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Posted at 11:40 AM ET, 07/23/2012

3-D printing and the art of ‘Paranorman’

While brushing his teeth, Norman pretends that he is a zombie in “Paranorman,” directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler, the new comedy thriller from LAIKA and Focus Features. (LAIKAInc.)
When it comes to innovation in animation, the tendency is to think digital — as in all digital, with films such as “Up” and the “Toy Story” series.

But one animation house, Laika, is taking a different approach, pairing the old and the new to create feature-length, stop-motion animation films. Recently, the Laika-produced film, “Coraline,” received an Academy Award nomination in 2010 for Best Animated Feature Film, and the studio has an upcoming film, “Paranmorman,” set to premier Aug. 17 in 3-D.

But 3-D filming is not the only 3-D aspect of the film. According to a Monday piece in Wired, the filmmakers also employed 3-D color printer to create the character’s thousands of expressions. Wired’s Caitlin Roper writes:

Thanks to interchangeable 3-D-printed facial components, Norman is capable of 1.5 million expressions. For the 27 characters with 3-D-printed faces, the rapid-prototyping department output 31,000 parts, which they stored and cataloged in a face library. 

Laika is in Portland, Ore., and is owned by Phil Knight, co-founder and chairman of Nike Inc.

Read more about the technology of Paranorman on Wired.

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