ParaNorman makers use special 3D colour printers

Printers come in all shapes and sizes these days and individuals and firms use them in many different ways. For example, lots of consumers and businesses take advantage of Epson printer ink to produce documents.

Meanwhile, the people behind new stop-motion animation film ParaNorman have been utilising printers in a particularly innovative way. Experts at production house Laika invested in four 3D colour printers to help them achieve the effects they were looking for, the BBC reports.

The news source pointed out that stop motion filming involves the use of puppet models that are repositioned from frame to frame to create the illusion of motion. In the past, the facial expressions and movements of characters would be altered by hand, but now producers can take advantage of automated processes.

ParaNorman’s producers built up a library of nearly 9,000 3D-printed faces for the main character alone that could be used in various sequences.

Commenting on the technique, Stuart Missinger, award leader on the Stop Motion Animation and Puppet Making course at Staffordshire University, remarked: “All shapes need to be modelled on the computer before they are printed, but there’s a time saving to be made in terms of animation on set.

“It means the animator can literally pick and mix from a library of faces. But there’s a seam line that runs where a mouth replacement slots in – it goes under the eye, across the bridge of the nose, across the temple. If the character has a beard, then the seam line is masked – but if it’s visible it needs painting out in post production.”

Laika noted that 3.77 tonnes of printer powder were used by the four printers used in ParaNorman.

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