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Bringing The Loonies To Life
Shooting a live-action/animated film of this caliber is a uniquely demanding proposition. "The premise of the movie is that Bugs and Daffy are actors and they live and work in our world, so the movie should have a level of interaction and improvisation with the rhythm and feel of a live-action movie," says deFaria.

"As much as I'd like to say that Bugs and Daffy were actually physically present during filming," says Dante, "most of the time they didn't show up because that's just the way they are. So we had to use the puppets instead."

Assisting Fraser and Elfman in achieving seamless performances with their animated co-stars were veteran puppeteers Bruce Lanoil and Dave Barclay. The Jim Henson Creature Shop created the reference puppets under the supervision of Barclay, who has been puppeteering since the age of four and got his big break on The Empire Strikes Back as an assistant puppet maker and assistant to Frank Oz, who played Jedi master Yoda. The talented pair are not only puppeteers but also comedic actors, and were able to ad-lib with the cast. Their off-camera performance and antics provided a key basis for the character relationships.

In advance of making the movie, Lanoil and Barclay spent time studying Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny to get down their speech rhythms and general attitude. "They not only read the lines of dialogue, with the use of the puppets they really became Daffy and Bugs," says deFaria. "Out of that, you get performances from the live actors that you couldn't get any other way. There's a sense of spontaneity in the scenes that you would normally only see in a live action movie."

Shooting all the film footage necessary for a successful fusion of live action and animation is an arduous process that involves quite a bit of repetition. "Apart from how many takes were needed to get what we wanted, virtually every scene had to be shot three or four times," Dante recounts. "First we'd rehearse a scene with the puppets, and then we'd photograph it with the actors and the puppets together. Then we would do another pass without the puppets and the actors would ‘remember' the correct sightlines and physicality from rehearsal. Then we'd do another pass for lighting. So as you might imagine, it's very time consuming."

Fraser, who ended up working on the other end of production after being drafted to voice the exceptionally uncouth Tasmanian Devil, appreciates everything that went into the final product. "It's a leap of faith making a film laden with so much animation and CG," he says, "because most of the time the actor is basically speaking to an imaginary friend. But then a year and some change later, when all the pieces come together, you really do believe I'm throttling Daffy Duck by the neck and trying to chuck him out of the car window – it looks as natural as if I were working with a real actor."

Barclay and Lanoil not only brought the characters to life for the crew and the actors, the puppets served as an important reference for the animators. Once a scene had been rehearsed, the puppeteers left their respective positions in front of the camera and were replaced with various eye-line rigs.

Special effects coordinator Peter Chesney notes that in a sense, working on partially-animated films is essentially like working on a ghost movie – half the cast<

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