It’s now over three years since the film was released yet, although it might look like just another family animation film but the production of ParaNorman used some cutting edge techniques. The workhorse of this production was a bank of four very powerful 3d printers which were essential to production on the film. The film was created using a technique called Stop-Motion. This method was actually developed over a century ago and involves using puppet models that are moved slightly to create the next frame and the illusion of movement.
The method is very successful but incredibly time consuming mainly down to people’s expressions. To complete small movements in the facial expressions, traditionally each look would be sculpted from clay by hand. However for this film the makers – Laika used the printers. They had stored on computer a bank of nearly nine thousand 3d faces for just the main character. Playing around with the various combinations could increase the variations to over 1 million.
They are not the first company to use these sophisticated printers, the famous British company Aardman used them aswell. In fact their latest film – The Pirates used this technology extensively. Animators would select the expressions or looks that they needed then use the 3 printers to produce the finished product.
You can see how essential the printers are to these productions by the amount of work they have done. In all they used nearly 4 tonnes of ink toner between them. They were used a total of 572 days mainly printing out the thousands of facial impressions that are required in this production.
As for the film, it is excellent and well worth seeing. There’s a great little show on the Hulu site at the moment with more on ParaNorman. You ‘ll need to find way to change your address like a safe VPN – such as this to view though. This is because Hulu has now locked all it’s content down for visitors from outside the US. Don’t worry though it’s not that hard to use a VPN to hide your real location from the server.