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‘Boxtrolls’ Costume Designer Takes on Big Challenge of Tiny Costumes

When discussing animation, costumes aren’t usually a major part of the conversation — but maybe they should be.

In creating the period garments for stop-motion stereo 3D pic “The Boxtrolls,” costume designer Deborah Cook worked much the same way she would in live-action — except that the characters she worked with were barely a foot tall.

But additional technology goes into making clothes that will fit models that small and also hold up under scrutiny on the bigscreen. For example, laser cutting tools are required, as traditional cutting and stitching thickens edges and can throw off the costumes’ scale. Also, the outfits must be able to stay completely motionless for each frame during stop-motion photography while moving fluidly and believably between shots.

“We put a lot of engineering under the costumes so that they can move through the frames, 24 frames a second,” Cook said. “We have to be methodical … in how things are processed to make sure that everything has extremely fine detail. The slightest stitch out of place looks huge on screen.”

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