Kubo and the Two Strings Featurette

This past weekend brought Kubo and the Two Strings to theaters, another gorgeous stop-motion animated adventure from the geniuses at LAIKA. As time goes on, stop-motion animation just gets more and more impressive thanks to the advancement of the technology used to make it. There’s some digital assistance here and there, but largely, it’s just some fine work done by brilliant animators who know exactly what they’re doing. However, one particular sequence needed a lot of digital assistance to come to life

One of the more breathtaking sequences in Kubo and the Two Strings comes from the opening scene when Kubo’s mother is navigating a roaring ocean in the middle of a storm. Thanks to a new featurette, we get the details on how digital animation and stop-motion puppetry combined to create this beautiful sequence. Read More »

Kubo and the Two Strings Travis Knight interview

With Kubo and the Two Strings, the CEO & President of Laika, Travis Knight, makes his feature directorial debut. Knight’s 3D stop-motion / CG hybrid follows a brave young hero named Kubo (Art Parkinson), as he goes on an epic quest to retrieve what’s needed to defeat Raiden the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes). Along for the samurai’s emotional adventure are Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey).

The Japan-set film’s style was inspired by ink wash paintings, Noh theater, and period doll making. One of the biggest influences for Knight, besides the famous woodblock painter Kiyoshi Saito, was ukiyo-e (translation: pictures of the floating world). The director was most drawn to the work of Hokusai and Hiroshige, and the former’s “Great Wave off Kanagawa” clearly inspired the film’s opening sequence, which we talked about with Knight.

During our time with the filmmaker, we discussed the work Laika put into crafting some of Kubo and the Two Strings most visually stunning sequences, in addition to why they’ll never make sequels. Below, read our Travis Knight interview.

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Why You Shouldn’t Expect Any Sequels From Laika

Kubo pic

Laika is about to unveil their fourth feature film to the world. Their latest adventure, Kubo and the Two Strings, is, like Coraline and ParaNorman, a self-contained story. Travis Knight‘s film doesn’t leave the door open for a sequel. In the hands of another studio, maybe it would, but Knight, who’s also the CEO & President of Laika, has no interest in attempting to launch a franchise with Kubo and the Two Strings — or any of Laika’s other movies.

Below, find out why you shouldn’t expect to see any Laika sequels.

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Kubo and the Two Strings trailer

After CoralineParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, in LAIKA we trust. The animation studio made three ambitious, distinct stop-motion animated movies, films that aren’t always afraid of scaring children. They trust kids to be brave as their protagonists, which is rare for anyone making family movies. As proven by the this wonderful full-length Kubo and the Two Strings trailer, the company hasn’t changed their ways and this looks to be their biggest film to date.

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Boxtrolls best scene

The films from Laika are, in a way, like Richard Linklater’s Boyhood — part of the story of the films themselves is the story of how they are made. The process is very different, of course, as Linklater worked for more than a decade on one film, while Laika uses painstaking stop-motion animation to create the illusion of life over a production period that lasts a couple years per film.

We’ve all seen in-process video of Laika artists at work, but the final shot of the studio’s most recent film, The Boxtrolls, illustrates the process in a beautifully meta fashion. It may be The Boxtrolls best scene — and there are no spoilers involved, even for those who haven’t seen the film. Check it out below.

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fourth laika movie

Laika has produced three gorgeous stop-motion features so far: Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls. Now there’s a new one coming, as the fourth Laika movie has been announced as Kubo and the Two Strings. It’s an original story from Paranormal writers Marc Haimes and Chris Butler which the company describes as “a sweeping, swashbuckling adventure set in a mythical ancient Japan.”

As usual, the film is being animated at the company’s home base in Oregon, and is being directed by company founder Travis Knight, who is also producing with Arianne Sutner (ParaNorman). The film uses, as the press release calls it, Laika’s “innovative 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid technique.”

Get the full voice cast list and more info on Kubo and the Two Strings below.  Read More »

Laika hand-drawn

Laika has made a name for themselves with their hand-crafted stop-motion animated feature films like Coraline, ParaNorman and the upcoming movie Boxtrolls. But the Portland-based animation studio wants to help hand-drawn animation make a comeback. During the Boxtrolls Hall H presentation at 2014 San Diego Comic Con International, Laika head Travis Knight would like to do a 2D hand-drawn animated feature film. Find out more about a possible Laika hand-drawn animation feature film, after the jump.

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In February 2012, I visited the the Portland based animation studio Laika to watch production of their latest stop motion animated feature film ParaNorman. The 2009 adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s Coraline earned the group critical and public acclaim, and many have been waiting to see what the hand-crafted independently owned production would create next.

This is the first time I’ve ever had the chance to visit a stop-motion animated production, and what I learned about the process both amazed and shocked me. I was surprised to find out how much artistry and patience goes into a film like this, more than you could ever imagine. Also, Laika is brining innovation to their artform, introducing 3D color printers to the mix. Find out how they used 3D color printers to create the characters you’ll watch on screen, along with 50 other fun factoids I learned on set. I’ve also included a ton of behind the scenes photos, showing the artists at Laika creating their own brand of magic, and a video blog I recorded with Steve from Collider. All this and more, after the jump.

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