostage for three years? Her patience and talents are amazing. When we started building the town she took one side and I took the other. We worked as a team to build this from the ground up. If you look closely, she even glued little stones for the bank’s facade and made a plaster brick front for the jail. Her attention to detail really made this project come to life. She even hand-sewed the characters’ clothes and made little gun holsters! Annie was with me from the beginning, helping me all the way.”
For such an intricate film, however, McGlone still needed extra help. At first he tried to do the production alone, but when it came to voicing the miscellaneous characters that inhabited the small western town, he knew he wasn’t the man for the job. “After hearing my voice recording back, I sound like Jabba the Hut with a bad head cold. So through my wife's connections, she introduced me to a great voice actor named Gary Baker. He helped me out with the narration and was a real nice guy for helping out for free.”
Yet, with such a lengthy timeframe, commitment could be questioned and giving up was at times, a threatening possibility. McGlone sometimes wondered if the project was worth forgoing in favor of relaxing nights and weekends. A few close calls with bumped scenes and an eventful night with a new puppy almost put a halt to the project altogether. After sewing together several new costumes and props for the film, Annie went to the garage to show her husband her progress and ask a few design questions. Upon her return, a graveyard of doll parts and ripped clothes were strewn around the room.
“Our new puppy chewed, ripped, and destroyed every last one of the characters beyond recognition. It was awful to see plastic limbs and bits of cloth all over the living room rug, and my wife just felt defeated. So did I. At that point I wanted to give up. My wife pulled it together the following weekend and sewed six more set of clothes that were better than the first. If my wife could hang in there, I could also.”
Thanks to Annie, the project stayed on track and finally came to a completion. After three years, “Tumbleweed Valley” was finally complete and McGlone was filled with relief and delight, stating he would only change one thing. “I could not be happier on how it turned out. I would have liked it to be done in a year instead of three, but real life gets in the way and I cannot press the pause button when it comes to responsibilities.”
Looking back, McGlone had achieved his original goal: to have fun and “enjoy the journey of this art media.” When asked how iStopMotion has helped with his stop motion work, McGlone responded with some confusion.
“We should not call it "work,” should we? It is play. To do something that you love is never work and using your software streamlines a lot of my play. To be able to click on your timeline and open a frame in Photoshop, edit, save, and automatically place it back into sequence is really a time saver. Multiple camera support, color correction and rotoscoping are just a few of the outstanding features of the software.”
The future looks bright for McGlone, who is excited to start his next project, joking that we will have to wait another three years to see it. Sci-fi will be his next genre of choice, trying out different types of materials and effects. “Half the fun is figuring out what works and what doesn’t.” McGlone adamantly urges others to get involved with the art of stop motion. “Download your free trial software and get started! You can be five or 54 like me and still enjoy this art form. iStopMotion is VERY easy to learn and you will be amazed at what you come up with by just using your imagination.”
by Megan - Monday, March 25, 2013 - Permalink
by Achim - Friday, March 22, 2013 - Permalink
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by Megan - Monday, March 18, 2013 - Permalink
We all look to the “next generation” for innovative ideas, mind-blowing developments, and visionary leaders. But when it comes to driving them towards success, some of us take a backseat, hoping they don’t crash along the way. Spy Hop, a nonprofit youth media arts and education center whose mission is to mentor young people in the digital media arts, has hopped in the driver’s seat and is ready to put the pedal to the metal. Launched in 1999 to help youth find their voice, tell stories, and feel empowered, Spy Hop strives to affect positive change in the lives of their students, their communities, and the world through multimedia education.
“We exist because we believe the next generation has a lot to say. And, we believe that, when armed with awareness and knowledge, youth can speak more articulately and with greater impact,” said Virginia Pearce, Director of Marketing & Community Programs at Spy Hop. “Our afterschool and community programs empower the next generation of media makers to speak for themselves in a way that creates positive change in their lives.”
Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Spy Hop provides safe and high-quality programming for K-12 youth outside school hours. They work closely with their students to foster a personal and artistic expression through the use of emerging technologies, media arts, and by sharing their love for the arts. From writing to editing, Spy Hop is a unique, one stop shop for young people of all backgrounds to actively engage in producing their own narratives. Each year Spy Hop mentors over 2,000 students in developing 21st century educational and workplace readiness skills, while increasing media literacy, personal awareness, and a sense of community.
One of the most enjoyable parts of their class series for both Spy Hop instructors and youth alike is the stop animation workshops. With kid-friendly characters like mermaids and dragons, and the easy-to-use software iStopMotion, kids as young as four write, direct, and star in their own short films. But the process wasn’t always so easy for the team at Spy Hop who, until recently, did not have software that was easy for their students to use. While browsing the tech world for something that would allow their summer claymation classes to appeal to the younger kids, a friend from a local youth organization suggested they try out Boinx Software’s iStopMotion. The match was kismet and the team never looked back.
“We use iStopMotion as a storytelling technique for several different kinds of classes,” said Adam Sherlock, one of Spy Hop’s instructors. “From summer camp workshops with elementary-age students that are just fun, wacky, creative claymation movies, to social skills PSAs with youth from group homes who are in the state’s custody and can't show their faces on camera, iStopMotion is a great way [for them] to access their creativity. Even students as young as five and six are able to grasp fairly complex notions regarding distance of movement and speed.”
One of the greatest features for kids is the instant gratification they get from using iStopMotion. The playback feature lets the children see the animations their pictures create immediately – a process that otherwise takes hours. But for the teachers at Spy Hop, a different feature stands out.
“The interface and onion skinning features mean that I can teach the program in less than five minutes and then get out of the way, letting students work for hours on their own project and give them the satisfaction that they have done it all on their own.”
From summer animation workshops to community programs, weekly classes to ANIMATIONLAND (an interactive booth where kids can stop in for 10 minutes to make quick films), Spy Hop offers several options for students to get into the studio and go wild with their creativity, teaming up with local community organizations including the International Rescue Committee, Boys & Girls Group Home, and the County Library system, all of which help at-risk teens. With all of the great work they do, Spy Hop isn’t slowing down. Their newest program reaches out to refugees, making it easier for them to share their story.
“The easiest ways to get them engaged into telling their story is having them animate it using iStopMotion for iPad through paper animation. It doesn't take a lot of experience with software or technology and it is immediately engaging," said Pearce. "iStopMotion for iPad is particularly good for on-the-go projects because it is self-contained and needs no additional gear. The iPad acts as camera, computer, and editing bay once dropped into iMovie. It makes the process really painless. By being able to set up a stop motion studio wherever we go, using iStopMotion allows us to get set up quickly and get the kids engaged from the beginning.”
Spy Hop students have been featured at many prestigious festivals and contests such as the Los Angeles International Film Festival and GRAMMY Foundation MusiCares Teens Make Music Contest. With a passion for creativity and a love for teaching young people, Spy Hop has transformed digital media arts into a vehicle for free expression, self-discovery, critical thinking, and group participation; a vehicle that everyone wants to take for a spin.
Once Upon A Time Created by a 4 year old at a local festival. She filled in the “Mad Lib” story and created the video in about 15 minutes.
Dracula the Bully A project of the Boys & Girls Group home, this film was meant to explain bullying to a younger child.
Pigs vs. Dragons Created at a Spy Hop presentation to 40 kids and their parents. The camera was hung from the ceiling of the theatre, and strung a long cable to our laptop with iStopMotion. The kids wore hats with their characters on them.
Click here for a great explanation by a 7 year-old of how to use iStopMotion.
by Megan - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - Permalink
A large crowd and catchy band sets the stage for what seems to be a beautiful wedding along the water. But as the guests arrive for the joyous occasion, some uninvited creatures crash the party. Using his own original music mixed in Garageband, “The iPad Musician” Richard seamlessly tells the story of a day gone awry. With the iPad acting as a remote control, Richard used iStopMotion 3 to document the Lego wedding, citing that the “iPad remote camera setup meant [they] were able to leave the Mac where it was and [they] weren’t tripping over cables.” Taking well over 1,000 frames in seven hours, iStopMotion enabled an efficient and quick working platform. I wonder if there will be a honeymoon? To see more from Richard, visit his Vimeo channel or his Blogspot.
by Megan - Monday, March 11, 2013 - Permalink
With a full-time job, loving wife, and rambunctious two-and-a-half-year-old twins often underfoot, most would be surprised to hear that Bert Guroff makes time for art. But after work is done for the day, the toys have been cleaned up, and little heads are resting on pillows, he retreats to the basement to experiment, practice, and create.
“Family and my job are my top day-to-day priorities,” Guroff tells us. “Cut-paper collage, time-lapse and stop-motion photography are hobbies I pursue as the rest of life allows.” Luckily, life does allow.
Ever since he was young, Guroff has been interested in stop-motion animation. Early on, he was inspired by a very unusual source. “There was a great commercial with Raisinettes dancing around circa 1986,” reminisced Guroff, “that inspired my cousin and I to fuss with a cassette-based camcorder trying to create something of similar quality. The results were totally abysmal, but I suppose that experience and the level of difficulty stuck with me.”
Not only was Guroff intrigued by the “cheeky and cool” personalities of the dried up grapes, but he also admired the production company because of the “real bravado [they showed] by kicking all the other snacks to the curb with an advanced and flawless stop-motion advertising approach.” Once he got his hands on the only tools he had access to at the time, he found the difficulty in creating his own stop-motion masterpieces quite baffling.
“The time and patience required, the repetitious nature of the process, the challenge of keeping your set pristine and camera motionless throughout, multiple characters moving simultaneously in tiny increments, how many takes it would require to get it just right. The commercial showed me not only the unlimited range of opportunity stop-motion provided, but also the high hurdles to entry and success. Of course, this was just on the cusp of the computing revolution.”
But Guroff’s interest in stop-motion never waned and as he explored other artistic mediums, he discovered there was a promising way to combine an early love with his current one: cut-paper collage.
“I was first messing around with collage, [when] I realized that the process was well suited to time-lapse photography. Without time-lapse, all the patient cutting and white-knuckled gluing that went into these little cut-paper characters and other projects I had made was lost. I saw time-lapse as a way to capture and preserve all the work that I had invested.”
Guroff realized that the audiences that view his paper creations might appreciate them more if they knew all of the time and effort that went into their execution, as well as appreciating the stop-motion simultaneously. It was a way to deliver dual art projects in one seamless video. Originally experimenting with iMovie to bring his new projects to life, Guroff found it lacking critical elements. After some time scouring the Internet, he met Boinx and its iStopMotion animation software. The two have been friends ever since.
“I've never used another stop-motion software. It's been all I've needed. It was ridiculously easy to learn and allowed me to focus on cut-paper creations, while simultaneously generating easy-to-manipulate stop-motion footage.”
Recently, Guroff created a promotional video using iStopMotion for his first art show. Paired with his wife’s photography, his collages are currently on display at Three Sisters on the East Side of Providence, RI. He shot a frame every six seconds to showcase the installation, then trimmed and timed the resulting footage to produce a three-minute film on a tight timeline.
“iStopMotion allows me to add additional depth to my work. For example, collage is glued-down and motionless, but there's a whole history to each piece that involves a great deal of motion and metamorphosis – documenting that behind-the-scenes activity can be rewarding for the artist and an audience.”
The future is bright for Guroff who is exploring new avenues for his work – animated narrative shorts using cut-paper “human” characters and an online storefront. But with a growing family, he may have to put his artistic aspirations on hold. He quipped, “Maybe when my kids determine that I'm not so cool anymore, they'll put me out to pasture, and I'll have all the time I'll need.”
Be sure to check out Bert Guroff’s art exhibition now through March 14 in Providence, RI and a growing archive of stop-motion videos on his YouTube channel.
by Oliver - Tuesday, March 05, 2013 - Permalink
Recently, Oliver went on a short skiing trip to Oberjoch, Bavaria, Germany. The snow cats were pretty busy at night preparing the runs. The time lapse was made with iStopMotion for iPad and edited in Final Cut Pro.
by Megan - Tuesday, March 05, 2013 - Permalink
You Gotta See This! is back and better than ever – because what’s better than free? And if that isn’t quite enough, You Gotta See This! version 3 now utilizes new algorithms to improve image capturing, with updated parameters for all supported devices’ cameras, resulting in more beautiful collages. When it comes to smartphone photography Apps, there are only so many filters one can use in all those other Apps, and there is only so much one can do with a filter. With You Gotta See This! from Boinx Software, iPhoneography enthusiasts can truly capture their surroundings and create intriguing compositions with their iPhones or iPads. Sick of staring at other people’s pictures of their mediocre fare at the local diner? Show them what real smartphone photo art looks like, with You Gotta See This!
Have you ever tried to explain a breathtaking sight to someone, only to give up and tell them, “You just had to be there!”? You Gotta See This! solves a problem that ordinary pictures can’t - and goes further still. By arranging panoramic shots into one amazing collage, the results are unlike anything else. With You Gotta See This!, iPhoneographers create artful images that truly capture the essence of a time and place.
You Gotta See This! Version 3 Made Possible With Support From iAds Sponsors
“By making You Gotta See This! free, we are making it both more valuable and more accessible to more people,” says Oliver Breidenbach, CEO, Boinx Software. “Developing an App like You Gotta See This! is not an easy or cheap task. We hope that people reward us for our work by recognizing the sponsors whose ads are displayed sporadically in a non-intrusive way. For Boinx Software, this is an experimental foray into this new business model, and we are looking forward to seeing if it works as a way to finance development of new Apps in the future.”
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
With You Gotta See This!, there’s no sight too big. By slowly moving the device around in 3D space to capture the surrounding magnificence, no detail is missed. And now in version 3, You Gotta See This! images are more beautiful than ever. Using the iPhone or iPad’s gyroscope technology, You Gotta See This! determines the camera’s orientation while you record, positioning the images it takes accordingly on a flat surface to create spatial collages. Then, users can choose from a variety of themes to create unique, one-of-a-kind images. Inspired by the artist David Hockney, You Gotta See This! images create a beautiful representation of the chosen subject matter, going beyond the typical photo to create something truly artistic.
You Gotta See This! is now available for free in the App Store, thanks to sponsor support from Apple iAds. You Gotta See This! requires an iPhone 4 (or newer), iPad 2 (or newer), iPad mini or an iPod touch (4th generation or newer).
So enjoy! And don't forget to tell all your friends and family, "You GOTTA See This!"