While it’s usually a long wait between films from LAIKA Studios, which specializes in beautiful and uniquely told stop-motion animated movies, that doesn’t mean we can’t get new content in the interim. The folks at the studio behind Missing Link have put together a touching little video just in time for Mother’s Day that brings back characters from Coraline, ParaNorman, and Kubo and the Two Strings, reflecting a unique embrace between mother and child from each film.
“What makes LAIKA’s films so wonderfully unique are the different worlds and characters that inhabit them,” said Creative Marketing Lead and the originator of this idea Tim Garbutt in a statement. Garbutt continued by explaining that this Mother’s Day video is another way for LAIKA to engage with its fans:
“Engaging our fans and continuing to allow opportunities for our characters to speak to our audiences beyond the films is something our studio is very conscious of doing – especially on social media. Although sometimes it can be a challenge to combine or unite characters and worlds that are stylistically so distinct – there are a few strong thematic elements that run through many of LAIKA’s films – a big one being strong family dynamics.”
You’ll notice in the video that each interaction is a little different, and Garbutt says that’s no accident:
“Each of the hero (kids) characters of our films come with their own quirks and personalities. The relationships they have with their own moms in these movies are in part a reflection of who they are or can be the catalyst for the quests they embark on in our stories. The moms in our films represent a myriad of real, relatable, and magical characters – which when wrapped into fantastical narratives, create some unforgettable film moments and relationships.”
Ultimately, this video is a tribute to mothers the world over, said Garbutt:
“This piece is a tribute to all moms and the love we share for them. Showcasing a few of our title characters sharing a small glimpse of affection as only each kid’s personality will allow – felt like a wonderful chance to look back and celebrate our characters. Affection can come in many ways – the kids and moms of our films are a testament to the different ways we can express that. Sometimes a warm embrace, an arm on your shoulder, or an awkward side hug can go a long way in showcasing how much we love and appreciate the moms in our lives.”
You can watch the full video below as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how it was made, but beyond that we’ve been provided with some enlightening comments from the animators behind each piece. Pay close attention and you’ll see that the style of animation for each embrace is different, as it reflects the different relationships between the characters in these three distinct films. Indeed, something I love about LAIKA is each film feels distinct – the worlds of The Boxtrolls and Kubo and the Two Strings couldn’t be more different – but there’s a heavy focus on character and story that carries through each movie that is distinctly LAIKA-esque. Which is why it’s so exciting that the studio is about to dip its toe into live-action for the first time.
Phil Dale is the animator behind Coraline and Mom, and he explained how he wanted to go back to LAIKA’s roots in terms of animation technique for this particular scene:
“After 15 years it was fun to be animating these characters once again. Working with the more delicate, older puppets can be challenging at times as the materials they are made from age, but they performed wonderfully! The animation style at the studio has advanced so much over the years, and on recent films we have used live action reference video to help guide our animated performances. We didn’t do that back when we made Coraline. So to honor the style of the film I wanted to return to that approach for animating Coraline, her Mother, and Other Mother for the Mother’s Day piece.”
When it comes to Norman and Sandra from ParaNorman, animator Dan Alderson wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to condense an entire relationship into one moment:
“It was a great opportunity to try to condense Norman and his mum’s relationship into such a short moment. Sandra has a mother’s unconditional love for Norman, and he returns it, albeit with a hint of the awkwardness that made him such a relatable character in the movie. I blocked the shot out a few times before animating it to get the sentiment just right. It was fun to return to these characters after so many years away from them. Norman is a great puppet and a joy to animate, the key is in his simplicity and size, meaning you can handle him without fighting with complicated costume or hair. Sandra is trickier with long animatable hair but even after so many years the knack for animating it successfully was still there.”
The Kubo scene, meanwhile, embraces the simplicity of a hug as animator Rachelle Lambden explained:
“The love Kubo and his mother share in essence would be their embrace, where he sinks into the security of his mother’s calm, loving arms. A hug, which is a simple memory and one we are all craving to share with our loved ones at this time.”
You can clearly see the passion and artistry in this video, and I can’t wait until a new LAIKA feature film is upon us. Until then, this should hold us over.
Full credits for this LAIKA Mother’s Day piece are below.
Animators: Rachelle Lambden, Dan Alderson, Phil Dale
Animation Supervisor: Brad Schiff
Animation Coordinator: Matt Thill
Director of Photography: John Ashlee
Camera Assistant : Laura Jung
MOCO: Steve Switaj
Gaffer: Ted Jackson, Tyson Carpenter, Bryan Garver
Animation Rigger: Alan Hinton
RP Face Librarian: Joe Reaves & Matt Ellsworth
Puppet maintenance: Sid Tucker
Assistant Director: Dan Pascall
- Steve Emerson – VFX Supervisor
- Dan Brimer – – Head of VFX Production
- Michael Cordova – Compositing Supervisor
- Timur Khodzhaev – Compositing Lead
- James Pina – Paint Lead
- Todd Gilchrist – VFX Editor
- Jesselee Kahaloa – Asst. Production Manager
Creative Marketing Assistant: Isi Matasavage
Background Art: Brice Shultz
Asst. Creative Director: Yoshie Kurkowski
Creative Director: Tim Garbutt
CMO: Dave Burke
Videographer / Editor: Steven Wong Jr.
Multimedia Assistant: Spencer Rutledge
For a studio as risk averse as Disney, ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ and ‘The Mandalorian’ show a path forward based on nostalgia rather than bold storytelling.
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