August 12, 2014 2:34pm PT by Carolyn Giardina
Siggraph: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Character Rocket Raccoon Was "The Heart of the Film"
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was "the greatest risk we took as a studio because it’s quite different," said Marvel's executive vp VFX and postproduction and Guardians exec producer Victoria Alonso.
Speaking at CG conference Siggraph in Vancouver, B.C., Alonso and representatives of the film's VFX team took attendees behind the scenes of the massive production, which involved 2,208 VFX shots — roughly 90 percent of all of the shots in the movie — created by 13 VFX companies in 17 locations.
Director James Gunn wanted everything to be based in reality, with big sets and characters with big personalities, said associate VFX supervisor Olivier Dumont.
Kyle McCulloch, VFX supervisor at Framestore, described the creation of CG raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) as a key character for Gunn, who told the team "Rocket was the heart of the film. If Rocket didn't work, the film wouldn't work."
Framestore started by designing a character with a scruffy raccoon face but a body that made him look like an action hero. Then it was key frame animated, meaning that it was animated by hand, and no performance capture was used.
Nicolas Aithadi, VFX supervisor at MPC, talked about creating the talking tree Groot, who was also hand animated, including how his look evolved during the course of the filmmaking as they experimented with his movements and different types of wood for his appearance. Aithadi noted that since Groot doesn't speak much, there was a lot of emphasis placed on giving him expressive eyes.
Lastly, Vincent Cirelli, VFX supervisor at Luma Pictures, talked about bringing Thanos to the screen, which involved combining the likeness of actor Josh Brolin with a strong performance, as the character often appeared in close-ups.