Framestore Animates Rocket for Guardians

Framestore animated the badass Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) as well as his arboreal companion, Groot (Vin Diesel), in footage spanning 40 minutes and 633 shots of Disney/Marvel’s box office smash, Guardians of the Galaxy.

Framestore (led by VFX supervisors  Jonathan Fawkner and Kyle McCulloch) also created the cavernous expanse of Knowhere — a giant, mined-out skull that’s home to a whole city — the most complicated environment the London-based studio has ever built.

The first creative challenge was creating a believable talking, bipedal raccoon. Rocket needed to look naturalistic, but at the same time he had to be made to do things raccoons don’t do, such as shooting people with big guns. “If you exaggerate his performance and make him too cartoony you’ve lost the audience but if you go too real it won’t be entertaining or won’t do Bradley’s voice justice,” explains animation supervisor Kevin Spruce.

As Framestore was in look dev on Rocket, the creature FX team handled fur and clothing. Normally in  simulating a million hairs for a coat of fur, you might choose 10% of those as guides to drive the full groom, but for Rocket Framestore simulated every single hair and how it collides for the first time.

“Rocket is the strongest and most central character that we have animated without a doubt,” says Fawkner. “Underneath there’s a lot more to him than just anger and as a title character he’s got sequences that posed really beautiful challenges from an animation and an acting point of view. We had to make sure he could hold his own on screen.

Framestore’s section begins with the Guardians captured and transferred to the Kyln prison. It’s one of the biggest sets Marvel has ever constructed, but we still needed to extend it from two stories to 30. It was fully built, lit and rendered by Framestore, which might seem like overkill for a set extension, where normally you might use a matte painting, but with the environment being viewed from so many different angles it was essential.

Knowhere, a city inside a severed head floating at the edge of the Marvel Universe, spans three miles across and was designed with distinct neighborhoods comprised of 85,000 separate pieces such as towers, pillars, turbines, favela huts. Framestore even brightened up those districts by hand-placing around 10,000 street lights.

Framestore then had some odd creatures to animate on the gambling table and some huge FX problems to solve in the Collector’s lab before animating a high-speed space-ship chase that explores every inch of Knowhere.

The chase, meanwhile, takes place at hundreds of miles an hour and so from shot to shot the action might travel a quarter of the way around the environment, meaning you soon see every part of the environment. The camera takes in all the geometry, from large-scale things such as the towers right down to individual little railings, light fittings, and doors.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Clips, Movies, previs, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production

Add a Comment