Making a 'Bad-Ass' Werewolf
Werewolves, like vampires, are all the rage, of course. And director Catherine Hardwicke wanted a more graphic, ferocious and unpredictable beast for her Red Riding Hood.
According to Jeff Okun, the onset visual effects supervisor, Hardwicke had a collection of every werewolf reference there is. "We looked at all these photos and drawings and things off the internet and talked about each and every one of them in a lot of detail," he suggests. "Why it worked or it didn't work; what worked for its time and looks terrible now. And we talked a lot about transformations and decided early on that we weren't going to do a transformation. We've never seen a transformation that was really well done. The best one still being the Werewolf of London, but, for our story, it's not really about a transformation: it's about the mystery of who the wolf is. It would've taken away from the arc a little bit and been less special. And in terms of the design of the wolf, we tried to walk a very bizarre tightrope between something that's very beautiful and intelligent and something that is really scary and has visual potential of death about it. That resulted in a creature with both short and long hair and lots of muscles with a lot of traditional wolf features. We also shot animation reference of all the actors. And when we were animating, we used little bits of each of the actors so that all of their individual tics would be in there. We really pay conscious attention to make sure the wolf pays off."
In fact, Okun says the wolf is a combination of smooth operator and used car salesman, which reveals itself in phases: the first is a series of blurs showing mostly muscle and teeth; the second is all about trying to convince Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) to come away with it; and the final is trying to get out of a dilemma. "The animation is a combination of rodeo horse and hyenas on the attack," Okun describes.
Rhythm & Hues was tasked with creating the wolf under the animation direction of Craig Talmy. He echoes Okun in describing this as a different kind of beast. "It's stylized and very monstrous-looking. But it is not the biped human form that you often see in these films. The other difference is that our wolf spends the majority of screen time trying to be as inviting and calm and supportive of Valerie as he can. The wolf is trying to seduce her into coming away with it. We don't know. You never see werewolves try to reason and romance somebody.