In the realms of stop-motion animation, Tim Burton has been one of the leading pioneers in recent masterpieces, yet more are on the rise. From the production company that gave the world brilliant films such as Coraline (2009) and Corpse Bride (2005), LAIKA Studio will release ParaNorman on August 13th, 2012.
LAIKA chose the talented and interesting duo Chris Butler and Sam Fell to helm the film. This is Butler’s first directing position; however, he has worked on Coraline and the Corpse Bride as a storyboard artist and penned the script for ParaNorman. Sam Fell has directed films like Flushed Away (2006) and The Tale of Despereaux (2008). With the juxtaposition of these two brilliant minds of the animated world, ParaNorman will no doubt be an enjoyable film.
The film follows a young boy named Norman who has the grim ability to speak to the dead. Through a series of events, Norman discovers an ancient curse, which threatens to destroy his town. Thriving with bravery and generosity he realizes his destiny — to use his powers to fight off the forces of evil. The cast consist of Leslie Mann, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jeff Garlin, and Elaine Stritch. With the addition of such a talented cast, ParaNorman is gaining deserved attention worldwide.
In theory, stop-motion animation consist of clay figures that are moved and adjusted with each changing shot, but this is far from what LAIKA is introducing; what this company will bring to the table is far more complex and extravagant. With technology continuing to increase on astronomical levels, the stop-motion industry is using advanced technology to its advantage. Inside each animated figure consist an armature, which is basically a simple version of the skeletal system and bone structure of humans. Having the same joint movements as humans, the animators are able to maneuver and place the characters in realistic manners making them more believable to the viewer. Rather than clay, LAIKA uses a synthetic latex like material, which strongly resembles the complexion of human skin. The armatures are then placed into a mold where they are cast into different characters.
As technology and animation continues to co-exist, the brilliance behind the meticulous details strongly humanize these bizarre animated characters. The face is one of the strongest focal points to distinguishing if something is fake or realistic. To capture the most realistic manner, the minds behind the puppets created mechanisms to control each character’s facial features. The animators for ParaNorman are able to manipulate the strong facial expressions by placing armatures in the figures’ heads. These armatures are mechanisms and gears that control the different expressions of the face. Although they are incredibly useful, these heads are limited to the amount of manipulations and emotions they can express; therefore, the studio creates a plethora of different heads with various expressions allowing the animators to replace the heads of the more featured characters of the film to the appropriate facial expression for the scene. With the strong juxtaposition of technology and art, the stop-motion animation industry continues to thrive.
With the brilliant minds of LAIKA Studios, the creation of ParaNorman is sure to be a success. In a wonderful twist to this unique company, the CEO of LAIKA, Travis Knight, is heavily involved with not only the business side of the film, but also contributes to the hands-on development of the film. Impressively enough Knight is also the lead animator for ParaNorman. He goes above and beyond the duties associated with being a CEO and adds a unique touch to everything ultimately aiding in the potential success of this film and his company. I personally believe it to be awesome that the head of a major production company is actually putting a great deal of effort into the creation of ParaNorman; it isn’t everyday that the CEO is willing to step out of the business suit and dive behind the scenes.
Film lovers of all kinds should be interested and willing to see ParaNorman. From LAIKA Studios to the animation and the cast, strong signs point to the success of this film. Mark the date one your calendars, slamming into theaters August 17th, 2012, ParaNorman will make quite a splash.
‘ParaNorman’ Movie Trailer