Having been lucky enough to go 'on set' when Corpse Bride was being filmed, I can confirm that visiting a Tim Burton stop-motion animation is what it must be like to set foot in Santa's workshop. The staff may not be elves but they are bent over hundreds of small dolls, applying miniscule stitches or painting surprisingly complex details onto their tiny cast members.
With Tim Burton's Frankenweenie opening in cinemas this week, I thought I'd share some fun facts that show the level of detail that goes into making this kind of film happen.
- Frankenweenie is the first black-and-white, animated feature film ever to be made.
- There are 24 frames per second in the stop motion for Frankenweenie. This means that the animator must stop and position the puppet 24 times to get one second of filmed action.
- There is no computer animation involved, but the filmmakers used computer technology for the visual effects. Overall, the film contains 1,300 visual effects shots.
- The first puppet designed for the film was Sparky. Once his size had been fixed, the puppet makers were able to scale the rest of the characters and sets properly.
- On average, one animator only produces five seconds of animation per week. Frankenweenie used about 33 animators, who usually worked alone over the two years it took to film. There were as many as 18 animators working independently of each other at one time.
- Multiple puppets of the same character allowed animators to work on more than one scene at once. Over 200 puppets and sets were created for the film, including 17 Victors and 12 Sparkys.
- Once a Sparky puppet has been used and abused, it has to go back to the painter for repainting. It would not be unusual for a Sparky to be repainted 60 times!
- The Puppet Hospital on the Frankenweenie set was always full. These highly trained model makers spent months repairing limbs, fixing hair and skin issues and mending costumes that were ripped or dirty.
- Animators spent time tensioning each puppet, which involves tightening the screws in the limbs and joints. Some animators wanted absolute precision, so they would use a tighter setting, while others preferred a gentler touch and would use looser tensioning.
- Crewmembers with pets that had passed away were invited to submit their names to the production design team. Many of the tombstones in the pet cemetery actually bear the names of real pets.
//Frankenweenie opens in UK cinemas on 17 October, 2012.//