and then...

i could start off by saying how busy i have been, but that would be redundant and boring. i can't believe my last post was in january. sheesh.

i promised that i would go into detail about my trip to NYC, so i'll share a bit about that. believe it or not, it was my first trip to the big city, so everything about it was fresh and exciting in its own right. i won't bore you with too much of the mundane (mundane in NYC?) stuff, but there are some topic appropriate things that i should mention.
many of you have probably heard about the tim burton exhibit at MoMA that is currently running. this special exhibit was sold out for almost the entire week i was there, but i managed to wrangle a ticket on a very crowded new years day just as the museum opened. although i would consider myself a huge fan of some of his earlier films (peewee's big adventure, edward scissorhands, beetlejuice) i have not followed tim burton very closely for the second half of his career. clearly the main draw for me has been his ongoing support for the art of stop motion animation. the MoMA show included a large sampling of maquettes and puppets and other dimensional artifacts from all stages of his career. going back to the early days, there were some really incredible conceptual models created by rick heinrichs for a few projects that never made it past the development stage. they showed the replacement cycle of eyeballs that the chiodo brothers used for the transformation of large marge in peewee's big adventure, as well as the puppets they made for the vincent short. i'm pretty sure i also remember seeing a puppet or maquette of the beetlejuice sandworm thingy. i need to watch that movie again, actually. anyway, moving on to the juicy stuff, they had a couple of dozen puppets from the nightmare before christmas, including a large assortment of jack heads, and several other of your favorite characters. actually, oogie boogie is one of the first things you see when you come into the first exhibition room, which i thought was pretty cool. it was great to see so many of these puppets in person. they also included a nice selection of concept art and storyboards, meant to help show the many steps of creating an animated film of that complexity. it was a nice little display. since burton was a producer on the film, they also included a handful of puppets from james and the giant peach. from what i recall it was mostly skeletons from the pirate jack sequence. it was interesting to see how well they masked the ball and socket joints into the skeleton designs. food for thought for sure. (you may have gathered by now that they did not allow photography in the exhibit, or else i would be sharing tons of pics with you.) the next large display featured a large assortment of puppets from corpse bride. these puppets are all little masterpieces! it really is hard to describe just how beautiful those puppets are in person. i'm not even going to try. truly magnificent work by mackinnon and saunders. while on the topic of mackinnon and saunders, i should mention the cool little promo spot they created for the show. a couple of coraline alum did much of the work on this spot, and it turned out really cool. take a look at the spot, and the making of, here. for me, the coolest part of the whole affair was a small display featuring puppets and animation clips from the early stop motion development of mars attacks. people who know me know that i have a borderline obsession with the mars attacks illustrations, and "what could have been" aspect of the aborted stop motion martians. one of the high points of last year's visit to mackinnon and saunders' studio was getting a chance to see some of these puppets again. i had seen one back in 2001 at a convention in vegas, but this was different. this time i got to TOUCH them. POSE them! talk to the people who made them! very cool. so it was doubly gratifying to see a bare armature martian on display at MoMA that i had personally handled only a year earlier. to top it all off, there was a screen nearby looping a segment of animation (done by phil dale) where a martian walks into a room and disintegrates a lounging barry purves, who was set to be the film's animation director. i have heard that a great deal of animation had been shot before the dreaded switch to CG was made, but i have not seen much of it. here's hoping a future blu-ray disc of mars attacks could include some of this lost footage.
so that is about it for the tim burton show. obviously there were a zillion tim burton drawings as well.

the other noteworthy sighting was a series of window displays at the bergdorf goodman men's store featuring a large selection of puppets and sets from the fantastic mr fox. again, these are absolutely beautiful puppets, most of which were created (again!) by mackinnon and saunders. it was great to see examples of all the different scales they used for different shots. here is another interesting article which discusses the work that went into making these puppets. i took some pics of the window sets, but they are terrible, so you should take a look at these shots taken by people who know how to take nice pictures instead. possibly the coolest thing about this stop was getting a chance to see the reaction of little kids as they walked by and noticed what was in the window. we were in the area for about 10 or 15 minutes, and kids were constantly making their parents stop in the middle of the sidewalk so they could take a look at the displays. it was pretty sweet.

as for the here and now, i'm just chugging along working on a few small projects. i swear as soon as i have permission to show some recent work i will do so. hang in there. things are about to get different.


Emily D. Myers said...

Enjoyed your update. Wish I could have seen what you saw in New York!

Jesse said...

I am terribly sad I have not had the chance to rush out to NY for a weekend to see this exhibit. Thank you for sharing all this wonderful stuff about it and all the extra bits like the making of the promo. Love it.

I think the exhibit might be headed to Toronto next Nov. and I promise I will not miss it again.

Bram said...

Sounds like a blast.