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Step Behind the Scenes at Laika, the Stop Motion Animation Company Behind 'ParaNorman'

03.14.13 @ 8:25PM Tags : , , ,

It’s one thing knowing that directors and actors can combine their talents (along with a whole army of folks working away behind the scenes) to have us suspend our disbelief and buy into their presentation of a character experiencing a particular situation. Succumbing to a well-directed scene isn’t that great of a leap from being sucked into a well delivered story told round a camp fire, after all. For those of us who aren’t animators by trade, especially the stop motion variety, there’s something of a black box mystery when it comes to the art of turning inanimate objects into living, breathing characters we can route for. That’s why it’s always a fascinating treat to get a peak inside the inner workings of a top animation studio such as Laika, who are responsible for compelling animated stories such as Henry Selick’s Coriline or more recently, Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s dark adventure, ParaNorman – for which Grow Film created a series of behind the scenes videos.

Firstly, for those who haven’t seen the film yet or need a refresher, here’s the trailer:

Here are a few of the BTS videos which, although promo pieces at heart, provide quite a bit of insight into the vastly labor intensive production process behind animated feature work:

I recently had a practical demonstration of the power of well-crafted stop motion when I showed my son Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie and he was a red-eyed, snot streaming, inconsolable mess for an hour after the credits rolled. “Throw it away daddy, I NEVER want to see that again. I HATE that film, it’s the WORST film I’ve ever seen!” was his blubbing review. I attempted to explain that if someone who’d never met him could make him feel that strongly for characters in a film in which models had been moved ever so slightly time and time again, then it was actually a pretty good film. Of course, he dismissed my reasoning with prejudice — the film had made him care and then rewarded that affection with loss. Regardless of the medium we may work in, if you can make people you’ve never met and know nothing about react that strongly to your work, then I’d say you’re firing at the top of your game.

Go on you can admit it, what films have penetrated your defenses and truly touched your emotional core?

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  • King Kong. That film hit me so hard when the big fella died.

  • Always. Didn’t want it to end. Laughed, cried. Still impacts even today.

    …ride off into the sunset…alone….again.

  • OMG! Who takes credit for this film, these animation artists and puppeteers or the director?

    • the guy who made the coffee…what does this strange question mean???

    • Being a director you don’t really tell people exactly what to do (i.e. you never take all the credit). You want people to be as creative as they can be, let them go off and do their own stuff, watch what they are doing and try to organize all that creativity to fit the overall goal of the film/commercial etc… Its a big collaborative process.

  • 8 1/2. Every time at the end, when the curtains open and all the people in Guidos life pour out to join in the circus in an impossible communion with that melody. Really it’s when that music swells up a little. It’s almost Pavlovian now.

  • thanks a lot Mar Belle
    we really need more BTS on NFS, Really ….

  • Nightmare before Christmas obviously! :D

  • Bushan Bengaluru on 03.26.13 @ 11:05AM

    Mind Blowing…

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