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THE HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY

Design Highlights
With the casting for THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY completed, the ensemble found themselves on a set featuring other-worldly props, intergalactic design features and 7-foot-tall Vogons, among other inspiring creations. The actors soon found that Garth Jennings' decision to create much of the film's universe lovingly by hand was a boon for their performances. Says Zooey Deschanel: "It's hard enough as an actor to have to pretend you're riding on a spaceship or talking to a gigantic, poetry-reading alien—it makes it all even more remote if you're doing it on a green screen, trying to imagine all this stuff! But in THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, we had much of the film's funniest, weirdest stuff right in front of us, all feeling extremely real. It made a great difference—and I think audiences will react to that as well.”

Though many of the effects are physical, there are plenty of computer-generated images as well, including Zaphod Beeblebrox's second head, the annihilation of Planet Earth, and especially the character of Humma Kavula, who morphs into various incarnations as it is revealed that he's not quite what he appears to be upon first sight.

Included among the film's many visual design highlights are:

The gadget at the very heart of THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY is The Guide itself, the electronic book that contains just about every factoid and rumor on every possible subject, and a few impossible subjects, in the known universe.

For many of the book's fans, The Guide was one of Douglas Adams' most prophetic creations—one that predated cell phones, the Internet and especially online PDAs, like the Blackberry. It can be hard to remember that, when Adams first wrote about The Guide, nothing even remotely like it was in existence.

Though Garth Jennings wanted The Guide to be technologically dazzling, he always felt its main appeal would always be its ever-irreverent attitude in presenting information. "I think The Guide becomes a fantastic device for the audience because it's got such a unique personality and hilarious view of the universe,” he says. "We thought the book's ideas would always be more exciting than its buttons or its interface. It's very much a character in the film.”

Thus it was that Douglas Adams' good friend and acclaimed comic wit Stephen Fry was recruited to take on the voice of The Guide, providing it with just the amusing touch that makes it so unique. Says Robbie Stamp: "I always thought getting Stephen Fry was absolutely critical—he just has that precise mixture of high intelligence, acerbic wit and wry sense of authority that you expect from The Guide.”

The physical look of The Guide was designed to be the kind of everyday, utilitarian tool you would stick in your backpack for a trek across the cosmos. The Guide's interface—filled with bold, bright, eye-popping graphics—was designed by the highly regarded British animation company Shynola. "Shynola had a lot to live up to in designing The Guide entries, but they did an absolutely amazing job,” says Garth Jennings.

These bureaucrats of the universe, armed with awful poetry, were one of the most vital and challenging designs of the film. Though they are major characters in Douglas Adams' novel, no one was ever quite sure what they might look like in the flesh. The main description of them from Adams was that they were not "actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous.” He went on to say: "They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their mother from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without a form signed in triplicate.” So, from the beginning, Garth Jennings wondered: how does one translate that into a visually compelling outer-space creature?

Jennings worked closely with Jamie Courtier, creative director of<

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