The hand-crafted star of the stop-motion animated flick ParaNorman doesn’t quite fit in, at home or at school, thanks to one ghastly quirk: he can see and speak to ghosts. They’re not all ghoulish and monstrous; they’ve come to be some of his confidants and pals who pay more attention to him and embrace his weirdness more than his living, breathing neighbours. And now his ghostly friends are going to turn our outcast into a hopeful hero as he alone can save his sleepy town from a witch’s curse.
The affectionately crafted stop-motion puppets of the film are on display in these behind-the-scenes featurettes documenting the creation of the film, down to the last miniscule detail, including creating over 25 identical faces per character. The film might be big on action and even include a harrowing car chase, but it’s the tiny and immaculate attention to details that are the most awe-inspiring, from the tiniest, mouth-watering hamburger to the front page of the daily newspaper. On the big screen, these small details add to a complex and intricately designed world for Norman (voiced by Let Me In’s Kodi Smit-McPhee) and his friends, both living and dead.
Go in-depth with the animators and crafts people like “lead hair fabricator” to discover the process of bringing puppets and the world of Norman to life. And bringing Norman to life is an astonishing feat as each puppet cycles through over 12 faces per second, each depicting a different mouth motion mimicking the many facial expressions that come with speech in what’s called “replacement animation.” We’re talking about over 40,000 faces created by hand by a group of craftspeople. Every single thing we see on screen had to be sketched, built, painted and posed by a team of talented artists at Laika, the creative folks behind 2009’s 3D Coraline.
The film, written and directed by Chris Butler and co-director Sam Fell, haunts its way into Cineplex theatres on August 17.
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