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Animation and Anime

Those Wonderful Jumping, Hopping Mice of CORALINE - CG?

Hey folks, Harry here... It seems I've seen quite a bit of talk about the alleged CG in CORALINE and a scene that many folks are pointing out involves all those amazing hopping synchronized mice that we've seen in trailers. I've watched this scene 3 times now. Once at BUTT-NUMB-A-THON out of context and twice in context with the entire film (Review is Embargoed, but it is also brilliant). You guys familiar with George Pal's short film work?

Ok - you see that animation? The form of animation that you're looking at involves a process called SUBSTITUTION ANIMATION. You saw it used in NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS... you know all those different Jack and Sally heads that were placed at 24 frames a second? The reason you go that route is it gives you a higher degree of control of expression and emotion, along with a great deal of accuracy with lip syncing. What you saw less of was body movement Substitution. In the above toons, you'll see Squaching and Stretching of forms that do not have armatures in place. The way this is done is by creating three dimensional figures at different stages of motion, this gives a very smooth and sensational look for the characters. I know this, because Henry Selick gave me one of the 500 mice that were created to make that astonishing sequence of the movie. And I say astonishing, because once you see the sequence in 3D, your jaw will drop. It is, frankly amazing. The picture below is of one of Bobinsky's Trained Jumping Circus Mice. He is suspended in mid-air by a tiny rod holding him up from underneath and this rod is digitally removed with a computer. Much like 'wire-removal' in stunt sequences... just applied to animation. As Henry informed our audience, in the old days they would have used "Spider Wire" which was so thin that the eyes rarely, if ever caught it. However, this sometimes allowed for shifting and wasn't as secure as a rod. So... a computer was used to remove the rod, but human hands carved, painted and placed a real solid object for each frame of the animation. ALSO.. Henry mentioned at the Q&A an even more amazing aspect of the film. A single camera lens shot the film in 3D. For every frame of the film, two separate photos were taken, then interlaced later for the 3D. This way they could approximate our visual depth perception on a miniature scale, which no camera exists to do. So essentially, they shot the movie twice and there was no miraculous new 3D technology, they did it mathmatically and with precision of human effort. Pretty amazing if you ask me. Here's Bobinsky's Trained Circus Mouse...

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  • Jan. 27, 2009, 12:52 a.m. CST


    by Somerichs

    can't wait to see it...

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 12:52 a.m. CST



  • Jan. 27, 2009, 12:53 a.m. CST

    I'd have said we can't wait to see it...

    by Somerichs

    but i don't have a mouse in my pocket...bahhh!!! thank you, i'll be here all week...

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 12:56 a.m. CST

    He ain't as good as Mr Jingles!!



  • Jan. 27, 2009, 1:25 a.m. CST

    Hell yeah! the Zoltar bust kicks ass!

    by BatPsycho

    the mouse is awesome too

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 1:26 a.m. CST

    At this point, I would forgive a little CG. The fact there's not

    by The Shyster

    i'm quite humbled by such a cinematic feat.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 1:49 a.m. CST

    Tubby Tuba almost looks like old Pixar CGI.

    by Orionsangels

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 1:59 a.m. CST

    This will be every bit as wonderful as...

    by BiggusDickus

    ...The Nightmare Before Christmas, and it'll be aces to see Neil Gaiman finally getting the big-time kudos (read money) he deserves.<p>Let's hope 'Watchmen' is a smash too, so that the movie-making suits put two and two together and come up with 'Sandman'.

  • well, actually 3 days after watching the preview attached to "my bloody valentine 3D".

  • Of course kidding, but I wish someone had and posted it here. That would be hilarious. Good times.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 2:38 a.m. CST

    How creepy and dark is this movie going to be?

    by Spifftacular Squirrel Girl

    Something along the lines of The Dark Crystal or The Never Ending Story I'm hoping.

  • Why Because Portland is Weird. And we KEEP IT WEIRD. He coulda done CGI and still woulda been a great movie. Nope, he's a Portlandian so Henry Selick has to be all like "We're doing this WHOLE THING by Hand! It's more AWESOME that way!" One of his crew, eating a VooDoo Doughnut, asks "Whatta bout the wires boss?" Henry thinks about it, "Ok we'll CG out the wires BUT! EVERYTHING ELSE! BY HAND! Someone call Neil and tell him to come back to Portland.." In conclusion, Instant Classic.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 3:55 a.m. CST

    Hardly Brilliant

    by barneyshouldbeputdown

    Have to disagree with Harry. This film, while beautiful to look at, is just boring. It's a severe miscalculation of storytelling. There's virtually no emotional investment in the story or characters. The animation doesn't save it. A real shame.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 4:04 a.m. CST

    Squirrel Girl

    by barneyshouldbeputdown

    Not that creepy and not that dark. Again, the whole thing's just kind of mediocre. The story is fairly inconsequential and not terribly "fresh" feeling. The whole thing has a staleness and you kind of wonder why so much effort was spent on this particular story. It's just not strong and you see just about everything coming.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 5:04 a.m. CST

    Cuaron + NEVERWHERE =...


    ... one truly great film to look forward to... if it ever happened. I really, really wish that would come true. Or James Cameron to make a CTHULHU film. <p> Who'd be a fanboy?

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 6:57 a.m. CST

    Mike D

    by LOTGA

    I think taking her to see "My Bloody Valentine 3D" was your biggest mistake, sir.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 7:10 a.m. CST

    "harder, faster, deeper"?

    by catlettuce4

    That "John Henry" clip, besides being kind of racist, is almost as homoerotic as that Stallone pic from this weekend. When this site become "blue boy"?

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 7:17 a.m. CST

    Replacment animation is insane.

    by Obscura

    theres a room up in manchester that aparently has over 500 pingu peguins in it... most stop motion has a form of replacment in it, the corpse bride used it for the eye blinks... 24 pairs of eye lids for slow motion blinking.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 7:44 a.m. CST

    by Dingbatty

    I'd see that. Anything would be better than the BBC series and the comic adaptation.<p>I'm curious if Cuaron is as hooked on directing fantasy films as fans are in suggesting him for them?

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 8:12 a.m. CST

    I can't wait...

    by lovecraftian

    This is going to be spectacular. And to go along with Biggus Dickus's point... Maybe they'll make GOOD OMENS. (No, I'm not hoping for AMERICAN GODS--That's going to have to be an HBO mini-series.)

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 8:38 a.m. CST

    Yeah, agreed

    by Bagheera

    I remember when stuff was first coming out for this movie there were heated arguments about whether the whole thing was CG. No offense to whoever, but some people are just dumb.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 9:52 a.m. CST

    I have that Zoltar bust

    by Ye Not Guilty

    Zoltar rulez!

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 10:43 a.m. CST

    The Pyramids were built mathmatic precise... We've got this...

    by Yotz Von Frelnik

    Amazing what mere human eyeballing and care can accomplish. Makes my head hurt to think of it though.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 1:29 p.m. CST

    I needs me that Zoltar bust!

    by SpyGuy

    Zoltar FTW.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 1:55 p.m. CST

    You need to clean your desk

    by yomomma

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 2 p.m. CST


    by alice 13

    and the sister death film too.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 3:22 p.m. CST


    by I am the most horrible

    Talking about Coraline, the Pillsbury Dough Boy and more. Info at livewireradioDOTorg. Listen live Saturday night at 7 pm on opbDOTorg or keep it old school and listen to OPB radio. Podcast it too if you wanna. Itunes. That is all.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 3:23 p.m. CST

    PS I heard that Gaiman...

    by I am the most horrible

    ...will be at the Portland International Film Festival.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 3:56 p.m. CST

    From memory that's not the only CG

    by half vader

    Didn't the faces have lines through them/were in sections for easier manipulation? And then they sort of did wire/line removal there? Maybe they used that crazy allen-key system to manipulate the expressions like Corpse Bride? <p> I've never heard it called Substitution Animation though. Always been "Replacement Animation" as far as I knew. And Nightmare may have been regular 24 frames a sec, but there was a lot of Jack facial stuff that no way on God's Earth was "on ones" Harry. Same for the Mayor. <p> Lastly, I'm a big Pal/Puppetoon fan, and what freaks me out is that not only is a lot of the early stuff full-on replacement, but the figures are sculpted IN WOOD!

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 5:51 p.m. CST

    I've seen one of the mice, too

    by Mooseboy

    A friend worked on Coraline and received one. The mouse was a tuba player. I've not seen the film, but it was clear that the mouse was to be used in replacement animation.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 6:56 p.m. CST

    Couldn't care less about this movie, but I'm glad it exists.

    by PotSmokinAlien

    Dying art forms need all the last gasps they're permitted to take (by the person standing on their neck.)

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 6:57 p.m. CST

    alice 13

    by PotSmokinAlien

    Me too! I've wanted Nick Cave to play Dream for 15 years. I won't stop hoping. Even after they inevitably cast Johnny Depp.

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 7:16 p.m. CST


    by DOGSOUP

    Thats why he'll be at the PIFF

  • Jan. 27, 2009, 11:10 p.m. CST

    Exactly what I was sayin', Fucktater

    by half vader

    Your post replaces my post!

  • Jan. 28, 2009, 5:03 a.m. CST

    So what if they had used CG

    by ELGordo

    Aardman used CGI in Curse of the Wererabid and nobody seemed to mind. Why is this an issue?

  • Jan. 28, 2009, 7:01 a.m. CST

    I don't think it's really an issue Gordo

    by half vader

    Just that it seems some people were saying stuff was cg and others disagreed, and this clears up what was what. Supposedly. <p> MY issue is every time a genre movie comes out all the AICN simpletons are either full-on anti-cg (even though many of them don't know a time before it and the older ones should know better) or full-on for it. And this even goes for the actual filmmakers. They both have advantages and disadvantages, but you hardly EVER get the objective "fill each other's gaps" approach from ANYONE. That's why stuff like this is so nice. It's not completely "purist" or biased. And I think I vaguely remember Young Sherlock Holmes' pastry sequence having some digital stuff mixed with the stop motion. Maybe it was the compositing? I'm kinda rusty there, if anyone can help out...

  • Jan. 29, 2009, 9:33 a.m. CST

    half vader

    by Eats_sandwich_gets_laid.

    The stained glass knight was (from what I understand) about three quarters cg. Other than that, ya got me. I don't even know which three quarters.

  • Jan. 30, 2009, 10:05 p.m. CST

    No not the Knight

    by half vader

    He was cg (not really sure what you mean about 3/4 cg). And a huge breakthrough, like the also-Pixar-made (when they were still part of Lucasfilm) Star Trek genesis sequence with the fractal landscape. <p> What I was talking about was the scene where Watson hallucinates and all the little sweets and pastries come to life. Actually from memory he was a dead ringer for Harry Potter, glasses and all. Have you seen the movie? Pretty good, but had really bad timing coming out close enough to Temple of Doom that everybody thought they were similar (and I think that was really based on the poster anyway) and it sorta bombed. I saw it when it first came out when I was a little kid. Man, it was fun being a kid in the middle of SS's ultra-producer phase.

  • Feb. 23, 2009, 3:21 p.m. CST

    So... a computer was used to remove the rod, but human hands car

    by ThePilgrim

    Wrong! Still Henry Selick is ht ebest and he should eb more honest and open about the CG and Rapid Prototech used to make this films animations so fluid and life like! He revolutionized Stop miton by sculpting it on the PC and RP'ing it into the real world.