Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Stop Motion in the Digital Age #5: The Hybrid Film

           "Kubo and the Two Strings", Laika's latest film, is about to be released.  It looks fantastic.

In past postings on this blog about stop motion in general, and in the digital age, (type Stop Motion in the search bar to see all the posts), I’ve personally wrestled with the reasoning behind this hybrid style because it seemed as though everything could have been done with computers.  Now, I think the penny has finally dropped, and I’m beginning to understand the logic behind it.

Personally, as an animator who has done both stop-mo and c.g., if I were given a puppet that was well built and allowed me to get the gestures I wanted, and having the same character built as c.g., I would choose the puppet anytime.  Let me explain.  The interface of a  c.g. character is not as immediate or intuitive as touching and moving a puppet.  I could move much faster, and keep my focus on performance by not having to pick through menus and processes that are found in computer animation.  Somewhere in this blog are posts about input devices that would allow a person to manipulate a puppet that moves a c.g. figure, so you can see the idea of 'if only I could just grab this thing and move it around', has been thought about in computer animation.

True, the computer allows you to embellish and improve the animation through a process of refinements, but with the new frame grabbing software programs like Dragon Stop Motion, you can see your scene as you are animating, and play it back at real time, and make changes to your animation without re-shooting your whole scene, similar to the computers allowing refinements.  Both styles of animation are time consuming and take great skill, so where's the advantage?

Here’s the logic:  By building your character as a stop motion puppet you have the speed and intimacy of stop motion, plus the new power of digital assistance while animating, in rig removal, facial replacements. And by building a c.g. character, it can be manipulated with no restrictions, (armatures, support rigs,) for facial animation, special effects, populating crowd scenes, and it would interface with particle programs and other c.g. dynamics making the best of both worlds.

We’ve already talked about computers used to export or rapid proto type printing of props and full color replacement heads, and we talked about computers for sets and environments where characters are added into it through green screen. 

The computer has changed the way films are made in every way. Live action movies are loaded with effects no one would know were there until shown.  Computers have change the way animated films are made, people no longer using paper and pencil, paint or even film. So, I think I finally get it.

Kudos to Laika and “Kubo and the Two Strings”.

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