No matter how good technology gets at recreating reality within animation, the art of stop-motion will never lose its charm. Having persisted for nearly 100 years since The Adventures of Prince Achmed, the first ever stop-motion film, the medium has been used to convey every type of drama from the spooky Nightmare Before Christmas to the goofy comedy of Wallace and Gromit.
That’s why, even in this age of computer animation, when you can create a virtual character and program its movements so precisely, folks are still opting to produce films using stop-motion. The newest incarnation of the technique can be seen in ParaNorman, a film by Laika, the studio that created Coraline.
For this new work, Laika has adopted a new method of capturing the vastly varying facial expressions of its characters. They used 3D printing technology to create 31,000 for 27 characters, allowing each of them to express a range of emotions. In light of the development, the process of stop-motion is still painstaking, but it ensures a level of uniformity that equates to high animation quality in the finished product. Every movement in the film is still handmade. It just has a little bit of help from some cutting-edge machinery.