PARANORMAN: The Magic of Stop Motion

By Dina Ginzburg

Stop motion is oldest and the most difficult type of animation. It was first used back in 1897 in a film called THE HUMPTY DUMPTY CIRCUS. Since then, it’s been used in movies, cartoons and even commercials. The process is long, difficult and often tedious. With CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) becoming more and more advance, why do people still go through all the trouble of stop motion?

No matter how great CGI is it can never achieve the realistic look of textures that stop motion can because with stop motion, the animators are using actual puppets wearing real clothes and moving through mini movie sets. To create a stop motion film, animators will first make all the puppets, costumes, accessories, props and sets, similar to how it would be done for a live action movie, except a lot smaller in scale! They will then set everything up and physically move the puppets, taking pictures called “frames” each time the tinniest movement is made. Usually about 24 frames are used to create one second of footage, so you can see why it’s so time-consuming!

PARANORMAN, the latest stop motion film, will premiere later this month. Laika, the studio that produced the movie, used a very specific type of stop motion called replacement animation.  All the puppets in the movie have hard faces that don’t move. To animate their faces, hundreds of molds in different expressions have to be made using a powder printer. The printer uses a thin layer of powder instead of ink to produce an image. Eventually the powder builds up and creates a 3D image. These new faces are then snapped on and off the puppets for every single frame to change their expressions. It takes 12-24 different molds to make up one second worth of an expression or emotion. Over 31,000 different faces were printed for this movie.

We’re super excited to watch PARANORMAN. It’s amazing how much work went into the movie and judging by the trailer and the info found on paranorman.com, the film will be the perfect mix of a spooky story and amazing visuals! PARANORMAN hits theatres August 17th.