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JUNEAU - From the time she was a young girl, Georgina Hayns has created things with her hands. She remembers a time when her mother put a pile of materials in the middle of their living room floor and instructed her to make something, as an alternative to boredom. She later developed a collection of dolls and enjoyed re-costuming them and repairing ones that were broken.
Breathing life into puppets: 'Coraline' puppeteers visit Juneau 042209 AE 2 CCW Staff Writer JUNEAU - From the time she was a young girl, Georgina Hayns has created things with her hands. She remembers a time when her mother put a pile of materials in the middle of their living room floor and instructed her to make something, as an alternative to boredom. She later developed a collection of dolls and enjoyed re-costuming them and repairing ones that were broken.

Courtesy Photo

Georgina Hayns inspects a puppet to be used in the film "Coraline" with mold maker Matthew McKenna. Haynes will give a workshop in Juneau this weekend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Story last updated at 4/22/2009 - 10:59 am

Breathing life into puppets: 'Coraline' puppeteers visit Juneau

JUNEAU - From the time she was a young girl, Georgina Hayns has created things with her hands. She remembers a time when her mother put a pile of materials in the middle of their living room floor and instructed her to make something, as an alternative to boredom. She later developed a collection of dolls and enjoyed re-costuming them and repairing ones that were broken.

Hayns is now one of the leading puppet-makers in the film and television industry, mainly working in the stop-motion genre. Her most recent work was on the stop-motion film "Coraline." She has also worked on the films "Corpse Bride" and "Mars Attacks" as well as commercials for Puffs Tissues and Lipton Iced Tea, among others. Her roles in these projects varied between several aspects of puppet-making, including design, construction, sculpting, costuming and hair.

Hayns and her fellow puppet-creator Mark Gaiero will be coming to Juneau this weekend to give a presentation and hold a workshop on puppet-making and animation.

Stop-motion animation involves the manipulation of inanimate objects to give them the appearance of movement. Animators must move puppets mere millimeters at a time, taking a still photo after each movement. The photos are then compiled, often at a rate of 24 frames per second, to form video. For a film like "Coraline," which has a duration of one hour and forty minutes, this means that animators had to move the puppets and set elements more than 144,000 times. It can often take days to complete only a few seconds of the film.

Hayns worked with a crew of more than 60 people in the creation of the puppets for "Coraline" in addition to animators, set builders and other crew members.

"Nobody realizes how much goes into making one of those puppets that's on the screen," Hayns said. "You're dealing with different materials all day. It's a form of art."

Hayns said she had much more artistic say in "Coraline" than she has had on any other film she has been a part of. As a result, Hayns had a huge amount of influence on the look of the puppets.

"I worked very closely with each of the specialist areas," Hayns said. "Henry (Selick) and I pretty much designed the characters."

Selick directed "Coraline" as well as other stop-motion films such as "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach." Hayns said it was an amazing experience to work on the film with such a superb group of people, including Selick and "probably the best team of animators in the world."

Technology has rapidly advanced for stop-motion filmmakers over the last several years. "The Nightmare Before Christmas," released in 1993, was shot entirely using 35mm film. Twelve years later, "The Corpse Bride" was the first film to be shot using digital still cameras. "Coraline," released this year, is the first stop-motion film to be shot entirely in 3-D.

Technology has changed in recent years for puppet-makers and animators as well. Rapid prototype and 3-D printing systems gave the puppets of "Coraline" far more facial expressions than ever had been possible before, Hayns said.

Though "Coraline" does contain an element of digital manipulation, Hayns said it is important to her to keep a handmade look in the design of the puppets. She said in a way, it goes back to the old way of doing things, before the aid of computers.

At this weekend's workshop, Hayns and Gaiero will teach aspiring puppet-makers the basics of armature building, costumes, hair, sculpting and claymation. They will also have a metal skeleton set up, and each workshop participant will have a chance to observe and move the skeleton with the help of an animator. At the end of the workshop, a short animation will have been created thanks to everyone in the room.

Hayns and Gaiero will give their presentation at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 25 at the Downtown Public Library.

A workshop will be held Sunday, April 26 from 1-5 p.m. at the same location. Suggested ages are 12 and up. Space for the workshop is limited and there is a $10 material fee. For registration or more information, contact Lucid Reverie at 586-3440.

These events have been organized by the Juneau Underground Motion Picture Society.


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