Behind the Scenes with ‘Boxtrolls’

From Animation Magazine.

The Boxtrolls

Back in Spring, the Animag editorial team was invited on a delightful, mind-boggling tour of LAIKA studio in Portland, Oregon, where teams of craftsmen, artists and animators were hard at work on the upcoming Focus Features release The Boxtrolls (September 26). According to producer David Ichioka, “Stop motion is not the stupidest, but it is the wackiest possible way to make a film.” Here are some of the wacky things we learned about this neo-Victorian family adventure.

By the Numbers

  • 1 week; the average amount of time for an animator to complete 3.7 seconds of footage
  • 3.5 inches, the cuff-to-cuff measurement of baby Eggs’ sweater (created on an embroidery machine to produce irregular lines, like a hand-knitted garment). His little socks are only ⅝” long
  • 4 scenes per week was the goal for each animator
  • 14 different fabrics were used in Lord Portley-Rind’s white hat
  • 24 kinds of weeds were created for backgrounds by the greens department
  • 55 different sculpts of prop cheeses were made; different scale sizes were needed for wide, medium and close shots
  • 56 ½”; the size of the terrifying Mecha Drill vehicle; every joint is articulated for jostling and the prop required its own stage rig
  • 30 to 300; the range of crew at work between the beginning of shooting and the height of production
  • 1,300 shots required vfx touches, which were accomplished by 50 artists
  • 20,000+ props were handmade for the film; the smallest prop is a tiny sewing needle with thread
  • 55,000 facial expression pieces were 3-D printed, with the potential for approximately 1 million combinations
  • 125,280 individual character poses are needed to create the 87-minute film

The Puppet Department

With different artists creating delicate armature (both for characters and their costumes), hemp hair wigs and intricate costumes, there was a lot to take in.

  • This is the first LAIKA film that started with a silhouette lineup of characters (by artist Mike Smith).
  • Key influence words were: Fantasy Dickensian world, nervous lines, Ballet Russe, Impressionism.
  • Costumes were really pushed for this third film thanks to Deborah Cook’s period-inspired designs including lace created on an embroidery machine and cut-outs, panels and patterns made with a laser cutter.
  • European expressionism even factored into the “skin” painting — faces and hands were stylized with blocky colored lines and contrasting areas.
  • Mechanical challenges included the villain Snatcher’s belly, which has its own gear for jiggling, the Boxtrolls’ bendy midjoint and the big ballroom scene which required jointed rigs in the ladies’ skirts to create a Gone with the Wind effect.

Quote of the Day

During an informative lunch with directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi, Anthony gave the best summary of the film’s dichotomy of the above-ground, cheese-filled world of oppulence and color and the dreary night world of the trolls and their antagonist: The Boxtrolls is like if Terry Gilliam did Oliver Twist.”

For the full article, click here.