It’s not all just digital animation y’know. 3D printed stop-motion animated movies are growing in popularity, too. Here are five of the best.
By some accounts, 2016 was the worst summer for big movies in a decade and a half. But there was one light of hope amidst the gloom, one small cause for optimism, released at the tail end of the silly season.
Now, in case you’re thinking that making movies with 3D printing is a new thing and a flash in the pan — oh-hey-don’t-believe-all-the-hype — we’re here to tell you that they’re definitely a thing.
Sure, companies like Propshop are busy cranking out custom-made props for use in franchises like Star Wars and James Bond, but there’s also a handful of studios diligently applying 3D printing techniques to stop-motion animation. And in the process, they’re revolutionizing the craft.
We’re not going to get into the specifics of how. There are other articles on ALL3DP that provide a deep dive. This a list of excellent 3D printed stop-motion animated films to entertain and delight, while providing a crash course in the creative possibilities.
Each one of them is a winner — and not just in the 3D printing stakes, but the storytelling stakes too.
Best 3D Printed Stop-Motion Animated Movies #1: Coraline (2009)
Coraline is a fantasy horror film based on the 2002 novel by Neil Gaiman, produced by Laika and distributed by Focus Features. Written and directed by Henry Selick, the film is about a girl finding an idealized parallel world behind a secret door in her new home, unaware that this alternate world contains a dark and sinister secret.
The film was released widely in United States on 6 February 2009 and was critically acclaimed. It made $16.85 million on its opening weekend, ranking third at the box office. At the end of its run, the film had grossed over $124.5 million worldwide. Coraline received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Animated Feature.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90% Fresh
Best 3D Printed Stop-Motion Animated Movies #2: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012)
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! is a swashbuckling comedy film produced by Aardman Animations together with Sony Pictures Animation. The film was released on 28 March 2012 in the United Kingdom, and on 27 April 2012 in the United States, and featured the voices of Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Lenny Henry and Brian Blessed.
The film is loosely based on The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, the first book from Gideon Defoe’s The Pirates! series. It follows The Pirate Captain and his crew of amateur pirates in their attempt to win the “Pirate of the Year” competition. The film received positive reviews and was a modest box office success, earning $123 million against the budget of $55 million. The Pirates! was also nominated for the 2013 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86% Fresh
Best 3D Printed Stop-Motion Animated Movies #3: ParaNorman (2012)
ParaNorman is another animated comedy horror film produced by Laika, distributed by Focus Features, released on 17 August 2012. The film is about a small town under siege from zombies, and a boy named Norman with the power to speak to the dead. It stars the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jodelle Ferland, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Borstein and John Goodman.
This film has the distinction of being the first stop-motion film to use a color 3D printer to create character faces. ParaNorman received positive reviews and made modest returns at the box office, earning $107 million against its budget of $60 million. The film received nominations for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and a BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87% Fresh
Best 3D Printed Stop-Motion Animated Movies #4: The Boxtrolls (2014)
The Boxtrolls is a fantasy comedy film based on the novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow. Produced by Laika (them again), the film tells the story of Eggs, a human boy raised by trash-collecting trolls — known as “Boxtrolls” — as he attempts to save them from pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher. The film features the voices of Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Toni Collette, Jared Harris, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, and Tracy Morgan.
The film was released on 26 September 2014 by Focus Features to generally positive reviews, and earned $109 million on a $60 million budget. It also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75% Fresh
Best 3D Printed Stop-Motion Animated Movies #5: Anomalisa (2015)
Anomalisa is a comedy-drama film directed and produced by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, and written by Kaufman based on his 2005 play of the same name. The film follows a lonely customer service expert (voiced by David Thewlis) who perceives everyone (Tom Noonan) as identical until he meets a unique woman (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in a Cincinnati hotel.
Anomalisa was the first animated film to win the Grand Jury Prize at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, after premiering at the Telluride Film Festival on 4 September 2015. The film was then released on 30 December 2015 by Paramount Pictures. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and has the distinction of being the first R-rated film to be nominated in this category. It also won a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92% Fresh
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