Rainmaker: Making The Animals Talk

Rainmaker Ltd. Partnership (Rainmaker) completed 170 CG shots on the new Fox release, GARFIELD: A TAIL OF TWO KITTIES. Full CG face replacements were completed on the film’s new character, Winston the bulldog, and on eight other talking animals. Completing the task in just eight weeks, the Rainmaker team was led by visual effects supervisor Charlene Eberle and visual effects producer Jinnie Pak.

Rainmaker also collaborated on the original GARFIELD (2004). For this sequel, Rainmaker created two talking ducks, a goose, a parrot, a bull, a Rottweiller, a rabbit, a rat and the British bulldog butler named Winston.

Eberle explained, “The biggest challenge at the start of the project was the Winston character. We were originally very excited about him because bulldogs have short fur, and in CG, longhaired animals always pose a larger problem. But what we didn’t account for were the complexities of his face.”

Using real bulldog plates to replace just the face, Eberle and her team quickly found that a bulldog has many folds, jowls and markings, and at any given camera angle the real dog would look very different. In fact, the Rainmaker team asked if production had possibly used a stand-in dog at any time. They realized that the only consistent element with Winston was his lower jaw fur patch.

“The first hurdle was locking down a grey scale model of Winston that included all his correct facial anatomy. Once we got that down, we hit the ground running. Then the challenge became, as usual, a very short post schedule.”

For the film, in addition to proprietary software, Rainmaker used LightWave 8.5, Fusion 4, Sasquatch, Fprime, FrameCycler and Boujou 3.

Warren Franklin, president Rainmaker Animation & Visual Effects, added, “We’re very proud of our CG team and their continued growth. Charlene, Jinnie and the entire crew delivered some tough work in a very short amount of time. We managed the schedule by having two shifts, which helped us tremendously. Our crew grew from 30 to 50 animators on this project.”

Rainmaker worked closely with Chris Bailey, animation supervisor on both the original GARFIELD and this sequel. On the collaboration, Bailey commented, “For GARFIELD 2, with nothing more to animate than his face, the animators at Rainmaker were able to make Winston a full fledged character able to hold his own next to the fully animated Garfield.’

In the Vancouver facility, Rainmaker is currently working on BLADES OF GLORY, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM and VANTAGE POINT and in London, BUTTERFLY ON A WHEEL.

Rainmaker Ltd. Partnership (Rainmaker, www.rainmaker.com) is an award-winning visual effects, 3D animation and post production company with a 27- year history of technical excellence and outstanding service in feature films, television, games and commercials. From its origins in the pioneering west coast post house Gastown Prods., Rainmaker has grown into one of North America’s pre-eminent post-production service providers. Rainmaker recently opened a new facility in London: Rainmaker Animation and Visual Effects UK Ltd. (Rainmaker UK), which offers cutting edge visual effects and 3D animation in that market. Rainmaker’s Vancouver facility continues to provide a wide array of post production services ranging from traditional film developing to the very latest in digital image processing, visual effects and computer-generated animation.

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