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I have always had a tremendous fascination with stop motion and the use of practical effects in film and television. This includes the quirky holiday films of Rankin Bass and of course the Medusa scene in the 1981 film, “Clash of the Titans”.

Stop-motion animation made its first serious entry into the mainstream through the work of animator Willis O'Brien. The Lost World (1925), in which O'Brien mixed stop-motion dinosaurs with live actors, was a major hit, but it was his work on King Kong (1933) that took stop-motion animation to new heights.

O'Brien's greatest protege was Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen made a string of major films that advanced the art of stop-motion animation, including The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), and of course the Clash of the Titans (1981).

These laborious approaches to storytelling have been revisited over the years. Unfortunately, the advancement of camera technologies, digital applications and compositing almost pushed the stop motion technique into extinction.

However, over the last several years there has been a resurgence in the stop motion aesthetic and style. Laika Studios is one production house that is embracing this age-old approach to content creation and introducing newly discovered techniques and technologies.

They are enhancing stop motion by incorporating computer generated visual effects, the latest 3D printing capabilities and complex puppetry.

As a creative, I highly recommend studying the visual aesthetic of all four films.

The Technogy That Made Kubo and the Two Strings.

Baking Faces for ParaNorman

The Scale of Coraline

Discovering the Elements in the Box Trolls

Watching the films and the behind the scenes footage provides the audience with a better understanding of this incredibly time consuming process. However, getting up close and personal with the characters, sets, props and scenery are now a possibility.

Laika’s traveling exhibit, Animating Life: The Art, Science, and Wonder of Laika is currently making its’ way through the country. The most recent stop is at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon. This is a must for any fan or artist that is researching the most current trends in the stop motion approach.

The exhibit provides patrons with a look into the process of their visionary artistry and details on the history and birth of stop motion.

At the heart of every LAIKA film are the artists who meticulously craft every element. Through behind-the-scenes photography, video clips and physical artwork from its films, visitors will be immersed in LAIKA’s creative process, exploring the production design, sets, props, puppets, costumes, and world-building that have become the studio’s hallmarks. Their films are a triumph of imagination, ingenuity and craftsmanship and have redefined the limits of modern animation. - PAM

Cheers and keep creating!!

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