Guardians Of The Galaxy: Speak To Me, Rocket

Guardians of the Galaxy was a big gamble and an even bigger hit for Marvel Studios last year; a relatively unknown, often jokey outer space yarn that included a couple of fully CG non-human main characters. It really could have been a train wreck. But the stars all aligned, so to speak, and we got a Summer blockbuster. Since we see so much CG work in movies these days (both good and bad quality), it's easy to forget the tremendous amount of effort that goes into even marginal computer generated animations. The UK-based visual effects house Framestore handled many of the character animations, including Rocket, the snarky genetically-manipulated talking Raccoon, and they have a blog post detailing some of the work that goes into producing something like that - Rocket: the making of a space raccoon

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We referenced Bradley Cooper’s vocal performance as an anchor point in terms of lip-sync, along with a level of interpretation required to translate a human face performance to a raccoon muzzle. “People talk a lot about lip-sync and facial animation, but really a good performance is a combination of everything – the body poses, the amplitude and of course the timing – and those elements coming together and looking like one thing. We had Bradley’s voice, James Gunn’s brief, post-vis and reference of the animators doing Rocket actions to nail the physicality. We used all of that as reference to create a performance” adds Kevin [animation supervisor Kevin Spruce].
 Here is a look at Framestore's "Rocket reel":

 

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