Friday, October 24, 2014

Coraline: A Frame by Frame Process

With Halloween coming up, it’s fair to say that I’ve been celebrating in my own way by watching everything creepy and everything out of the ordinary. This being Coraline, produced by Henry Selick and Claire Jennings through Laika Entertainment (and Focus Features).
For those who are unfamiliar, Coraline (based on the title book by Neil Gaiman) is about a girl who hates her mundane life and finds herself being forced to move into this ancient old house by her parents. Inside, she finds a hidden door that transports her to a “perfect world,” where no one nags her and she can do as she pleases. Unfortunately, something sinister lurks in this fantasy and Coraline has to faces both her own and the physical demons that aim to harm her.
The reason I bring this movie up though, is for the sheer amount of work that went into making it. Every single frame is a stop-motion picture that captures three-dimensional puppets that are moved millimeter by millimeter so by the end of everything, a moving image is created. It’s a process that’s tedious and grueling, but exhibits a sense of refined mastery that could only be done through this type of claymation.
It's mind-boggling to see just how many people are dedicated to making the singular hairs move on one characters head, let alone the amount involved with crafting the universe. The fascinating thing about stop motion is that there are hardly any limits. With the power to manipulate anything and everything frame by frame, the animators have been given a means to do exactly what they want (and as they please). As Selick puts it, "the miracle of stop motion is it's an actual performance through the puppet by the animator."

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