How was Isle of Dogs made? – Behind the scenes of the new Stop-Motion marvel from Wes Anderson
Once a character is out of concept art, it is sculptured with plasticine. Each one has to be recreated in four different scales for the dogs and five for the human.
If the prototype gets approved, another artist makes a mould with the shape of the figure. All the characters are created by hand, using very little 3D printing.
Lead Armature Maker Josie Corben commented that the armature is the moving facility of the puppet. These armatures must fit into the mould and are the next stage in the process. The dog characters had also ball-and-socket armatures for their facial expression.
The silicon is cast on the top of the armatures, to give a flexible skin to the puppet.
Then you can paint over this skin. Human puppets get a face replacement system for the mouth. Tracy is the character who was the hardest work to make, as the artists had to replicate her freckles exactly in the same place for the many versions of the head.
Another painstakingly elaborate job was to punch the hair, one at the time, to cover the head and skin of all the dogs. Human characters also have to be dressed. After that, puppets are ready for action.
Furthermore, over 240 detailed sets were created for the film, some of them just to appear in the movie for 3-4 seconds.
The mock-ups and puppets are delivered to the animator, who has the work to bring the scene to life. Here is where the real magic happens, making a performance out of these pieces of metal, silicone and rubber.
In parallel, cameras are placed on the bodies of real dogs in order to track their movements, which animators then used to build a dog movement database. According to Lead Animator Jason Stalman, one of the hardest things to do in animation is emulate a real walk.
27 animators worked on the production, using very little CG (like to fill up the rear rows of the scene pictured). Also use of green screens was necessary when the action could not be filmed at the same time.
Stalman also commented that his job feels like sculpting a performance, step by step. Like children do when playing… Which toy was your favourite when playing?
All the images by courtesy of Fox Searchlight
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