Four days away!!!!!!


Well it's been a while since I've posted here, but not for lack of interest. I've been busy working on the script for my Senior film here at CCA. Anyway, I'm so excited about the release of Laika's fourth and newest feature Kubo and the Two Strings, which opens Friday; yet I'm attending the Thursday night screening here in San Francisco. I just saw another trailer for the film, but this one is on creatures, enjoy!  

Also, I would advise everyone to grab a copy of the making of Kubo and the Two Strings, it's filled with an amazing cronical of events from story, to art, the puppeteering. I almost forgot to add this amazing find as well...


Laika will expand Hillsboro animation studio by 70 percent

According to Oregonian reporters Elliot Njus, Luke Hammill, and Mike Rogoway Laika Animation studio, plans to build a 105,000-square-foot addition onto its production facility, increasing its size by 70 percent.

Laika had been exploring the possibility of acquiring a new production facility somewhere else in Washington County, but had apparently been unable to find a suitable building.

Its current facility, a former warehouse near Hillsboro Stadium, is 150,000 square feet.

The company makes its movies using an old-fashioned filmmaking technique called stop-motion animation, which requires animators to manipulate miniature puppets frame-by-frame to simulate motion.

Although the puppets are small, they require large, custom-built sets to create the world around the characters. So Laika needs a large soundstage to make its films.

And the studio wants more space as it accelerates its release timetable, moving from putting a new movie in theaters every two years to an annual schedule.

Plans submitted to the city of Hillsboro describe a two-story facility on the west side of Laika's existing studio. The project would obliterate much of the studio's existing parking, so Laika plans to add 408 parking spaces elsewhere along with nearly 90,000 square feet of new landscaping.

The company did not have immediate comment on its growth plans. In the past, Laika has said it had occasionally explored the possibility of moving to Portland but had been unable to find facilities on the scale it requires.

Nike's chairman acquired the former Vinton Studios in 2003 and set about turning it from a commercial animation house into a feature filmmaker. He put his son, animator Travis Knight, in charge in 2009.

Travis Knight is currently directing Laika's fourth feature, "Kubo and the Two Strings," which is due for release August 19, 2016.

Laika's first three films, "Coraline," "ParaNorman" and "The Boxtrolls" each landed an Oscar nomination for best animated feature.

Hundreds of people work on each of Laika's films -- current headcount is 394, with production on "Kubo" in full swing.  

Travis Knight End Credit Tutorial

It still amazes me that so many people talk about how much they care about the arts; yet when asked about the details of a piece of work I always get what's on the surface. No depth of conversation to the reasoning of why something was done nor its impact within it.

Recently I FaceTimed (if that's a even a verb) with a friend back in Chapel Hill, NC (Go Tarheels) about the Boxtrolls Laika Animation Studios third feature. The topic came up when he mentioned he had downloaded the film from iTunes, and watched it with his five-year-old daughter on Christmas Eve. It was a typical conversation about the look, the story, the characters, etc. Then he asked me an animation related question by dropping an "S" bomb on me; "hey.. What kind of software program did they use to move the characters." I laughed and said "it's a old program called Hand Eye Coordination."

My friend then said "there's no way they did that by hand" which led to a five minute reintroduction to what Laika has created up to this point. The conversation ended when I asked him "didn't you watch the end credits?" And of course they hadn't, which I prompted him to do while I was on the phone. What proceeded was a look of wonder when the characters begin a dialogue about control. For those who haven't seen what I'm speaking of, I've posted the video below. He was dumbfounded, speechless, $#£¥faced! All he said was "no way!" 

I was perplexed by the fact that they had just cut the film off as the credits began. There's been a trend in Hollywood for some years of giving the audience a little preview into the next film, with the tent pole/franchise features, which has caused me to stick around just in case on every film now. What's most exciting about the end credit sequence is getting to see Travis Knight, CEO and animator working. His story is a very interesting one, in my opinion, mostly because he learned his craft and has the backing to commit to continuing expanding his craft. As a company Laika is pushing into new areas by continuing to grow as a studio that seamlessly merges all forms of animation into one, balancing it out with a strong incorporation of live action and the containment of a black box theater stage. By merging these various types techniques within the framework of an animation feature, it crafts a hybrid of sensibilities, that allow the audience to focus on the story and design as a whole; not just how it's made. Laika has shown the strength of their studio, is in the methods in which they utilize research and development across the production; by remaining open to various solutions. 

Back in the September issue of Wired Magazine reporter Caitlin Roper, once agin pulls together an excellent interview with Mr. Knight entitled The Man Who Brought Stop-Motion Animation Into the 21st Century.  Also adding to the dialog is Screen Slam with a two part interview with Mr. Knight, featured below on "What separates Laika form the others..."

Also, before I go here's Knight's preface from the Art of the Boxtroll via Chronicle Book. Enjoy.

- Mister Kennedy


Good Day All:

Ever since I was a child I have always been fascinated by the look of stop-motion animation. The first film I remember seeing that employed such animation was Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back (1980). I was eight years old and remember watching it with my father in our living room on our new LaserDisk player, this was 1984. What drew me to the medium was its ability to bring to life a world of imagination, filled with detail and magic and the fact that it was Star Wars. There are countless other films that I recall now as an adult that employed stop-motion as a tool for storytelling such as the groundbreaking work in King Kong (1933) by Willis O'Brien, to the forward pushing of the medium by Ray Harryhouse in Clash of the Titians (1981), Henry Selicks's timeless classic The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), but there was something different about Phil Tippet and Industrial Light & Magic work approach on Empire.

According to Thomas G. Smith's 1986 book Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Special Effects, Tippett and ILM developed a variation of stop motion animation which incorporates motion blur into each frame, dubbing the technique "Go motion". Go Motion was designed to simulate motion blur by moving the animated model slightly during the exposure of each film frame, instead of only between exposures as in traditional stop motion. This usually created with the help of a computer, often through rods connected to the animation model, which the computer manipulates to reproduce movements programmed into it by puppeteers.

Such innovations is why I have this love for the medium and at the advice of my wife has lead me to start a blog about the animation studio LAIKA. I hope that I can add to the dialogue while informing fellow fans about the studio, its talented personnel of craftspeople, and get back to working on my journalism skills. 

For this first entry I thought I would let LAIKA speak for LAIKA, so you can see why this is one of my first choices of employment once I graduate from CCA. View the video below.

Many Thanks-

Mister Kennedy