Framestore Performs CG Wizardry for Order of the Phoenix
Although he delivers just a few lines, Kreacher's words are loaded with meaning, and his body language is similarly freighted. Explained Solomon, "You tend, as an animator, to animate -- to put in the traditional, slightly heightened stuff, with the creature hitting its marks perfectly and so forth. But we soon realized that that was not what was wanted here. So we worked against our instincts, and it was quite strange. We kept thinking he's not really doing much, he's not moving, he's not really acting -- but actually that does feel more real. A little hunchbacked old man doesn't actually move or gesticulate a lot, so doing almost nothing was the right choice."
Added White, "We took an entirely muscle based approach to Kreacher's facial animation system, extending the functionality of the tools we designed for the centaurs and taking them even further, to give him skin that's appropriately soft and stretchy for such an elderly character. We filmed actor Timothy Bateson as he sat in a chair and did his vocal takes, using his facial expressions and mannerisms as reference (although no motion capture was used), and these were incredibly useful for the facial performance. But the actual combination of body language, stance, how Kreacher moves around and how he reacts to Harry -- that was entirely the creation of our animation team. This subtlety of animation, combined with the sophisticated skin shading and really believable eye lighting gave us something I'm really proud of. It's a beautiful, understated little performance: you feel that you can really see his mind in his eye, like he's a living being."
London-based Framestore CFC (www.framestore-cfc.com) is the largest visual effects and computer animation studio in Europe, with more than 20 years of experience in digital film and video technology.
The company has won numerous international awards, including two Technical Academy Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, three BAFTA Craft Awards and 13 Primetime Emmy Awards.
Work in the pipeline for 2007/2008 includes: HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, HIS DARK MATERIALS: THE GOLDEN COMPASS, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN and THE DARK KNIGHT. Work continues on the first animated feature, The TALE OF DESPEREAUX, and, for television, PRIMEVAL 2.