The Croods Character Animation – Bringing The Croods to Life
Did you know every second of character animation takes about a day to complete? Holy moly! When I heard that at the Parent Blogger Summit for The Croods, my jaw literally dropped. Can you imagine dedicating yourself to something so intensely? That’s just what James Baxter, one of the animators at DreamWorks does, and hearing him talk about all The Croods character animation secrets was almost as amazing as the skill and technology behind the film!
“The fun thing about The Croods… was making these cavemen different from any other kind of cavemen that you’ve seen before, but to also make them really funny and entertaining.” That’s one of the first things Baxter had to say about the character work on The Croods and I have to say they succeeded BIG TIME! The Croods family is a great hodge podge of animal like characteristics and mannerisms, raw human emotion, and tons of physical comedy.
Listening to animator James Baxter discuss his work on The Croods.
When you check out The Croods, you will definitely notice some animal influences in their movements. From the silverback gorilla way that Grugg (the dad) walks, the cat like athleticism of Eep (daughter), or even the little feral Jack Russel way toddler Sandy scurries around – they are all so incredibly believable. If you think that the fun on The Croods stops with fun human characters, you better wait to see all of the creature creations that the team came up with. Have you ever seen a Macawnivore? How about a Piranhakeet? Maybe a Crocopup is more your style. These creatures play a huge part in the movie, so animators spent a lot of time perfecting their moves and mannerisms too! “(And) it was just bizarre trying to come up with believable ways that these ridiculous creatures would actually move so that you could believe it.”
So what is it that makes the animated character look SO MUCH like the actor behind the voice? In The Croods, when I watch Eep (voiced by Emma Stone), part of what makes it so lifelike is the way her face moves: the certain smile or arch of the brow that looks just like Emma Stone. That’s where “lipstick cameras” come into play. Since there is a camera on the actors in the sound booth, animators can use that footage to fine tune a character’s mannerisms and expressions. Apparently Emma Stone is wildly animated when working in the sound booth and gave them a ton of ideas and things to work with.
Where does a lot of animation take place? According to Baxter, “…largely sitting at our desks, animating away, manipulating the puppets.” Once a character is created, animators use special computer programs (when using computer animation) to create a rigging system. You can think of it as the most intense set of puppet strings you have ever seen. With tons of controls for each aspect of a characters movement, it’s no wonder that it takes one day to create 1 second of animation.
Don’t worry, the animators don’t spend all of their time at their desks. One of the things I loved to see was how involved they all were with studying movement. Sure they used a lipstick camera and watched the movements of animals, but the other best test subject, was themselves! How do you see what it looks like for a caveman to fall down? You set up a camera, act like a caveman, and throw yourself down on the ground!
I was extremely impressed with the animation and incredibly lifelike characters in The Croods. Learning some of the behind the scenes secrets just made it even better. I can’t wait for you to see it too!
The Croods smashes into theaters March 22.
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A big thank you to 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation for inviting us to The Croods Parent Blogger Summit.
About Ashley – Ashley is a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and former teacher working to navigate through the mysterious world of Mommyia. Read more about her adventures at Momicles and follow her@Momicles2010.