Behind the scenes at Laika’s wildly imaginative new stop motion movie, Missing Link

We take a peek behind the curtain at Laika, a movie studio dedicated to fusing high tech 3D printing techniques with the time-honored art of stop motion animation. Laika’s latest film, Missing Link, is its most wildly ambitious to date.

[Music] We’re outside at Portland Oregon at Lekha one of the most interesting Companies working in animation today Unlike traditional studios like I uses a Combination of stop-motion animation Techniques and things like 3d printing To create animated worlds that don’t Look like anything else out there ah Wait I don’t get it lucky us they’ve got A new film coming out and we got to hear All about it on the page this seemed Like not the kind of movie you should be Trying to make in stop-motion it was Huge and I think that’s why we decided To do it I think all that all the skills That we’ve learned all the innovations That we’ve made on the previous movies Are kind of set us up to make this one You’re the man for the job On this movie there’s so many little Things that you might not necessarily Notice but together they probably made This the most innovative movie that We’ve ever made the facial animation on Our previous four movies we reused to Kick system of faces so we would replace The faces onto the onto the puppets and We piece together dialogue sentences Using pre-existing faces on this movie We wanted more nuance we wanted more Subtle acting and the way we ended up Doing it was bespoke animation so that Each shot has its own specific faces

That are just for that shot and that Allowed us to come up with performances That were unique to that moment to that Thought that to that line of dialogue That’s something we’ve never done before But it has given the the animation add a Lot more complexity we’re using 3d Printing in a really unique way we’re Actually using 3d printing as sort of Our mass production tool where we are Mass producing hundreds of thousands Actually a hundred and six thousand Unique faces for the film missing link Like has started a technique back on the Film Coraline where we had this idea of Using this age-old technique of Replacement animation which was Typically done by hand sculpting Individual facial expressions and our Idea was to fuse it with 21st century 3d Technology we’ve actually gone through Four different types of 3d printing Technology we’ve started with PolyJet Technology made by stratasys which was Essentially a single color resin Printing but at the time Coraline in all The phases that we produced on Coraline Needed to be hand painted so starting on ParaNorman we moved to a color 3d Printer and that color 3d printer was Made by a company called z corp and it Was called the z 650 and it was powder Based printing and that technology was Our base technology for ParaNorman

Boxtrolls and the human characters on Kubo and the two strings starting on Kubo we we played around a little bit With this emerging resin color printing Was a Stratasys conics 3 machine and that Conics 3 machine allowed you to mix Three colors which was pretty limiting You couldn’t print the rainbow you sort Of had to choose what three colors you Were gonna mix shortly thereafter the Stratasys released the j 750 which Allowed you to put six colors into a Machine and mix them and come up with a Huge gamut of color and at that time the Software that stratasys was building to Run the machine was was pretty limited So we ended up needing to partner with a Research institute out of Germany called Fraunhofer and Fraunhofer had developed This advanced color 3d printing slicing Software called cuttlefish and that Unique combination and that unique Relationship allowed us to produce the Wonderful faces you see on missing link The requests from for the performance of Puppets as we’ve moved through each like A film is you know is incrementally more You know we speak about sort of puppets Taking a breath and living the materials That we landed on they work well with For the reason of you know they’ve got They’ve got range belt they’ll move Beautifully but that said when an object

Is made of something but it’s supposed To be something else ensuring that it Doesn’t look like that material it’s Something that we that we dial in and That that that has its own complexity I Mean if we look at link for example you Know he has all those fur pieces well He’s He has a kind of rubber suit if you like In foot for the main part and if those Four pieces kind of fold or buckle then That destroys the illusion and that Destroys the performance so even Something as simple as that you know to Actually arrive err and then put in Place for mass manufacture because That’s something that we also have to Consider quite deeply is it is really Something I believe stop-motion is still Relevant because it it really is the Quintessence of what filmmaking is and That is to me it’s real light on real Objects from an aesthetic point of view There is something about the tactility Of stop-motion that makes it compelling When we did ParaNorman angry Agee the Spirit girl at the end and she was a Combination of a stop-motion puppet and She had a CG dress and her facial Animation was 2d so she was a real Hybrid and I remember sitting with People and they couldn’t quite work out What it was that they were looking at Was it a puppet wasn’t it that’s what I

Like is when people are can arrive at it To this image on screen and they’re not Quite sure how we did it and there’s Something magical about that I am NOT a Stop-motion purist I love stop-motion I Embrace it and I think it’s it’s it’s my Favorite medium but in the end what I Want to do is put an image on screen That looks the best it possibly can and Really filmmaking certainly of this kind Is is telling a story and the hope is That you have an audience of people who Are compelled by the characters care About the characters and are sucked into That story and I certainly don’t want The artifice to take them back out the Story again that is a valid artistic Decision to make you can do that by all Means I love movies that do that but for Me that’s not what we’re trying to do We’re trying to tell a story and use Whatever means possible to get the best Image Bravo thank you [Music] You

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