Shorts: Rodriguez Summons Another Kid-Friendly Tall Tale
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After Grindhouse, Robert Rodriguez returns to the kid-friendly fare of Sharkboy and Lavagirl and Spy Kids with Shorts. Only Shorts eschews greenscreen for more live-action environments and CG creature work in weaving its convoluted tale of a wishing rock, swarming tiny spaceships and aliens, crocodile armies, giant boogers and a towering Black Box robot.
Although Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios did its usual design and previs and preliminary work, the director once again turned to Montreal-based Hybride Technologies for the bulk of the vfx work. We spoke about the particular challenges and new R&D with Daniel Leduc, visual effects supervisor & producer, and Joseph Kasparian, lead textures & lighting.
Bill Desowitz: So what was your focus on Shorts?
Daniel Leduc: Our focus was the crocodiles, the beetle, the alien, the space ship, the robot, the Black Box, at the end of the movie.
Joseph Kasparian: The giant bees.
DL: Yes, the giant bees at the end. We had 336 shots and more than 23 minutes of effects. One of the biggest challenges was in the area of character animation and we had a lot of R&D to generate so much of it. The crocodiles were difficult because we're used to seeing them in a resting position or on their bellies, but Robert wanted to see them walking. So we had to change the shape of the model so it feels nice and looks more natural and more human because it's an animal that doesn't at all have the same shape as a human, but it has to walk the same way as a human, so we did some R&D on that and we did some walk cycles and we shipped some animation to Robert so he could approve the personality of the crocodiles. Because it was a kid's movie, they couldn't look scary.
BD: So this character animation emphasis was different from the previous films you've done with Rodriguez?