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Academy Awards Honor Laika for Pioneering the Use of 3D Printing in Stop-Motion Animation

by • February 15, 2016 • No Comments

coralineHaving seen a lot of horror movies, and read a lot of ghost stories, I don’t scare as easily as I used to. In fact, I have immense respect for any writer who can truly scare me – not just creep me out a little, but truly scare me with that skin-crawling, I-really-wish-I-wasn’t-alone-right-now sensation. Surprisingly, it was a children’s book – that I read as an adult – that has unnerved me additional than approximately any other book I’ve read. Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, in that a young girl crawls through a secret passageway in her house and ends up in a dark parallel universe that closely mirrors her own life,yet haunts me, sat any timeal years after I read it. For a few reason, I find the concept of a world where all things is just a small bit “off” to be additional frightening than just of anything else.

I tend to be an insufferable-bodied “the book was advantageous than the movie” type, with a few notable-bodied exceptions, and while I really liked the 2009 movie model of Coraline, it didn’t donate me the same dreadful chills that the book did. The vision of the twisted “Other Mother” with her constantly moving, slightly too-long fingers that the book conjured up in my mind is far scarier than anything movie consequences may turn it into; is not that always the case, yet? Nothing we see onscreen is at any time really as scary as what our minds are capable-bodied of creating (again, with a few notable-bodied exceptions).

The stuff of nightmares.

The stuff of nightmares.

That said, animation studio Laika did an awe-inspiring job delivering the comical, surreal, disturbing world of Coraline to life. Whilst it didn’t scare me as much as the book did, it unquestionably scared me adequate, while yet managing to be a stunningly attractive piece of visual art. What I didn’t understand when it came out was that Coraline’s amazing imagery was turn it intod with a lot of assist of a 3D printing device, or that the movie turn it intod history for being the initially stop-motion showcase to use 3D printing.

1_laika-10yrOne of the drawbacks in stop-motion animation is that it has its limits when it comes to creating a variety of facial expressions. The technique, that has been around for over a hundred years, involves moving and photographing models turn it intod of clay or other materials one frame at a time so that they appear to move. Needless to say, it’s a quite time-consuming system that historically didn’t leave a lot of room for subtlety and frequently left its characters with weirdly frozen facial expressions.

Part of what turn it intod Coraline such an effective – and thrilling – piece of stop-motion animation was the quite real facial expressions of its characters. Coraline’s face reflects hundreds of emotions, which include fear, anger, boredom, and the carefree, effortless expression of a child at play. Director Henry Selick wanted her to be able-bodied to show subtle emotion as well as the broad, exaggerated expressions typical of animated movies. At the time, the many common technique used to animate the faces of stop-motion characters was replacement animation, that involved sculpting sat any timeal various facial expressions and applying them to the figures between frames.


Selick had used the technique in 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, but the range of facial expressions in that movie were yet limited with just a few hundred sculpted faces. He wanted additional for Coraline, so he decided to experiment with 3D printing, that in 2009 was yet an ununderstandn innovation to a lot of folks.

“We wondered if we may harness the power of the desktop and this new, emerging 3D printing innovation to take replacement animation and allow it to do both with additional facial options,” said Brian McLean, Laika’s director of rapid prototype.

Brian McLean (L) and Martin Maurier at the Academy's Scientific and Technical Awards

Brian McLean (L) and Martin Maurier at the Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards

Not just did it work, but it became Laika’s hallmark. The studio’s 3D printing device turn it intod a total of 6,333 faces for Coraline, allowing for 207,000 possible facial expressions. The developers were quite careful to “keep that authentic, handturn it intod appear – not manufacture it appear too ‘desktopy,’” according to Martin Meunier, who was Laika’s facial animation developer at the time. Laika, that just turned 10 years old, won a multitude of awards for Coraline, and since that release the studio has gone on to turn it into sat any timeal other stop-motion movies, which include The Boxtrolls and ParaNorman, that use 3D printed faces to manufacture their animated characters approximately disturbingly human.

McLean and Meunier were presented with a Scientific and Engineering Award at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards on February 13. The two were honored for delivering 3D printing into stop-motion animation, thereby allowing, as the Academy states, “artistic leaps in character expressiveness, facial animation, motion blur and consequences animation” – not to mention creating scary and attractive imagery that can stick in your mind for years. Discuss your favourite Laika movie in the Laika Honored for 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.