In the Fall of Gravity by Ron Cole

Ron Cole, the person who made the cable-controlled skull mechanism for the Chuck Liddell puppet in the Lipton Brisk ad, directed and animated In the Fall of Gravity in 2008. It’s a mesmerizing hand-crafted experience. The articulation in the face and eyes of his characters is nothing short of jaw-dropping; the eyes especially have a warmth and depth which I’ve rarely, if ever, seen in stop-motion. Despite the technical proficiency, it never becomes so slick that the hand of the artist is obscured–an issue I have with a lot of mainstream stop-motion animation. Ron has a blog about the film that is also worth a visit.

(Thanks, Warhead, for pointing out this film in the comments of the Brisk post)


  • http://scuzzbopper.blogspot.com Ken Priebe

    Ron is an amazing artist and really open, nice guy who loves talking about stop-motion, and lately has been one of the busiest guys in the stop-mo community. He has been hard at work creating an animated piece for an upcoming tribute event happening next week for the 90th birthday of Ray Harryhausen. Ron often pipes in to the weekly live chat shows about stop-motion hosted at AnimateClay.com, where you can find out more about this and the RH tribute.

    Ron’s work is also featured prominently in my new book ‘The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation’ which is now in stock on Amazon.com.

  • http://www.ryanmcculloch.com Ryan McCulloch

    This entire film was shot in Ron’s basement, it is amazing what he has achieved with such a low budget, he is going to be a a game changer in the stop-mo industry with his fantastic out-of-the-box techniques and ideas

  • http://wobblytripod.blogspot.com/ Ron Cole

    Wow, Thanks to everyone for the very kind words.

    This film was made for virtually no money and went through some agonizing phases of problems with terrible camera equipment and lighting. I started shooting this on 35mm print film which had horrible color changes from frame to frame which needed an enormous amount of correction (to the best of my ability) in Photoshop when I eventually moved into the digital world about half way through shooting this.

    I started making this in the years in which it seemed that stop motion animation was dead, due to the coming of CGI animation. But I just HAD to make it, this type of puppet making had never been done before and was pretty much a life long dream of mine to create. When the world of tactile special effects seemed to come to an end, my career seemed equally over – so I decided to make this film, just to do what I had always wanted to do… even if the only person who would ever see it would be me.

    Fast-Forward to today – when I find articles written about it on the internet… I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel. The computer which threatened to put an end to what I do, has turned out to be a pretty good friend.

    Thanks! -Ron Cole

  • http://patrickprine.blogspot.com/ Patrick Prine

    Masterful work all around , I have to say.

    Beautiful puppetry and the subject matter engaging. I can only hope this will inspire others in their respective fields.

    Thank you so much for giving this to the world.

  • http://www.gabrielaronson.com Gabriel Aronson

    What incredible expression! There is something very tactile about this film, that (as much as I love it) is somewhat lost in a studio production like Coraline. There is also something about it that feels very “Golden Age of Jim Henson”… Labyrinth, or Dark Crystal, or even the Storyteller Series. The 35 mm really gives it that warmth too.

  • http://www.electricminstrel.com Brett McCoy

    Ron indeed is a shining star in the world of stop-motion. Can’t wait to see what he does next!

  • Chris

    Amazing and Fantastic Film!!

    The well written profound and poetic dialogues with an extraordinary technique for stop-motion animation made this fantastic film and wonderful achievement

  • Warhead

    Mr. Cole is an amazing animator, worthy of attention by a site like this.

  • Brian O.

    Ron,

    Beautifully done, though I must confess I haven’t heard the audio yet. I’ve been admiring the visual performances too much.

    Ken,

    Loved your first book. Didn’t know you had an advanced edition out but it will go on my wish list!

  • marcoshark

    Ron,
    SO beautiful!!! I didn’t want it to end!

  • Iritscen

    Very impressive. I’ve always overlooked stop-mo in favor of 2D animation, but this makes me think I should pay more attention to claymation!

  • http://www.Picturetrail.com/hilligossnic Nick Hilligoss

    Nice to see the word getting out about Ron’s amazing work! I can think of only one other who has advanced facial control for stopmotion puppets to this degree – the brilliant puppetmakers McKinnon & Saunders – but they have a whole studio of skilled craftspeople to put on it. Ron does this on his own with almost no money, just skill, talent, and dedication. Ron makes do with Photoshop Elements for post-production because he didn’t have the budget for the full version, let alone After Effects or TV Paint, and yet he still sets new standards for the rest of us.

    And Ken, thanks for the heads-up, my order for your new book goes in right now! It’s been in my cart, waiting for the actual release, because I’ve found pre-orders can sometimes be left unfilled while new orders get despatched first (no need to mention the online retailer ;) ).

  • John

    I don’t know where to send this to you guys other than here. I don’t know if this has been posted here before. http://www.lettersofnote.com/2010/06/how-to-train-animator-by-walt-disney.html

  • JG

    This is pure wonderful.

    And very inspiring.

    Thank you.

  • Hoolio

    The animation is incredible, and I mean no disrespect but the film felt like a heavy handed lecture on the philosophical views of the filmmaker.

    Is it just me or are we seeing less and less films which understand and exploit the artform of film? Is work these days leaning more towards a focus on animation techniques, visual style, polish, and clever concepts?

    Not that these things arent important, and I would never claim that a film like this isn’t wonderful in it’s own right, just trying to open up a discussion about film as an artform and not just a platform.

  • http://www.sexymecha.com Hal

    Animation as a medium is so mired in being “entertainment” that independent films MUST be developed with no regard for the audience. Even if this feels heavy-handed to you Hoolio its good that animation get pushed this far in an intellectual direction – over-ambitious is the best negative criticism I can imagine.

    For me, the film is so focused on the two characters standing and TALKING that the concepts presented don’t take on a greater weight through the animation itself. I love how a film like WAKING LIFE allows its characters’ philosophical musings to permeate and distory the very reality of the film THROUGH animation – in that case the style and ideas were mutually inclusive. Unfortunately this film never transcends the physical world of the puppets and sets, despite the beauty and incredible work on display. Had the film pushed further into an abstract realm I think it could have been more profound.

    I’m not sure if that’s what you mean by the “artform of film” in this case Hoolio?

    Despite those musings, WHAT a fantastic stop motion piece! Even if its success is simply Art for Art’s sake, in an era when Stop motion is a dying form how great is it to see a film BEGUN IN 35MM and seen to its conclusion?

  • MadRat

    Bad:
    Minor jerkiness
    Characters seemed a little overly animated

    Good:
    Landscape had the expansiveness of a Roger Dean painting
    Architecture and setting have the otherworldliness of a modern Final Fantasy game
    Character design were at least as good as any by Jules Bass-Arthur Rankin
    Costumes had an authentic feel
    Dialog was well written
    Music was just right
    Facial movement were astounding
    Harliquin animation was very good
    I love puppet animation (I don’t care if that makes me biased it’s still good!)