CCD cameras enable new stop-motion animation methods in feature film

JANUARY 6, 2009--Princeton Instruments (Trenton, NJ, USA) reports the extensive use of its MEGAPLUS EC11000 color CCD cameras in the production of the soon-to-be-released feature film Coraline.

JANUARY 6, 2009--Princeton Instruments (Trenton, NJ, USA; www.princetoninstruments.com) reports the extensive use of its MEGAPLUS EC11000 color CCD cameras in the production of the soon-to-be-released feature film Coraline.

The full-length animated movie from LAIKA (Portland, OR, USA; www.laika.com) is reportedly the first major stop-motion feature to be shot with industrial machine-vision cameras, as well as the first to be shot in stereoscopic 3-D.

Instead of shooting on film, director of photography Pete Kozachik (Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride) acquired the movie's frame-by-frame footage using roughly three dozen cooled, 11-Mpixel Princeton Instruments MEGAPLUS cameras. Kozachik indicates that the new MEGAPLUS-based shooting process offers key advantages over previously employed techniques that relied on film, video frame grabbers, and prosumer digital SLRs.

In addition to resolution and color reproduction, the flexible programmability and rugged mechanical housing of the MEGAPLUS are important for the application. Thermoelectric cooling is critical too, as dark current has to be minimized during the relatively long exposure times used.

In particular, relates Kozachik, the ability of the camera to provide sharp, near-real-time monochrome preview images and then capture full-resolution, color "beauty" frames improves project workflow and throughput.

"We're pleased that our advanced imaging technology helped save the Coraline production team considerable time and effort without compromising the quality of their results," says Terry Guy, Industrial Group business manager at Princeton Instruments. "We look forward to seeing future film projects utilize MEGAPLUS-enabled stop-motion animation methods."

Written for the screen and directed by Henry Selick (who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach), Coraline is a tale about a curious girl who unlocks a mysterious door in her family's new home and enters into an adventure in a parallel reality, adapted from the Hugo Award-winning, internationally best-selling novel by Neil Gaiman. The film will be released February 6 by Focus Features.

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