Making Peter Rabbit: Animal Logic


My name is Will Reichelt and I am the
visual effects supervisor for Peter Rabbit. The visual effects supervisor’s
role is to work directly with the director and to understand what they
want creatively and to make sure that’s communicated back to the team at the
studio and it’s also their responsibility to attend the shoot to
make sure that we’re collecting all the information that we need to collect in
order to do the work and then to present the final creative work back to the
director for approval. Peter Rabbit needed a lot of great invention to
figure out how to best make a live-action hybrid film versus a
straight animation. It’s very different because in animation you can
keep making changes til the last week, whereas with live-action
you have to lock and load. You have to commit to what you shoot on set and then
you have to make the animation work to it. Computer-generated animation
doesn’t make a hybrid movie easier in fact computer-generated visual effects
and animation get more and more complex year after year, but it’s also far more
complex and interesting and emotional for a storyteller and to do that the
Animal Logic team had to develop an incredible amount of fur technology,
cloth technology and character animation technology to be able to get that
expressiveness out of these fur-covered little creatures. So as with every project there’s very bespoke technology that needs to be developed to be able to do something that’s
innovative and groundbreaking. We now are able to
achieve a much higher level of quality on fur for instance with the combination
of the kind of rendering technology that we implemented on the LEGO movies so
everything that we do feeds into itself and it’s all in the service of
pushing everything forward to create a better result. I think that people
discount the amount of artistry that goes into visual effects and the fact
that visual effects is a very strong combination of technical skill and
artistic skill and the people that work on these films are very, very talented
artists and have to be in order to achieve the level of quality that
we go for. The biggest challenge on Peter Rabbit were the shots where we had to
sell an interaction between the actors and the digital characters. And the
reason for that is because it’s very hard to reconcile what’s actually happening
from a physical point of view on set and what the animation
is going to be later, so part of what my role was on set was to make
sure that the actors understood what the characters were meant to be doing at any
given time and to make sure that they had something physical there to interact
with. The other aspect of my role on set is to communicate with the DoP and the
camera operator to make sure that they also know what Peter and the other
characters are supposed to be doing in the shots so that the camerawork then
ties in to the character’s actions and what they’re supposed to be doing too. For instance Peter might be running at a certain speed down the garden path, the
camera might need to pan at a certain speed, take two seconds to pan from
right to left – the camera operator has to know that in order to do it at the right
speed so that we have the information there to put Peter in at the correct
speed later on. Well an animated movie comes to life
when you get the actors to kind of perform the voices
behind the animated characters and so when you have amazing
actresses like Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki playing two of the triplets
it just makes them explode on screen so we’re really fortunate to have
that level of A-level talent. And the animators use that as a point of
reference for when they’re animating for the level of expression and how much
emphasis the actors put on certain things and animators are like actors and
they take that as an input and then they put their own spin on it. I’m really excited for people to see Peter Rabbit and to see the results of work that we
put into it because I’m really proud of it. I think that we set out to achieve
something that was photorealistic and integrated and I think we achieved
that goal and I think as the director Will Gluck says you forget that you’re
watching animated rabbits after five minutes and you see them as just
characters in the film, which I think is fantastic. I think it’s exactly what we wanted.

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