John Carter

On April 26th I eagerly attended a Vancouver SIGGRAPH presentation by Ken McGaugh on Double Negative’s creature work in Disney’s John Carter. It was great to hear about how Double Negative worked with director Andrew Stanton to figure out how the Thark performances were going to be done. Stanton chose Double Negative, who isn’t known for creature work, because it was he was also learning how to make a live action film and that they could collaborate by finding out what questions they needed to answer first.

One significant hurdle is figuring out what your framing is going to be when dealing with the height differential of the nine foot tall Tharks and the six foot tall John. McGaugh indicated that eyelines were particularly troublesome and that they tried to have the actors present as much as possible. Also, the team had to figure out how to handle the gestures and mannerisms of the four-armed Tharks. It was really impressive to see the reference footage they filmed of themselves with different people playing the arms. The production team dubbed these “Thark pornos” and they’re actually quite spectacular and it’s a great reminder that all animation starts with researching the physical world.

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