Stop motion animation is based on a simple procedure; position an object in front of the camera and expose one frame of film, then move that object slightly and expose another frame. After repeating this process, the frames are played in sequence which create an illusion of movement. To create a full movie, this process is more complicated and time consuming, requiring tens of thousands of small repetitive movements and scenery changes. One of the more complicated tasks when creating a stop motion project is perfecting a character’s facial expressions. Back when characters were made of clay, film makers had to manipulate the clay slightly in every frame which became a very tedious job. Today, PolyJet 3D printing has revolutionized that process making it much easier, faster, and more cost efficient.
At Chapman University, a group of film students, Austin Piko, Taylor Johnston, and Evan Ridpath, are creating a stop motion animated short film called Meraki for their class thesis. After quickly discovering the advanced process that professional companies like Laika (Coraline, Box Trolls) are incorporating when creating their films, the Chapman students contacted Mike Stone at Purple Porcupine to help assist them in making their idea come to life. Together, they were able to map out 60 different facial expressions using Maya, a 3D modeling software. After sending those files to Purple Porcupine, 60 faces plus 2 duplicates of each expression were printed coming out to 180 faces printed in 30 hours, dramatically reducing the production time compared to the old clay molding technique.
Support their project by visiting their GoFundMe page!