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TMNT

Digitally Outfitted Heroes
Half the battle in creating believable, CG-animated lean green crimefighting machines was fought by digital artists who were responsible for researching and developing the Turtles' overall musculature, along with such details as the translucency of their skin and each of the characters' defining traits.

"We designed full-on muscle systems for the Turtles because they're essentially wearing nothing but a sash and a half-shell,” Munroe explains. "We also gave them unique characteristics. For example, on Raphael, he actually has veins that pop out whenever he flexes, and Michelangelo has freckles.”

Apart from the reptilian crime-fighters, Splinter, a human-sized, mutated sewer rat, presented the animators with another challenge. Munroe describes, "Not only is Splinter furry, but he wears a robe. So we fully rendered and animated the robe as well as his fur to show the effects of movement and outside elements.”

Exterior structures ranging from muscles to shells to tentacles also had to be designed and animated for Winters' monsters—all 13 of them. "A few of Max's monsters are based on those in popular folklore. We also created some monsters that are slightly off the beaten path like a little guy we jokingly dubbed ‘The Jersey Devil Monster,' which is a little crustacean-like creature who's basically a freakishly strong koala bear with a bad temper,” jokes the director.

Beyond attention to the aesthetic quality of the backgrounds and characters, much effort was spent on choreographing the fight sequences for maximum impact.

Working closely with Munroe, animation director Kim Ooi was responsible for overseeing the execution of anything that moves on screen. Ooi offers, "The Turtles' fighting style is derived from Chinese and Japanesestyle martial arts. Many of the fight sequences were inspired by Hong Kong action films, but because we're doing CGI, we can push and stylize beyond the limits of live action.”

Movement for each of the Turtles was also scrutinized to enhance their individual characteristics. Ooi explains, "For Leonardo, he's very confident because he's the oldest and the leader, so he walks very tall and has good posture. Raphael's the rebel, so he's got a bit of a swagger. Michelangelo is the more childlike one, so he's jumpy and restless. And Donatello's movements are more subdued because he's the intellectual one and characterized by more polite gestures.”

In tackling one of the most action-packed sequences in the film, Ooi says, "There's a sequence where three Turtles, together with April, Casey and Splinter, are trying to rescue Leonardo. They have to go through tons of foot ninjas to get into the tower, and it was the most challenging of sequences because there are so many things happening at once.”

Perhaps the most important challenge was staying true to TMNT fans while creating a completely new look for a new generation. Tom Gray attests, "We wanted to stay true to the concept while taking the Turtles in a new direction. We went back to the original comic book, which is actually grittier than the previous films. We think this will be a fun experience for core fans and new fans alike.”

Munroe concludes, "We've done everything possible in this film to fill it with wall-to-wall action and classic TMNT humor. At the end of the day, this is a story about a typical American family,” smiles the director, "that is, if your family lives underground and saves the world battling countless ninjas and big bad monsters!”

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