Hop To It
In other words, 250 out of 612 animated shots were totally CG for the scenes inside the colorful Easter factory -- a confectious nod to Willy Wonka.
"It's a bit of a departure for us," admits Raymond Chen, Rhythm & Hues' visual effects supervisor. "When you create a full CG frame, there is actually no anchor for you, but you have creative freedom, which is both good and bad. If you don't get the decisions done at the right time, you can run into the problem of changes coming very late in the game, which we had to deal with.
Creatively, the biggest challenge was the design of the factory, which was ongoing past principal photography. Aesthetically, they went for a cave-like design with rock candy styrations, but that looked too much like a dirty bunker. So they made it more clean and hygienic in keeping with the making of candy. Then they settled on more of a grand cathedral design. However, there was also the problem of scale. Realistically, a factory for rabbits and chicks would be small in scale, but since the climax hinges on a former human slacker named Fred (played by James Marsden) coming to the rescue, they had to alter the size to accommodate him. Yet the machinery still had to be used by the small animals in this 150-foot-high factory, so that stayed fairly close to the ground.
"The factory sequences were complex with machinery and effects. Tim and [producer] Chris [Meledandri] wanted to give a sense of how the candy is actually made. That necessitated having all kinds of background characters making and transporting candy. From a character animation standpoint, we had to juggle other components of the factory setting. Technically, it made it more challenging and definitely stretched our pipeline to the max."
For rendering the environments, they had a choice of their proprietary Wren or Side Effects' V Mantra. After much testing, they decided it would be faster and better to go with V Mantra. However, for character rendering they used Wren to along with their home grown Voodoo animation software package.