Housed in the park's Globe Theater, "From Coraline to Kubo: A Magical LAIKA Experience" offers a walk-through exhibit of characters and sets used to film Laika's Academy Award-nominated animated films: Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. And, as the exhibit's name suggests, it offers a look at some of the characters and props used in the upcoming Kubo and the Two Strings, which opens later this month.
It's tempting to rush forward and focus on the characters and sets, given the wonderful detail in which Laika's artists have rendered them. But take a few moments to read the well-explained notes that accompany the exhibit, too. They explain how Laika makes its on-screen magic, from shooting in Stereoscopic 3D to using 3D printing to create unprecedented facial expression changes on its characters.
This year, Laika won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award for its Rapid Prototyping process of developing sequences of 3D-printed partial faces that could be swapped out on a character in lieu of fabricating and replacing the entire head to adjust its facial expressions.
Even as Laika refines its process of crafting its characters and sets, it's used those technical tools to create distinct visual styles for its films, rather than making them conform to a single, studio-wide esthetic. As one exhibition label explained,
On Coraline, illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi's clean, elegant and confident line informed the film's style. ParaNorman employed a sketchy, rough-hewn scribble. The Boxtrolls favored an organized, irregular and nervous line evocative of German Expressionism. For Kubo and the Two Strings, the kind of line used in the early conceptual designs ended up matter less than what filled the surfaces.
You can best see Laika's attention to surface detail in Kubo's magic sailboat, displayed in the exhibit. Meant to evoke Kubo's talent for origami, the boat is covered with nearly a quarter of a million laser-cut paper leaves. The boat took nearly four months to complete and its sequence in the film took 19 months to shoot.
Yes, this is intricate, disciplined work. But don't think that it's simply "miniature." Laika's animators work on a large scale, too, as evidenced by the massive Giant Skeleton at the conclusion of the exhibit.
Unfortunately, if you want to see "From Coraline to Kubo: A Magical LAIKA Experience," you'll need to hurry. This temporary exhibit runs only through Sunday, August 14. If you'd like to learn more about Laika and its process, here's a short BTS video from the studio:
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