Sneak peak at 'Coraline' is deep


Director Henry Selick describes his upcoming "Coraline" as a marriage of "old-fashioned" stop-motion animation with the latest 3-D techniques.

During a footage presentation Friday, about 30 minutes of Focus Features' "Coraline" — the first stop-motion animated film to be produced in stereoscopic 3-D — was shown. It was mostly finished, though it did include some temp music.

"Coraline" is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's best-seller, which follows a young girl who walks through a secret door in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life. The film opens wide Feb. 6.

The clips shown Friday include the sequence where Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) discovers and enters the alternate world. In that environment, Coraline encounters the "Other Mother" (Teri Hatcher), who tries to keep her from going home, as well as a variety of characters who perform circus-style acts. In another scene, the girl runs from the home, but as Coraline distances herself, the colors and setting seems to wash away.

The clips demonstrated how Selick — whose credits include 1993's "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" — uses the 3-D format as part of the storytelling. For instance, the sequence in Coraline's real world is fairly shallow, while the director brings greater depth to the alternate environment.

"I love how 3-D captures the essence of stop motion," he said.

"Coraline" is being produced in Portland, Ore., at Laika, the Phil Knight-owned facility that encompasses the former Vinton Studios.

Selick's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" has been remastered in stereoscopic 3-D and was rereleased in the format in fall 2006, last year and again this year. (partialdiff)