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About The Production
Once the voices were recorded, the animation process could begin in earnest. Even though the film would eventually be animated using computers, it started off in much the same way as conventional 2D animation – with hand-drawn story boards and character designs. The storyboard is then filmed and married to the recorded voices so that the filmmakers can get a rough idea of how each sequence will play. "It's really more like a flip book,” Oedekerk says. "There's no animation. Between those two elements - the really rough visuals created by very talented story board artists, and the voice cast - that's the animator's guide to starting to build the physical performance.” Sometimes the voice actors are videotaped in the recording booth and the animators can look to their expressions and gestures for clues to their animated counterparts. And sometimes the animators videotape themselves.

"All animators are actors,” says animation supervisor T. J. Sullivan. "We'll get a shot, we'll go through it, think about it a little bit, listen to the audio for a while and then draw it, get an idea of how you want to block the scene before actually going in to animate. Or if you can actually act it out, you do it in front of a video camera.” Todd Grimes, another animation supervisor, adds, "You might see something in your face that you wouldn't have thought about, little subtle things to put in the animation.”

Performance is so essential to the art of animation that Lead Animation Supervisor David Andrews considers his job primarily "to be an acting coach to the animators. Many were a lot of young animators, straight out of school. I coached them on their acting so that they would make acting choices that would support the characters. We had some women on our team so that helped with our female characters. But we involved some men, too, doing female acting, too. That was pretty funny. But it was all about keeping Steve O.'s vision of the story through the characters.”

Creating those characters posed many challenges. For one thing, four-legged animals aren't built to walk on two legs. Trying to make them do so created some peculiar design problems. David Andrews recalls, "They're walking on their toes, because they're cows. You know how the heel of a cow's leg or a dog's leg is one third up from the ground? So they had to walk on their toes. You could fake a little heel and toe with the hoof but with that anatomy it looked odd. The challenge is always to get the illusion of weight on a large character like that. Because it's a 3D world, they look more rounded and dimensional so when you cheat the weight to do cartoony stuff, you have to sort of sneak that in. You're allowed a lot of leeway in comedy – you can break the laws of physics but you have to do it carefully.”

Visually, many of the characters underwent transformations over the course of the production. Some of these involved simply tweaking the characteristics that were already in place. Others required total overhauls. On his journey from a statue in an art gallery to a living, breathing character on film, Otis was altered in many but subtle ways.

"Otis had to be right,” says David Andrews, "so he took a little while to come out of the pipe. Does he have a crest on the top of his skull or does he have a flattop? Are his nostrils sunken in or are they flush with the tip of the nose? What does the contour of the side of his body from his ribs to his hips look like? It's a gentle S-curve and it's gotta be the right S-curve.”

Dimitri Joannides, Head of Look Development, Texture Department and Marketing Art, adds, "There's just so many versions of everything. If you look at the spots on Otis, you go ‘Oh, it's Otis,' but we experimented with thirty to forty different patterns. I remember sitting with Steve on a palette table very late at night jus


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