For those of you who don’t have the free time to play them, Cuphead is a side-scrolling, run-and-gun videogame created by StudioMDHR for the Xbox One and PC back in 2017. Heavily inspired by old 1930s cartoons, the game is famous for its hand-drawn animations, authentic watercolor backgrounds, and jazz music.
To commemorate the game’s 2020 release on the PlayStation 4, the Toronto-based Stop Motion Department worked in collaboration with the game’s creators to produce a launch trailer worthy of the game’s unique aesthetic:
The whole trailer just oozes 1930s nostalgia – from the puppets to the stop motion animation… even the heavy film grain effects seem straight out of a time when TVs only projected colors in black and white.
Starting with the main characters, puppet makers Kareen Valleu and Lauren Craig created puppet versions of King Dice and Cuphead using wooded heads, heavy leather hands, and yes, lots and lots of stuffing.
To emulate old 1930s toys, they used primary shapes for the heads, hands, arms, and legs, While the methods they used were different, the final puppets harken back to a time when toys were made by hand.
Once the puppets were done, they were positioned manually using drawn-out charts and metal gauges to hold their positions.
Unlike modern stop motion animation, no computers were used. This means the final video shows all the placement imperfections, from the bodies all the way to the different mouths used to make the characters talk (you may even notice some inconsistencies between what the character says and how their mouth is angled).
Lastly, the video was shot using C-mount lenses, which are old 1930s camera lenses that deliver a vintage look by blowing out the picture. To make the footage as authentic as possible, no post-editing was implemented (which is pretty intense for day and age).
If you’ve seen any old-timey cartoons which feature characters with creepy faces and drawn out smiles, you’ll know this is exactly what they were going for. Top it all off with some jazz and a catchy jingle and you have a commercial which would make any grandparent smile and any grandchild cry.