Special effects artists at Tippet Studio talk about the work they did on the wolves for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1.
From The Daily:
No matter what you do, there’s no stopping “Twilight.” If you have a pre-teen daughter, niece or cousin, there’s a chance you’ll be conscripted to take her to see the latest installment, “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” this holiday season. Our advice? Bring a flask, settle in and enjoy the special effects. No, really.
The film has a scene, set in a lumberyard, in which CGI wolves debate the merits of eating Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her unborn child. This is where you’ll want to pay attention.
Director Bill Condon called on Tippett Studio and its founder, Phil Tippett, to develop the whole lumberyard sequence from script to screen.
“The lumberyard sequence was great,” recalled visual effects supervisor Eric Leven. “It was first time in any of these movies that it was just the wolves in wolf form doing their wolf thing.”
Although the wolves communicate telepathically, the sequence remained dialogue-driven.
“We got into a recording room and assigned roles,” said lead animator Hans Brekke. “Then we took the dialogue track and started designing shots, which were loosely based on a storyboard sequence.”
Animators produced a computer-generated pre-visualization of all the lumberyard shots, ensuring that the “speaking” wolf (played by Ab Roller champion Taylor Lautner), would remain in the center of frame.
Armed with the previs, the filmmakers shot the scene over three days, on a lumberyard set complete with giant logs that had to be craned in. Carboard cutouts stood in for the wolves.
Back at Tippett Studio, visual effects artists used an in-house grooming tool called a Furator to create the wolves’ realistic coats and refined the animation to match the voices of the real actors.
The artists also ensured that small details, like the ears, helped demonstrate the hierarchal relationship between the different members of the wolf pack.
“It’s a very alpha thing to do, to push [the ears] forward,” said Brekke.
“It was our responsibility to make sure the wolves carry over, and that the audience feels that we’re getting the wolves right,” Leven added.