The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation: An Interview with Larry Bafia & Webster Colcord
WEBSTER: Plus, sometimes the only way to animate something in CG is to just animate every frame without any interpolation. That’s something I learned from Harry Walton at Sony Imageworks, who animated some shots in CG that way, and Ryan Roberts at PDI told me the same thing. We were wrestling with some CG spiders for Minority Report, and he figured out the only way to animate it properly was on single frames—and this was coming from someone with a completely CG background. With the spiders, it was mostly because of their curvy legs. Curvy shapes are the hardest thing to animate in any medium. The snake character in Monkeybone, which was mostly done by Justin Kohn, had lots of labor involved to keep those curves because everything down the chain is affected. The worm in James was also very difficult for the same reason. I recently did some work on a commercial for Genndy Tartakovsky, and he had a CG character with snake-like rubber-hose arms. He wanted it to stretch out and snap back like cel animation, so once again the only way to do it was single frame with no interpolation, just like stop-motion but using the computer to do it.
In the end, it’s all animation, but I guess the main advantage stop-motion has over CG is something that Henry Selick had said—that in stop-motion, you have everything in one place. You get your lighting interacting with the puppet when you look through the camera lens, so you know right away what the shot will look like. In CG, you don’t know what the emotional resonance of that glint in the puppet’s eye will be until it’s lit and rendered, which is sometimes months later.
KEN: Webster, I understand you have a strong interest in the work of stop-motion artist Wah Chang. What is your inspiration behind that?
KEN: Do either of you have any other ideas for future stop-motion projects?
LARRY: I’ve been knocking around an idea for a short film for quite a while and hoping to do some animation tests when I can find the time. It’s also a matter of funding, if it turns out I need some extra support.