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Metro City...And Beyond
Though the team at DreamWorks Animation has had extensive experience building the worlds for their previous films, the task of building Metro City presented a refreshing challenge, one of a grand scale. James explains, "We've never had to create such a big city. When we saw the designs for ‘Megamind,' we knew we were going to have to travel all over Metro City, because superheroes flying over a city cover lots of ground. We needed to be able to go right down next to some buildings, and then pop up and fly to the top of the tallest buildings and look at the vistas. That was a daunting challenge for us.”

As vast and complex as Metro City is, the filmmakers were very aware of not letting the city and its detail distract from the characters and the story. "I wanted to let the visuals and the camerawork be as spectacular as they could be,” says production designer David James. "But the design itself shouldn't be so over-the-top that we have to explain or make allowances for it. I'm a firm believer that the location needs to be the straight man.” The visual effects team used real cities as the inspiration for Metro City. In taking their cameras to places like San Francisco, the team was able to capture the true level of detail an actual city holds.

But what's a city without its citizens? The visual effects artists had a few tricks up their sleeves in order to create the most diverse and unique civilians as possible. "Some of these secondary or strictly background characters are the most fun to conceptualize, because you can really go crazy with the design,” enthuses art director Lamb.

In order to make as many variations as possible, the teams had to find a quick way to make each citizen look unique, without spending inordinate amounts of time crafting each ‘look' individually. Welcome technical wizardry—Lamb continues, "We used an automated program that allowed us to create different bodies—tall, thin, fat, skinny, old, young—and from there, we mixed and matched the different heads on them throughout the film. We got to play God without developing a complex.”

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