Magazine article Variety

Making Monkeys Shine

Magazine article Variety

Making Monkeys Shine

Article excerpt

START WITH ART

"It starts with a kind of classically proportioned character," says David Vanderwoot, character artist, "but a chip in the tooth, or a little tuft of hairs not quite in place, really endear a character to the audience."

INTO THE DIGITAL REALM

Sculpted maquettes are scanned to create a 3D digital version of the character. Above, Adam Lawthers animates Monkey's face. Her expression for every frame will eventually go to rapid prototyping, or 3D printing.

A LITTLE HERO EMERGES

Monkey, voiced by Charlize Theron, is one of the mythic companions who helps the hero on his quest in "Kubo and the Two Strings. The RP process allows all Laika's characters to be more expressive than earlier stop-motion puppets.

HEADS MEET THEIR SHOULDERS

There are thousands of Monkey heads, but far fewer bodies. Above, Jessica Lynn, head of hair & fur, hand-paints Monkey's fur. It is stiff and flexible enough to be hand-animated, so it will ripple in the wind even without digital effects.

MASS PRODUCED, SLOWLY

The printer makes about 20 faces at a time, and each batch takes about 40 hours. Tops and bottoms can be re-combined to form millions of expressions. Some 60,000 faces are being made for "Kubo,'' up from about 20,000 for ''Coraline. …

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