Search form

The Friday Five - Can't Stop the Motion (Week of 4/20/12)

Week of 4/20/12 - The Rifle's Spiral (Jamie Caliri), Seven Legs (Mikey Please), Bermuda (Calvin Frederick), BIG BANG BOOM (BLU), LUMINARIS (Juan Pablo Zaramella)

It's all stop-motion, practical magic, and pixelation for this week's TF5. Fresh-off-the-render-queue music videos, exciting adverts, and head-scratching techincal prowess abound. Let's jump right in.

This week's picks:

The Rifle's Spiral

A touch of dark Victoriana and a hand-crafted feel help define Jamie Caliri's video for The Shins' single "The Rifle's Spiral", off their new release Port of Morrow. Caliri delivers his customary blend of puppet, effects, and watercolor cut-out stop-motion, with some real-time video of sets. Citing Edward Gorey and Martin Scorsese's clockwork-laden Hugo as inspirations, Caliri's subjects of trains, threadbare magicians, and a menacing trio of black-suited gents are familiar, but the look stays his own. The result is an aesthetically sound piece that makes available technology - no doubt Caliri's own software, Dragon - work for for it, instead of the other way around.

Seven Legs

Speaking of the Dragon of stop-motion, Mikey Please's riff for DragonFrame, Seven Legs, is worth a look. Please, who caught attention, and snagged a BAFTA, with his RCA graduation film The Eagleman Stag, continues his signature look of all-white paper and foam. A rolling series of transformation sequences, done through replacement, sell Please's sense of timing and imagination as well as the software that aids his art.


In a well-deserved nod to my alma mater, Calvin Frederick's Bermuda is built on an impressive illusion that I've seen make longtime professionals scratch their heads, and made the stop-motion students in the audience at his premiere crow with envy. Frederick's colorful piece is created by a mirror box reflecting a monitor, and shot on a motion-control camera rig. It's absorbent, hypnotic pulse is only quickened by Daniel Eaton's apt scoring. Score another for the power of practical effects: the final effect is so seamless, Frederick has placed a disclaimer before screenings stating that no computer-generated effects or compositing were used to make the film.


BLU crew meets Rube Goldberg in BIG BANG BIG BOOM. From the creators of viral sensation MUTO, the international graffiti artist animates large-scale across urban and landscapes to tell "an unscientific point of view on the beginning and evolution of life ... and how it could probably end." BLU's videos, impressive in use of space and sheer go-with-your-gut gall, are always eye-openers. Last seen in Morrocco in early April, here's hoping for another video soon. Follow along for the ride via BLU's blog.


Human pixelation and replacement mix to create a simple, charming story in LUMINARIS, from Juan Pablo Zaramella. The film picked up both Audience and Fipresci Awards at Annecy this summer, and it's clear to see why; pixelation has rarely been done with such style and attention to detail. The film's simple, inventive tale of a lightbulb maker and his illuminating coworker makes great use of natural light and cityscape along with exaggerated, slapstick-worth props. Still making the rounds, so only a trailer is available online, but keep an eye out for this one if it passes by a festival near you.