Doing the Razzle Dazzle with Yogi Bear
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the live-action/CG hybrid of Yogi Bear is that Rhythm & Hues is a co-producing partner for the first time with Warner Bros. The VFX studio has thus been able to leverage its considerable experience in creating characters from cartoon series (the Scooby-Doo, Garfield and Alvin and the Chipmunk movies) into more of an ownership role, which made Yogi an interesting starting point for conversations about their involvement.
For the 3-D shoot in New Zealand with director Eric Brevig (Journey to the Center of the Earth), Rhythm & Hues worked on several hundred shots, featuring its extensive animation, lighting and fur work for Yogi (voiced by Dan Aykroyd) and Boo Boo (voiced by Justin Timberlake). In addition, R&H did matte paintings and vfx work, (water, fire and cloth) and props animation. In addition to its proprietary Voodoo animation, R&H continues to use Maya and Houdini.
"Being a producing partner definitely added a new level to it," suggests Betsy Paterson, R&H's vfx supervisor. "We were able to be involved from design all the way through story, so that helped. You always have ideas to make things easier and better along the way and it was great to be in the room and listened to on this show. It was nice to feel more ownership of the final result.
Paterson says there's a lot of interaction with people, lots of action in and out of boats on a river and water skiing and flying in the sky. "We did three minutes of full CG for the flying sequence, with all the mountains and rivers below them," she adds. She was dubious of 3-D at first, "but somehow the stereo made it useful for really making sure that we can feel the characters in those spaces."