Oregon film company gets Oscar nod with 'ParaNorman'

HILLSBORO, Ore. - Early Thursday morning, as the Oscar nominations were being announced live, Nelson Lowry was eagerly watching.

Lowry was the production designer on the movie "ParaNorman," which was produced by Oregon film studio Laika.

Then the good news came - the movie earned an Oscar nod in the "Animated Feature Film" category. Lowry let out a howl in celebration.

"It was a yelp," he said. "I won't do it now, but it was something like a 'yo!'"

Walt Disney predictably dominated the animated-feature category with three of the five nominees: "Brave," ''Frankenweenie" and "Wreck-It Ralph." "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" also snagged a nomination, in addition to ParaNorman.

We talked Thursday with some of the folks behind the movie at Laika, who said they weren't expecting a nomination, especially considering how many quality animated films came out in 2012.

"Two other stop-motion films, Pirates and Frankenweenie, I thought 'no, they're not going to have a third stop-motion film,'" said animation specialist Brad Schiff. "But they did. Yes!"

Lowry explained how an animated fantasy like ParaNorman takes shape.

"We have to create a whole world," he said. "We're starting from scratch."

He starts with a simple sketch that eventually turns into a complete world. No detail is too small, even a freckle on a face.

The artists at Laika used puppets to create Norman and his friends.

"Pretty much everything that a human body can do (the puppet) can do," Schiff said.

Laika was also nominated for an Oscar in 2009 with Coraline, although they lost out to "Wall-E."

Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane will host the 85th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24. You can catch the show live on KATU.