"Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase," a wonderful claymation from 1992

Joan C Gratz's animated short "Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase" is a lovely and trippy 2D claymation of iconic artworks transforming one into another. After spending a decade on the piece, Gratz won the 1992 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Gratz called her animation technique "clay painting." From Educational Media Reviews Online:

“Clay-painting” is a unique process that blends film and painting, and an innovation that garnered Joan Gratz’s Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase a 1992 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. In this true landmark of animation, numerous famous and iconic paintings from 20th century art are “reproduced as exactly as possible but the transitions between these paintings [are] used to communicate the relationship of artistic movements” as Gratz has stated. “In the clay painting technique, which I began developing in 1966, I work by painting directly before the camera, making changes to a single painting, shooting a frame, repainting and shooting, etc. In the end there is one painting with the process recorded on film, the product is the process.”

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MADtv's violent Rankin/Bass Christmas spoofs

Some of you may be old enough to remember these most excellent MADtv parodies of Rankin/Bass stop-motion kids' movies, and some of you need a pop culture elder like myself to point you to them. Either way, I think they're brilliant and hope they'll make you laugh as hard as I did when I first saw them. They're definitely not for little eyes though!

This first one is called "Raging Rudolph" (1995) and it's an ultra-violent, Scorsese-esque takeoff of the perennial favorite, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964):

After the success of the first one, MADtv came out with "Reinfather" a year or two later which, as you guessed, spoofs The Godfather:

In 1999, they aired "A Pack of Gifts Now," a take on Apocalypse Now. A bit of trivia on this one, Patton Oswalt pitched this skit when he was a writer at MADtv. They produced it a year after he left:

Now, all three of these were created by Corky Quakenbush of Space Bass Films. If you liked them, you'll be happy to know he made more in the spirit of the MADtv ones.

On this later one for Larry the Cable Guy, Quakenbush writes, "This is the cleaned up for television version. Jinno was tasked with digitally removing all the bloodshed we meticulously animated as well as us having to edit out 30 seconds of the senseless massacring of every virtually unarmed character from the original Rudolph special prior to rocket bombing Santa's castle..." That's Blake Shelton in the intro:

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Cool claymation video and tutorials for making your own

Alexander Unger is an animator and sculptor who makes excellent stop motion instructional videos (like this one on how to bounce things and this one on how to make things fly). Here's a recent claymation video he made, with great use of sound effects.

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Things I miss: Davey and Goliath

No one else thought a talking dog teaching us about God's love was weird? I kinda enjoyed these as a kid but always felt something was off... Read the rest

116 years of stop-motion animation in 3 minutes

Vugar Efendi takes viewers through a delightful survey of stop-motion animation from 1900 to today. How many of the 39 films featured can you name? Read the rest