by Megan - Monday, April 29, 2013 - Permalink
The life of the “average” 20-year-old typically consists of dealing with pesky roommates, worrying over college exams, figuring out how to stretch a limited bank account accumulated over a summer of working…but Charlie Collier is not your average 20-year-old. We met him over a year ago when Slovenian band Puppetz released their music video for Generacija Y, which Charlie was responsible for making. Seriously – how many 19-year-olds do you know who have had a music video featured on a European division of MTV? Naturally, we’ve been following his work ever since.
We already ranted and raved about Charlie’s amazing talent in our first blog about him (and again in the second), so we’ll spare you the gooey admiration and get right down to business. Charlie was, not surprisingly, commissioned to animate a music video by a different artist. This time around, it was for indie/folk/rock artist Lincoln Durham’s song Ballad of a Prodigal Son. Also a Texas native, the two met in a rather unconventional way – at a martial arts school’s end-of-the-year party.
“My instructor wanted to have a musician play at our studio for our end-of-the-year party,” Charlie tells us (I know what you’re thinking – he animates AND practices martial arts?! Where does he find the time… Oops, back to the story.). “He knew Lincoln Durham and got him to come out and play. That’s how I ended up meeting him. We talked, I asked him if he had any music videos and explained to him what I do.”
Once they established the relationship, the two got right to work. In the past, when asked to create the music video for Puppetz, Charlie told us they essentially gave him full creative control over the animation. They had seen his work in Twist Ninja and knew they wanted something similar, letting Charlie take the wheel. This time around was a bit different, but in a good way. “It was definitely more of a collaboration,” says Charlie. “We wrote the screenplay together, really bringing his style and ideas to life. Lincoln actually lives in Texas as well but about four hours from me, so after we wrote the screenplay I storyboarded everything and posted updates of what I’d been doing on Facebook. Being able to collaborate online was key. He’d tell me what he liked and what he wanted changed.”
Luckily, Charlie was happy to share the reigns with another artist. He tells us there were many moments he and Lincoln would bounce ideas off of each other, and many times Lincoln would come up with an idea Charlie had never even thought of. Another interesting, and very different, aspect of this creative process was that Charlie did not have to invent the characters himself. “One of the cool things about this project in particular is that Lincoln already had these characters laid out from other songs he did. He writes songs and stories and has these characters like the crows and the girl present in all of them; I was able to bring them to a visual format.”
While Charlie didn’t have to do any work conceptualizing the characters, he did have to create their physical, real-world counterparts (and, not to mention, make sure they lived up to Lincoln’s imagined perception of them). To do so, he hand-make all of those characters himself – something he was completely new to. “I never built a traditional stop motion model before this; a lot of the materials I used I had never actually worked with before. The characters were made from foam and wire with latex skin over that. I hand-sewed all the clothes and the trees were made with plastic polymer clay. Lincoln thought the models were so cool. It was the first time his characters were ever created physically.” Charlie even admits that the singer may have liked the model characters even more than he did.
In order to bring those characters to life, Charlie employs the never-failing iStopMotion. “I really like iStopMotion,” Charlie tells us (not trying to toot our own horns or anything but, Toot! Toot!). “It’s really helpful and that’s what I like about it – it’s not overly complicated, allows you to do some editing, and is effective without trying to be something it’s not. I did all the compositing with After Effects and built the timeline using Premiere Pro.” Watch how Charlie did the compositing.
He shot the film with a Canon 7D along with a 28-135mm lens and an 18-24mm lens, shooting all of the elements separately in front of a blue screen. Separating all of the scene elements allowed him to make them appear larger than life, an effect that translates quite well in the video.
Animating a project, especially if you’re a perfectionist like Charlie, can be a maddening thing, reviewing your work over and over and over again until it’s absolutely perfect (and even then you still have your doubts). Charlie tells us he must have listened to Ballad of a Prodigal Son dozens of times. “It’s not even funny,” he says – while laughing. “I listened to it more times than Lincoln has.” Luckily, it’s a good song. What helped ease the process of animating his characters precisely to the music was iStopMotion 3’s audio track feature. “You can import the audio track and see the waveform in the timeline. That was an awesome feature to have when I was animating Lincoln’s character to play along with the guitar. If it wasn’t for that feature I’d be really angry.”
All joking aside, this has to be the most epic moment of the entire music video, so we’re happy that we can (sort of) say we had a little something to do with it. “That’s my favorite part of the whole video. Up until that point, there are really no other instruments,” Charlie comments. “I wanted to transition from slow into this climax, with the lightning and rain. I actually filmed that whole guitar section first – mostly because I wanted to. I really wanted to get that part down, because it was the most challenging scene to animate – having him play the guitar perfectly to the rhythm. By doing that part first, I knew I wouldn’t be pressed for time in the end with deadlines, because I really didn’t want to rush shooting that scene. I’m pleased with how it turned out.” So are we, Charlie, so are we.
You may be wondering what’s next for the young animator. More music videos? Film school? Partnering up with Tim Burton on his next feature film? According to Charlie, he’s still working on perfecting his animation skills, so he definitely plans to do more music videos in the near future. “Music videos are meant to be kind of weird, in a way. Plus they’re short, the length of a song is usually about two or three minutes, which is nice when it comes to stop motion animation. You can experiment with stuff and try all these different styles, and the audio is taken care of. I do want to get into narrative storytelling in the future, but really the reason I’m not yet is because I’m not sure my animating skills are up to par. If I’m going to do a short film, I want to give it my all. With music videos, I can experiment and get more practice with animating. I’ll start branching off eventually.” As for film school, he’ll get there eventually, but he’s not going to rush it.
The last time we spoke with Charlie, he named Laika, the animation studio that produces films like Paranorman and Coraline, as one of his daily sources of inspiration. We were happy to hear that, since then, he had the opportunity to visit their Oregon studios. Well…sorta. “Over the summer I visited the studios in Oregon but they wouldn’t let me in because they were filming something. [He laughs] I did get into the little vestibule though. Next time I’ll schedule a tour.”
While Charlie is currently “talking business” with a few people right now, he doesn’t have anything set in stone. He’s just enjoying life, working on his craft, and having fun being commissioned to do projects (like we said, not your average 20-year-old). You heard it here, people, Charlie Collier, animation extraordinaire, is open for business. But you better book it fast – we’re betting Charlie won’t be kept out of ANY animation studio much longer (we’re looking at you, Laika!).
To see more from Charlie or to contact him for more information on working together, check out his blog, Zapamation.
by Megan - Thursday, April 25, 2013 - Permalink
The ever-wise Mac Sage reminisces on what it was like to animate as a child, ruing the fact that the “brilliantly simple” iStopMotion for iPad didn’t exist back in the day. Here’s why:
“I remember fondly my first animation class when I was eight years old. There was the excitement of creating a story with inanimate objects and bringing them to life with a Super-8mm camera. I also remember how agonizing it was to wait for the film to be developed so I could view the fruits of my labor. If only I had an iPad and iStopMotion back then…
iStopMotion ($9.99) is a well-design app for the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad. The interface is simple and intuitive, allowing young and old animators alike to get to the task at hand. You can use either the front or rear camera to create your masterpiece. And, with the free iStopMotion Remote Camera app, you can remotely control an iPhone camera to shoot your video.
Once you realize how easy it is to animate with iStopMotion, you’ll never look at the inanimate objects in your life the same way!”
You can say that again, Mac Sage. When it comes to iStopMotion, no object is off limits! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with the world.
Read Mac Sage’s full review of iStopMotion for iPad here.
by Megan - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - Permalink
BoinxTV is nominated for Best Webcast Platform at the Streaming Media European Readers' Choice Awards 2013. We couldn't be more excited to be included in a category full of some of the most talented and innovative companies around! Show your support and go vote for us here!
by Megan - Monday, April 22, 2013 - Permalink
Since the last time we talked to our good friends the Animation Chefs, the team has been cooking up quite a storm. Working on their sixth and seventh episodes, there has been little downtime to sit back and relax. With a busy household of four kids who all need to be in two places at the once, the production crew never really gets a break. Their crazy lives may be a little hectic, but they are enjoying every minute. Finalizing the latest season of seven episodes, which even includes a Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter special, the animation chefs haven’t even gotten to the main course.
Through readily available devices like iPads and smartphones equipped with stop motion animation programs, barriers that once held enthusiastic kids back from creating have been broken down, letting the fun pour in. With these tools in tow, the Animation Chefs saw a multitude of possibilities, one being the opportunity to help nurture youth interest in multimedia. They jumped at that opportunity with two goals in mind.
“We decided to reboot Animation Chefs as a regular web show with episodes, a site where kids could come to learn to do better what they were already posting on YouTube, and have fun being part of a community of others doing the same and have some fun along the way,” the Animation Chefs said. They also started up local classes to get kids hands-on experience working with iStopMotion and iMovie.
“We hold classes at a local gymnastic center, where a spare room can be rented, and word gets out through community groups and signs at the center as well as through the small following we have online. [We] use classes to experiment with teaching different age groups different kinds of animation and use what we learned to inform our web series [followers]. That way what we teach on the series, we know already works with kids. Our ‘fanimations’ come from these sessions.”
The Animation Chefs credit iStopMotion for some of their success. They trust the company history and the simplicity of the interface. They referred to iStopMotion as their “blanket: safe, comfortable, warm and fuzzy.” Having produced about 20 movies with iStopMotion for iPad, the team has never had a crash or any problems. But what makes them like it even more is how easy it is for their students to learn and produce their own short films. The Animation Chefs can see the creative wheels turning inside their young minds when given the opportunity.
“[iStopMotion] takes full advantage of the iPad's simplicity and tactility. The light bulbs go off over [students’] heads when they get how expressive they can be with their imagination. Visual storytelling is not something they've ever been taught or planned out with a camera. They can write stories. They can speak stories. Now they can show stories. Anything they can think of is possible! Powerful stuff.”
They want to teach millions of kids how to use the innovative digital tools around them to create media, not “just vegetate in front of it passively.” By continuing to share their knowledge through the web series, kids everywhere will soon have the necessary know-how to independently create their own animated movies. But it is more than just an art to them and the kids.
“We don't even think of this as art. We think of this as the basic way kids of our generation communicate, build community, and think. We think like distributors as much as we think like filmmakers. iStopMotion has a 'post to YouTube' button as an export function. An entire generation of kids not only create visual media, but distribute it as well. We don't take drawing classes. We don't take dance. We don't paint. We are self-taught visual storytellers who publish our vision to our fans. Is that art? Is that publishing? Is it visual literacy? Is it media literacy? We don't draw these lines. We are performing, educating, and building a community.“
Looking towards the future, the Animation Chefs don’t plan on slowing down. In fact, it seems they will be turning up the heat.
“We have attracted the attention of animation industry pros who have kids. So we have a number of relationships that we are using to make our second season even more helpful and exciting than the first. We are working on a massive database of animation formulas that even a 5 year old with an iPad can understand. We will eventually have a training program so anybody with tablet computers can start their own classes and teach their own local raving animators the finer points of all the above – using our research.“
One thing is for sure: whatever the Animation Chefs manage to cook up, the rest of us will be hungry for it. Check out the Animation Chefs website or their YouTube channel to stay up to date with the latest progress and videos.
by Oliver - Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - Permalink
On April 15th, 2013, the Boinx Team prepared to launch a commercial rocket with supplies for the International Space Station. Watch the events unfold... The video was shot using iPhone 5, a Nikon D5100 and a Canon 40D. Editing was done completely in FotoMagico 4.
by - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - Permalink
Since we released the sandboxed versions of FotoMagico and iStopMotion on the Mac App Store, some users were experiencing baffling crashes. It took us quite a while to figure out what was wrong: There were QuickTime components installed on these systems that were incompatible with OS X sandboxing.
These problems affect all sandboxed video and photo apps – not just ours – so we decided to provide a troubleshooting utility to all Mac users. Now, you can perform scans for problematic QuickTime components with SandboxCleaner to clean up your Mac, making your life a whole lot easier.
Download SandboxCleaner for free from the Mac App Store.
Some more info about SandboxCleaner from the website:
If SandboxCleaner detects one of the components known to cause problems, it helps you figure out what to do. In some cases, the vendor of the component offers an update and SandboxCleaner directs you to it. In other cases, it might be best to disable the component using the Finder and contact the corresponding vendor for further information. If you know of components that cause issues but are not reported or are experiencing any other problems with SandboxCleaner, simply notify us via the Feedback Assistant. We will update the database suggesting the best way to deal with it.
Help Your Friends
Incompatible QuickTime components are a widespread problem. Many of your friends will experience the same or even worse problems than you. Unkempt sandboxes can lead to frustration – and no one wants a grumpy friend around! Be your friend’s hero by letting them know about SandboxCleaner using the built-in Twitter, Facebook and email sharing feature.
We hope you find SandboxCleaner useful and would appreciate a positive rating at the App Store if you do! (If not, talk to us in our forum.)
by Megan - Monday, April 08, 2013 - Permalink
The phenomenon known as the Harlem Shake has been going viral the past month across the Web. Everyone from swim teams to office workers have been bitten by the dance bug and boogied down to the smash hit by Baauer. Well it seems that the craze doesn’t affect only humans! In this iStopMotion feature, Olivier and his seven-year-old son create their own video using Playmobil toys. Within 20 minutes, the father-son duo taped and edited a 30-second video set to the Harlem Shake. Referring to iStopMotion as “simple and just perfect,” we hope that this dance party has a sequel.
by Megan - Wednesday, April 03, 2013 - Permalink
Growing up, art class consisted of finger painting, paper-mâché, and a lot of Popsicle sticks. Nowadays, the art room has become a lot more advanced than my Elmer’s glue days. Quest Academy, established in 1982 to provide an appropriate learning environment for gifted children whose needs were not being served well by their local public schools, has an art program that offers all the fun of finger painting with none of the mess. With over 290 students ranging in age from three to fourteen, Quest has expanded the art room into other subjects; all being connected by the students (and teachers!) love for iStopMotion.
Led by a trio of creative enthusiasts, Quest provides its students plenty of opportunities in both Fine and Visual Arts. Hether Hoffmann and Sherly Peterson have been teaching Visual Arts at Quest for the past fifteen years and four years, respectively. Vinnie Vrotny, the Director of Academic Technology, is in his first year at Quest and has been involved in this field at schools for over 25 years. The jump to iStopMotion, however, was a first for all three.
“Sheryl and Hether heard about iStopMotion at an Illinois Art Educators Association Conference and the National Association for Gifted Children Conference,” said Vrotny. “The middle schoolers were previously using Windows Moviemaker and the lower school students were using PhotoStory. iStopMotion has allowed for a more seamless creative workflow, especially when paired with iMovie iPad app. The final film is smoother [and] more professional looking.”
The teachers’ favorite part? The opportunity iStopMotion gives them to stop focusing so much on making technology work. Hoffmann says she is happy that is has “allowed [them] to move away from fighting the technology in order to complete the project.” iStopMotion allows them to focus on more important things, like the students. By giving them the opportunity to focus on helping the kids with story creation, aesthetic, and design, everyone not only has a more enjoyable time, but it facilitates a greater amount of learning.
All the student’s love using iStopMotion and it is easy to see why. Art has begun to find its way into other daily subjects throughout their day. Kids are coloring, drawing, writing, and creating not only in the art room anymore. Social Studies and Language Arts have both been taken over for days at a time, allowing kids to put their new stop motion skills to the test with stories from history or famous works of literature. Middle school students created an animated video for “The Odyssey.”
“The students are very excited with the technology integration,” said Peterson. “The lower school is able to coordinate subject matter across disciplines. For example, we use content from the Renaissance Period in Social Studies to write our storyboards, create our scenes, and make our movies. It is awesome!”
“Through integrating the art and other subjects provides students the opportunity to create a compelling visual narrative,” adds Hoffmann. “With the increased ability to capture pictures and video, it is important in learning how to compose a written narrative. Using animation software enables students to easily compose in this medium so that we, the teachers, can then focus on teaching them how to craft a story.”
Unquestionably, the student’s favorite parts about working with iStopMotion are the ability to see their ideas come to life in a professional movie. Instant gratification allows them to see step-by-step progress of what all their hard work is resulting in. It is easy to see the individual frames along the bottom of the screen and delete the ones where they find fingers or hands.
“Students are able to create content that comes alive right before their eyes. That is a powerful motivator - every student wants to participate and be a part of the movie,” Vrotny said. “The process makes students stop, think, and plan before taking action. They collaborate as a movie making team in order to complete the project. The students are totally focused and highly productive during the movie making process and so proud of their work. “
“Creating films also enables those students who are more visually oriented, the ability to communicate their thoughts and ideas in a medium which better fits their strengths,” comments Hoffmann. “Since they now have the ability to easily communicate their ideas, they can then be pushed to utilize higher level thinking skills, analysis and synthesis of these ideas without being limited by their ability to communicate.”
Getting their kids excited about the arts is a gift in itself for these three teachers. Enthusiastic students are not only more enjoyable in the classroom, but learn easier as well. Quest gives their students the chance to thrive in a highly developed and nurturing environment, providing them stability and the opportunity to explore different mediums and subject matters they may not be offered in other places.
“Students are very excited to come to art,” said Peterson. “They are very focused and motivated to learn. The hard work pays off in big ways - they are proud of their work and the hard work is tied to a high rate of success. Quest Academy’s seventh grade’s “Odyssey” will be featured at Schaumberg’s Prairie Center for the Arts in Illinois this month. The video has been a great way to share student work with the larger global community.”
by Megan - Monday, April 01, 2013 - Permalink
When a romantic dinner for two goes awry after the food goes “right through them,” Skelly and his girlfriend aren’t sure what they will do without their beloved Bolognese. Made by Susan Kennedy and daughter Mary Macbeth in 12 hours during their own “Sunday Challenge,” the stop motion film is the first (but hopefully not last!) from the mother-daughter duo. With the use of metal skeletons, paper, and some printed pictures, Susan says the best part of iStopMotion was “the ghost image of the previous frame and how easy it was for [their] paper scenery to move.” They loved that “iStopMotion really does make it so simple, even for complete amateurs like [them].” Check out their YouTube channel for more future updates. Bon appétit!