Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” is like no other stop-motion film, so it makes sense that its animation process was like no other. Instead of CGI, the movie’s art department made thousands of characters by hand.
“[It’s] probably the most ambitious stop-motion film certainly I’ve ever worked on,” says the movie’s head puppet master, Andy Gent. “There’s always a lot of detail … When you create miniatures they have to be absolutely working miniature versions of real life.”
Gent says Anderson zoned it on every little thing and made sure miniature buttons, zips, and watch dials all had the details of their real-life counterparts.
For instance, Gent says the original script called for a minute-and-a-half sushi preparation sequence. It took seven months to shoot. In the film, a chef slices up fish, which involved magnetizing the already cut silicon pieces to resemble a whole fish. Then, when the knife slices through it, it would open up to the internal pieces, Gent says.
It took a lot of planning, testing with paper cutouts and plasticine, molding, plus hand painting to ensure the shot was exactly right, he continues. Occasionally, a sudden change can derail hours of work, like when the team had built multiple gloves for the chef’s hands in the sushi cutting scene, only for Anderson to change his mind about jump cuts.
“We’d plan for one eventuality and then it changed around, which often happens. You’d be like, ‘Well why do we need to do this? Why are those the rules?'” Gent says. “It took three animators because it broke quite a few people to get through the shot. Seven months later we end up with one minute of animation.”