Art & Sculpture

Stratasys sponsors homage to LAIKA studios and 3D printing in animation

3D printing is currently one of animation’s unsung heroes. Stratasys is now shining a spotlight on the technology by sponsoring an exhibition highlighting the role of the technology in LAIKA studios’ stop-motion animation films.

The exhibition, at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, is a retrospective of LAIKA studios use of 3D printing in their animation films. These films include Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, and “Kubo and the Two Strings”.

The production company’s director of Rapid Prototyping, Brian McLean, won a Scientific and Engineering Oscar in 2016 for pioneering Rapid Prototyping in character animation.

The Stratasys j750. Photo by Michael Petch.
A Stratasys J750, used in by LAIKA to create animation prototypes. Photo by Michael Petch.

3D printing and stop motion

LAIKA studios uses Stratasys Connex3 and Stratasys J750 full-color, multi-material 3D printers to continuously create, modify, and re-model functional prototypes and characters.

Rich Garrity, President of Americas at Stratasys was proud of the variety of industries in which the Stratasys’ machines were used, stating that “the studio capitalizes on 3D printing for unprecedented design freedom, streamlined development processes, and creation of the most unique, custom characters”.

“LAIKA’s advanced use of our 3D printing technology is not only breaking new barriers in film-making, but expanding what’s now possible across 3D printing in general to encourage use across a diverse range of businesses.”

Commenting on the importance of 3D printing in animation, Brian McLean said that “by harnessing the power of 3D printers, we are able to create emotions and subtle facial performances never before seen in stop-motion animation.”

While the rapid turnover and level of detail of the Stratasys machines is significant, the most important tool for an animator is the ability to create a model in a single print with very little need for finishing in the form of painting, resin casting, sanding or re-assembly.

A Scene from Kubo and The Two Strings. Credit: LAIKA Studios/Focus Features
A Scene from Kubo and The Two Strings. Credit: LAIKA Studios/Focus Features

The many faces of stop motion

LAIKA’s latest film, Kubo and the Two Strings received an Oscar nomination for visual effects, many of which were prototyped using Stratasys 3D printers

3D printing has brought new animation capibilities to a number of a number of stop motion film makers. London-based DBLG is pioneering new visualisations of 3D animation, while Protocube has produced a specific workflow for multiple stop-motion animation face-sets.

Animating Life: The Art, Science and Wonder of LAIKA” runs at the October 14, 2017 – May 20, 2018

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Featured image shows a view inside the LAIKA studios with 3D printed animation prototypes. Photo via LAIKA studios.