Jul 4, 2016 | By Tess

Oregon based animation studio LAIKA has been a pioneering force in terms of 3D printed stop-motion animation. With popular films like Coraline (2009), Paranorman (2012), and The Boxtrolls (2014), the creative studio has established itself not only as a maker of inspiring and fun-loving animated films but has impressed with its technical abilities, even taking home the 2016 Oscar for Scientific and Technical achievements. With their latest film Kubo and the Two Strings, set to be released this August, LAIKA has done it again with even more 3D printing and detail than ever before.

Set against the backdrop of ancient Japan, the film tells the story of Kubo, a young boy who embarks on an amazing adventure with two sidekicks to save his family and find out more about his long-lost father, the world’s most famous samurai warrior. Even based on the trailer, the film looks exciting and fun-filled.

For us here at 3Ders though, the most fun comes from behind the scenes, where the people behind the animated film have worked for years to bring the characters, sceneries, and story to life. Like with their previous films, 3D printing has played a large part in Kubo and the Two Strings, as Laika has used the technology (along with many other processes) to physically create their films. That is, with a team of over 65 designers and craftspeople, Laika physically builds and creates every set piece and character you see in the film before even commencing the stop-motion filming process.

While Laika’s stop-motion animation is undeniably at the fore-front of the medium, one of their most notable qualities is the impressive range of facial expressions that their characters can portray, achieved with rapid-prototype face replacement printing. In Paranorman, for instance, Norman’s face was made up of about 78 individual pieces and over 40,000 different facial expression masks were 3D printed for the character. Their most recent character Kubo, with a combination of 66,000 3D printed face pieces and a complex facial rig, is reportedly capable of over 22 million different facial expressions, an impressive first for the animation studio. For the faces, Laika has used a powder based 3D printing technology.

Director Travis Knight

The most notable print of the film is undoubtedly the character Moonbeast, a giant tentacled sea monster voiced by Ralph Fiennes. In fact, Moonbeast marks Laika’s first fully 3D printed character in one of their films. The impressive character prop, which spans over three feet in size, is made up of 850 3D printed exterior pieces, and 250 internal armature pieces, which allow the 3D printed creature to be moved.

For Kubo and the Two Strings, Laika studios partnered with Stratasys, who with their state-of-the-art additive manufacturing systems and 3D printing know-how were able to offer the animation studio a more advanced way to create plastic parts and pieces for the film. As Brian McLean, director of RP printing at Laika explains, “We found a new way to 3D print with plastic (for the non-human characters). We reached out to Stratasys and collaborated with their R&D in Israel. With access to new software and hardware, we reached a [greater] level of color and sophistication in a plastic-printed 3D part.”

The film, which also stars Academy Award winners Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey, and Game of Thrones’ Art Parkinson as Kubo, will hit theaters on August 19th. Be sure to check it out to see Laika’s latest feat in 3D printed, stop-motion, and CGI combined animation.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Charles wrote at 7/5/2016 5:28:57 AM:

Please don't spoil it. I want to see it fresh in theaters.

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