Tim Burton, The CORPSE BRIDE and Stop Animation

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Tim Burton, The CORPSE BRIDE and Stop Animation

Postby Nordling on Thu Sep 15, 2005 6:49 pm

Pimpin' ain't easy, yo...

Nordling's CORPSE BRIDE Review!
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Postby dimnix on Thu Sep 15, 2005 6:51 pm

hehe, nicely done. Glad you liked it...I cant wait to see it but other reviews had worried me a bit. I hope I like it as much as you did.
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Postby WinslowLeach on Thu Sep 15, 2005 6:54 pm

Great work Nordo! Definitely gonna check this one out!
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Postby Keepcoolbutcare on Fri Sep 16, 2005 6:33 am

Nordling! Creator of greatest. Avatar. EVER.

Glad to see you're still in the game.

Nice review, btw.
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Postby DinoDeLaurentiis on Fri Sep 16, 2005 8:37 am

Welcome back eh? The Dino thinks a the jury, she's a still out onna this a one though... I dinna like a the Nightmare Christmas too much, eh? Maybe it's a just a the old man's hearing, but I dinna understand half of a the lyrics inna the movie... so many people shouting anna singing atta the same time...
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Postby burlivesleftnut on Fri Sep 16, 2005 8:50 am

Yeah I didn't care for Nightmare either. Not sure I even have an interest in this film. So you might ask yourself, "Why the fuck is he even here?" I don't know.
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Postby Pacino86845 on Fri Sep 16, 2005 8:51 am

burlivesleftnut wrote: "Why the fuck is he even here?"


Desperation?
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Postby burlivesleftnut on Fri Sep 16, 2005 8:54 am

I already said I don't know. I can't even figure out why I came BACK! Go back to talking about the movie. I will not darken these halls again.
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Postby DinoDeLaurentiis on Fri Sep 16, 2005 8:56 am

He'll a be back within a the 5 posts, eh?

Here... I'll a taunt him....

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Postby Doc Holliday on Sun Aug 13, 2006 5:10 pm

Ok - so yesterday I finally got around to watching "Corpse Bride". Its a film I've been meaning to watch for a while now - and its a dangerous film too. Dangerous because objectivity is going to be that much harder for me. I like Burton, I like what he does, I like Depp, I like what he stands for, I like animation (what little I know) and I like what the medium can accomplish (that others can't). So I like this film before its even out of its case - and thats no way to review a film at all.

I'm on my guard - constantly asking myself why I like this so much, making myself qualify regularly - and in the meantime my subjectivity is there before you in all its cowboy nakedness.

But I'm not looking to do the latest review for this film - I want to depart from that a bit - because over and above The Corpse Bride itself, I think it is worth my time to set both the Director and the chosen medium aside for discussion as well.

Tim Burton stands in limited company out of todays crop in terms of having a legitimate claim to Auteurism (along with Directors such as Mallick, Raimi and precious few others). It is no small accomplishment ,not that it ever has been, particularly in today's Hollywood. I say this for never before has there been so many aspects, so many different components to the process of making a film for any aspiring auteur to command. Do we even bring marketing and hype into this equation now - given that so much of it is visual I contend that we must.

Consider then that Burton exists also within the realm of the big-budget blockbuster (more often than not) and produces a film every 2-3 years. With this in mind, I'd argue his accomplishments impress all the more so.

Now - I'm sure some people will confuse the issue of "Does Burton Make Good Films" with "Is he an Auteur" - but it is auteurism I am focussing on, just at this moment in time - and it strikes me that it [auteurism] can bring with it not just kudos or a certain snobbery amongst some fans - but an altogether more practical set of problems as well.

Quite apart from having to meet all the usual standards demanded of a "successful" film, that of an auteur need also incorporate that "signature" feel; with the signature itself threatening at times to be something of a shackle. Perhaps not so much in the eye of the Director themselves - they after all, know their vision from film to film. But in this media-focussed age, the more general critic, the less-informed critic, the more widely read critic >sigh<, yes, they who write for "the Daily Whatever" all across the globe - well they will be looking to see how "Burton-esque" each new film will be; they clap their hands with glee at the appearance of a bone-saw in Spidey 2 - "Raimi back to his Evil Dead Best" cries the review. And quite right too - but of such walls can sometimes a prison be made.

My point? Merely to underline the constraints that such a style can threaten, even to the most talented.

So, to see someone like Burton step to one side of that and go back to some of what first drew him in to this business called film, is nothing short of a pleasure to behold. And to those who would cite "A Nightmare Before Christmas" and therefore contend that "Corpse Bride" is in fact just Burton conforming to expectation I would say... you could be right. Yet this [Corpse Bride] was an idea he first had over ten years' ago - and to me this film is him retracing his roots more than serving up more of the same. I suspect the reason for the long gestation is more to do with studio politik first and a decline in the Stop Animation industry second, than it is a gifted director rehashing an old discarded idea.

WHOA! Decline?

Put the weapons down - I do not for one second mean a decline in standards - no sirree. I mean a decline in the industry's numbers, in jobs available, in new generations learning the trade then going straight into CGI work and never looking back.

OK - so I'm moving on to a second point here then - Stop Animation itself. The medium.

I'll qualify myself straight away - I'm just a fan of things I have seen. I don't work in the animation industry and have met only a few that do. I do not put myself forward as an expert - and am really, genuinely interested in the views of those Zoners out there who have a direct insight into this fascinating industry. Certainly Burton's is that there were a few occasions during that ten year gestation of Bride where he could have started filming but then couldn't get a crew together - and my reading that made me sad.

I mean - I'd hate to see the end of stop animation being used this way. Sure, there's that whole 2D vs 3D row - though the future is starting to look a little rosier there now Bird has taken over at Disney. But still, the same arguments carry over to stop-motion, if anything more so when you consider the mediums annual mainstream output. Its a shame - because there is still a great deal of affection out there for it - both within and without the industry (witness the success of Nick Park as well, not to mention the recognition he gets in terms of awards).

I find it hard if not impossible to imagine Corpse Bride as anything but Stop Animation. I am quite certain it would be less of a piece, even in the capable hands of a company like Pixar. Oh - it has its limitations for sure - you look at that Pixar canon of work, and with the possible exception of Monsters Inc you can't see it working the other way either...that those films would be too well served by Stop Animation I mean.

But limitations make you work harder, make you think smarter, think around problems instead of through them - and time and time again this leads to greater creativity, a greater love of work.

Like many people I enjoyed the Harryhausen classics so many years ago. But I enjoyed them not just because of the spectacle, not just because they were so fantastical compared to what had gone before - but because of the personality, the detail that his technique imbued those creatures with. The skeletons frightened me not just because they were skeletons - those dudes were menacing. How they moved, how they encroached - never has a simple skull been so expressive.

I couldn't help but feel bad for the Cyclops either, when he got speared - you know why? Because it looked like it really hurt him. I mean, from his reaction alone just OW! You know?

And so, finally, to my point. Thats what you get from Burton. Thats what you get from Stop Animation.

Thats what you get from Corpse Bride.

There is, of course, just loads to point out about the film were this a review proper: the obvious inversion of the palettes, the nod to institutions like Sammy Davis Jnr, Peter Lorre and so forth. And there are many reviews out there already that do just that - I recommend having a read! Above all else, for me though, you get a sense of craft from this wonderful film; you get the love and care of the piece.

I mean - think about it... its a story of a man, trapped against his will in the underworld, unwillingly betrothed to a rotting corpse bride for chrissake! Yet you would happily take your 8 year old to see this film - and would feel unashamedley heartbroken for the titular bride in all the right places.

The music, the motion of the piece never lets you feel too blue - it feels more like a celebration (The underworld reminded me of Grim Fandango for all you gamers out there). And yet still it finds time and space for an ending as bittersweet to the taste as so many of those old fables it homages.

Oh...and those signature beats? Those "Burton-esque moments? Well, you have your eye candy sure....and you have your dark humour too (its the eye, isn't it?). But above that I couldn't help but feel echoes of Edward Scissorhands' sensitivities in the Corpse Bride herself. The fun manner in which death is depicted took me all the way back to the best moments of Beetlejuice - hey, not least of all that whole banquet dinner scene.

So there...thats me...I'm about done. Wonder what you guys think...about Burton...about Stop Animation...about the film itself.

I'm off to put plasters on my fingertips....
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Postby AtomicHyperbole on Sun Aug 13, 2006 5:34 pm

I'm not sure you nailed your point about Stop Motion through Burton... I'm a bit confused... you say there's a decline, but you mention Aardman. I'd say Stop Motion's never been better, even if it is an arguably less valid way of creating smooth "3D" animation due to its cost and time. Corpse Bride suffered a ton after storyboarding due to money issues... hence the huge amount of mid shots as they cost less to do than wide.

I think the main issue with the industry as a whole is that its stuck in a rut which it needs freeing from. It's starting to eat itself. Ant Bully represents the problem... as does a fellow animator who witnessed a flight attendent proclaim that the "Disney" film Ice Age 2 was his entertainment that evening... in that original ideas aren't being followed through. Even idiosyncratic forerunners like Park and Burton are doing what people expect from them. Truth be told, what with initial reactions Flushed Away and audience apathy towards Corpse Bride (I love it, but Nightmare is the superior film), even those two are suffering from the trappings of their own style.

Beyond that, companies are creating similar movies. there's Rapunzel Unbraided and Happily N'Ever After. There's Madagascar and The Wild. It's all being driven by executive attitudes towards consumer demand. Why was Corpse Bride made? Love? No, it wasn't a risk. It might be different, but look at Nightmare and Burtons track record for his style. It had "sure-fire" written all over it, but its gentle pacing proved problematic on release.

Companies are going to have to try to create distinctive properties. Pixar have a style, a cleanness, but at least they try something different each time with every following movie. But we need more than Pixar... and other companies need to stop following and try to lead.

... know what I'm sayin'?
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Postby Doc Holliday on Sun Aug 13, 2006 5:57 pm

Hell yeah - I hear that.

Y'see, my Greenhorn appreciation for the industry shines through already I guess. I just find it a little odd that those companies...Aardman and then Burton's endeavours...well, they both get so much love and are generally regarded as excellent by the common fan (interesting to hear an insiders take on it though) - that I just find it strange there aren't a few more companies out there doing more Stop Animation work.

Maybe there is and I'm just missing it? I have been guilty of focussing a bit too much on Blockbuster fare recently, I admit :oops:

Using Pixar as the model - you're right, the studio smelled the money and lo behold, Dreamworks and all the others suddenly came out to play. I thought as his films do do well, that a few others might come out and give Burton a run for his money.

And yeah - I do know what you are saying about Corpse hardly being a gamble. I think it was made out of Burton's love though - just so happened that such a thing would also make money is all, maybe? So the studio had no problem greenlighting it - but Burton himself had numerous difficulties getting it off the ground from a practical and recruiting point of view.

I'd hate for it to die out as a medium on the main screen - I understand its not going to have an output to rival CGI...but it still can do things other mediums can't, convey moods and emotions in a particular way.

I'm in the mood for a Metz now...
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Postby magicmonkey on Tue Aug 15, 2006 5:38 am

Isn't the new "Fabulous Furry Brothers" movie meant to be "claymation"? Think its also from the guys at Aardmann.

Also, I recently fell back in love with stop-motion when watching the works of the Quay brothers (review in DVD thread). It's just awesome stuff. There is something about watching it thats magical, kinda like seeing the dead come to life. I compared their work to taxidermy, in that its grotesque in its own way, but it fascinates you. I could seriously watch their work on loop and lose myself like a child in their wondrously abstract worlds. Their art is like life reflected through a really muddy puddle.
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Postby buster00 on Tue Aug 15, 2006 5:44 am

I totally wanna see that Freak Brothers flick when it drops.


On the subject of Burton: When it was first announced that he was doing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and it was rumored that he might be doing it in his stop-motion style, I said, "Wow. That would be mind-numbingly cool."

Maybe they could do Great Glass Elevator that way? A fella can dream, right?
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Postby Doc Holliday on Tue Aug 15, 2006 7:32 am

buster00 wrote:I totally wanna see that Freak Brothers flick when it drops.


On the subject of Burton: When it was first announced that he was doing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and it was rumored that he might be doing it in his stop-motion style, I said, "Wow. That would be mind-numbingly cool."

Maybe they could do Great Glass Elevator that way? A fella can dream, right?


Ohhh - now that would be cool. I haven't read Glass Elevator in years and years - but I remember those creatures in the space hotel that just spelt "SCRAM". They'd go great in Stop Animation, just great - they made me laugh and shriek as a kid, which all comes back to that Harryhausen feel...that kind of weird duality :D :shock:

Man - did I ramble and ramble with this thread. I should of just picked one of the three points and done a more succinct job on that, instead of trying to cover three enormous subjects at once.

I will learn.
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Postby Cpt Kirks 2pay on Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:20 am

Let me know when you get out of Kindergarten.
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Postby Doc Holliday on Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:26 am

Cpt Kirks 2pay wrote:Let me know when you get out of Kindergarten.


I'll let you know what the teacher told me to say:

"Stop hanging around the gates offering sweets, you grubby little perv"


What does it mean mister kirk sir?
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Postby Cpt Kirks 2pay on Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:28 am

Damn, plan foiled again. Maybe I should try the line, but with puppies.
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Postby Keepcoolbutcare on Tue Aug 15, 2006 7:38 pm

animation = The act, process, or result of imparting life, interest, spirit, motion, or activity.

Doc Holliday = An animated Zoner, whose passion and unique outlook on films is one of the many reasons this place will always be "cool".

Good stuff Doc.
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Re: Tim Burton and Stop-Motion Animation

Postby TheButcher on Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:19 pm

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Stop-Motion Animation

Postby TheButcher on Fri Nov 09, 2012 8:35 pm

Eye on the Oscars: Animation Preview - Live-action techniques bring life to stop-motion
Ellen Wolff wrote:Cinema's oldest animation style also became its most modern in 2012, thanks to the contributions of cinematographers tasked with applying complex live-action techniques to the hyper-controlled world of stop-motion. It was a banner year for the meticulous frame-by-frame technique, as no fewer than three U.S. studios released puppeteered films: Disney reanimated Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie," Focus had the Laika-made "ParaNorman" and Aardman's "Pirates! A Band of Misfits" came out through Sony (which doesn't even count Czech master Jiri Barta's "Toys in the Attic").

Though such pics feature small puppet stars, their underlying ambitions have grown enormous of late, with this year's offerings boasting elaborate monster-stomping destruction, a breathtaking car chase and swashbuckling action on the high seas -- all captured in stereoscopic 3D.

According to Aardman co-founder and "Pirates" director Peter Lord, "We wanted to open up the scale of a stop-motion film. The whole experience, from the digital cameras to the use of greenscreen to putting on layers of effects, added up to a sense of freedom."

But filming puppets that stand a few inches high remains painstaking work. "Pirates" d.p. Frank Passingham captured scores of large stunt scenes one frame at a time using a Canon 5D still camera. Aardman's stereoscopic rig was designed to shoot a frame of a scene for one eye and then slide the camera a precise distance to capture the view for the other eye. Lord says, "We made the interocular distance as small as our characters' eyes: 4mm. Given that the distance was so small, it's surprising that you get the full stereo effect onscreen."

Though "ParaNorman" d.p. Tristan Oliver employed a similar stereo camera rig at Laika, motion-controlled Canon 5Ds enabled him to be more fluid with the camerawork, following characters closely and otherwise approximating dynamic techniques live-action pros take for granted. "The camera moves a lot in 'ParaNorman,' " says Oliver, who enlivened the film with depth-of-field changes and gorgeous close-ups. "It was an opportunity to do things that I haven't been able to do before, and I found it quite liberating."

That's saying something, since Oliver is a 20-year stop-motion veteran. He lensed Aardman's "Chicken Run" and also its Oscar-winning toon "Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit." Perhaps not surprisingly for this field, it's a small world behind the camera as well as in front of it. "Pirates" d.p. Passingham previously worked as a lighting cameraman on Laika's first stop-motion feature, "Coraline," as did "Frankenweenie" d.p. Peter Sorg. In stop-motion, it remains challenging to light dollhouse-sized sets.

Sorg shot "Frankenweenie" in black and white, so contrast was crucial. (He used mono Canon 5Ds, and the stereo conversion happened in post.) The crew hid tiny lights strategically within the sets so that the puppets would cast the spooky shadows Tim Burton wanted. "It was very tweaky and fiddle-y because of the small scale, but we lit it like live-action," Sorg says.

Indeed, both Sorg and Oliver prepared for their films by researching live-action movies. Oliver's prep included looking at pics such as "Bullitt" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," while Sorg immersed himself in such black-and-white classics as "Frankenstein" and "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." Film buffs will detect glints of homage in both "ParaNorman" and "Frankenweenie."

The enduring similarities between photographing real-time live-action pics and stop-motion animation doesn't surprise Lord. "When your animators do a piece of performance, it has a sense of spontaneity in the moment that is like live-action, where there's no going back."

There probably won't be any scaling back of ambitions among stop-motion filmmakers, especially as digital techniques continue to expand their toolkits. Lord uses a musical analogy to describe this evolution, saying, "In 'Wallace & Gromit,' Aardman could do 'chamber music' types of things but nothing orchestral. Now we don't have to script for small-scale productions anymore."
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Re: Tim Burton, The CORPSE BRIDE and Stop Animation

Postby TheButcher on Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:56 am

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