April 25, 2019

How Laika Studios Animates Their Movies

Laika has slowly emerged as one of the most beautiful and inventive animations studios. But how do they do it? They build everything...

Animation takes dedication and no one knows that as much as Laika Studios. They're the brains behind movies like Kubo and the Two Strings, Coraline, and Paranorman. Their new movie, Missing Link, is no exception. When you watch the movie or even the trailer, you can see the tender love and care put into every frame. Sometimes it's hard to believe that every second of the film has to be painstakingly handcrafted.

Even after seeing what a day in the life of a Laika animator entails, it can be hard to image moving each piece and setting up each shot, but director Chris Butler talked to Insider about all the work that went into bringing this movie to life. It involved years of labor by everyone on the crew and over 100 handcrafted sets to bring the world to life. 

What I love about Laika is how they're not afraid to add CGI to the stop motion to help sell the world. So many people are purists when it comes to certain aspects. They have no problem animating the foreground and using green screen and CGI for the backdrops. Or even pulling wide and doing it all CGI. As technology gets better this blend will continue to get more and more seamless. 

Butler talked to AMC about combining CGI and Stop Motion to sell the look and feel of the movie. 

"In stop motion, you’re normally limited by the size of your set and the size of your puppets. But now we’re not. We have a huge amount of set extensions and digital extras, but they’re all informed by the practical reality. Everything we build in the computer is informed by maquettes or sculpts or swatches of fabric. Everything comes initially from reality, from the practical assets. And that way we can hopefully not see the seams, because that’s what you want in the end. You want the audience to watch this thing and be sucked into this world and completely believe in it. We never want people to say, “Oh, I can tell that’s CG.” You don’t want them to think about how you made it; you just want them to care about the characters and what’s happening."

Another aspect I love about these videos is how, despite all the tech and celebrity, the story comes first. You can tell Laika trusts Butler because he's worked both on Kubo and Paranorman, so he not only knows what it takes to get things done but understands the dedication and years it takes to perfect things. Still, the emotional beats and emotional touches are what make these movies successful. 

Check out a full interview with the writer and director, Chris Butler, below! 

What's next? Learn your camera angles

Have you ever been overwhelmed at the possibility of every camera angle, framing, and shot type available as a filmmaker? Us too. So we provided a cheat sheet with definitions for you! There are so many camera movements and camera angles; it can be hard to keep track. To make film and television like the masters, you need to practice and learn the various camera movements, angles, shots, and tools.

Click the link to learn them all and use them in your movie!      

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1 Comment

Dear God... let me write the soundtrack for their next movie . . .

May 8, 2019 at 6:18AM

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Arnold Veeman
Music Composer | Film Editor
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