Far from normal, ParaNorman pushes the boundaries of animation

Jan 2, 2013

A general view at the pre-party for the premiere of Focus Features’ “ParaNorman” at Universal CityWalk on August 5, 2012 in Universal City, California. Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Production house Laika and Focus Features were responsible for 2009’s Coraline, the first-ever stop motion 3D movie.  They continued on the path of innovation this year with ParaNorman, a comedic horror film aimed at youthful audiences.  The story of a young boy who can communicate with the dead, ParaNorman is the second stop motion 3D feature ever made, and the first to use 3D color printers to make character faces.

Stop motion cinematography has come a long way since the days of Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, but it’s still a painstaking practice, that relies on lifelike puppets, elaborate mini-sets and delicately crafted props. The movie attracted attention not only for the beautiful results of its groundbreaking animation technology, but also for story composition and script. One character has broken new ground with audiences and reviewers – Mitch, the older brother of the titular Norman’s friend, reveals at the end of the film that he has a boyfriend, making him the first openly gay character in a mainstream children’s animated film.

How did first-time screenwriter Butler craft the unusual story?  What did each director bring to the table? How did marrying stop motion techniques with the new technology of 3D printing bring the characters to life?


Chris Butler, director  and screenwriter of ParaNorman

Sam Fell, director of ParaNorman

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