Developing the Titles for ParaNorman

Art of the Title speaks to LAIKA/house artist and illustrator Aaron Sorenson about the gleefully spooky and charmingly realized main-on-end titles of ParaNorman.

How did the first meeting about this sequence go?

Arianne Sutner, one of the co-producers, spearheaded the process. She contacted me and asked, “Are you interested in directing our title sequence?” Of course, I said yes.

We then had the initial meeting where Chris Butler and Sam Fell, the film’s co-directors, laid out their vision for the titles, which was inspired by old Hollywood horror posters — specifically old B movies artwork with slightly garish qualities. They wanted the animation to look quite painterly and loose. Designer Trevor Dalmer had already done some amazing concept art and the directors used his illustrations in a short proof of concept animatic that featured the first few characters. The challenge was to create art for the key crew titles and the credit roll for an eight-minute piece, so there was still a lot of design and layout to consider. I wasn’t even sure how we were going to animate the characters and maintain the painterly quality in motion, but it was fun to just dive into the deep end.

How closely did you work with the rest of the film’s production team?

Our production bridged the locations of the two LAIKA studios. Our immediate team consisted of a mix of artists from LAIKA/house, LAIKA’s content division, and artists from the feature side. LAIKA/house Co-EP Jan Johnson produced the sequence and juggled artists back and forth with Arianne. To keep the process flowing smoothly, we regularly checked in with Chris and Sam and constantly posted work in progress as we went along.

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