Laika Combines 3D Printing And CG To Create Fascinating Animated Films

Almost anyone who cares about animation techniques knows Laika Studios, and although the output is small, each works is fascinating. They are constantly pursuing breakthroughs in production, and they are so impressed by the insiders. It combines advanced technology with the relatively old art of stop-motion animation to create an animated film that is completely unique in terms of audiovisual and sensation.

From “Coraline”, “Para Norman”, “The Boxtrolls” to “Kubo and the Two Strings”, each warks is challenging the limits and creating new breakthroughs. In the recently released stop-motion animation film Missing Link, bringing reality and illusion to a new height, which is the most complicated "mixed movie" that Laika has produced so far. Let us take you to Learn about the latest breakthroughs in this film!

Laika, from Oregon, USA, as one of the most creative and technologically stop-motion animation studios in the industry, once again gives "toy" life to reproduce the stop-motion animation’ imagic. From doll costume design, scene settings to computer animation, Laika has designed the 20,000-square-foot "stage" into a mysterious and beautiful country. With elaborate hand-made puppets, props and sets, the combination of stop-motion animation art and CG combines infinite imagination into a beautiful and joyful comedy adventure story.

Missing Link, written and directed by Chris Butler, tells a struggling investigator, Sir Lionel Frost, who, in recognition of the elite of the expedition, traveled to the Pacific Northwest to prove the existence of a legendary creature, Mr. Link. This is a missing link between primitive humans and modern humans. Then Frost and explorer Adelina Fortnight embarked on the adventure of finding a distant relative of Link. The filmmaker also specially invited a number of Hollywood movie stars including Hugh Jackman to voice the characters in the play.

The most notable feature of Laika's continuous breakthrough in technology is the “3D Printing” series. Utilizing the most advanced rapid prototyping technology, Laika has completely changed the stop-motion animation, presenting the exquisite hand-made puppets to the audience with an incredible expressiveness, not only refreshing, but also the image is exquisite.

In traditional stop-motion animation, animators only use relatively limited facial expressions to present the animated characters' movements, but through 3D printing technology, Laika completely changed the traditional pattern of stop-motion animation, and realized the number of animation puppets. The possibility of 10,000 kinds of performance.

Laika's stop-motion animated character in Coraline in 2009 designed 20,000 facial 3D printing. In the 2016 “Kubo and the Two Strings”, the number of production jumped to 64,000. In Missing Link, 3D printing technology also played to Important role. In order to meet the scale and geographical characteristics of the film scene, the film production has more than 110 sets, 65 unique locations, 106,000 3D printed face replacement parts, 531 CG assets, 182 CG characters and 47 for shooting motion control cameras with 1486 lenses.

These parts were designed with Maya software and printed in 3D using a Stratasys J750 3D printer and color resin material. They also placed a specially treated magnet on the back of each 3D print face. In this way, you can change the different faces to highlight the changes in the facial expressions of the characters in the play. It can be said that Laika is very prepared for this film.

Laika Rapid Prototyping Director Brian McLean said that many of our productions were based on repeated facial expressions in the past, and now with this technology and what we have learned, we have reached the point of actually shooting a specific animation, but this process needs Multiple steps. In this session, a CG animator needs to redesign through the computer Maya software, according to the storyboard and the director to communicate the plot, the action and the exact content of the need, through the computer to reconstruct the face production and then export to the 3D printer.

In Laika movies, fixed puppets have long been the main means of presentation, but visual effects technology has played a crucial role for many years. In animation, visual effects teams are involved from the start, working with puppet makers to ensure that their digitally created characters are consistent with real roles. In post-production, the team also retouched, for example, cleaning the lines between the puppet eyelids and the mask to make the character more humane. In addition to the special visual effects of natural elements such as water and smoke, Missing Link also has CG characters and scenes, such as a team of majestic guards or Himalayan ice bridges. Let's enjoy the highlights of the film behind the scenes.

Missing Link premiered in the US on April 12. The film's sophisticated production and legendary stories, have inspired countless people to yearn for nature, looking forward to onscreen in China!

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