We’ve covered LAIKA Studios work with 3D printing before, when they used this technology in their previous film, Kubo and the Two Strings, but now, with the release of their next film, Missing Link, the company has gone even further with additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping. According to Digital Trends, LAIKA describes their latest film as a “Kaleidoscopic travelogue, which is part Indiana Jones, part Sherlock Holmes, and part Around the World in 80 Days – but with monsters.”
As you can see from Digital Trend’s video, LAIKA uses Stratasys 3D printers in order to “print millions of different facial expressions” for their characters, which has given them an unprecedented lifelike fluidity.
3D Print actually sat down with the studio in order to get down to the nitty gritty of the 3D printing being used in the film. This occurred at SOLIDWORKS World 2019 in Dallas, Texas. LAIKA Studios took advantage of Stratasys’ “multi-color, multi-material J750 3D printer” for this film. The J750 3D printer “offers more than 500,000 different color combinations, so parts and components can be produced in multiple colors and textures for a wide variety of different applications.” LAIKA calls the J750 the “nirvana of what they want in 3D printing.”
LAIKA’s Director of Rapid Prototyping Brian McLean, who has won an Academy Award for his work, elaborated on the “studio’s use of 3D printing to make the faces for their stop motion animation characters.” McLean describes the puppets as “really fancy Mr. Potato Heads in a way. During shooting, if an ear gets cracked or if an ear breaks, we can go in there and surgically, while we’re on set, it’s like the game Operation, we’ll go in there surgically and unscrew the ear and put another one on.”
Beyond the characters, 5% of the sets were also 3D printed. Truly, LAIKA Studios is pushing the boundary of what can be done with 3D printing in film.
Video, Image, and Quotes Courtesy of Digital Trends and 3D Print