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GARFIELD

About Visuals and Voices
Dan Deleeuw, from the visual effects house Rhythm & Hues, was on set to take exact measurements of rooms, furniture, and distances between two points. This enabled him to re-build the sets in the computer during post-production and editing. The busy principal photography period was only the first step in the lengthy and complicated process to bring Garfield to cinematic life. During the 12 months that followed, the filmmakers seamlessly created a new dimension to the wisecracking cat through the use of state-of-the-art computer generated imagery.

GARFIELD has over 500 CGI shots, 425 of which are of Garfield himself. The remaining shots animate the mouths of the on-screen "talking animals”: Nermal, Arlene, Luca and Louis. (Odie doesn't speak.) "Because we've used real animals for these roles, their muzzles will be CG, so we can sync animation with the dialog and add certain expressions to their faces,” says Hewitt.

Before Garfield's pals' faces were animated, Rhythm & Hues created a "biological” Garfield, comprised of bones, muscles and eye color, to serve as a template for the final, animated character. After Pete Hewitt completed an initial cut of the picture, Rhythm & Hues scanned that material into a computer, and began building the CG characters from the set information. Then, they recreated the camera moves and lighting that were used on set, ultimately merging them with the animation.

Finally, actors recorded the voices for the animals. "There's no such thing as a temporary voice,” says John Kilkenny, "because the animation is so frame specific to the actor's voice and inflections. We also videotaped the actors so we could incorporate some of their body language into their on-screen animal characters. Even subtle things like an actor's raised eyebrow or a special grin could be used for the animation while still remaining true to the character.”

Animation Supervisor Chris Baily headed a team of 100-plus lighters and effects specialists to animate Garfield. "I supervised Garfield's comedic timing, his movements and his pathos,” says Bailey. "When Garfield careens down a hallway and his fur is blowing in the wind or his whiskers are moving, that's the work of Rhythm & Hues.” After over 18 months of principal photography and post-production and effects work, Garfield will finally make his debut as a live-action star.

"This was a collaborative effort by the cast, production filmmakers and special effects team,” says John Davis. "And they all had a common vision, to make a film that kids, teens and adults will relate to on different levels.”

But it's best to quote Garfield himself about his big-screen debut, following a quarter-century of comic strip and television fame: "I've found, if you wait long enough, everything comes to you.”

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