How a Top Stop-Frame Animation Studio Gets It Done

The stories told in stop-frame movies usually tap into our childhood imagination. Even though we know the characters are represented in a fictional way, they're able to make us believe and experience the story with the characters.

Laika Studios have done some of the best stop-frame animated movies ever, and they're not planning on stopping (the framing) soon. "Missing Link" is their latest film that was released in April this year. 

What Impressed Me About Laika

They build large sets, spend a lot of time on each character, and they also have a perfect size for a puppet. For the movie, they had to produce 106,000 faces for the puppets and 110 sets. They incorporate rigging with green screens, but the puppets aren't animated by CGI. The rigging and keying is used to make it possible to actually move an animal. When a scene is shot of a horse running, it needs to be suspended in the air.

The Use of Modern Technologies

  • The studio is incorporating modern technologies to make stop-framing better, not to replace it. They like the realness and imperfections of a physical character. I do too. 
  • They do it at scale. For a company that started in 2005, they've taken on and succeeded with some big productions.
  • They are only getting started.

Final Notes

Watching Chris Butler passionately talk about his movies and how they're made made me think of how it must've been for him to tell his parents that he was planning on becoming a stop-frame movie director. It's a perfect scene, and the reaction must've been memorable. Now, if I had to have told my parents that I was going to become a stop-frame animator, they most likely wouldn't have known what it was.

Log in or register to post comments

4 Comments

Spy Black's picture

Not sure I'd ever have the patience for stop motion, although one could have a lot of fun with it.

Doug Birling's picture

I had to stop and reread the title just to figure out what it was trying to say... it's very clunky. An easier read would be,

Stop-Frame Animation: How a Top Studio Gets It Done

Justin Punio's picture

Great stuff. I've always thought stop motion is a great skill to have in your arsenal.

Studio 403's picture

I am already stopped. My buzz word of the day. “Delayed gratification is not the best use of my time” , rant for the day.