‘Missing Link’ 360° Video Gives Unprecedented Access to LAIKA’s Stop-Motion Marvel

     December 17, 2019

Missing Link, the incredible achievement in stop-motion animation from award-winning studio LAIKA, is poised to bring home even more awards thanks to its Golden Globe and Annie Awards (and hopefully Oscars) nominations. And those awards are very much deserved. It’s hard to overstate just how much hard work, talent, and creativity goes into each and every frame of a LAIKA film. But luckily we have an exclusive video that offers a glimpse of just that, a peek behind the curtain to show off the effort that goes into the sets, characters, costumes, and animation of the studio’s incredibly artistic films, all while offering unprecedented access to the set of Missing Link.

This 360-degree, high-def video goes into the actual set of McVitie’s Saloon, a pivotal part of the Missing Link adventure story. You can control the camera by zooming in and out, spinning up, down, and all around to take a look at each and every pixel in the frame. Feel free to pause and focus in on the highly detailed set or listen along as award-winning production designer Nelson Lowry walks you through just a few of the secrets hidden in plain sight that you would easily miss while viewing the film on the big screen or at home on Blu-ray.

This is one of my absolute favorite featurettes released by LAIKA so far. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the studio a number of times, including an in-person tour of the Missing Link sets, but this video is the next best thing. I even learned something new thanks to this video that I missed while on set because there’s simply so much going on in every LAIKA production. If you’re a fan, like I am, you will also want to check out the companion art book from Insight Editions, and be sure to check back soon for my full interview with Lowry (a snippet of which follows below) for more insight.

Check out the incredible 360-degree video from Missing Link below and be sure to take your time and explore!

We have the pleasure of revealing a 360-degree video of one of the sets for Missing Link. It’s absolutely incredible. It highlights all those different aspects of the production. What can you tell us about this set? Were any particular challenges that it posed? What made it a great example for a 360-degree video like this?

Nelson Lowry: Well, I think, the size, to start. I mean, the subject is great. I love that set. I had a great time working on it, and I think it’s very beautiful. It was a tricky thing to do because Chris Butler, the director, wanted it to be quite ugly but also beautiful, so it was kind of fine line, but the size of it is pretty good for 360 because it is a contained space. The set itself is probably only five by seven or eight feet. And what I love about that 360 video is, there’s lots of cool things about building all this stuff, but when you give tours, people just … their jaws drop when they come into the studio and they go into units and they see, “Wow, I’m in this world!”

It’s so childlike because you’re actually seeing, almost like what you might’ve set up when you were playing with toys as a kid or playing with your kids and imagining these places. But now, you can physically go in it, and I think the 360 video lets the viewer participate in that way and pursue right into that spot. So, it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to actually getting a tour on one of our stages, for anybody who’s interested. And I hope we do more of it because I know that in that 360 we’re calling attention to details and things, but what I would really encourage people to do is just ignore that and look at whatever they want. That’s the whole point of it. You’re in control, and you can check out the ceiling. Like, where are people going when they go off camera? Well, you get to see them leave the actual unit. Yeah, it’s a very good “I’m there” kind of experience.

McVitie's Saloon from LAIKA's Missing LinkI love both of those aspects that you mentioned: One, is you get to physically look in and visit the set as if you’re actually there, but then, for people who are interested in the nuts and bolts behind the scenes, you get to turn the camera around back on you and your team as you go about your business. You get to see the people who are actually making this stuff come to life, which you never get to see.

Lowry: Yeah. And also, the sets and characters and costumes are all beautiful, we’re very proud of them, but also, they don’t just film themselves. I mean, the crew and the dressers and the lighting, the camera… I’m not just saying this; we admire them so much and it’s a chance for their work to be seen, as well. And one other interesting thing about that video is if you [tilt] up and see all the practical lights and the stands and the flags and there’s, without exaggeration, probably 50 or 60 pieces of equipment hanging up there, and then you think, at the peak of production, we’re shooting on maybe 60 units. So, whatever you see there, it’s x60 or more. I mean, we have a a hundred units shooting, but I’m saying, really, like set up and ready to go units, so you have to imagine a whole studio filled with stages like that. It’s just a crazy thing.

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