“ParaNorman” Smears

Here’s something I’ve never seen before: sculpted smear models. Over the past decade, 3-D printers have transformed the art of stop motion animation, allowing for unprecedented subtlety and nuance in character animation. Laika has been at the forefront of exploring these new possibilities. This article in Variety discusses Laika’s use of rapid prototyping, and reveals that the new printers they used on ParaNorman had the capability to print out models in full-color. Wow!

(via Smears, Multiples and Other Animation Gimmicks)


  • Skip

    This post blew my mind. Looks like stop motion won’t be going away anytime soon.

  • Tredlow

    Wow, now I REALLY can’t wait!

  • Pete S

    This is super awesome, but it kind of makes me feel that stop-motion and 3D animation are going to merge completely at some point.

    • chris

      they have merged.
      they just avoid saying the term Maya in any press release.

      all these heads were modeled in Maya,
      and rapid prototyped out into the real world.

      a good amount of this movie is “computer generated”, just in a different way then Disney or Pixar.

      this time they didn’t even have to sand and paint the faces, or remove the seams! the whole face was done in maya coloring and all!

      • Britt

        Well, they didn’t have to remove the seams on THESE face models, but many of the faces were still split down the middle and required seam removal. (I’m not sure they didn’t sand them, either. From what I understand 3D prints come out a bit rough…)

        • Heather

          The bottom halves of the faces had to be removed and replaced thousands of times. It wasn’t a complete piece with a seam. There was no real way to remove the seam in real life.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1281687943 Mike Moon

            So how did they remove the seam? Even if they did in post, did they have to 3D track the face and paint over seams? Seems very hard.

  • wever

    O . O

    I love LAIKA now.

    They need to push stop-motion models to move like absolutely anything!

  • Joe

    Wow, innovation! You barely see that in animation anymore.

  • Pedro Nakama

    That’s cool! I remember reading years ago on “The Nightmare Before Christmas” how they used cotton on the edges of the character models to create motion blur.

  • http://www.iheartdan.com Dan

    I got to see an advance screening of the film just yesterday and it blew me away. There’s a sequence in the film that had me wondering “how the hell did they do that with stop motion.” The directors later explained that it was this sort of method that did it. Amazing film.

  • http://www.daganm.blogspot.com Dagan

    Whaaa, that is is AMAZING.

    This totally made my day. :)

  • Jerold Howard

    I’m really looking forward to this film. Congratulations to my friends at Laika, I’m sure it’s going to be beautiful.

  • http://sirrobrob.com Rob Shaw

    These are amazing. Just wanted to clarify that there have been a few stop-mo smears over the years. The ones I can think of off the top of my head are in some of George Pal’s Puppetoons. I still go back to those shorts for mind-blowing stop motion tricks. I want to say Screen Novelties has done it as well, but I could be wrong.

    • Paul N

      Vinton had a few in some of their work as well.

    • http://www.kirstenlepore.com Kirsten L

      Yea! Screen novelties did contruct smears! These are beautiful art objects :)

  • Aaron

    Dave Vandervoort deserves a lot of credit for designing the smear shapes and making them practical for the RP process. He’s a sharp one.

    • http://www.cookedart.blogspot.com Alan Cook

      Dave definitely deserves a good amount of credit for this sequence. But like anything in animation, this was a hugely collaborative sequence, with tons of artists contributing towards the way Aggie behaves.

      People I know of that were directly working on this scene containing the smears above, who contributed to the way she behaves and moves:

      Nelson Lowry, Ean McNamara, Adam Lawthers, Michael Laubach, Eric Urban, Rachel Larsen, Brian Van’t Hul, Brian McClean, Peg Serena, and myself, not to mention everyone in the VFX and RP teams.

      • http://www.davidvandervoort.com Dave V.

        Thunder: stolen. I’ll remember that, Alan.

      • http://www.cookedart.blogspot.com Alan Cook

        I love you too dave.

      • http://www.cookedart.blogspot.com Alan Cook

        I definitely wasn’t trying to diminish Dave’s contribution to this… the smear shapes and animation he did is phenomenal and everyone was striving to match what he did.

        Word up dave.

  • Mike

    This One Image Gives me so much respect for Stop Motion Animators. Cant Wait till I go see the film!!

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    At siggraph in Vancouver last year that seemed to the biggest latest thing; 3d printing. There were several exhibitors. In just a matter of a few years one will be printing nuts & bolts, lego, and a maquette of your animation model, at home.

  • http://ctrayn.tumblr.com/ ctrayn

    This is seriously awesome and innovative. Can’t wait for the film!

  • http://goodeaton.tumblr.com Tom

    And this 3D chocolate printer offers even more stop-motion possibilities!

    http://blog.doberman.se/clu/2012/04/24/chocolate-printer/

  • Professor Widebottom

    Things look better and better all the time in every medium. Too bad the same cant always be said for story telling.

  • http://olllyreid.com olly reid

    pfff we did that years ago!
    Never seen before…. kids today.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdCxqKdcw9E

    admittedly it was nowhere near as good, and it was for a crappy ad…. but we did it!