The Oscars: Selick Talks More Coraline
And the other thing is we used 3D printers: Rapid Prototype machines so that in the jumping mouse circus, we were going to go with a George Pal, full replacement bodies: cycles of mice, five to seven in different positions that you just swap out, so you get the squash-and-stretch as they jump. You never had to do more than that in the entire sequence. But rather than having to sculpt and cast millions of these, we were able to take the basic scans into the computer and then print out the in-between shapes as actual objects, then paint them all and use those on the sets to light and manipulate. So that was a big breakthrough. We also used it for additional facial expressions of Coraline and a couple of other characters where we just needed to go miles beyond Jack Skellington in a range of expressiveness. We scanned in actual sculptures and in the computer created in-betweens and even some new expressions, but we always use 2D animation. We had Shane Prigmore, this character designer, who drew all the key expressions as a guide so we could get that snap and clear shape change from traditional animation and force the computer to match it. And then we spit out hundreds of little plastic faces, so you could change brows separately from lower face and get all the different mouth shapes. I wanted to show the seams on the face -- I wanted the audience to see that and felt like after five minutes that would disappear. But the producers thought that was a little too scary, so we digitally painted out the seams.
BD: Obviously, it was an exceptional year for animation and I wanted to get your impressions of the other nominees.
HS: I saw Up: Again, Pixar could take their audience anywhere emotionally. It's brilliant work and they're constantly taking risks.
I first saw The Secret of Kells at Annecy last year and happened to see it because our composer, Bruno Coulais, had done the score for that and I wanted to see his work. I thought it was beautiful. I found it a very different sort of story; the look of it inspired by those illuminated manuscripts was gorgeous; and the tone was unique, so it's nice to see good, fresh stories well told that don't hit all the beats that we're used to in most of our American animated films.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is its own animal. Having worked with Wes, doing creatures for him on The Life Aquatic, I was impressed that he was able to bring his style and sense of humor -- his characters -- into this other medium that he had never actually worked in before. So I felt it was really well done for being a true Wes Anderson movie, I found it funny and warm. There's a certain approach that I take and the animators I work with, and it was unsettling to see animation as starkly simple as this. But I got in the groove and just, OK, this is working for this movie.