Sunday, June 3, 5:30 pm

LAIKA is a Portland, Oregon-based studio that specializes in the art of stop-motion. While that technique once meant painstakingly setting up individual scenes, shooting stills, and rapidly streaming them together, nowadays, digital convergence has streamlined the process to a significant degree.

The studio has made four films, Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, and Kubo and the Two Strings. Its fifth film, The Missing Link, will be released in the spring of 2019.

Highlights of the session included:

  • A video that demonstrated just how LAIKA makes its movie magic and how the team pushes itself to new heights of accomplishment with each film.
  • Showing some of the tools of the trade—puppets, sets, animation using a variety of digital tools.
  • Brian McLean discussing the ongoing focus on capturing the digital subtlety and range of emotion in an animated character’s face.
  • Steve Emerson’s demonstration of animated storyboards, which showed how LAIKA captured the ability to animate water, a substance whose movement can’t of course be suspended for the purpose of photography. The solutions included the use of 3D printing, KY jelly, and other highly imaginative techniques to capture a sea in all its dynamic, frightening dimensions.
You can watch the entire session below.
Steve Emerson


VFX Supervisor

Steve Eerson is an Oscar®-nominated visual effects supervisor. As a longtime LAIKA collaborator, he has contributed to all four award-winning films: Kubo and the Two Strings, The Boxtrolls, ParaNorman and Coraline. Prior to joining LAIKA, Steve spent nearly twenty years working in visual effects as an artist and technical director. He has worked on many feature films and television series including The Matrix Reloaded, Transformers, The Dark Knight, and Sliders for Universal Television. In 2017, he received the Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature for Kubo and the Two Strings.

Brian McLean


Director of Rapid Prototype

Brian McLean was awarded a Scientific and Engineering Oscar® plaque in 2016 for pioneering the use of 3D printers in stop-motion animated characters. In 2017, he received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Visual Effects for his contributions to Kubo and the Two Strings. In 2009, Brian won an Annie Award for Special Achievement in Animation for his work on Coraline and, following the release of ParaNorman, was named by "Variety" as one of 2012's "Animation Elite." Prior to LAIKA, Brian worked as a traditionally trained sculptor and model maker for print and TV ads.

View past events: 2017