Laika Animation

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Welcome! Here you’ll discover news, reviews, and new projects from Laika Studios.

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Laika Movies List

  • Missing Link
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • The Boxtrolls
  • ParaNorman
  • Coraline

Laika History

Even with four Oscar nominations and a British Academy for Film And Television (BAFTA) win for their latest work Kubo, Laika Entertainment has yet to get the recognition that their peers from Pixar, DreamWorks, Walt Disney, and Warner Bros. have reached.

Stop-motion movie studio Laika goes back to 1976, when Will Vinton, an Oscar-winning animator, opened the doors of a studio named after himself. Will Vinton Studios mainly did animation and effects for TV and movies, with only one animated feature to show – 1985’s The Adventures of Mark Twain.

Vinton, most remembered for creating a very popular ad for The California Raisins, as well as some of those fun M&M commercials, referred to his work as “Claymation” since he uses clay to create his characters and piece them together to create a full-feature film.

It was renamed as Laika Entertainment, the name of the dog sent by the Soviets to space in 1957 after it was acquired by Nike Inc. owner Phil Knight, who forced Vinton out of his own studio.

Their first big project would not be made in-house but for one of the most popular names in entertainment, Warner Bros. and Tim Burton. The Corpse Bride, which, for those who have seen it, might be difficult to be differentiated from the Nightmare Before Christmas, was a stop-motion film released in 2005. It had a dark, gothic theme; one where one character gets murdered, and the other gets dragged into the land of the dead, which scared me out of my pants even if I saw the movie in my 20’s.

Tons of positive reviews and a Best Animated Feature nomination at the Academy Awards were obvious self-esteem boosts that chided Laika Entertainment to create and release their own features. Here’s a look at their relatively short but sweet list:

  1. CORALINE (2009)

Adapted from a Neil Gaiman novel, Laika’s first feature film was written by Henry Selick, the man behind the success of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Selick got renowned Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi on board to ensure that this Laika feature will have a state-of-the-art story, style, and design.

It was a film three years in the making as Coraline was shot in 3D, which is basically shooting twice the amount of shots with each tenth of a second taken from a somewhat different angle. The 140,000-square-foot warehouse in the company’s headquarters was divided up into 50 lots, into more than 150 sets, which included a mini Victorian mansion and a 40-by-60-foot long apple orchard.

Coraline is about an 11-year old girl who, while exploring her new home, discovers a secret door that offered her an alternate world that closely resembles her own but, in some ways, is better. Her discovery was all fun and games until the family in her parallel universe wanted her to stay with them forever. Coraline must gather all her wits for her to be able to return, as booooring as they may be, to her own family.

  1. PARANORMAN (2012)

It follows the story of Norman Babcock who has the ability to speak with the dead. When an old curse from a witch that lived centuries ago threatens their town, his bizarre Uncle Prenderghast tells him that only he can stop it from befalling on them. When finally zombies creep in, Norman has to muster up the courage to use his abilities to save the town.

ParaNorman was shot and produced in the then 151,000-foot Laika headquarters, with the use of more than 60 Canon 5d Mark II cameras to capture 400,000 animated frames. It boasts of an unprecedented 1.5 million different facial expressions, due to the advanced 3D-printing technologies used for the film.

  1. THE BOXTROLLS (2014)

Laika’s third feature film was based on Alan Snow’s “Here Be Monsters” which is the story of Eggs, an orphan who lives with the Boxtrolls, a group of mischievous creatures who populate a hole beneath the city of Cheesebridge. When bad guy Archibald Snatcher plans to get rid of the gentle Boxtrolls, Eggs, with the help of his friend Winnifred, formulates a plan to save them.

Production for this project lasted 72 weeks with about 30 animators working to create at least 4 seconds of animation each week. Each second required 24 still frames and was backdropped by about 20,000 props, each handmade specifically for the movie.

At this stage, Laika’s plan as they move forward in terms of movie production is the possibility of the characters being computer-animated instead of using clay. They were starting to look at angles that might stimulate this plan further, but then the risk of being just another computer animation studio stopped them.

  1. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS (2016)

Laika’s latest release, Kubo and the Two Strings, follows Kubo’s adventure after accidentally summoning a vengeful spirit from the past. He is joined by Monkey and Beetle in their quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father. But first, he must overcome challenges form the Moon King and other gods and monsters.

It was the directorial debut of long-time Laika animator and CEO Travos Knight. They still did not hold back on the puppets for this film as they constructed a 16-foot, 400-lb. monster, with a wingspan of 23 feet that required the use of a flight simulator just to get it to animate properly.

Laika’s history of growth in the production of “Claymation” films was highlighted in Kubo and the Two Strings. This company is not showing any signs of slowing down as they’ve put up a plan to produce at least one film a year, which, I bet, would only be as impressive and amazing as their past four releases.

Their record shows that they aim to improve on the technique of stop-motion animation in every film. The out-of-this-world adventures and captivating storylines that they let us experience every time we step into their realm are simply timeless.

Whether or not they should incorporate computer animation in their production is still up for debate, but presently, I’m having a blast watching puppets be animated.

Also, check out Paramount Animation