LAIKA’s 3D printing partnership with Stratasys.
The next step in LAIKA’s 3D printing partnership with Stratasys came when LAIKA was invited to be a Beta customer on the Stratasys J750, the first full-color, multi-material 3D printer. Due to LAIKA’s long history with Stratasys they created a unique partnership with Fraunhofer, the creators of Cuttlefish software, allowing LAIKA early access to Voxel Print on the Stratasys J750. The groundbreaking 3D printer has 360,000 different color combinations; with Voxel Print, that capability grows exponentially and is combined with the ability to compose new textures and gradients, enabling 3D printing with extraordinary precision. “This is what we’re using on ‘Film Five,’” said McLean. “Basically we have a work flow now that allows us to have an animator sit down, animate a unique line of dialogue, specifically for that oneshot in the movie and we’re able to print that out, process it and deliver it to set.”
The result of LAIKA’s desire to create unprecedented stop-motion animated performances has led them to continue to push the limits of the 3D printing technology they use. “Coraline” had roughly 20,000 faces, “ParaNorman” had 40,000, “The Boxtrolls” had 56,000, “Kubo” had 64,000, and “we’re well on the way to producing between 85-90,000 faces for our next movie,” said McLean. “The only reason we do what we do is for the performance,” said McLean. “It all goes into that idea of us being able to tell stories that have never been able to be told in stop-motion animation.”
According to McLean, “Being able to have a 3D printer like the Stratasys J750 that’s repeatable and accurate with this full range of color and materials has afforded us the idea of being able to achieve this shot-by-shot customized animation.” LAIKA’s relationship with Stratasys over the past ten years or so “has been reinforced in film after film. There’s this level of trust that allows us to continue to push each other in really positive ways and I’m excited to continue to forge this relationship on our next movie and in movies to come,” said McLean.