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BEDTIME STORIES

Behind The Scenes
Filmmakers needed top visual effects, special effects and world-class stunts to bring the fantasy sequences to life. To help make "Bedtime Stories” come true, filmmakers assembled a team of behind-the-scenes professionals, including production designer Linda DeScenna, visual effects supervisor John Andrew Berton Jr. and animal trainer Steve Berens.

DeScenna, who had worked with Adam Shankman on "The Pacifier” and "Bringing Down the House,” says their first step was breaking down the script. "We really had to figure out what we could physically build and what would be built in the computer,” she says. "That has to be pretty exact.” DeScenna says the film was a challenge with the diverse settings—from a contemporary look with the reality scenes to the fantasy sequences. The production designer was charged with creating everything from a hotel lobby to a moat, which was a particular challenge. "We pulled it off,” says DeScenna. "But I'm glad we're done with it.”

The production designer admits that much of the moat scenes, as well as the rest of the movie, involved special effects. The teams worked together to create seamless scenes that blended the physical design with computer effects.

Visual effects supervisor John Andrew Berton Jr. was charged with making the effects elements a reality. "We're responsible for magical creatures, magical settings and making everything that happens in the movie that is spectacular and outside of our normal experience look like it's absolutely real and part of our normal experience.

"In order to get good visual effects you have to plan ahead,” continues Berton. "We were involved in pre-production with the concept paintings and creature design.”

Berton says that "Bedtime Stories” called for a special process called cyber scanning. "We created digital stunt doubles, which are digital actors that perform in the same way that stunt doubles do. That's what we do when we need to put stunt doubles in more danger than even stunt doubles want to be in. We scan the actors' faces and costumes so that we can make it all work.”

The same technology was used to create the mermaid tail for one of Keri Russell's story characters. "The upper body is performed by Keri Russell and the mermaid tail is an animation,” says Berton.

Berton adds that his team worked closely with the director of photography, set design, lighting—down to hair and makeup—to achieve the look filmmakers wanted. "When we get into post-production we can keep all of those things in mind so that everything matches,” he says.

The film also featured a host of big movie stunts. Director Adam Shankman had worked on stunt-heavy films in the past, but felt "Bedtime Stories” was special. "We worked with some really good stunt teams putting together the chariot race and a great motorcycle chase. I love the pace. It underscores everything else in the movie so perfectly because it always gives everything a big sense of adventure and urgency. It's great.”

The film's stunts range from a motorcycle jump to the airborne space battle between Sandler's and Guy Pearce's characters to maneuvering through a stampede of horses. Animal trainer Steve Berens was tapped to help coordinate several scenes involving a variety of animals—from the stampeding horses to a team of elephants. "I've been around a lot of animals in my life but when you get close to these elephants and you're working with them it's really a thrill. They really are something special,” says Berens.

The trainer says one of the more complex scenes was the horse stampede in the Old West story. "Skeeter encounters a stampede while he's on this horse and actually weaves his way through this stampede. I thought, ‘Oh boy, how are we going to do this?'”

Berens coordinated his efforts with the visual effects

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