If you’ve seen stop-motion animation films such a “Coraline” and “ParaNorman“, you won’t want to miss out on “The Boxtrolls”. Yes, it’s done by the same people aka the peeps over at Laika.
“The Boxtrolls” is Laika’s latest venture into the stop-animation film category. The film is adapted from Alan Snow’s book, “Here Be Monsters!” and has a family-friendly coming-of-age story about fathers and sons. But aside from the appealing storyline, what’s more amazing is the effort and technology that goes into making “Here Be Monsters!” come to life. To really understand it, you need to know about the team and what they do behind-the-scenes.
Thanks to Collider, that information is now yours. We’ve narrowed it down to these super interesting fun facts. Enjoy:
- There were 330 on Laika’s crew, not counting voice actors, sound engineers, or workers at other facilities. At most, 30 of these people were animators. The production started with only t2 animators and maxed out at 30 simultaneous animators for only about a month before tapering down.
- Each animator is responsible for four seconds of animation a week. Each second of animation is composed of 24 still frames. “The Boxtrolls” is 87 minutes long, which is 125,280 frames. More actual frames were shot during production for second passes and 3D stereoscopic image capture.
- The fabrication team is composed of 65 to 70 artists and craftspeople, who take 3 to 6months to create a puppet depending on the complexity. Snatcher’s first puppet took 6 months; background characters take about 3 months. There are duplicates of every puppet, including 25 Eggs puppets, 15 Snatchers, and 185 total puppets.
- There are 14 different fabrics in Lord Portley-Rind’s white hat.
- The movie’s smallest costumes were for Eggs as a baby: the sweater, measuring 3.5” from cuff to cuff across the length of both arms and chest, and the baby socks measuring 5/8” long.
- More than 20,000 props were handmade for the movie. 55 different sculpts of prop cheeses were created for “The Boxtrolls”. The movie’s smallest prop was a tiny sewing thread and needle.
- Sets can be seen breathing and swelling between hot and cold temperatures.
- All the lights on the sets are practical LEDs, from the strings of lights throughout the cavern to the eyes of the Boxtrolls themselves.
- The Guild Entrance Hall set features 3 sequences in the film with 7 or 8 minutes shot on the location. The set was built in duplicate so that multiple animators could film different sequences in the same location. The set is gorgeous and incredibly detailed with ornate decorations befitting an aristocratic ballroom.
- The Cavern set is huge, sporting the big slide that the Boxtrolls ride down, spilling them out into an expansive cave complete with a garden, various gadgets, a generator, a bedroom nook, a water-wheel, and lots of characters. Months were spent on this set, which took 3 weeks to dress and three weeks to do a main shot before parceling it into separate sections for tighter sequences.
- The Sewer set is absolutely beautiful in a different way from the Grand Entrance Hall, since it’s lit from below through the plates of ripple glass that help mimic water, has stop-motion animated water flows, and is incredibly atmospheric.
- The Sewer set took 2 minutes to capture each frame, which is relatively slow for their process. The Sewer set was only used in 3 shots in the film and then retired.
- VFX adds additional CG-animated puppets of Boxtrolls and humans to scenes like the waltz and the crowded market square. Other VFX additions include digital smoke, sparks, skies, atmospheric elements like fog, and set extensions for roads and buildings.
- The waltz sequence has 60+ dancers with another 20 – 30 characters in the hall. Live-action dancers and choreographers were hired to plan out and rehearse the waltz scene with motion-capture for reference.
- The Boxtrolls have animated lips, cheeks, eyebrows, and foreheads, which ends up allowing more performance options but also produces a lot more parts.
- The Boxtrolls themselves look simple, but are actually complex since they have glowing (LED) eyes that can adjust their intensity, and also retract their appendages into their boxes which necessitated half-heads and other such designs.
- Some of the puppets go into storage, some go to Universal for exhibits, and some will go on tour to be shown off.
- There are plenty of cheesy puns to go around in the Market Square, a lot of which were original creations from the art department. One in-joke is “Norville’s Print Shop,” named after the art department’s printer. Another is “Davis’ Diaper Delivery and Disposal” which is named for a prop department member’s newborn son; the hours 4-11 signifies his birthday. Another is “Bagel Friday; Next Friday Donuts” which were the office food selections at Laika on alternating Fridays.
- “The Boxtrolls” features the largest interiors and exteriors Laika has used so far. The production period totaled 72 weeks.
Watch the trailer here:
“The Boxtrolls” will be released in a cinema near you on 11th September.
For more information, visit the movie’s official website.