For this Halloween season, we decided to catch up with one of our favorite creators, Neal O’Bryan. A year ago, we interviewed Neal about his stop-motion film project Toe, using the Sigma Art line.
Excerpt from Original Interview:
This week we have the opportunity to learn from a filmmaker who’s combining modern-day scares with traditional stop motion animation. As an artist, Neal O’Bryan focused his talents primarily on still photography before returning to filmmaking to combine his passion of the two. We eagerly reached out to Neal once we learned about him using the SIGMA Art lenses on his stop motion rendition of Toe, the classic American folklore tale made popular again with its inclusion in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book series. After hearing how enthusiastic we were about his project, he was more than happy to give us his take on this 18 month-long production.
Out of all the different styles of animation for this story, why stop motion?
Stop motion has always been of great interest to me. Growing up, I was in awe at works such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I can remember my older brother showing me Clash of the Titans and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad which were loaded with fantastic Ray Harryhausen stop motion. I’m very nostalgic when it comes to films, most of the movies I gravitate towards are from the 80s or older. I love the visual aesthetic of Universal monster movies, the storytelling of The Twilight Zone and the world building of Jim Henson. I find older films that make use of practical effects to be much more exciting and magical. Stop motion is a perfect medium for my tastes because everything is tactile and hand made.
How did SIGMA lenses help to execute your vision?
One of the perks of stop motion is you get to take digital still images which are much higher in resolution than standard video. That means each frame of our film can take full advantage of the dynamic range and sharpness of the SIGMA lenses. We knew we wanted Toe to have a rich, contrasty and textured look, and the Art lenses allowed us to capture that. The sharpness of the lenses showed every scratch in the wood and speck of dirt on the characters face. The F1.4 aperture was great for when we needed a shallow depth of field to give our film that gorgeous “cinematic” look.
CLICK HERE to read the entire interview
Update from Neal O’Bryan
Toe finished its festival run and we were honored to have been selected to screen at Raindance and Frightfest in London, Telluride Horror Show and even managed a showing at Chicago’s historic Music Box Theater. Toe is currently being streamed on Youtube by ALTER and Cranked Up Films and is available on Amazon Prime.
This weird short film taught us so much about stop motion animation and we fell in love with the process so much that we created a production company called Workshed Animation. By the end of making the movie we were itching to do something bigger and better. After taking some time off from filmmaking, we set our sights on a more ambitious project and significantly longer than Toe.
We are currently in pre-production for a stop motion feature film inspired by an Edgar Allen Poe novel which takes place on a 19th century whaling ship. We spent nearly a year reading as many textbooks and online articles pertaining to whaling, ghosts and superstition as we could get our hands on and are so excited to tell this tale. It’s a story that is large in scale but we have taken to the internet to find people to help us bring this vision to life. We have puppets being made from artists in the U.S. and abroad and are looking to expand our collaboration even more as we get closer to production. Our plan is to film the opening scene as a proof of concept and run a Kickstarter to raise funds for the rest of the film. We are also going to document the process of making a feature film on our social media accounts.