Printing Coraline

Objet Geometries is an Israeli company with some nifty new 3D printers. They did a press release recently that got some play: 3D Printers Play Starring Role in New Animated Film Coraline. The story goes like this. Coraline is a stop-motion animated movie. That is, people are moving little puppets around a big model house and taking snapshots to make a movie one frame at a time. But making these little puppets is hard. So why not use 3D printing to create them? Here’s an example of how it works.

I love 3D printing, so my first thought was: how cool.

But there’s something very odd about this. They’re going from the computer model to a 3D printout to create a video frame that’s stored on a computer. That sounds to me like a very painful way to do computer-generated graphics. Something like carving your email on a tree trunk and flinging it at your friend. Or scratching a note on the back of your cell phone and gluing it to a postcard.

I know that photography of real scenery lit by honest-to-goodness light has a special richness that movie makers crave. And stop-motion animators are an obsessive bunch. But it’s so expensive and loopy compared to the computer graphics it resembles that I have to think this genre is a dying breed.

7 thoughts on “Printing Coraline”

  1. How do you measure “loopy”? You say it’s more expensive to to stop motion; clearly you’ve done a thorough analysis or you wouldn’t have said that. What were the result you found after comparing the costs of producing CG with all the R&D and IT staff and software licenses and server hardware that becomes obsolete over the course of a production and workstations the become obsolete over the course of a production with the costs of stop motion?

  2. Me-YOW!

    Doug Piranha, here, has some issues with technology obsolescence but doesn’t seem to grasp that everything used to produce a motion picture becomes obsolete. The makers of Coraline have a storehouse of figurines and sets from every frame of their endeavour to show for their efforts. And, everything that was 3D printed had to be generated on the computer first, which required R&D and IT staff and software licenses and server hardware, etc.

    Oops, now I’m getting a bit catty!

  3. Catty comments make the world go around. Otherwise where would the fun be? But in answer to Dave’s comment, why yes, I never say a word without doing a thorough analysis of all pertinent background material. Oops… I meant to de-escalate. Dave, if you have some numbers to set me straight, I’d love to hear them. I should have said “it seems loopy to me.” And so it does. But all stop-motion animation seems kinda loopy to me. That’s one of the things that’s so fascinating about it.

  4. It’s too bad that my comment could be considered catty, because it means people have lost the ability to distinguish between pettiness and a request for someone to justify their position.

    No, I’m old-school, which in this case means that I think it’s my responsibility to gather information needed to support my statements. I write software for a living, and when I say we need to so something in such and such a way, I need to have confidence from personal experience that my statement is correct because otherwise I’ll lead my coworkers astray. So as a matter of principle, I say it’s not my job to correct Ned, but rather it’s *his* job to have research to back his position. That’s not the flashy, sexy, charismatic way of doing it, but it’s the responsible way of doing it.

    Though my primary employment these days is writing software at the UI, business logic, and database levels, I have done stopmo and CG on films (as well as practical effects and motion control, but they aren’t directly related to this topic), so I have a feel for where the money and time goes. It gets spent in different ways depending on the technology used, and if you ever sit through the credit roll you’ll see that there is an army of people working on stopmo films, just as there is an army of people working on CG films.

  5. Dave, I think I would actually take issue with the idea that it’s people’s responsibility to research the topics of their blog posts. I’m not saying that it isn’t a noble endeavor, but half-baked ideas are what make the internet go ’round.

    If this were a blog dedicated to CGI films, then yes, Ned should probably know a bit more about it. However, as it’s a general blog dealing with science and technology, well, I’m sure there are plenty of topics that Ned has discussed on which he is not an expert. So what happened is something caught his attention, and he wrote about it. Then it caught your attention, and you added to it. You don’t get more internet than that, unless you’d included a bit about “I AM IN UR [noun], [verb]IN UR [other noun]!”

  6. “half-baked ideas are what make the internet go ’round”
    The internet has nothing to do with it, and you either know it and are exploiting that for your own pleasure, or are an example of how opening one’s mouth before being able to support what’s about to come out causes nothing but problems that other (responsible) people have to clean up after, if it’s even possible. Arrogance and ignorance are inexcusable because of the trail of destruction that is left in the wake. No one will die because this blogger doesn’t check facts, but it shows a callousness that will spill over to things that matter.

    Oh, and stating proven, well-established facts as I have just done isn’t arrogance. Heresy, perhaps, but not arrogance.

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