Looking for a little inspiration? Check out Mark Shapiro’s totally amazing class from AU 2014 and step into the world of stop-motion animation. Mark heads up marketing and brand management at LAIKA animation studio in Oregon, the brilliant minds behind the films Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls. In this hour-long class, Mark takes us inside the 2-and-a-half-year production of The Boxtrolls.
Stop-motion works like a flip-book, blending together millions of single-frame shots of 3D puppets, props, and sets, each of which are manipulated painstakingly by hand by the animators. It goes like this: tiny move, click; tiny move, click. (Then repeat about a billion times.) Stop-motion has a tactile quality that you don’t get in movies that use pure computer-generated imagery (CGI) (not that we don't love you too, Nemo). LAIKA does use CGI to enhance some of the effects in The Boxtrolls, but all the characters are real. (Well, real puppets.) Using Maya and 3ds Max, the artists and animators created every element of the production, including sets and puppet costumes, hair, and facial expressions, which can be switched out on the puppet bodies as needed. For the main character, Eggs, over 1.5 million different facial expressions were created and 3D-printed. Holy guacamole, that’s a lot of moving (or removable) parts.
It’s really an incredible process, mind-blowing and inspiring, and totally makes us want to get creative. But don't take our word for it. To experience the magic yourself right now, watch Mark Shapiro’s class, Inside The Boxtrolls: The Hybrid of Stop-Motion and Visual Effects in LAIKA's Third Feature Film.