LAIKA is dedicated to advancing the art of stop-motion animation through a unique fusion of traditional techniques and advanced technology. Over the course of five features, LAIKA has developed and refined a groundbreaking new way to create animated films, combining the handcrafted artistry of stop motion with digital design and visual effects.

While deeply committed to innovation, LAIKA’s philosophy revolves around using technology to empower and support its people. The artisans of stop motion — the puppet makers, set builders, cinematographers, and animators — drive the creative process. LAIKA harnesses technological innovations to expand its production capabilities while maintaining the unique, handmade aesthetic for which the studio is renowned.

This presentation will feature Eric Wachtman, LAIKA’s CG Supervisor, and Michael Cordova, its Compositing Supervisor. They will trace the studio’s path from the in-camera-first aesthetic of Coraline and developing revolutionary and Oscar®-winning facial animation and 3D-printing techniques to the digital fabrication methods and VFX integrations used in its upcoming and most ambitious film, Wildwood. They’ll discuss the technologies that had the greatest impact on LAIKA’s filmmaking process, key breakthroughs, and the areas where LAIKA chooses to forgo digital solutions in favor of practical effects.


Eric Wachtman is an award-winning Art Director and CG Supervisor, known for his contributions to both LAIKA and Cartoon Network’s Toonami. He has worked professionally in film and television since 1995, joining LAIKA in 2006.

Eric has contributed to all of LAIKA’s films to date. He started at the studio doing visual development in the Digital Design Group. As a key member of that team, he collaborated with directors and artists to push the boundaries of fusing practical stop-motion and CG, ensuring that each project achieved a unique visual treatment. After concluding work on Coraline, he helped transition the Digital Design Group into the studio’s Visual Effects department, while overseeing look development and lighting for each of LAIKA’s films.

Prior to LAIKA, Eric served as a key member of the Toonami team, playing a pivotal role in designing the iconic programming block, which introduced audiences to a diverse array of anime and action-packed cartoons. Before his time at Cartoon Network, he worked on various television shows, commercials, and music videos.

Eric is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® Visual Effects Branch, ASIFA, and The Visual Effects Society, where he currently serves on the Board of Managers as Co-Chair of the Oregon Section.

Michael Cordova brings 20 years’ experience in visual effects to LAIKA, where he serves as Compositing Supervisor. Prior to joining LAIKA in 2011, he worked for 12 years at Industrial Light & Magic.

He was nominated by the Visual Effects Society for his work on ParaNorman (Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation, 2012) and was a member of the compositing teams for the Oscar®-winning Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Best Visual Effects, 2004) and the Oscar®-nominated and BAFTA® Award-winning Kubo and the Two Strings (Best Visual Effects and Best Animated Film, respectively, 2016).

His most recent credit is LAIKA’s Golden Globe®-winning Missing Link (Best Motion Picture – Animated, 2020), and he’s currently working on LAIKA’s latest and most ambitious animated feature, Wildwood.

In addition to his role at LAIKA, Michael serves on the Visual Effects Society’s Oregon Chapter Board of Managers. He graduated with a degree in Media Arts and Computer Science from The Evergreen State College.