Thursday, August 30, 2012

3D Printing Transforms Claymation on ParaNorman Movie

Claymation has come a long way since we were kids watching Pingu. In fact, the folks behind Coraline started a complete revolution in claymation by relying on 3D printers to create Coraline's faces, generating thousands more component pieces than could have been sculpted in the same amount of time. The time saved and the sheer volume of parts printed provided them with countless more possibilities for facial expressions than had ever been possible.

But back then, 3D printing was single-colour. Which means that all of those faces and facial components had to be hand painted. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Now with full colour 3D printing, the possibilities are even more staggering. For ParaNorman, the team behind Coraline moved to full colour printers which turned out to be yet another game changer: with the time saved and ability to mass produce parts, they were able to increase the number of possible facial expressions by orders of magnitude. Coraline could do an impressive 200,000 facial expressions using all her printed parts; ParaNorman is capable of 1.5 Million. MILLION.

Now that doesn't mean they printed millions of pieces; they generated about 30,000 parts which could be potentially assembled into that many different facial expressions. The process is referred to as "replacement animation".
Thanks to interchangeable 3D-printed facial components, Norman is capable of 1.5 million expressions. For the 27 characters with 3D-printed faces, the rapid-prototyping department output 31,000 parts, which they stored and catalogued in a face library. One 27-second shot required 250 different faces for a single character. (via Wired)
Deconstructed mask, component pieces laid out
Credit: Wired
The implications are staggering: facial expressions consist of micro-expressions and transitions. So we're talking about claymation films moving from jumpy expressions of the past, where transitions were just too difficult, expensive and time-consuming to produce, to fluid motion expressions mimicking those of real people. It's another giant leap in filmmaking. Brought to you by 3D printers. Wow.

See the process in action below:

1 comment:

Brooke Farlan said...

Technology is really amazing. Animations today are completely different from the ones in my childhood. But I gotta admit, these 3D cartoons are more enjoyable and they have better special effects that are truly awesome.