I love Coraline. Both the book and the movie. In fact, this whole fascination thing about Stop Motion Animation had started with the release of the movie, to be true.
Year 2009. Laika, LLC. had conceived Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. Stop Motion work, they had reported. Then came a Saturday and our regular visit to the theater, of course, Coraline on mind, with expectations very, very low. Popcorns and coke accompanied, just in case we doze off.
100 minutes later: Our popcorn bin still untouched, coke unsipped at and eyes glued on to the big screen. Wow, Laika! Whatta movie!
Hurried back home. And now the real research – What on earth is this Stop Motion concept? Googled a few things and found this – It’s ages old, may be even before I was born! Googled again, this time about the making of Coraline. 3D printing technique, okay. They literally printed each expression and each motion of every character, made them move around and then, filmed that. Now imagine the time taken.
About making a Stop Motion Animation movie:
You’ve got to profess 3D printing – a lot of it, Clay, wires and Lego should be your weapons fed by tons and tons of brain racking and imagination. You need to have a ‘set’, like that of motion pictures. Your little creations will be placed in certain positions upon that. Light up the area, fix a camera, take a shot, change the movements, take a shot again, change the movements again and do it over and over. Moving the figures is the biggest dare. It has to be bit by bit, millimeters by millimeters, and needs a lot of PATIENCE
After that, it’s movie making and video editing. And bingo! Your movie is ready! Sounds so simple, right? Well, it’s not really.
Laika: The evolution story:
Laika has evolved a lot since Coraline. There was Paranorman (2012) after that and now, the recent, Boxtrolls (2014). And every time, each one has come out better than the previous. Stories apart, the way these movies have been filmed is a challenge, a huge one.
It’s kind of an experiment. Whatever was learnt on the sets of Coraline, was given to Paranorman, and whatever Paranorman taught, has been applied to Boxtrolls.
“We tell stories in different ways” – the words of Travis Knight, the CEO and lead animator of Laika. With tags like -‘scary-movies-made-for-children’ nailed onto Coraline and Paranorman, the company has now laid it hands on an entirely different project. It’s an entirely different storyline with Boxtrolls.
While Coraline and Paranorman were more contemporary stories with modern set designs, Boxtrolls appear to be heavily influenced by the Victorian period. The result is less colors, gothic, a lot of gray, but equal effort. Coraline was decked with hand-knit miniature clothes while costumes for Boxtrolls have been sewn on an embroider machine.
As for the 3D printing department, while Coraline had each characters hand painted, Paranorman had used a 3D printer that could print the basic colors, Boxtrolls goes a step ahead and uses a printer that can print minutest of details with ease. This is evolution. And microartists are having to push it really hard. But then, computers plus human art equals magic, always!
Awaiting the next movie with all zeal. No stopping for Stop Motion now. Yay!