Monday, August 13, 2012

"ParaNorman" Breaks New Ground in 3D Modeling

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time.  Animation studio Laika is rolling out ParaNorman this Friday, and just in time for the premiere is this article in Variety about the studio's unique and groundbreaking techniques in the realm of stop-motion animation.  

While the principles of the medium have changed relatively little from the days of Claymation and Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, one big change that made my jaw drop was this:

These are smear models (animated images used to imitate motion blur) created using a special 3D printer called a prototyping machine.  In short, hand-drawn images can be printed out into full-color models that can be placed onto the character maquettes and filmed. The final result is a range of expression that is unprecedented for the traditionally pantomimist style of stop-motion.  For comparison, on Coraline, the studio had around 200,000 different expressions for the title character, but Norman has closer to 1.5 million faces at his disposal! 

This is a great example of more traditional animation styles adapting modern technology in a way that furthers the art form without abandoning the fundamentals that make it appealing in the first place.  Just imagine what computer modeling will be like in a few years and what it will be able to do for films like this!  This is why everyone needs to go see ParaNorman after it comes out this weekend.  Seriously.

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