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How to build an interactive trailer

Legwork Studio’s creative director Dave Soderberg explains how movie assets were obtained for The Boxtrolls’ website

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Source the elements

The key to our idea was to create the illusion of the trailer slowing and becoming immersive. This was difficult, as the scenes from the movie weren’t shot in layers that we could extract and parallax. To get what we needed we had to search the movie for key characters that we could rotoscope and place into new ‘fake’ scenes. Once we found the right characters and plates for our backgrounds, we created rough scenes for approval on composition.

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Rotoscope the assets

Next, we requested clips at full resolution from Laika. We needed over 20 animated characters with at least 60 frames of animation each. We created templates for our scenes in After Effects while Weiden+Kennedy’s team began the arduous task of rotoscoping thousands of frames. As they finished, they’d send the sequences and we’d replace our rough footage. This process happened countless times while we were constantly refining and adjusting positioning, sizing, and lighting.

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Retouch the backgrounds

Concurrent with Weiden+Kennedy’s motion team, the Weiden+Kennedy retouching team was hard at work on compiling the backgrounds of the scenes by combining frames from the movie, patchwork of other parts of the movie, and painting what we couldn’t find. As they sent over updates, we would then incorporate them into our master After Effects file, slowly replacing the placeholder assets.

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Put it all together

Countless asset swaps later, our master After Effects file no longer had placeholder assets. We organised everything into four layers for parallaxing. At this point we were ready to export PNG sequences for all animated sprites, static layers of the retouched/composited backgrounds for the parallax, and the final intro videos that seamlessly transitioned into our fabricated immersive scenes. It was that easy!

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