Computer Graphics World

Dec/Jan 2011-12

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Page 27 of 51

■ ■ ■ ■ Animation W hen Warner Bros. released the fi rst Happy Feet movie, people wondered what they were thinking down under. An animated feature in which many of the character performances started with motion-capture data? Blasphemy. But, Happy Feet's joy- ous story caught the imagination of audiences worldwide, and the fi lm went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film in 2007. Following that win, director George Miller founded his own studio, Dr. D, in Sydney, Australia, and began preparing for a sequel. In 2009, he hired Rob Coleman to build an animation team and direct the animation for Happy Feet Two, which picks up where the fi rst fi lm left off . Mumble, the Emperor Penguin who could dance but not sing, is now married to Gloria; they have a son, Erik. Erik can't dance, but when he meets the "Mighty Sven," a puffi n that Erik mistakes for a penguin, Erik becomes determined to fl y. Returning penguin voice actors include Elijah Wood as Mumble and Robin Williams as Ramon and Lovelace. Prior to joining the Happy Feet Two crew, Rob Coleman was an ani- mation director and supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic, where he received two Oscar nominations for best visual eff ects (for Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Episode I – Th e Phantom Menace) and two BAFTA nominations (for Episode I and Men in Black). We spoke to Coleman soon after work on Happy Feet Two wrapped. How did you begin this project? I sat with George [Miller] and looked at what he liked and didn't like in the fi rst fi lm, and I spent the fi rst year, from April 2009 to April 2010, building an animation team. How many animators did you have on your team? I had 75 animators at peak from 14 countries, with 32 from Aus- tralia. I was worried when I fi rst came down here because I knew CG animation wasn't huge. Th ere are companies doing CG, but there aren't a lot of character animators. But, just before I started hiring, Animal Logic was fi nishing Guardians and didn't have another big show yet, so I was able to pick up a lot of senior and mid-level animators and a couple of leads who probably otherwise would have gone to Canada or the UK. Th en, I committed to hiring only Australian junior animators. How did you organize the team? I had a number of leads, which is similar to the way I worked at ILM, and divided the work into sequences. At peak, we had nine teams, but most of the time we had six or seven. Each lead had around seven animators. Everyone did penguins, but two of the teams became really good at animating krill, so I cast more krill sequences to them. And, we 26 December 2011/January 2012

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