ImageParaNorman is a stop-motion animation about an 11 year old boy who can speak to zombies and ghost. . More than 300 people at LAIKA animation studio are responsible for bringing the film’s hero, Norman Babcock, to life. To animate the faces, they’ve taken advantage of rapid prototyping (i.e. 3D printers) to produce thousands of tiny faces, from the most subtle changes of expression to the most extreme. LAIKA haven’t shied away from using some CG effects, but the digital effects team works extremely closely with the other designers to ensure that everything has the same look and feel.

ImageThe animators at LAIKA pioneered the use of rapid prototyping colour 3D printer. It allowed them to unite the versatility in design and mechanics of CG with the richness and solidarity of a physical object. Effects like the translucency of human skin can be seen with a process like this.

ImageTraditionally in a typical stop-motion animation, the individual facial expressions would be sculpted by hand out of clay, however with ParaNorman, they built up a library of 8800 3D printed faces for the main character and that gave him about 1.5 million different expressions. About 3.77 tonnes of printer powder were used by the four printer that were working on ParaNorman. They worked a total of 572 days, churning out faces from the lower eyelids down to the chins of the main characters.

ImageImageI think this 3D printer thing is pretty cool. LAIKA studios experimented with it when they did Coraline, however with ParaNorman, they are taking this rapid prototyping to whole new heights.