Even though the full Oscars won’t be televised and announced until the end of February, the results of the smaller Scientific and Engineering Awards are revealed at a separate event, and they focus on the technological breakthroughs in the film industry of the year. Several days ago the Academy announced that Laika would be winning the Scientific and Engineering Technical Award for their “Pioneering us of rapid prototyping for character animation. You may have never heard of Laika, but you have probably seen some of their films. As the only mainstream force working in stop-motion animation today, they have produced films such as Coraline, The Corpse Bride, and most recently The Box Trolls, which were all created using 3D printing.
What makes this special? The labor intensive method of stop-motion animation is a slower process created using actual miniature sets and figures, instead of digitally on a computer. This gives the sets and pieces a much more hand crafted look, and the animations have a choppy feel to them, which is derived from every frame being set up by hand and then captured one at a time. The results are incredibly beautiful worlds with a unique style that can only be achieved with real pieces, and it wouldn’t be possible without the help of 3D printing, which has helped Laika to inspire innovation throughout the animation world, and on the big screen. You can also check out the trailer for Laika’s next film Kubo and the Two String below.