Do you know that Russian puppets Cheburashka and Gena the Crocodile are popular in ... Japan? Exactly so, and this is not surprising.
The fact is that in the country that spawned the anime, puppet cartoons are very rare. The reason is the exceptional complexity and cost, which makes it very difficult to achieve good results on an acceptable budget. That's why the anime got so widespread - it is a kind of animated consumer goods. But why of the puppet characters did the Japanese like Cheburashka? Just because he is “kawaii,” that is, dear.
No matter how sad, but the low-paid work of domestic animators became the main reason why Soviet puppet cartoons have no equal in quality and quantity. But in a market economy, such projects previously paid off with difficulty. Imagine what a titanic effort it took to shoot the famous "Plasticine Crow"! However, recently 3D printing has come to the rescue of animators, and puppet cartoons are gaining popularity again.
One of the leading puppet studios in our time is played by LAIKA, a group of artists and 3D printers from Oregon, USA. The studio has existed for about ten years, but in a fairly short time managed to achieve fame with such paintings as “Coraline in the Land of Nightmares”, “Paranorman, or How to Train Your Zombies”, “Monster Family” and “Cubo and Two Strings”. LAIKA makes extensive use of computer graphics, but cartoon characters themselves tend to print. Especially their faces.
3D printing plays the most important role in conveying emotions. So, for the characters of the cartoon “Coraline in Nightmare” 20,000 interchangeable heads were printed, allowing you to display speech and emotions frame by frame. For the characters of "Paranorman" has already been printed 33,000 options with different facial expressions. In the “Monster Family” the number of faces increased to 52,000, and in “Kubo” the animators switched from plaster printing to polymer for the sake of higher quality, and the number of combinations reached a stunning 22 million!
What do we have in the end? No, puppet animation has not become easier. Rather, on the contrary, it has become orders of magnitude more complicated, but also much more colorful. As before, sculptors have to painstakingly process models, but the models themselves no longer have to be made entirely by hand. But the main consequence of the use of 3D printing was an unusual emotional gamut of characters. If you want to know how this is done, see the following video: