There’s something magical about stop motion animation. All forms of animation and fascinating in their own ways but to me stop motion is something special. It’s a process whereby actual puppets magically spring to life on film through the grueling frame by frame work of animation wizards and among those magicians no one does it better than Laika.
Last night, Animation Insider was proud to have been invited to the Laika auction at Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills where we saw a great many amazing pieces of art which ranged from storyboards, development art, and actual sets and props to maquettes and fully articulated painted puppets that were actually used in the films Coraline, ParaNorman, and the Boxtrolls. Laika uses a process whereby they sculpt models with 3d software and then print them out on 3d printers so they can swap out multiple faces for different expressions. A laborious task to say the least.
A Focus Features rep (the distribution company for the animation house) was on hand giving a bit of details on the process and he told me that Laika used a new type of 3d printer for Boxtrolls and it’s pretty clear as you look closely at these newer puppets. It’s also very clear to see that they’ve learned a tremendous amount over the course of the three films because the level of detail on the Boxtrolls puppets is far greater than Coraline and ParaNorman and if you look closely you can see seams on the faces of the earlier film’s puppets but on the Boxtrolls ones, there were none at all that were visible. Still, all the puppets were beautiful in their own ways. The level of detail they put in their puppets and sets is astounding, and to think that the puppets are poseable is hard to believe. When you look closely you can see that the later models even have tiny eyelids that slide down over the eyeball, an engineering feat that baffles me. The cars all had working steering mechanisms and the headlights all turned on as well.
My favorite by far was the Boxtroll villain Snatcher played by Ben Kingsley. This beautifully sculpted puppet stood about two and half feet tall and when you consider it’s size it’s even more amazing that it can stand. It was painted with such detail that you could see the wrinkles on his fingers, (all bendable mind you) and even the shine on his nails. The auction runs until tomorrow so if you’re in the L.A. area it’s totally work visiting.
Heritage Auctions Beverly Hills
9478 West Olympic Avenue, Beverly Hills, CA