Hillsboro-based Laika is a world leader in the dying art of stop-animation filmmaking.

Their films have consistently been nominated for best-animated picture at the Academy Awards, as well as winning numerous accolades for their painstaking animation process, articulating real puppets and photographing them frame by frame.

Behind the scenes action on director Chris Butler’s "Missing Link," a Laika Studios Production and Annapurna Pictures release.

Behind the scenes action on director Chris Butler’s “Missing Link,” a Laika Studios Production and Annapurna Pictures release.

Laika Studios / Annapurna Pictures

“Missing Link,” the studio’s fifth feature film, is its most ambitious yet. The movie required over 100 sets and 100,000 individually made faces for all their characters.

OPB’s “Weekend Edition” host John Notarianni recently spoke with Laika’s head of production, Arianne Sutner. She said the studio’s laborious approach to animation is what makes their films special.

“I don’t really think you can emulate the style,” Sutner said. “It’s real objects interacting with real light; capturing the beauty of that is magic.”

The film is set in the Victorian era, and the creative team obsessed over the design of the puppets’ costumes, even weaving new fabrics to create authentic vintage wool suits in miniature for the sasquatch character, Mr. Link. 

“We can’t just buy something off the rack and think it’s going to look right,” Sutner said. “We get nothing for free.”

Behind the scenes action on director Chris Butler’s "Missing Link," a Laika Studios Production and Annapurna Pictures release. 

Behind the scenes action on director Chris Butler’s “Missing Link,” a Laika Studios Production and Annapurna Pictures release. 

Laika Studios / Annapurna Pictures

The effect of the animation is so seamless that, when combined with modern CGI effects, it’s easy to forget that you’re watching handmade puppets as they run, fight, and explore the globe. So deep down, does Sutner feel a bit disappointed if the audience forgets about all the thousands of hours of work that went on behind the scenes?

“No,” she said with a laugh. “I want every audience member to be engrossed in the story and engrossed in the world.

“Our rule of thumb is that if the imperfections take you out of the film, we want to correct it and have you get lost in the story.”

Use the audio player above to hear the full conversation from OPB’s “Weekend Edition.”