I was watching the DVD extras on Paranorman and the following numbers were mentioned for possibilities for facial expressions.
Replacement animation used 80 faces for 800 expressions. I am not sure where the 800 comes in. Didn't Jack Skelington have only 80 heads?
Then it is mentioned that Coraline had 250,000 facial expressions. How is that possible with only a top and a bottom plate. Maybe it means all the puppets?
Finally it is mentioned that Paranorman had 300 puppets with a total of 40,000 faces. Not sure what they are calling a face, maybe a top and bottom complete?
With top and bottom face pieces, you can get a lot of possible combinations, but 250,000 does sound like a huge figure to me too. Just checking my books on Coraline and ParaNorman.
Coraline, A Visual Companion: Caption for a photo of 9 Coraline faces says " Just a few of Coraline's 200,000-plus different expressions". And there really isn't much more about the faces in the book. There's a lot more about sort than the crafts of puppet and set making.
The Art and Making of ParaNorman: This one has more about the development of the 3d printing for making replacement faces - a short chapter on it. "A full range of expressions means a huge set of faces - thousands for each character - " It doesn't give any specific figures.
I think 80 top faces and 80 bottom faces could give a possible 64,000 combinations. There are probably fewer top faces than that, you'd need more mouths for all the lip-synch as well as the expressions.
Thanks Nick for digging into this.
So it sounds like the 250,000 for Coraline was all the faces for all the puppets which included duplicates of main characters. It would be cool to have more specifics. I would have to think the majority of the changes would be barely noticeable and used more for tweening from one eyebrow lift to the other.
I also just say that Skellington had 400 heads so I am not sure where i got 80 from unless it was just for one sequence.
No, all the photos above the caption were of the one character, Coraline, so it appears they were saying that the character Coraline had more than 200,000 expressions - just her. All the puppets in the film must have had many more if that's true. Yes, many must have been in-betweens. I've never gotten into replacement faces, I stick with rubber faces with limited movement, because I can't see me making hundreds, let aloe thousands, of faces. I would look at making a couple of variations like a happy face with some movement, to only use in specific shots, where the regular neutral face couldn't manage to get the expression maybe.
I still can't get my head wrapped around that many options. I know i did see on one production that the faces had barcodes so they could be scanned to help with inventory.
I have no interest in making replacement faces myself. I was explaining the numbers to a friend and when she asked for more detail I didn't have the answer.