Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Chris Lawrence and animation director Michael Eames oversee 727 VFX shots — including 677 featuring creature animation — for director Marc Forster’s heartwarming return to the Hundred Acre Wood.
In the heartwarming live-action adventure Disney’s Christopher Robin, the young boy who embarked on countless adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with his band of spirited and lovable stuffed animals has grown up and lost his way. His childhood friends, led by Pooh, venture into our world and help Christopher Robin (played by Ewan McGregor) remember the loving and playful boy still inside.
It was a family affair for Framestore, with Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Chris Lawrence (Gravity) leading the overall VFX on the film and Framestore’s global head of animation Michael Eames as animation director. With 727 shots for Framestore — 677 of those featuring creature animation — the film proved an exciting challenge for a studio globally recognized for its character work, and whose recent credits include Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and the Paddington films.
In its 15 weeks of prep, the animation team worked in tandem on character tests, to discover how they would move, emote and embody their individual and distinct personalities. “Marc is an interesting director; he sees filmmaking as an art, and wanted to create something truly original,” says Lawrence. “He had a very strong vision from the outset that he wanted to evolve beyond the Disney cartoons, but no-one knew exactly where that would take us.”
Following design development, it was agreed that the team had found something very special in the creation of characters which resemble the toys of Christopher Robin’s childhood. “Marc didn’t want us to come up with anything that would prevent an audience believing that the toys were anything but real,” says Michael Eames, Animation Director. “But at the same time, as characters, they needed to be able to perform and enabling them to have expression inevitably challenged our perception of what a “real” toy could be. Primarily, we based our animation tests on how the mechanical and material makeup of the toy could “be” moved — discovering what we could do to depict a range of poses, moods and expressions throughout the body and face as we went along. Ultimately, we came up with a range of motion that, whilst often extremely subtle, could be animated with enough contrast to allow a performance.”