She Really Does Emote

Coraline: A Visual Companion Animator Travis Knight talking about the many facial expressions which had to be created for the characters in Coraline. The main character herself required over 200,000 different expressions (from Coraline: A Visual Companion by Stephen Jones):

“For facial animation, in particular, we’ve been able to find ways to use a computer to help out the stop-motion. Replacement animation has been around forever, but there’s only a certain amount of refinement you can get with it—it’s hand-done and it’s a little crude, but it does have a real beauty to it. With the computer you can make it pixel-perfect, get real subtlety.”

“We have these machines that can transfer what we’ve done with the computer, make physical objects out of them. That’s how we did a lot of the facial replacement animation. We were modeling and sculpting in the computer, printing them out on these wacky 3-D printers, painting them all by hand, and then fitting them and putting them on the puppets. That was how we got this really incredible, subtle, beautiful, and expressive facial animation.”

A painter in the puppet department cleans Coraline replacement faces on location in Portland. "Coraline," August 6, 2008

“It hurts my stomach to think about all those poor people who had to paint all that stuff and build all that. But I think it shows. When you see the film, she really does emote, and she feels like a real, living, breathing girl. Of course, all that comes from the animators.”

Vice President of Animation Travis Knight works on the "Coraline" set in Portland, Oregon. August 7, 2008