Ever wonder how they made those clay puppets talk in Coraline, the hit stop motion movie? The effect is achieved by using “replacement mouths”. That is to say that each syllable or mouth gesture uses a different mouth. So for example an “oo” sound will have a specific mouth made for it and swapped in to the characters’ lower half of their face when needed. Coraline as you can imagine had a whole set of mouths for each character. Below is a snapshot taken from the backstage shorts of the movie.

Coraline - Replacement Mouths

Coraline - Replacement Mouths

It’s interesting to note in this case the nose and the lower part of the characters eyes are included in the mouthpiece. Normally it does not include the nose or eyes..just the mouth.  Amateur versions can be found on the internet , youtube, animation sites etc. A very effective and basic one shown below from sk8inLeo.

sk8inleo Simple Replacement Mouths

sk8inleo Simple Replacement Mouths

sk8inleo’s approach is well within any budget and experience. It is something worth trying out if you have not done so already.

The Coraline (professional) method uses the full jaw at least when replacing mouths but the alternative is to just stick the replacement mouths onto the surface of the face is done by AndreasFrancis with his below video.

Stick on Mouth Replacement Method

Stick on Mouth Replacement Method

One of my favourite very simple stick on mouth replacement stop motion shorts comes from sebyoung.
So simple but very well done

Then there is the whole area of lipsync. If you have your mouth replacements made then you only have to watch your timing. For example if you are capturing images at say 20 frames per second then depending on the speed with which the character is speaking you may leave a paticular mouth piece in place for 5 to 10 or even more frames. It comes with trial and error. Most good stop motion software programs allow you to copy a frame as many times as you like. So you do not need to capture the exact number of frames for the syllable you are using. You can fix it in your software.

So if you have not tried this with you stop motion I encourage you to give it a try.