If you’re a fan of LAIKA Studios’ stop-motion animated spectacles, you probably have a good idea of what you’re in for when their latest film Missing Link heads into theaters this April: Stunning animation, well-developed characters voiced by top-tier acting talent, and a surefire Oscar nomination come awards season. But more casual moviegoers might miss out on just how much work and artistry goes into making these relatively small but highly complex and sophisticated puppets move, one frame at a time, in order to bring the next great adventure to the big screen. That’s why the following movie details from my set visit to LAIKA Studios, along with a small group of fellow journalists, highlight the many, many people behind the scenes of the production.
During our visit, we got to chat with the departmental leads of a number of areas that make LAIKA films possible, from costumes, to puppet fabrication, to rigging, and production design. This is where the nitty-gritty details of stop-motion animation really gets done. We learned about the painstaking detail of hand-sewn and surprisingly highly engineered costumes for dozens of puppets, the engineering challenges of making a foot-tall puppet for a husky character covered in fur, the technological advances in rapid prototyping (which previously earned LAIKA a Science and Engineering Academy Award) used on this film, the challenges posed by animating a massive elephant, and the many and varied landscapes across 60+ locations in this globe-trotting adventure. Missing Link looks like another marvelous movie from LAIKA and it’s thanks to the hard-working cast and crew that it can now come to life!
Featuring the voices of Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, Zoe Saldana, Timothy Olyphant, David Wailliams, Emma Thompson, Matt Lucas, Ching Valdes-Aran, Stephen Fry, and Amrita Acharia, Missing Link hits theaters on April 12th.
Here’s the official synopsis for Missing Link:
This April, meet Mr. Link: 8 feet tall, 630 lbs, and covered in fur, but don’t let his appearance fool you… he is funny, sweet, and adorably literal, making him the world’s most lovable legend at the heart of Missing Link, the globe-trotting family adventure from LAIKA. Tired of living a solitary life in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Link recruits fearless explorer Sir Lionel Frost to guide him on a journey to find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight, our fearless trio of explorers encounter more than their fair share of peril as they travel to the far reaches of the world to help their new friend. Through it all, the three learn that sometimes you can find a family in the places you least expect.