Chimp Magazine


Is 3d printing changing the way we do stop motion filming?

Stop-motion animation is an art! Humans have been making clay figures for a long time and filming them one frame at a time has been around since the start of the cinema. One of my favourite producers – Laika have definitely mastered the art of stop motion.

They have created figures with more than 20,000 heads and figures that were so huge(18 foot) that to lift one of its boney fingers required a lot of planning.

Replacement animation basically means they use different facial expressions to create a model that has more emotions. The more models they have the more emotion and control they have over the character. Animators fabricate hundreds of heads as an example so they can make the character smile, look angry etc etc This can end up with hundreds of different models. Now traditional stop motion is done by using clay and moulds which u can imagine takes a LOT of time and human error is always possible.

However Laika always take it to the next level. They made over 20,000 heads for Coraline, 52,000 for the Box Trolls and for Kubo and the Two Strings they created more than 22 million expressions. Now they wouldn’t of been able to do all this without the use of 3d Printing. Laika are getting more used to using 3d printers so they can create 22 million facial expressions with beautiful translucent colours. They achieved this by bringing in a team of external programmers to help with the job.

The team for Kubo and the Two strings mastered the art of rapid prototyping and 3d printing for smaller stop motion puppets. They didn’t think they would be able to manage it for their 18 foot Giant Skeleton though.. until they found a company that could print high density foam into any form!


Stop motion filming is mental anyways – imagine creating an entire film one frame at a time. The patience you need for something like this is on a whole different level.

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