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FLUSHED AWAY

The Wet Look & Slugging Out The Score
While water is considerably more problematic in stop-motion, it's not exactly easy in CG. Lighting artistic supervisor Mark Edwards notes, "Water is particularly difficult because, obviously, people already know what it looks like. They know how it moves and behaves, and they're going to be watching with a critical eye. So we needed to capture just enough realism in the water's appearance and movement without disrupting the movie's visual style.”

To design the varying water patterns, the effects team combined technology with basics: fluid-simulating software inspired by the real physical properties of water. These physical experiments are used as references, and then it's up to the effects team to translate the real-life visuals into CG. 

"There's a scene right after Roddy is jettisoned out of a pipe and up against a sewer grate and is doused with water,” Lindquist recalls. "We weren't sure exactly how that should look, how the water would appear on impact, how it would drip off Roddy's body. So we got some buckets, some hoses, some volunteers, and went outside.” 

The reference for the toilet flush scene was a little more challenging to obtain. "Toilets that aren't low-flow are practically nonexistent in Los Angeles,” Kramer explains. "We went outside the country to find the right flush. The whirlpool that sucks Roddy underground was actually inspired by footage of a toilet in a British pub, courtesy of one of our Bristol colleagues.”

Lindquist adds, "The flush scene is actually a sequence of three shots, using two different techniques to achieve the look. The first two shots were created by taking a flat surface and deforming it into a shape that closely resembled the flushing water from the pub footage, and the third is where the water actually goes down. This is all done with the fluid simulator. We input the speed of the water, and the desired movement, and we just let the simulator run. At that point, it's just tweaking and fine tuning.”

Lighting the flush sequence presented its own unique challenges. Similar to illuminating sets in live-action films or theater stages, CG lighting is essential to shaping the forms on the screen and in establishing depth of field – attracting the audience's focus to the desired character or action so that they are not distracted by all of the tertiary details within the frame. 

Edwards offers, "I don't think anyone has ever attempted an actual flushing toilet with swirling water, so we weren't working off of any precedents. It was challenging, trying to get the proper caustics and balance the reflections, but I really like the way the scene turned out. It's really wild, and certainly one of the key moments in the film.”

When it comes to setting the mood of a film, there's no substitute for a well-conceived score and some well-chosen songs. From the fast-paced chase sequences to the tender moments in Roddy and Rita's budding relationship to the slugs' frequent comedic appearances, music provides an indispensable aural backdrop for "Flushed Away.”

"We wanted a classic score, one that would really strike the balance between comedy and adventure, which is really what this film is,” explains Fell. "In some ways, it's like an ‘Indiana Jones'-type movie, with fabulous action sequences, but in other places, it's really quite silly and comic. We were looking for something that recalled the old cartoon scores like Carl Stalling's arrangements with Tex Avery.”

To bring this score to fruition, the directors turned to Harry Gregson-Williams. "We were very lucky to have Harry,” Bowers states. "He did the ‘Shrek' films, and ‘Narnia,' and he's produced this sort of sweeping London-esque, fantastically uplifting score that we just love.”

Having composed the score for several DreamWorks Animation films, Gregson-Williams embraced the process of composing for

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