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Here is their latest production focus article detailing Laika's premiere achievement Coraline!
Stop Motion has a new face in Henry Selick’s Coraline, a story based on the award winning book by Neil Gaiman about a little girl who finds a secret door to an “Other World” much like her own, but better… or so it seems. The first stop motion filmed in stereoscopic 3D (S-3D) during production, Selick wanted to tackle an even bigger accomplishment: creating a true stop motion film with the smooth facial transitions of CG animation in a hands-on medium.
The answer to this quest was to use replacement animation, where one stop motion puppet face is progressively swapped for another slightly different expression with the needed smile, frown, or appropriate eyebrow position. This method is not new, but the effect is a bit choppy- often desirable for a hand made look, but has never before had all the in-betweens that Selick wanted. However, sculpting those thousands of expressions by hand would have taken years to complete. To keep the budget and timeline intact while creating stop motion animation so smooth you could read Coraline’s lips, production studio Laika creating blend shape CG face models that were output through rapid prototyping (RP).
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