LAIKA Uses 3D Printing For New Stop-Motion Adventure, “Kubo and the Two Strings”

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2_laika-10yrOf all the different forms of entertainment available to us here on Earth, nothing captivates my attention quite like a well-made stop-motion film. The intensive and fantastical form of cinema has found 3D printing technology to be a beneficial ally, using it to bring their animated ideas to life. In the past year, we’ve seen esteemed director Charlie Kaufmann use 3D printing to create the faces for his characters in the film Anomalisa, and prior to that, 3D printed goblins were gracing the screen in the stop-motion series House of Monsters, which featured the voice of actor Christopher Lloyd.

It’s evident that this emerging technology is making its way in Hollywood, and now, 3D printing has become a staple in the newest stop-motion film created by the American cinema studio LAIKA. Known for their animated films, such as Coraline and ParaNorman, LAIKA has turned to the extensive 3D printing knowledge of Stratasys to help create a puppet for their latest animation, Kubo and The Two Strings. One of the film’s feature characters, named Moonbeast, will be entirely 3D printed from 850 individual exterior pieces, as well as an internal armature of 250 parts. The flying character Moonbeast, which is voiced by actor Ralph Fiennes, will be the studio’s first-ever fully 3D printed character.

In addition to this fully 3D printed puppet character, LAIKA has also heavily relied on rapid-prototype face replacement printing, which earned the studio an Academy Sci-Tech award. With their ‘RP’ printing, Kubo‘s characters will feature over 22 million different facial expressions, far surpassing their previous capabilities of 1.5 million. In order to use 3D printing technology to its full potential, the studio turned to Stratasys and their R&D facility in Israel to bring the many facial expressions to fruition. Aside from their use of 3D printing, the studio also utilized other unique techniques to create their puppet characters, such as origami and feathers.

Director and animator Travis Knight

Director and animator Travis Knight

“We found a new way to print with plastic [for the non-human characters],” said Brian McLean, director of RP printing. “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.”

kuboThe film, which features voice acting from Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, and others, is scheduled to be released in theaters on August 19, 2016. Kubo and The Two Strings will mark the directorial debut for LAIKA’s CEO and lead artist Travis Knight. According to Knight, the film follows the emotional story of a boy named Kubo, and all of the zany creatures and friends that inevitably become his surrogate family.

The stop-motion film is set in a mythological version of Japan, and is essentially conjoining Western and Eastern themes into a heart-warming and colorfully animated journey. Ultimately, Kubo and The Two Strings also mends together the traditional form of stop-motion film and new innovative techniques that have been enabled in part thanks to 3D printing technology. You can check out the trailer to LAIKA’s newest film below! Discuss further in the LAIKA & 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Indie Wire]

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