Did you catch the movie Coraline? If you did you might have noticed that much of the movie was not made using conventional computer graphics. Instead the producers 3D printed billions (well maybe not quite that much, but a Whole Bunch) of character parts that were then used in Stop-Motion filming. The movie was a huge success. Apparently the approach was deemed sufficiently successful for another movie: The Pirates! Band of Misfits”.
The movie’s animators had to design and print 3D shapes for all the parts of the characters – in all possible positions. Arms, legs, hands and especially faces. Facial expressions are a huge element in any movie and this is no different. The animators had to create facial parts that could be combined and sequenced to represent emotions and speaking dialogue. Evidently they used a phonetic method to create all required mouth shapes. According to animator Ian Whitlock:
We built about 8,000 mouths. For the Pirate Captain model, we made 257 separate mouths. For someone like Charles Darwin, we probably had about 130 mouths.
We’d love to see how they organize mouth storage: “Smile”, “Sneer”, “Pucker”, etc.