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THE CAT IN THE HAT

A Talking Fish And A Number Of Things
Outside of the Cat, Sally, Conrad and their mom (or rather, her leg), Seuss created only three more characters within the pages of The Cat in the Hat: one shaky talking fish and two of the Cat's minions, able assistants in the execution of his destructive plans for fun (and in restoring the house to its former, normally clean state)—Thing 1 and Thing 2. Casting for the Things brought with it some challenges (more below), but to try and find a talking fish, filmmakers turned to the feature animation and visual effects house of Rhythm & Hues. (While primarily focusing on the Fish, the company also assisted in the Cat's astounding juggling scene and in creating the vortex that emanates from the Things' red crate.) 

The Fish was somewhat of a unique character for Rhythm & Hues (responsible for some of the effects and animation in such films as Cats & Dogs, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Scooby-Doo), in that the character has no shoulders, no hips and doesn't walk, so all of the physical performance had to come from the eyes, head and fin motion. The soul of the fidgety pet lay with his voice, supplied by Sean Hayes, who found voicing the character significantly different from his usual on-camera jobs: firstly, he did not know what the final animation would look like and secondly, all of his work took place alone in a sound booth. 

"The hardest part is not seeing what you're speaking to,” says Hayes, "so you end up doing 50 different screams for the Fish just to give the director options on which way he wants the character animated.” 

"I think the animators really captured Sean's humor and personality and it reads very easily through the Fish,” says Welch. The director sums up the Fish as a cross between Tony Randall's Felix Unger (compulsive about keeping things in their proper places and following every rule to the letter) and Don Knotts' Barney Fife (reactionary when anything veers slightly off course or rules get broken). And even though it's apparent to everyone present, the Fish feels it's his duty to point out the rule, how it's been broken and the possible dire consequences involved. 

"He's not exactly constructive in his criticism,” adds the director. 

Doug Smith of Rhythm & Hues had lead animator Craig Talmy and his crew watch numerous episodes of the old Andy Griffith Show to get a sense of Knotts' character, his alarmist nature and his manic energy. 

Luckily, the creation of the Things was not nearly as computer dependent for the filmmakers, who decided upon casting four young actresses with dance or gymnastic training (all between the ages of eight and nine) to play the Things. Because of the shooting restrictions for children (their working hours are monitored and limited), employing two sets of Things and staggering their work schedules allowed filming to take place throughout the day. Stunt coordinator Jack Gill exploited the girls' gymnastic and dance training and (with the aide of special stunt rigs) literally had them walking on walls during the scene where the Things are released from their red crate, eventually destroying the house. For the more demanding scene within the sequence when the pair attempt to evade capture by scampering on the ceiling and around the chandelier, the magic of CGI briefly stepped in to supply computer-animated stunt doubles. 

Edge FX also created the makeup for the Things and Johnson considers that work some of the most effective to have come out of his shop. "When you see the Things for the first time, you don't know what to think,” says Johnson. "It's definitely different. A lot of the success we had was due to the fact that these girls loved being in the makeup. When we were testing before they cast the Things, the kids we used as models would tear at the makeup since they felt so uncomfortable in it. But it really helped our actresses f

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