3 Stop Motion movies nominated for 2013 Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film

Good news for Stop Motion, here are the nominees for Best Animated Feature Film this time around:

Brave
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

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I've done some basic cgi for TV, and changing the camera position while keeping everything else the same is pretty easy.  And very much something the director is likely to ask for, several times, because he can. I would often set the computer to re-render overnight, half a dozen times, before we were happy with the result.  I re-shoot only about 10% of my stopmo shots.   CGI feature films are hundreds of times more complex than my basic computer graphics were, but the high end facilities also have a render farm of machines to chug through it so I expect they are just as subject to requests to make small changes and re-render until time runs out.

Paranorman has opened here now and I hope to see it soon.

I don't see Pirates getting the statue, it was well done but a bit light on substance.  I enjoyed Frankenweenie, but I'm hoping ParaNorman comes up as a stronger contender than I felt Weenie was.

 The reviews I see are all very positive about Wreck-It Ralph, mildly positive about all of the stopmo films.  I don't remember how Brave was received, it was out quite a long time ago.   I haven't seen any of the cgi contenders so I can't compare for myself.

I agree, I hope stopmo does not become bland or middle of the road.  But I am beginning to worry that it is starting to stick to the middle of it's own slightly skewed road.  As discussed in another thread before, it feels as if it's getting rare to see a stopmo feature that is NOT about the undead/other weird world.  It's like once Nightmare blazed the trail,  it's too easy to follow along in it's wake, because that is the safe, proven path for stopmo features.  Just like Hippies/Punks/Goths rejecting the bland conformist mainstream but all reflecting the hippy/punk/goth aesthetic in a conformist non-conformism!  (Trouble is I quite like the weird world/undead/gothic atmosphere myself.)  ParaNorm and Weenie certainly fit into this category. And if they should make a stopmo film of Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book (which I would love to see), that would be another one.

I guess in this respect, Pirates stands out as the non-conformist!   (Or maybe it's that Aardman don't really follow that trend, Were-Rabbit is as close as they've come.) 


I was lucky enough to hear Tim Burton speak after the 'Frankenweenie' Bafta screening, and one point i recall came across was the misconception of budgets for a stop motion feature- he said Frankenweenie was essentially small in scale compared to an average PIXAR production- admittedly, the PIXAR aesthetic is probably the most specific and technically advanced there is- but the point was there- the costs are NOT disadvantageous compared to CGI- a lot of this is down to the mutually digital world both are now working in- the real revolution with frame grabbers and DSLR camera's is the huge chunk of a 35mm film features budget that has been removed- and a few associated craftsmen jobs within that 35mm film world- the workflow on a digital production is just so much more stripped down.

Immediate feedback, and advanced compositing options and digital clean up is now common in both camps.

In terms of modelling work, there is also a similar amount of time required for building a digital model, compared to a physical model- sure, Digital is unquestionably faster, especially in a digital clay programme like ZBrush, but there tends to be a much larger world or cast of characters routinely employed in CGI- not always neccessary, sometimes simply 'showily' large...

In contrast, stop motion does need to create a smaller world- but there are often dramatic benefits from this 'localism'... the small back woods world of Coraline, for example, and similar in Corpse Bride..

So my argument would be economically, stop motion is on a fairly level playing field.

I agree most of the audience would not be able to tell that these 3 movies had even been made using stop motion- even the BBC referred to Frankenweenie as 'Tim Burton's latest 3D movie'- it feels almost like some people believe the '3rd dimension' was only invented in the digital era- (sigh)...

In terms of what Nick fears, I hear and agree, but still take faith from Adam Elliott- I wonder how  (the sublime) 'Mary and Max' has fared economically, since it was released?

And desperately hope he is working on the next- likewise Suzie Templeton, and Barry Purves- I want a few more deep human stories.



Strider said:



This goes against what I've heard (though I'm no insider or anything). Are you saying the producer and director don't get to see the CG animation until it's been finalized and rendered? In the behind the scenes I usually see them looking at wireframe or something only slightly beyond that, well before any backgrounds have been done or surfaces rendered. 

Oh not at all - for character animation, there are lower resolution screen tests before all the physics simulations, rendering etc. is done - but I can't see how this part of the process would differ terribly from the director reviewing the traditional animator's "dailies" and having stuff redone when necessary. And there are limits - simulating stuff like cloth, hair, or a character diving can take a long time to setup and can often times only be finally seen after render. All and all, a decent director is going to have most this stuff worked out during storyboarding.

Low res screentests - thanks for supplying the terminology! Had no idea what they were called, but yeah, that's what I was trying to say. Something beyond just bare wireframe, with a simple almost textureless skin on it. Sort of the equivalent of a pencil test in 2d animation. So for both the 2d cartoon stuff and Cg this is where a director can look at things in motion and ask for changes - I suppose in stopmo the equivalent would be popthroughs. 

But as Nick said, it seems like in CG a director or producer is often more willing to ask the animators to make changes - maybe because it doesn't involve completely scrapping what's already done the way it would in stopmo, but only tweaking it. 

Or is it common for stopmption directors/producers to ask for changes after seeing a popthrough? I remember the setup Wes Anderson used for Fantastic Mister Fox, where he had a digital pipeline letting him see each shot as it was being animated and all the popthroughs etc - it seems like he might have asked for changes at that stage, or that's the impression I got. I also remember seeing popthroughs done for Corpse Bride, so maybe when stopmotion is done by a big studio using that kind of production model changes at the popthrough stage would make the process very similar to a CG process. At least if you do a popthrough first then making changes isn't as bad as animating the whole shot and then deciding to do it over (the way Harryhausen would have needed to do it, or one of us would in our home studio productions).

So it's not that CG 'suits' don't demand changes, it's that the new digital production process allows stopmo suits to demand the same changes at the same stage now. Which of course slows things down a bit.

I still feel like there's a basic difference though, because the stopmotion directors and producers are usually animators themselves (except for Anderson of course) and probably have a better feel for the animation than a Hollywood director or producer would. Does that mean a stopmo-oriented director or producer tends to be more sympathetic to the animators, or that he can maybe better visualise what it's going to look like? Who knows? But I do get the feeling from a lot of what I read that Hollywood directors think of the CG animators as just a team of flunkies for them to push around - I never get that feeling from stopmotion directors. 

I wonder how much of the fickleness has to do with producers willing to invest more money in animated films, and the assumption that big budget (even when misspent) means big returns. 


The only film I saw last year was PARANORMAN. The last time I watched the 'Oscars' ceremony was probably over 20 years ago.

I do hope PARANORMAN wins but, that's only because it will mean good things financially for LAIKA and that will provide more jobs for stop motion animators in the future. But when it comes to judging talent and ranking one film over another for some coveted 'top spot', I have no respect for that practice at all because there are loads of talented people on all these films who are worthy of an award and turning it into a contest is just foolishness fueled by ego & money.

The people working for LAIKA are not more talented than the people working for Aardman or visa-verse... you are all INCREDIBLY TALENTED people, equally deserving of praise and I think it should be left at that - in the eye of the beholder... not 'winners' and 'losers' as dictated by some finite group of people who are ego driven themselves.

These awards really only matter to the Executive Producers and owners of production companies... but I lost my ability to be 'star struck' many years ago and I don't think any stinking 'award' really says anything about the quality or level of talent of the artists who really matter in the making of a motion picture.

Many of the best and most talented people in the film industry have never won any award of any kind. In light of that fact, I vote for ending the practice of giving out any awards for 'best this' and 'best that' to anyone at all.

There are no nationally televised award ceremonies for 'Best Fireman' or 'Best Surgeon' or 'Best Teacher' or 'Best Soldier' THOSE PEOPLE give a hell of a lot more of themselves to their practice and the people they serve than any artist of any kind. So it's obvious, I place no value on 'The Oscars' more than I place any value on 'Best Virus' or 'Best Screw Head' or 'Best Cotton Candy Weaving' of the year.

The Oscars contest is about nothing more than beautiful rich people stroking each other, in response to that... I reach for the vomit bag. Just get it over with and I hope the stop motion world is rewarded with more jobs and greater funding in coming years. But take the gold statue and melt it down for scrap because that's all it's really worth.

Hear hear!!! Very well said! 

To choose one movie and say it's better thanthe rest is to ignore the fact that movies are complex and ultilayered, and all have different strengths and qualities. But people do seem to love to make lists and pick bests. 

Excellent reason though for wanting to see Laika win - there's no stopmotion studio associated with Frankenweenie that could go on and make more films. There's a danger too though - what's it called, when a director wins an Oscar and then never does anything of note again? The Oscar curse or something. Of course, I don't think that affects an entire studio, just directors producers and maybe actors. So as long as Laika keeps rotating directors they should be alright (I'm not really being serious about that). 

Hopefully, this isn't shades of things to come. BRAVE won the Golden Globe for best animated feature. Actually, I liked PARANORMAN more than any of the others, including BRAVE.

Some facts:

Tim Burton has never won an Oscar.

In 2010 both Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox were nominated for Oscars and lost to Up.

In 2006 Corpse Bride was nominated as Best Animated Feature but lost to Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were Rabbit.

2001 is when the Award for Best Animated Feature started

In 1994 Nightmare Before Christmas was nominated for Best Effects, Visual Effects but lost to Jurassic Park.

- Ron :
I agree about the "this-is-the-best-film-of-the-year" thing, I hope someday it will be different.

Anyway, I think my ranking would be :
1- The Pirates (funny, good story, great characters)
2- Paranorman (amazing animation, puppets and sets but some issues in the screenplay)
3- Wreck-it Ralph (good entertainment)
and far away..
4- Brave (did they really won an award for this ?!).

The only one I haven't seen yet is "Frankenweenie" and I'm not sure I'm going to like it as I saw the 1984 film and didn't liked it.

I swear they should just hand the Oscar to Pixar for their year's entry. UP deserved it but BRAVE did not. Here's Leo's rant:

2013 Oscars – Stop Motion Animation SHUNNED

yeah, i am disappointed to hear this too- but the nominations were encouraging- lets keep a little faith- WE know we are shifting the balance, three out of five nominations is a victory of sorts too.

this is the crest of a wave, not the face yet...

i hope. I guess. and am acting on this. Onwards.

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