When you were a kid, you probably couldn't have imagined the manpower necessary to make your favorite movies, TV shows, and video games. But then you grew up, learned a thing or two about the entertainment industry and how it's fueled mostly by dump trucks filled with cocaine and delusion, and gained a greater appreciation for the effort of the hundreds of people involved, and the mistresses who pleasured them throughout their stressful days. But behind all of their hard work are the software, machinery, and specialized services created solely to make their jobs a lot easier. And believe me, these things are like freakin' cheat codes.
5844-NEED-SCI, The Hotline Which Connects Screenwriters With Scientists To Get Movie Science Right
It used to be that nothing could be done if the science was atrocious in my screenplay about a guy who uses his power to control volcanoes with his brain in order to kidnap the Queen of England (don't fucking steal that idea, it's mine). Dumb people would forever believe volcanoes can spew lava demons, as occurs midway through the second act, after the Queen does a back flip off an oncoming missile and redirects it into Mt. Vesuvius, thus spawning the lava demons. But today, I have no excuse for not understanding basic volcano science, now that 844-NEED-SCI is a thing. It's a hotline which connects lonely screenwriters with one of over 2,700 sexy single scientists around the world. The scientists are standing by, and they can't wait to tell me that I don't know dick about volcanology.
For example, volcanoes don't have dicks. So there goes my sex scene.
844-NEED-SCI is provided by the Science and Entertainment Exchange, an offshoot of the National Academy of Sciences, a nonprofit organization dedicated to consulting on all kind of scientific matters, with a primary focus on helping government workers and politicians understand science. Modern politicians seem to not give much of a shit about science, so fuck it, screenplay consulting it is.
So far, 844-NEED-SCI scientists have consulted on over 1,300 film and television projects. Marvel Studios are a loyal client. The goal isn't to nail the real-life science used in movies to explain fantastical bullshit. There's an understanding between writers and scientists that scripts shouldn't get bogged down by jargon, but they don't have to be loaded with scientific impossibilities and falsehoods, either. It's popcorn science. Mostly or somewhat factual is good enough. Still, I know I'm not letting facts get in the way of my script's climactic ending, in which the volcanoes start walking, no matter what some volcano nerd says.
4Stop-Motion Animation Studio Laika Uses 3D Printers To Create Millions Of Subtle Character Expressions
Stop-motion animation is a massive pain in the ass. Every eyebrow twitch and lip curl and blink is the result of an animator physically manipulating the character. At least, that's how it used to be. The Nightmare Before Christmas marked a change in the animation of facial expressions with the development of a technique called Replacement Animation. For Jack Skellington, animators crafted over 700 faces which could be quickly swapped in and out, each sporting a unique expression, depending the emotion of the scene and the specific syllables being spoken. It dramatically cut down on the work needed to shoot a scene, though each face and emotion still needed to be made by hand.
Laika, the stop-motion animation company behind Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, is using 3D printing technology to ensure their animators never physically touch a puppet's face again, while at the same time broadening the palate of expressions and emotions stop-motion characters can convey. It's replacement animation, but Laika prefers it to be called Rapid Prototyping. Which also happens to be the name of my volcano movie.
Instead of animating faces on set in front of the camera, animators sculpt every expression on a computer and print them with 3D printer. When Laika first started using this technique on Coraline, they had to hand-paint every face. By ParaNorman, they were able to print each face in color. With each successive film, Laika has been able to increase the subtlety of emotion they can convey, which means they need to print more faces. 20,000 faces were printed for Caroline. 30,000 for ParaNorman. It went up to 52,000 for The Boxtrolls. And then things took a jump; over 22 million facial expressions were printed for their latest movie, Kubo And The Two Strings. The number of possible facial expressions on Coraline topped out at 207,000. On Kubo And The Two Strings, it's over 48 million.
Sassy smirk phase 1874 of 2286.
I'm not great with numerical estimations, but if I had to guess, I'd say it would have taken Laikia 10 billion years to fabricate 22 million facial expressions by hand. There's just no way the script for Kubo And The Two Strings would have been good enough to justify a 10-billion-year pre-production process.