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This is NOT How One Makes Stop-Motion

Years before we had a computer that could handle animations of any kind, my sister and I created stop-motion films out of Playmobil figures. Perhaps my childhood obsession with Gumby had a lot to do with the desire, but from the start, we were self-proclaimed professionals. The first stop-motion we created was a rendition of The Emperor's New Clothes, using blobs of clay as our characters. It was also slightly difficult to watch as we had filmed it while watching our VHS copy of VH1 Legends: The Who (man, we loved watching that), and the sound was incredibly annoying.

Eventually we had established a system to rid of these undesirables, a very primitive analog sound editing system using my track recorder and some microphones to replace camera sound. We would plug the video from the camera directly into our VCR, then plug my track recorder's sound into the VCR so we could do music and voice overs along with the video (they were never ever ever good). This same system was used on The Adventures of Joe in its first incarnation.

A real stop-motion video is filmed on a camera which can take one frame at a time, and after each successive frame, characters are repositioned to simulate motion over time. We realized this technology, but using a Hi-8 camera doesn't allow frame-by-frame capture, especially since after we hit stop, the tape rewound a moderate amount (a second or so). To compensate for this, we attempted to hit record twice decently fast to get close to a single frame of capture, and as time passed, we grew much better at estimating the right recording time.

The following stop-motion videos were done in the same night, probably the third time we had attempted Playmobil stop-motion. The fourth batch we created were technically much greater, but they have since been lost to the VCR's record function. Later, we also attempted claymation, but again, lost to the VCR... Too bad...

Cone Danger


 

The story of this video is that Cone Danger (get it... Lone Ranger... HAHAHA!) rescues Poke-yer-hontas from being run over by a train, then while riding to defeat the bad guy (no name?), his Indian friend Pronto (Tonto, get it?!) gets destroyed by a slow falling boulder. Embarassingly, they fight until the bad guy is knocked off a cliff.

I suppose the worst parts of this video (besides the excrutiating 5-second frames) are the stop-motion short cuts. When The Cone Danger and Pronto ride their horses to the bad guy, the camera is ahead of them so as not to show my hands controlling the horses, and when the boulder falls, I'm controlling it as well. The music would fit Wesley Willis, but it's terrible for anything else.

Enter the Castle


 

Okay, this one is terrible. The frames are slow, and it merely chronicles a character's slow journey in and out of a castle. My arm (the armship) is featured in this one, so I suppose it's not all lost. You'll also see that I grab the character's arm and do some cheap fake stop-motion with him... The music is supposed to reflect each frame, and it's obvious that I was pulling it out of my butt...

Horror in the Snow


 

A snowman smears ketchup all over poor citizens of the Towel Lands. In other words, this story is that of a massacre in the snow as a "friendly" snowman murders EVEN THE CHILDREN! Adlibbed music.

The Last Nap


 

Very short, and hardly eventful. A poor man takes a nap in some foliage, to be destroyed by a poisonous dart frog and Scar from The Lion King! The music here is something I had been working on at the time... It's hard to tell what's going on in this one.

Thermos Thieves


 

A crew of Playmobil people climb atop our cabinets and steal a thermos! This one's awkwardly slow and has a terrible surprise ending... After they steal the thermos, all of them disappear but Granny!

Too bad these are the only remnants of our long stop-motion career, and worse than that, too bad these aren't the more advanced ones. Maybe one day I'll discover more on a VHS tape, but I doubt that will be my fortune.