The future of home cinema

coraline dvd

I have just watched the first fifteen minutes of Coraline, in 3d on my computer. I was sceptical but I have to say it does actually work, to a point. They’ve reverted to the old-style red and green 3d glasses for the dvd release, which takes a little while to get used to (they forewarn 5 minutes on the dvd) but once you’ve settled the red and green start to fade and you can begin to enjoy the physicality of the world through stereoscopic 3d in the comfort of your own home. It’s not as good as the polarized 3d they used in the cinema but I supposed the technology is in its infancy and just hasn’t been developed enough for home viewing. So the colours are distorted, and the depth of field isn’t quite as impressive but I still think it’s exciting stuff.

There are about thirty five minutes of extras on the dvd which go into some detail about the process covering nearly all aspects of stop-motion production. It really makes you realise how groundbreaking this film is in terms of the techniques used and how many artists from such varied backgrounds came together to work on the project. There’s a particularly interesting section on the sets with art director Matt Sanders guiding us through the flower garden. I was lucky enough to meet Matt when Barry Purves introduced me to him at an event in Bristol. I had a long chat with him about Fantastic Mr Fox, which was then in production and his experiences on Coraline. Also, on the extras Coraline: A visual companionthey go through and explain, in basic terms, how the stereoscopic 3d works. It’s all to do with scale and perspective of the world you’re shooting, eye distances and camera distances. There is a lot of information on the dvd which is not covered in the richly illustrated accompanying book and vice versa so they complement each other nicely. 

As for the film itself, I thought it would be worth posting a review I wrote of it when it first came out…

Coraline is pretty astonishing. Selick seems to have taken stop motion performance to a whole new level; there are some epic sequences in this film. It's a work of art; from the intricate sets and costumes to the carefully observed performance of the title character. The music was rich and atmospheric, the story compelling and the characters engaging. Any worries about it being a little too 'cg-looking' were soon dispelled by fabulous textures from tiny knitted jumpers to clay earth crumbling off a well cover.

The voice talent is spot on and French and Saunders take a particularly hilarious turn as two old theatre lovies. The puppet designs are marvellous and the characters look fantastic - almost like they just wouldn't translate to puppet animation, with huge heads and tiny feet, but somehow the animators perform them with grace and so much expression.

The 3d business is a little odd to begin with but actually, rather than being a distraction, it goes some way to a more vital viewing of the physicality of the sets and the puppets. With this movie, as he did with 'Nightmare', let's hope Selick convinces a whole new wave of children to pursue stop motion.

I for one can't wait to see it again.

Coraline still

All images © 2008 Focus Features LLC