'ParaNorman': Stop Motion With The Canon 5D Mark II

We've heard of entire theatrical films being shot with DSLRs before, but what about stop motion masterpieces? Usually they're handled by bigger guns like the RED EPIC, or IMAX cameras.  'ParaNorman', a stop motion animation film was released a few weeks ago. The film used over sixty Canon 5d Mark IIs to capture the 400,000 frames needed to create the movie. Since the movie was shot in stereoscopic 3D, the camera had to shoot both on the left and right side of the puppets.

The heavy workload was spread across five different teams and fifty units in LAIKA's  151,000 square foot studio. The studio considered the Canon a perfect fit due to it being lightweight and compatible with a variety of EF series lenses.

The story follows a young misfit boy who is forced to fight supernatural forces including zombies, ghosts and adults to save his hometown.

You can read the entire article via: Canon 


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This is so freaking cool!

lunga shezi's picture

Totally cool!

Chris Pearson's picture

The corpse Bride was shot using Canon 1D IIs. That was years ago.

Wonderful work!

Adam Cross's picture

Aardman's Pirates was shot using over 50 1D mark III cameras

So what you're saying is that somewhere there's a cut of Paranorman that's in 5K 3D.

Dont get me wrong, i think it's awesome...the process, the detail, all of it....but in the age of digital animation, isn't it a little unnecessary???  I mean, why would a studio pay for this amount of labor, when you could tell the same story with CGI, and the audience wouldn't know the difference...??  I agree you can tell a difference in stop motion/claymation vs. 100% CGI...that's not the question...the question is why even DO stop motion when it's prob far more cost effective to do CGI....??

David O'Connell's picture

To save an art form. Just because it's cheaper doesn't make it better. The same way with princess and the frog was animated instead of a Pixar film. 

You're correct that stop-motion costs more, but CGI is only more cost-effective because VFX and CGI artists aren't being paid fair wages for the level of skill required to create CGI films and effects. If and when that ever gets settled (or as technology advances even further and technical skills are worth even more) one can only assume the cost will inevitably balance out or tip the scale. It might cost more to make stop-motion, but there are more people in the credits of a CGI film.

Aside from cost, there's the matter of artistry, craftsmanship, and style. If you want to tell a story, you pick the medium that best suits the story you want to tell. Or, you're simply an artist with a love for a specific medium no matter what kind of story you are telling. To the artist, the creator, the storyteller, it's not about cost or effort or time - it's about the art! It's the same as saying why tell any story in motion at all when the great master painters could convey the full spectrum of the human condition in one image? It's silly to alienate a medium based on the mere presence and cost-effectiveness of another.

David Krug's picture

A couple things, the only stop-motion film I've heard of using a Red camera was actually Coraline, for Vfx plates. 

With an estimated budget of around $50 million, I'm not sure that CGI would have been very much cheaper if they held themselves to the same standard of quality. 

Last thing, I like how the press release mentions how the 5D works with Canon EF lenses, while providing photographic evidence that ParaNorman used Nikon glass.

I'm guessing they're using nikon AI-S glass not b/c it's any "better" or "sharper" than EF glass, but b/c it's manual focus....and the throw is very long and smooth on AI-S glass, so it's perfect for cinema applications...

David Krug's picture

I think you are right for the most part. Let's not forget that buying multiple copies of used Nikon Ais glass is most assuredly cheaper then purchasing a pallet of L series lenses. 

In any case, likely an upgrade from Laika's last film, Coraline, which was shot (with a different DP) using various Tamron and Sigma lenses.


showing this to my grade 2 kids... We just beginning the year and we are talking about adding detail in our drawings...they are super psyched about this!

Ultimate Animation!!! Thumbs Up!!!