Animation Projects on Kickstarter

Geek Culture Kickstarter


Flewn by Gabriel Smetzer

I’ve always loved stop-motion animation. I remember watching the Will Vinton’s Christmas Celebration as a kid and attempting to make my own stop-motion movies with my enormous VHS camcorder (which couldn’t shoot anything shorter than half-second clips, making for some veeery sloooow animation). In high school I experimented with some animation software on my art teacher’s Amiga. In college I discovered Wallace & Gromit. Eventually, my senior year, I took a year long animation class, where we did hand-drawn, cut-paper, and stop-motion animation. We even did some sand-on-a-lightbox animation because it was a favorite of my instructor, Caroline Leaf.

But my favorite has always been stop-motion. It’s so cool to have something physical and tangible and bring it to life with a camera, and I had a lot of fun putting together armatures of hands so I could animate a bunch of gloves crawling around campus.

Just recently I’ve been checking out some animation projects on Kickstarter, and there are a few projects there that I thought were worth highlighting. I’m still on the fence on which ones I’ll back (I’ve spent a lot on Kickstarter recently) but I’m eager to see how they turn out. Not all of these are stop-motion, but most of them have that sort of look to them, at least.

First up: Flewn by Gabriel Smetzer. I have to admit — I was immediately hooked by the little frog riding a unicycopter, but the rest of it (the bearded whale on stilts with a city on his back and the rabbit with home-made wings) looks amazing, too. The interactive aspect of it intrigues me somewhat though I must admit I don’t care about that quite as much as I just want to see where this story goes, and see some more of Smetzer’s beautiful animation. A pledge of at least $10 gets you the film.

A Cautionary Tale by Simon Rippingale, Erica Harrison, and Pauline Piper is a story about a little girl who is born with a long tail that expresses her emotions. But as she gets older she learns to hide the tail because it makes her stand out. It’s a fable about fitting in and loving what makes you unique. This is a combination of CGI animation and hand-made sets, so it’s a little in-between, but from the trailer it looks pretty seamless. They’ve even got Cate Blanchett contributing her voice to the project, which is impressive. $25 gets you a DVD. (There aren’t any digital download options.)

Fireflies by Aaron Wong et al. This one looks cute — but you have to watch to the end, where they actually show some samples of the animation. Honestly I almost passed on this one when I started watching the video and they showed the sketches, because the drawings are kind of crude and not really impressive. If the still shot at the beginning didn’t have the actual puppet then I may have just given up and moved on to something else. But watch to the end and you’ll be rewarded with some sample footage of this short film about a little girl in Kentucky who loves catching fireflies. Note: this campaign ends today, so if you’re interested, back it now! $10 gets you a download of the completed film.

Mad God by Phil Tippett et al. Ok, this one is not for kids, but you should check it out when your kids aren’t in the room. I’ll confess that I wasn’t familiar with Phil Tippett by name, but I have enjoyed his work — and you probably have, too. He animated the AT-ATs and tauntauns in The Empire Strikes Back and the ED-209 in Robocop. He supervised dinosaur animation for Jurassic Park and created the big beetle aliens in Starship Troopers, preventing his own extinction by evolving from stop-motion to CGI. However, it seems his passion still lies in old-school stop-motion, and he is reviving an old project of his called Mad God.

I watched the video and I really have no idea what’s going on in the film itself, but I love the fact that Tippett is using this to rope in other folks — including local art students — who might not have done this very hands-on sort of film-making otherwise. Since I can’t be part of this myself, the next best thing is to watch the film when it’s done. $10 gets you a digital download.

Ornana Films has an interesting story: they started off as a band of high school students making short films, and eventually started adding folks from other places as their films attracted attention. Some of their films are live-action, but some, like (Notes on) Biology below, are animated. I know, this isn’t really stop-motion animation, but (1) I really love this little elephant animation, and (2) I think they have a pretty cool back story.

Their Kickstarter campaign is for two short films, one animated film about soldiers in the desert and one live-action film about sound and emotion. The plan is to release the animated film, Confusion Through Sand, for free online. They’re still working out licensing for Euphonia, the feature film — they’d like to be able to release that online for free as well, but it will depend on some other factors. For now, though, you can just kick in to help them finish the two films, and for $25 you can get a DVD of their “early works.”

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