Comment by StopmoNick on November 18, 2013 at 4:49pm

A bit of retro stopmotion.  Somebody posted this at Youtube under the title of Prehistoric Australia, but is in fact the half-hour doco Once Upon Australia I made at the ABC Natural History Unit in 1990-93.

It was shot on my 16mm Bolex without benefit of framegrabbers, surface gauges, or indeed much experience at animating, and it shows.  I'm happier with the sculpting than the movement!  But possibly it might be encouraging to beginners, showing it is possible to get better.  For me, it was like a crash course in solving a huge number of problems that you are likely to come across as a stop motion animator, and I still find I use many of those solutions today.

Comment by Stanley Milton Strawn on November 19, 2013 at 4:08am

Pretty funny. An amazing amount of model and set work, very nicely composed miniature sets-nice use of timelapse stock footage(?) too...Amazing also is the fact-wire armatures in everything? and no frame grabbers...I never got this kind of use out Bolex's but it brings back memories...

Thanks for letting us see this Nick!

Comment by Dennis on November 19, 2013 at 6:17am

Plugged my old PlayBook into the tv and watched it.  Really enjoyed it.  Great scaly and furry little woodland creatures.  And, pretty good animation for a "beginner".  Thanks for posting.

Comment by Jack Liddon on November 19, 2013 at 2:23pm

I don't know, that's pretty fantastic looking stuff, Nick. I can only imagine how much more complex it would be using Dragonframe and a motion control camera. The sets and puppets are really beautifully done and the whole thing has a Harryhausen feel to it. Although, your puppets don't look as rubbery as Harryhausen's.

Comment by StopmoNick on November 19, 2013 at 4:01pm

I used wire armatures with 2 exceptions - the legs of the adult flightless bird Dromornis were balljointed, which improved the walk enormously.  And the Allosaurus hatchling had jointed legs too, but as it only staggered out of the egg, fell over, then got up and squeaked while standing in one spot, I didn't get so much value out of those.

Got the dates slightly wrong, I was working on this when Jurassic Park came out so start and finish times were a year or two later.  If JP had been released before I started, it never would have happened, I got it commissioned when stop motion was still the best way to bring dinosaurs to life.   At roughly the same time, but a few months ahead of me, Norman Yeend and Grahame Binding were making their doco Muttaburrasaurus, shot on 35mm, and with jointed armatures and much better animation.  Originally I was going to do a dinosaur film, but I kept finding that the limited number of Australian fossil finds were already being covered by Muttaburrasaurus, so I had to change my focus.  

Since I was in the Natural History Unit of the ABC, I had access to plenty of stock footage.  I had 22 minutes of actual animation in the full version, which was made for non-commercial television and didn't have to leave room for ads.   

Comment by Renaka on November 23, 2013 at 3:21pm

This is amazing work.  I'm literally a newbie here as of a few days but I'm beside myself with awe at whats possible.  Seeing your early work is really inspiring. thanks for posting. Your youtube tutorials are really inspiring too, since I was feeling really overwhelmed with the prospect of making full molds and baking them just to make my figures starting out.  


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