Stop motion animation is one of the oldest techniques in film-making, with the painstaking process bringing monsters and other fantastical creatures to life since the earliest days of cinema. It was used as a special effect from the turn of the century (that's the previous century) through King Kong and Ray Harryhausen and later became the medium for entire features through the work of pioneers like Wladyslaw Starewicz.
Stop motion features waned in popularity through the years but experienced a surprising, and welcome, resurgence in the new millenium thanks to the efforts of companies like Aardman animation and outings by directors Wes Anderson and Tim Burton. And at the same time a small studio called Laika was on the rise.
Their first film was Coraline back in 2009, a stunning adaptation of the Neil Gaiman book which was followed up by ParaNorman in 2012. For my money, it's one of the best films of the last 10 years, not just in the animated sphere. 2014 brought The Boxtrolls and now the company is back, continuing on the stop motion course to almost single-handedly keep the medium going.
Here's the first trailer for Kubo and the Two Strings. Bear in mind that the majority of these scenes were crafted a tiny move at a time by an army of talented artists.
It's an incredible looking piece of work, and the visuals married with the song choice and what looks like a lot of action also mark it out as a bit of a change of pace for the studio. It's still a film that will be targeted at all ages so there are touches of lighter moments despite the dark tone of the trailer.
It's a about a young boy in Japan who must go on a quest when an ancient spirit is unleashed. And he's going to have to fight some monsters on the way - so it's just as well he has some extra help in the form of a snow monkey voiced by Charlize Theron and a guitar with some freaky powers. Game of Thrones lad (he plays Rickon) Art Parkinson is Kubo and he's joined by Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes and George Takei.
ParaNorman writer Chris Butler co-wrote the script and it is being directed by Laika's CEO Travis Knight.