Laika Receives Technical Oscar

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Wed, 02/17/2016 - 12:01 -- Nick Dager

Left to right:  Martin Meunier, Brian Mclean. Photo by Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S.Laika was honored at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Scientific & Technical Awards on Saturday, February 13 in Beverly Hills, California.  Brian McLean and Martin Meunier received the Scientific and Engineering Award for Laika’s pioneering use of rapid prototyping for character animation in stop-motion film production. Laika, the animation studio located just outside Portland, Oregon, has produced three films, all of which have earned Oscar nominations for Outstanding Animated Film.

The award citation reads:

Laika’s inventive use of rapid prototyping has enabled artistic leaps in character expressiveness, facialanimation, motion blur and effects animation. Through highly specialized pipelines and techniques, 3D printing capabilities have been harnessed with color uniformity, mechanical repeatability, and the scale required to significantly enhance stop-motion animated feature films.

The Scientific and Technical Awards recognize significant milestones in the development of technology for motion pictures and are conferred by vote of the Academy Board of Governors after an investigation by a special committee, which presents a written report and recommendation to the Board of Governors.

McLean, Laika's director of rapid prototype, heads a department, which unites the complex technological elements of 3D printing with animation. In 2009, McLean won an Annie Award for Special Achievement in Animation for his work on Coraline and, following the release of ParaNorman, was named by Variety as one of 2012's Animation Elite. He continues to be instrumental in Laika's further groundbreaking developments and refinements of stop-motion 3D printer technology. 

A former facial animation designer at Laika, Meunier is currently puppet supervisor at animation studio Cinderbiter.  His feature film credits include Coraline, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and most recently The Sponge Bob Movie: Sponge Out of the Water.