Ron Cole (Isomer) interview

Ok, here are the interview questions from Isomer (Ron Cole). Maybe if he quit taking interviews, we could finally see ITFOG.

1. Can you give a very brief description of how your puppets are controlled with cables?

The cable control system is the same sort of design that has been employed to create realistic live action puppets for years for characters like Yoda and E.T. The cables are fixed into the rubber on the interior of the puppets’ faces in numerous key places of movement for expression and the articulation of speech. The concept is simple, pull the cable and move the face, the devil is in the details of how to get it not just working but, to get it working RIGHT, so that the expressions feel natural.

2. What was it like to work so many years on a single project?

It just became a way of life. Mind you, many other projects that I do for money to pay the bills interrupted the work flow. Before going digital, not only was it much more difficult and expensive but also, I was unaware that stop motion and other hand crafted effects film were still appreciated by anyone other than myself. I could have continued working on it forever and been happy just to be doing it for my own enjoyment but, when I found SMA, the tone, pace, feeling, and reason for doing it all became far more important and meaningful to me.

3. What tool or product do you use that most of us have probably never used or even heard of?

Aside from my choice of urethane as my casting rubber, nothing I can think of really. I’m sure that most anyone who does this sort of craft would have no trouble finding their way around my shop. Dremel tool, plastics, wood, fabrics, foam rubber, paint, screws, nails and of course the hot glue gun (ouch!) Matter o’ fact, it’s more a question of what I DON’T have that may be the most curious thing! I get by with very little resources, (not by choice) I think the most important tool I own is desire.

4. You make a living making props for commercials and films. Where do you buy supplies locally and online?

One of the only fortunate things about living in New York as a crafts person, is that for most of the materials I use, I’m usually just a train ride away from the vast majority of things I need. I just need to order my casting rubber over the phone.

5. What movie, film, commercial etc did you work on that very few people know about?

MOST OF THEM!! TV commercials and print ads in the magazines have no credits so, I may as well not even exist as far as that goes. Ever see the dual color Dove moisturizing wash that was really made of plastic or the glossy Salem cigarettes sphere that looked as if it were being poured into existence out of two paint buckets? (didn’t think so) Half the stuff I busted my hump making in the thankless world of advertising got pulled from my hands the moment the props were finished without any chance to photograph them for myself! Ever heard of movie titles like Spookies, Blades, Amityville – The Curse, Mind Killer, Lone Wolf or Monsters the TV series? (didn’t think so) Don’t even get me started!

6. What is that one prop, painting, drawing, sculpture or other work that you did that you really thought turned out well?

A favorite? Hmmm, that’s a tough one… I’d have to say that a painted portrait a did a couple of years ago. It’s really odd because it’s not my favorite one that I ever did (know that sounds contradictory) It was for a lady who’s husband had passed away a year before I met her, after he passed she felt lost for his image because he had been camera shy and when he was gone, she had only a few photographs of him and they weren’t very good. She gave them all to me and asked if I could somehow create a proud looking portrait of him. I worked on it for weeks hoping I wouldn’t disappoint her… When I delivered it to her, she was speechless and in tears, I got it right.

7. What is something about you that most people don’t know?

OH BABY!!! What can I say to that which won’t shatter my image or get me arrested??? I am plagued by self doubt and feel wholly inadequate? (I think I just described most people so, I’ll move on) Here’s a bit of Ron Cole trivia that may not shock you, I’m often preoccupied with thoughts of invention. The invention I most often ponder and have little time to sketch or experiment with is a power generator that utilizes gravity alone as the source of it’s power. Now where have I heard that before? Hmmm.

8. You have talked about a world wide studio that people work from all over the globe on a project together. What are your thoughts on this?

Economics. Truth is, I’d still rather work with others the old fashioned way. But, the reality of the ability to work with others who are best suited for the task at hand, versus the otherwise impossibility of working any other way makes it worth it. It would be the most cost cutting method of pulling the right people together. For animated films, I think it could be ideal because the members of the team have little need to work simultaneously and when ‘real time’ is needed, that’s possible also.

9. What would like people to say when they leave the theater after seeing your work?

How did he do that? An element of the entertainment value of films was almost entirely lost when CGI marched in the door. Special effects and animation in general lost a great deal of it’s entertainment value the hand crafted arts got the boot from Hollywood. Even though I have been an effects artist for many years, I still look at the works of other artists with amazement and wonder. And it never looses its’ staying power either, I still look at that Dragon from Dragon Slayer, the miniature model effects in The Wrath Of Khan, the apes in Gorillas in the Mist (and a million more) and am blown away by the raw talent that make those things happen. I’d love to do that for somebody watching my film.

10. Write and answer your own last question.

Q.- Do you think realistic stop motion can or will ever be featured on the ‘big screen’ again?

A- Yes, in ways that are new and different. I’m seeing examples of those different visions coming to life already. Madame Tutli Putli is one fine representation of an entirely unique look and feel to a production. And especially now that the world expects a film to come prepackaged with a behind the scenes look at the making of a film, watching sculptors, painters, set builders, miniature costume makers and the animators themselves at work IN a fantasy setting while creating a fantasy world is now part of the show. That’s romantic and exciting, interesting and amazing, sexy and brave.

Once the audience learns to distinguish and appreciate (and they will) the desire for the naked reality and honesty of works honed by hand will reemerge. The words ‘phoney’, ‘synthetic’ and ‘imitation’ have long held a negative connotation. Technology is cold by contrast and there are way too many true artists patiently and impatiently waiting, for that call for talent to appears on their favorite message board… I have faith.

Thanks Ron, now get back to work.

One response to “Ron Cole (Isomer) interview

  1. Good interview! I love the work of this guy


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