How Boxtrolls Was Made With Stop Motion And 3D CGI

When I wrote the post about animating with Daz3D, I was also thinking about stop motion linked with commuter generated images or CGI. So I was pleased to find that the film Boxtrolls is all over the news because it links old school stop motion and the latest in computer-generated imagery.

Stop motion

As a reminder, stop motion or stop frame, is that animation technique that usually relies on the use of Plasticine, called clay-mation, or the use of other movable figures. Each small movement is photographed. The resulting filmed image is a model that seems to move on its own.

The stop motion technique was first used by Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton for Vitagraph’s The Humpty Dumpty Circus in 1897.

More recently, Industrial Light & Magic used stop motion for the chess sequence in Star Wars.

And Nick Park, who created Wallace and Gromit, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature with his feature-length stop-motion film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, still shown here.


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The company behind the Boxtrolls movie, which is based on the children’s novel ‘Here Be Monsters’ by Alan Snow, is LAIKA, based in Portland, Oregon.

From the LAIKA website:

“We’re a community of artists and technicians who create original animated content. We handcraft and transform everyday materials into living creatures infused with dimension and soul.”

The first two experiments in this mix of stop motion and CGI were LAIKA’s first two features Coraline and Paranorman, which were nominated for Oscars.


Boxtrolls continues to use a hybrid form of animation. Stop motion is enhanced by the use of 3D printing and digital coloring. For example, thousands of facial expressions were first modeled on the computer, digitally colored and then printed out on a 3D printer. For the crowd scenes CG characters were added in post production.

Here is the Boxtrolls trailer:


Boxtrolls is presented by FocusFeatures, here is the link to the Isaac and Elle’s tour of LAIKA:

For those who really want to go into the background of how the movie was made there is a book by Philip Brotherton, art director at LAIKA.

In the book the artists and craftspeople offer insights into the meticulous work that went into building and animating The Boxtroll’s world. The book is illustrated with concept art, puppets, props, and set photos.


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More info

Boxtrolls_Producer_David_IchiokaSource image:

In an interview on Collider, Boxtrolls Producer, David Ichioka talks about the work that went into creating the movie, “The film is 87 minutes long, which is 125 280 frames. And on every single one of those frames, somebody has touched it and changed it”.

For the rest of the interview go here:

For the Boxtroll official teasers go here and take your pick. My preferred is Part 2, which shows you a little of the actual creation of the everyday items that make up the backgrounds, such as the details in this still from teaser 2.

boxtrolls_from_the_movieSource image: 0.35 seconds in

Here is the link to the article by Ethan Gilsdorf on Boing Boing, for more about the hands and minds behind the creation of Boxtrolls

Part 1:; Part 2:; Part 3: and Part 4:

Melanie Phillibert

Dreamlight Content Management and Support

PS: If you want to Use Lightwave to produce stunning animations quickly and easily. Award-winning 3D artist shares his best tricks..! Go HERE

Happily sharing how to create great 3D & 2D art in DAZ Studio, Lightwave and Photoshop, Val Cameron, CEO and founder of Dreamlight, has been coaching and mentoring hundreds of thousands of artists since 2005. Bestselling DAZ 3D vendor with over 230+ video tutorials, plug ins and light sets.

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