Ok, not as bad as it may first sound.
“We built about 8,000 mouths,” key animator Ian Whitlock said,
explaining how he brought the various characters to life in an unusually
short time. “For the Pirate Captain model, we made 257 separate mouths.
For someone like Charles Darwin, we probably had about 130 mouths.”
Here we see Aardman embracing the power of the 3D printer to print complexity for free, with traditional production, each separate mouth would have had to be produced from scratch, but with 3D printing the animators could use 3D modeling software to create the mouth, then make minor variations to get a range of facial forms, then 3D print the entire batch.
“When the mouths are printed out, they’re
sort of a flesh color. It’s the same technology used to create hearing
aides. They have about 14 different skin tones … once it’s done, we sand
it and paint it.”
Interestingly they must have used monochromatic 3D printing such as laser sintering instead of full color 3d printing possibly to get higher resolution. We are bound to see more and more 3D printing used in animation, from the high end Aardman’s to the DIY animators doing shorts in their living room.