Stuart Little (1999) - full transcript

In New York City, you would come across a small house, home to a family known as the Littles. You would happen to think of them as the nicest family you'd ever meet. One day, Fredrick and Eleanor, both parents and Littles, ho to and orphanage to find a brother for their son, George. While at it, they meet Stuart, a small, but charming mouse, who apparently, is human-civilized. They adopt him, and everyone, even George, loves him. But there is one problem with Stuart's life, Snowbell, the Little family cat, who wants him. But when trouble starts up almost immediately, Stuart must make it back to his home-before snowbell's friends find out about him

I'm John Dykstra.

I was the senior visual effects
supervisor on Stuart Little.

I guess the simplest definition
of my job...

is to oversee all of the illusions
that were created in the film...

in the digital world.

My name is Jerome Chen...

I was the visual effects supervisor
for the film.

And my job was to,
in conjunction with John...

really help bring all these illusions
to life.

One of the things that was most
interesting to me about this movie...

is when I was talked to by Rob
and the people at Columbia...

the challenges that they presented
seemed pretty daunting.

We said immediately
we could do all of that...

because if you said you couldn't
do that, you wouldn't get the job.

But as we worked
on this character...

we found that there
were several things...

that we were going to have to do...

that we didn't know
exactly how to do.

And... We saw actually
five groups of challenges.

The first one would be
of course the fur.

Then we had to worry about cloth...

because Stuart is a walking,
talking mouse who wears clothes.

Then you have the issue
of his performance.

How do you make him convincing
and engaging?

And then there's this whole aspect
of integration.

He needed to feel real.

The Stuart Little
from E.B. White's novel...

was most charming
and most imaginative...

but he existed in the real world.

And that was the kind of standard
that was set here. So he had to exist...

in this reality here.

One of the things that impressed me
was that from the onset...

Rob decided that
they were going to create a world...

that wasn't exactly the real world,
it was a stylized world...

in which the conceit of a talking
mouse would be totally acceptable.

The look of the sets,
the look of the exteriors...

the actors that were chosen,
and even the costumes that they wore...

all were selected
with an eye to keeping...

a defined reality.

One of the things I think is true...

is that when we set about
making this...

we knew that the first time
that the mouse was on-screen...

you had to totally accept him.

If he didn't look real
the first time you saw him...

you were gonna spend
the rest of the movie looking for flaws.

And that's why the focus
on this first shot was so intense.

- And it took a long time to do.
- This did take a long time.

The problem
of doing this first shot is...

it was the beginning
of our production schedule...

and it was during the time
we were trying to find Stuart's look.

So you had to do some
research and development...

at the same time
you had to make this...

This shot appear very convincing.

We got to continue
to work on this shot for quite a while.

One of the things that's true...

is that although he's composed
of several different pieces:

The physique, which is
the physical shape of his body...

there's the fur that covers it,
there's the clothing that goes onto it...

and there's the technique
that was used to animate him.

One of the things that happened was,
as we improved each of those facets...

we'd end up going back
and redoing shots.

So each iteration of the mouse
would include some new facet...

and we had to make sure
he remained consistent.

So the first shots that we did
had to look like the last shots.

100 yards faster
than you can say, "Ready, set, go."

You certainly...

As we got further along
into the production, actually...

we went back
and inserted more close-ups.

We found that after the first few
rough cuts of the movie...

you missed seeing Stuart,
you wanted to be more intimate with him.

So there's a couple shots here...

that, even after the first sequences
were locked...

in terms of their shots...

we would go back in
and actually throw in a close-up.

- Actually, this is one of them.
- Yeah.

One of the things
that's interesting is...

because we used animators
from a variety of backgrounds...

some of whom had animated 3-D
objects, like the Pillsbury Doughboy...

and some who had worked in
traditional two-dimensional animation...

there had to be created an interface
for them, with this Stuart character.


Mr. and Mrs. Little...

- Was is Maya, Jerome?
- Yeah, we used Maya for this.

And we had to create
a custom environment...

that made it easy for an animator
to learn a computer and animate...

and not get caught up
in all the technical stuff.

Because we really wanted

That was the key
to really making him believable.

The computer actually had
too many options.

The animator would be frustrated
by having to make so many choices...

so it had to be winnowed down and
given as a series of simpler decisions...

with the ability, of course,
to get into it at a more complex level.

The interesting thing
is that the shot that's coming up...

sort of establishes
the quality of the Stuart Little world.

This is New York
as seen through the eyes of the Littles.

And of course,
it's not quite a period place...

but it's not quite
a contemporary place.

This was a great shot. This is...

This is a combination of
matte paintings and live action...

seen in the foreground.

And it's shot at the, what,
Paramount backlot?

That street was Paramount backlot.

This is... The Illusion Arts people
painted these clouds for us.

The world where the Littles live,
the Littles' house...

that's sandwiched between
these skyscrapers.

The skyscrapers are all Illusion,
big matte painting shot here.

Done in 3-D by Syd Dutton's
people at Illusion Arts.

Well, Stuart, here we are...

Everything down here is actually a set.
A Central Park set.

- It was on Stage 15.
- Yeah, at the Culver lot.

Something inside.

Here Stuart comes home.

I think one of the keys
to making Stuart look real...

is that we had to keep all of the things
that would appear in the real world...

with a real mouse in real evidence.

In fact,
we had to amplify some of them.

Reflections in the shiny floor.

The shadows that appear where his feet
come into contact with the surface.

Consistency of the focus. Making sure
that the mouse is the right focus...

for the scene
in which he's appearing.

We can talk about the focus issue.

Little depth of field
and height of field.

Focus was a big issue in this,
because he was so small.

It's hard for a cameraman too...

because they're shooting
with basically nothing there...

and they have to overcome their
instinct to focus on something they see.

What they're really doing is focusing
on is something that's not there.

One of the things
about the performance...

the live actors, of course...

didn't have a real mouse
to look at when they were on set.

What they did was is they used a laser
that was synchronized to the camera.

There was a small red dot
that would appear...

where the mouse
was intended to be...

to give them an eye line,
or something to look at.

And that laser was phased.
It was turned on and off...

so it was in synchronization
with the shutter.

So the actors could see the red light,
but the red light didn't record on film.

So for the most part...

you have the actors
actually looking where Stuart is.

As opposed to what the cats did.

The cameraman had a problem
focusing on things...

where he couldn't see
a specific reference.

We'd put a little wire or something
in the frame for him to focus on.

We'd have to go back digitally
and paint out that reference point.

Tired after school.

Again, it's those very,
very small additions...

that give the character
his final sense of reality.

The mouse originally was designed...

with the potential of having
whites in his eyes and an iris...

so he could look
out of the corner of his eye.

When Rob looked at these designs...

he decided that he didn't like the idea
that there was an eyeball...

or an iris in the eye.

And we ended up with real mouse eyes,
which are just black.

So we used the reflections
of the scene...

as seen in the shiny surface
of the eyeball...

to help give direction
to Stuart's looks.

Sure is roomy.

That he couldn't have whites in the eyes
presented a challenge to the animators...

because then you couldn't have him
look askance at somebody.

He really had to convey where he
was looking with a turn of his head or...

You know, it made animation
much more difficult for them.

It also gives him a much more
charming appearance...

because his body language
is used a lot more.

One of the things about
the character's expressions...

is not only the fact that he can be
charming in the extreme...

it's also that he can convey
subtle emotion.

It's a simple transition from
a look of surprise...

or in this case, a look of welcome...

Excuse me,
not a look of welcome, after all.

Maybe that was in an earlier version.
But the mouse's expressions...

have to change in a subtle fashion
as well as a broad fashion...

in order to give him the kind of range
he needs as a lead actor.

That was... That was a challenge.

These talking-cat shots were done
by Bill Westenhofer's group...

at Rhythm & Hues.

They did a great job.

This really draws home
Snowbell's character...

and how he feels about Stuart here.

One of the things about cats
is you can rely on them...

to do exactly what they want to do.

And cats as actors...

are no different than the cats
that exist in people's homes.

And as a result,
you'd go into a scene...

I had the good fortune
to shoot the second unit material.

You'd go in with one idea
of what the cat should do...

and the cat had a different idea
of what the scene was about.

And you'd end up spending
a fairly large amount of time...

trying to get the cat
to do something simple.

Stuart, you too.

Okay, Mom.

This sequence here, actually...

George and Stuart's
first morning together...

this was a big push for us
to complete very early on.

But the studio was able to look
at this and really get a feel for Stuart.

And we got a huge reaction out of,
you know...

the possibilities here.

Because up until this point,
nobody had really seen him.

We'd shot all this footage without
any examples to show the crew...

or even Geena and Hugh,
what their costar looked like.

So for many months we just looked at
dailies of empty plates and things.

When we completed this sequence...

it really showed everybody
what Stuart was gonna be like.

Actually, his teeth,
if you notice, are modelled...

Stuart's teeth are modelled after our
vice president of animation, Barry Weiss.

So Barry loaned them to us...

and we made a duplicate.


One of the things about Stuart...

is along with making him look real
as a mouse character...

we had to make him work
in all of the environments.

Which means that he has to deal
with things like water.

Not only the fur, but the cloth
also have to deal with moisture.

It was hard enough coming up with just
a fur look and a look for the cloth...

but now he had to, you know...

We had to deal with the wetness.
What do clothes look like...

when they're damp,
when they're half wet?

We also had a problem of keeping
Stuart looking cute, even when wet.

You've probably all seen
what animals look like in water...

and they're not as cute.

And so since he is a movie star,
we had to work pretty hard...

at making sure
he still looked appealing...

after he's been dunked in water.

Honey, shall we talk to George
before you go?

- About what?
- About Stuart.

He hasn't exactly
embraced the situation.

Snowbell! Thank goodness you're here.
I'm locked in the washer!

This is interesting, because we got
a mix here of real water...

that the clothes are in.

And then computer-generated water
that is flung up onto the glass...

and the distortions
on the surface of the water...

where the mouse is standing in it
were also created on the computer.

Traffic, yawn, lick myself.

And believe me, that could take hours
if you do it right. Ciao!

Are you sure that Stuart
is happy here?

The shot of him against the glass...

was added actually months
after we finished the sequence.

Rob wanted to go back and add
more peril to Stuart's situation.

He wanted to have the water
almost up to his neck.

The thing that's interesting to me...

coming from a background
of conventional film effects...

is that it's true that there's nothing
that's impossible now.

Used to be that visual effects
supervisors had to be the naysayers.

You'd read the script
or you'd be on stage...

or you'd be talking to people
about what was possible to do...

and you'd say, "We can't do that...

because the shirt is blue,
or you can't move the camera."

And in fact, with contemporary
digital technology...

there's virtually nothing
that you can't do.

And as a result what we have...

is a real focus on the quality
of the product...

as opposed to the process involved
in the creation of the product.

So on set before,
we used to say no all the time.

Now when we're asked if we can
do that, we kind of shrug and go:

"Yeah, okay. Yeah, I guess we can.
We'll give it a shot."

This is a shot where our character
is an animatronic.

That's a little model of Stuart
in the bed back there.

Actually, in this one you'll see
Stuart in Geena's purse...

and he's actually a little puppet.

Come on, George. This'll be fun.

- I don't wanna go shopping with Stuart.
- George!

Maybe you should...

An animatronic is a character
that is animated by mechanical means.

And he's really in the shot, as opposed
to the character that we created in CGI.

CGI meaning,
"computer generated imagery."

And that character, the Stuart
that we created in the computer...

was built from whole cloth,
a pixel at a time.

Come on, George.
You have a boat, a beautiful one.

It was hard to make
an animatronic for this...

because of how small
you had to construct.

If you had a life-size Stuart,
an animatronic at 4 inches tall...

it's very difficult to make
the mechanical components that small.

The miniaturization isn't
sophisticated to handle that.

And it's difficult to get really
lifelike movement out of it.

So to give us more flexibility...

we started doing
a lot of these shots digitally...

once we found that we could
accomplish almost any performance.

When we started the film,
we started out with all options open.

We looked at doing motion-capture...

meaning putting sensors on a human
and having them act like a mouse...

where we could
capture their motion...

and using that
to actually animate Stuart.

At the same time we pursued
conventional animation technique...

which involved the creation
of this specialised interface...

for traditional animators working
with a three-dimensional character.

And we also looked
at this animatronic issue...

the creation of a puppet that was
mechanically operated off-screen...

which would give us the motion
of the mouse on camera.

The problem with
the animatronic character...

was he had to be
a clockwork component.

He was only 4 inches tall,
so his wrists had to turn...

his fingers had to move,
his head had to move.

He had to smile.
His eyes had to move.

And it just became a far too difficult
mechanical task.

What we ended up with was a little
mouse who was 4 inches tall...

who was on a rod, attached to a box
about foot square...

with about 100 feet of cable
coming out of it.

And it wasn't too practical.

The 1 -foot square box that weighed
100 pounds wouldn't fit in Gina's purse.

So we used in that case
a more static version of Stuart.

Not so much an animatronic
as a puppet.

Our strategy for the puppet
was basically a stunt double.

If he was in the distance,
we would use him.

Now, Stuart was key-frame animated.
He was animated...

basically in a traditional manner
in the computer.

He was not motion-captured.

Little hey, Little ho!

We come bearing gifts
for young Stuart.

Yes, where is my new nephew?

One of the things about traditional
animation is that for many years...

traditional animation consisted
of a series of still photographs...

where the subject went
through a progression of moves.

One of the things that the computer
has allowed us do...

is to take the animator's art
of frame-by-frame...

definition of the motion,
and add motion-blur.

That's the blur that occurs when you
move the subject during photography...

which is the way
real photography works.

That motion blur
goes a long ways towards making...

the animation of the character
not have any steppiness to it...

which is an important part of our
character. He moves fast sometimes.

We'd like to introduce you
to someone.

Obviously, the motion blur also helps
the reality of Stuart.

It makes him appear more real, as if
he was photographed in the scene.

The end goal here is the audience
needs to feel like he was really there.

So... Which makes the integration
of the character more difficult.

I mean, after we create the character
in the computer-graphic world...

we then have to apply him
to this photography.

And we do that all
in the digital composite.

Oh, Stuart, look.

Look at that.

Coming up, I think,
is a shot here where we refer to...

the character as a DOS,
which is "dot on screen."

Climb on up here, son.

That's where he's so small...

that you can't tell
whether he's just a white speck...

or whether he's
an animated character.

The tough thing is, all these
actors here, when we shot this...

are looking at nothing.

So they're trying to be convincing
in their appreciation of Stuart.

May I say something?

That's the most amazing laser
dot I've ever seen.

We used to tell fairy tales...

of finding our families
and having a party like this.

A party with cakes and presents...

Yeah, we had a comic actor
named Jim Doughan who was on-set...

and he would read Stuart's lines
for everybody to interact with.

And he was very funny.

He often had the actors
cracking up so much...

they'd have to cut.

There was the dot on-screen.

Fairy tales are real.

These shots are very wide.

He's in a lot of these shots,
he's just very small.

Because he's part of
the action here...

he has to belong in every shot.

The cats have some of the best
lines in the movie.

The cat,
in order to make him talk...

they had to create an actual physical
model of a cat's mouth...

including its teeth and its tongue,
and put them into a cat...

whose facial expression
was more that of a cat...

which is generally
sort of nonplussed.

The animators moved not only
the mouth and the cheeks and the jaw...

but they also moved, in some cases,
the brows of the eyes and the ears.

Summer days playing catch?

Take your brother outside
and toss around the old horsehide.

Yeah, what do you say, George?
You ready?

Are you all nuts?

Bicycles and bowling balls?

The animation...

The animation for the cats
was conventional only in the sense...

that key frames were used
to position the jaw...

or the nose or the eye,
in terms of where it was meant to go.

But because the cat's fur
had to go...

back over the model of the object
that was being animated...

this work was done also
in a computer.

And the surfaces which you see
are a mixture...

of fur that was created in
the computer and added to the surface...

and what's called texture mapping...

or basically a projection of the real
cat's fur back onto the surface.

It's actually a very sophisticated
technique, and it's very, very difficult.

Rhythm & Hues mastered it
through the different Babe movies.

It really involves making an
extremely accurate model...

in the computer of every cat
that talks...

then making sure
that the interior of the mouth...

and the size of the teeth
also look convincing.

So it's in many ways as difficult
as a Stuart shot, in some sense.

I feel an empty space inside me...

One of the things
that was tough about Stuart...

was to make our white character
have the right contour and shaping.

In order to see his expression,
you have to see the shapes of his face.

In order to see the shapes of his face,
you have to have a dark and light area.

What we found out, however, was that
if you didn't make white surfaces...

some place on the character's head,
he looked like a grey mouse.

He was very difficult to light
and to keep within the boundaries.

If you made his head too bright...

you'd lose the detail
in the highlight area.

If you made his head too dark,
he'd go grey.

So it was a very tricky balance
fitting him into each scene...

making sure the light sources
looked as though...

they were the same light sources
lighting the other subject matter...

and keeping his
white balance right...

without him looking too bright
or too dark.

You also had to make
sure he looked furry enough.

Even though in the
computer-graphic model...

he actually has, you know,
600,000 hairs on his head...

sometimes when Stuart was smaller
in the frame, he looked...

We'd get comments
that he looked too smooth.

And we'd have to go in and cheat.

Usually we'd brighten
the rim light up...

the light would basically brighten
the hairs on the side of his head...

and give the sense
that he was furry...

even though
you actually couldn't see hairs.

One of the things we did,
in some cases...

Well, Stuart had different levels
of detail for different sizes.

In the extreme close-ups
we had to treat his fur differently...

than we treated his fur
in the wide shots.

And in some cases, we'd made his fur
more coarse when he was smaller...

in order for him to...
The fur to be more visible...

along with the rim light issue.

You and I got off on the wrong paw.

This shot here is the one where
the mouse walks across the floor.

And my daughter looked at it
and said, "He slides."

My 11 -year-old daughter,
who doesn't do visual effects...

as a avocation or otherwise...

had that perception
that all kids are graced with...

and she intuitively saw
a mismatch in our match move.

Let me in! I'm starving!

Match moving is something
that played an important part...

in making this movie successful.

The ability to move the camera
without having to record the motion...

as you do with conventional
motion-control photography.

And to be able to extract that camera
motion from the original photography...

to use to photograph the CGI object
that's going to be put into the scene...

allowed the filmmaker
to have that same...

intuitive approach
to making the movie.

If the actor wanted to move
more rapidly on one take...

or more slowly on another,
you could do both of them...

without having to slow
the entire process down...

to insert this mechanical monster
of a motor-driven camera system.

Plus, shooting cats,
cats move around a lot.

You always keep the camera wild
and it kind of takes the curse off.

It used to be that effect shots
were always locked-off cameras.

You could always spot
an effects shot before it came on...

because the frame
would become still.

But here,
if you watch the whole movie...

most of the shots have the camera
always doing some slight adjustment.

It keeps it...
Gives it this much more realistic feel.

Do you know anybody?
I'm not so happy with mine.

So all these cat shots here were done
with this 3-D projection method.

And all it needed was creation
of the 3-D mouths and actual whiskers.

The thing about it is you actually
have to paint out the original whiskers...

then after you animate, the whiskers
gotta move how the cheeks move...

so then 3-D whiskers are put back
on top of it.

Forgot to thank you.


There's even cases where the
expressions in the face or the eyes...

the eyes open too much...

and you actually have to put CG,
computer-graphic eyes in.

So these... The cats are a blend
of all kinds of techniques.

Say, they're really putting
some wild prizes in there, huh, Monty?

Oh, hello.
You must be a friend of Snowbell's.

I'm Stuart.

- Aren't you gonna run?
- Why?

Because you're a mouse.

I'm not just a mouse.

Stuart has several
different costumes.

And each costume had to go through
a procedure of testing...

and then evaluation
and then modification...

till we came to our final decision.

I think that this sweater that
the mouse is wearing here...

probably took the longest of
any article of clothing Stuart wears.

I don't know for sure, but I think
it's something like six months?

This sweater,
which looks pretty generic...

but initially he had a V-neck sweater.
A sweater that had a T-shirt underneath.

He had much more, I guess,
a cowl neck sweater.

He had a cardigan at one point.

We also went through different colours.
It was orange, it was tan.

- It was...
- Big stripes, little stripes.

We finally arrived at this one here.

That had to hurt.

In case you didn't notice...

the cat that's flying through the air
is not a real cat.

No cats were hurt in the filming
of this movie.

We actually had to put
a real cat's face on a flying...

A little stuffy cat, basically,
we threw at the camera.

A stuffy is a puppet-like
rag version of the cat.

I think it was basically a cat doll...

that someone found at a store.

Jerome very carefully threw
the cat through the air at the camera.

And then subsequent to that,
we added the face on.

Interesting about the cats...

it's true that no cats
were injured during filming...

but cats do one thing,
which is whatever they wanna do.

And it's not unusual to have a cat
simply refuse to work any further.

And so there were duplicate cats,
and if you watch carefully...

you can actually see Snowbell
change his facial features.

Because although the cats
were very close matches...

they're not exact matches.
So when a cat basically got full...

because that's how
you motivate cats to work...

you give them food.

And when a cat got tired
of being hungry...

he went in his cage
and they'd bring a new one.

Sometimes they didn't look
exactly the same.

What's it look like, picklehead?

Could we play with it? Please...

This was the basement set
of the Littles' house. It's a great set.

I wish...
I would've liked to feature it even more.

Somebody help me!

This is the longest tail you'll
ever see a mouse have.

In this case, actually,
we had to do something special...

because his original tail
wasn't built to be that long.

And they came up with a scene where
his tail had to be 10 times longer.

So just like if you were building
a real puppet...

we had to go back in
and design a new tail for him.

There's the famous red car.

Again, in terms of this 2 percent...

that makes a difference between
reality and a stylized character.

The reflections of the mouse in the car.
His shadows on the surfaces.

The way his clothing interacts...

with the surfaces that he comes
into contact with...

are all critical
in terms of fooling my daughter.

The 11-year-old.

And the miniature car...

was built to have
a suspension system...

and the door would actually open.

We put this little gag in
where the car would actually...

depress a little bit.

Oh, that.

That's the Wasp.

The shots where Stuart
is in George's hand...

or later on in Hugh's
or Geena's hand...

those were the hardest to do...

because they're difficult to
match-move, as John was talking about.

Match-moving is really rebuilding
in the computer, the real camera.

And in this case also,
you have to, in essence...

animate the person's hands...

to make sure that perspective
and everything matches.

So when Stuart's sitting in the hand...

he's reacting to the shift of
people's... However he's being held.

That was Charlie's...

Charlie Clavadetscher was our
match-move maven, wasn't he?

Yes, he was our lead.
He's very good.

He has a... Basically, he has
an instinctive understanding...

of how to re-create a camera move.

Because there's no way...

Since we don't record
the camera moves...

since the gear is too cumbersome
and it slows photography...

we are, after the fact,
trying to re-create it.

Charlie's always skulking around
the stage, taking pictures.

They wonder who this guy is
who's in the background.

Basically what he's doing
is taking pictures...

so that he can re-create the set
in the computer in a very simple form...

to give us surfaces
upon which to put the character.

Or in the case of a hand,
he has to create a model of the hand...

and track the model of the hand
to the hand of the real actor...

so that Stuart has a place to
stand when he's being animated.

- That would be great.
- All of us together.

The whole family.

There were a lot of shots
in this movie.

And one of the things we had to do was
to keep track of all this information.

And I think that some of
the information storage systems...

Not storage systems, but some
of the information handling systems...

that our producer,
Michelle Murdocca, came up with...

were critical in allowing us
to complete this thing in time.

They're sort of the unsung heroes.
They keep the train on the tracks...

as we would want to go off the tracks,
if ever there were an opportunity.

Exactly. I mean,
talking about the work is one thing...

but the process...

the whole production machinery
we had to create...

to keep the quality of work level...

at the same level, so that at
the end we weren't rushing to finish...

100 shots in the last three weeks,
was an amazing task...

supervised by our producers.

Mainly Michelle, and the
digital producer, Lydia Bottegoni...

and Debbie Denise.

We even have an equivalent
of a digital production manager.

His name was Jody Echegaray,
and he basically kept us all on track.

Tinker Bell!
He called me Tinker Bell.

- You're a funny guy.
- Yeah, whatever.

Jeez, house cats.

Just a side issue,
one of the things about cats...

is if you take two cats
that aren't familiar with one another...

and point them at each other...

the last thing they want to do
is look at each other.

So you'll see in all of the scenes
where you see cats...

they tend to look anywhere
but at the other cats.

It takes an enormous amount of work
to get these cats to look at each other.

This is the boat race. There's an
interesting thing about this boat race.

There was a component...
This was the live-action material...

the thing that you're seeing here
with the kids inspecting the boats.

And that was done
on a stage at Columbia.

And in order to match this...

we went into a tank
at the Paramount lot.

It was... The tank was 125 by 100.

It had a huge backing behind it,
and we had to cover it...

because of the soft light
that we used on this stage, with a silk.

And the silk is basically a big piece
of rayon that's translucent...

much like the sail you see here.

As light passes through it,
it's diffused and soft.

We had one acre of silk
in the air on cables...

while we were photographing
this sequence.

And there's a transition point where
the set becomes the tank...

once the boats go under the bridge.

We actually had to make sure
these worlds matched.

I don't like that child.

All set to get under way.

This is interesting. This is another
costume change for Stuart.

He now has a sailor outfit...

which again, had to go through
these various approval stages.

One of the things you're gonna see,
Stuart interacts with a remote control.

Turns out, that in order to move a real
remote control in the way...

that the animated character would,
didn't seem practical.

So in fact, the remote control
that Stuart's carrying...

was generated
in the computer as well.

Actually, that was a general rule
of thumb. If Stuart touched a prop...

and had to interact with it,
we'd always make that prop...

a computer-graphic element,
since we can control the animation.

So Stuart could have the weight
and really feel like he was hefting it.

It added more problems for us...

because in addition to having to make
Stuart little...

you'd have to make the prop little.

And it didn't help in this case
that the actual remote control...

the real one actually looks
very synthetic. There's no detail.

It's all primary colours...

and intrinsically would look
somewhat artificial.

So it's hard for us to...
You know, we matched the real one...

but it ended up looking like
a synthetic element.

So we did a lot of things
to make it look dirtier.

Never stop trying. Okay?


One of the things about the boats
in this sequence...

is that they didn't float
on top of the water.

These boats were controlled from
beneath the water on tracks.

Eric Allard did the mechanical effects
on the movie.

The boats themselves
were driven by cables...

and they ran on tracks, so they would
do exactly the same thing each time.

The foot that came down
and broke the remote...

was actually Rob Minkoff's foot.

He wanted to crush
the remote himself.

- I couldn't grip it.
- Nice going...

No pent-up hostility here.

There's Anton,
someone that you'll come to hate.

All boats on the starting line

George, wait.

Oh, honey.
Everything will be all right.

It's always funny when you put extras
into scenes...

you have to watch for the ones
who look at the camera...

or act in extreme ways, and you end
up cutting the film around people...

who are doing a little too much
jumping and yelling.

Or stare straight into the lens.

There's some shots later where...

some of the people in the background
are doing some pretty funny things.

They're very enthusiastic
for this race.

I'll be right back.

George, you know what?

Just because
we can't be in the race...

doesn't mean our family outing
has to be ruined.

So we have a transition point
coming up here.

Once the boats
go under the bridge...

they go into the tank world, which
basically was the second unit material...

that was shot by John.

It was interesting...

because this is an opportunity
to do a sequence as a director.

One of the things that we did...

in order to make the sequence
more practical to do...

is we created the tank,
and the boats and the tracks...

in the computer
in a very simple form.

Much like the grey mouse.

And we went through
with the computer model...

positioned the camera
to determine where the boats were...

where the camera was going to go...

and what the backing would be.

And because we previewed the shots
in a simple form...

I was able to try lots and lots
of different combinations...

to get the sequence to work.

And because we knew before
we arrived at the tank...

what the shots were going to be...

it was easy for
the mechanical effects people...

to set the boats up
with the proper movement...

the proper speed
and proper position.

And for the grips, who are the guys
who handle the camera equipment...

to set the camera up
in the proper place.

My guess is, we were about one
quarter of the time...

that it would've taken
to do the work if we'd showed up...

with the boats and camera and said,
"What are we gonna do now?"

This whole sequence is very close
to what was previs'd in the computer.

It's a matched blue screen shot,
there's a matte painting behind them.

Central Park apartments.

The boats for the sequence
are actually two different sizes.

The Wasp and the Womrath,
which are the two featured boats...

were built at one-to-one,
which is basically a boat...

that's about 4 feet long
for the Womrath.

And then we built a version
that was 8 feet for the close-up work...

where we see wheels spinning,
sails moving...

or the two boats
crashing into one another.

It was interesting because even though
you know they're toy boats...

the larger scale model is built so
it would appear more realistic...

even though it really only
should be 4 feet long.

But you want all
the additional detail.

The original... One of the earlier ideas
for this boat sequence...

is actually... Stuart...

Basically becomes... This was gonna be
his vision of what the race would be.

Rather than the realistic representation,
it became a more fantasy-like...

battle with pirates
and things like that.

The version here
is a much more realistic...

more perilous adventure.

One of the conceits
was to stay at mouse level...

for the material involving the boat...

to sort of treat it as though
it were a full-size race...

and we were full-size cameramen.

Or that it was a mouse-size race
and we were mouse-size cameramen.

However you wanna approach it.

But to stay down on the water
to give scale to the boats.

And we also photographed the boats
at a high camera rate...

which results in what you
consider to be slow motion.

But that slow motion gave the sense
of scale to the boats.

So water moves more slowly,
has a little more weight.

The sails move a little more slowly.

And that gave a little bit more
sense of jeopardy to the things...

that are happening to Stuart
during the boat race.

One of the things you'll see
in all the Stuart shots here...

is that we applied a wind...

that ripples through his clothing
and on his fur.

We had to came up
with some specialised software...

to create this effect. It's very subtle,
but it's something you'd miss...

it if you didn't see the back
of his flap moving in the wind...

and the hair stirred by it.

You really see the wind here.

This is also a CG rope,
the sheet line that he bites.

Following our policy
that anything he touches...

would become...

Or if he had to interact with it,
becomes synthetic.

Even the wheel that he steers
on the boats...

whenever he's touching it,
those are all...

We did those in CG.

It was pretty exciting
shooting this boat race.

There were days... If the wind got above
15 miles per hour, we shut down...

because this huge silk that we had
also was a huge sail.

And it seemed somehow appropriate
to be sitting on the deck...

beneath all of this waving,
white material...

and shouting orders. It was great.

It was like being...
It was like being Horatio Hornblower.

On a couple of days, we had winds that
were in excess of 30 miles an hour...

and we actually had cables break...

and tore some of the silk,
which was quite exciting.

Because as soon as the wind
started to get above a certain height...

they'd shout the alarm
and everybody had to leave...

and move out
from underneath the sail.

When the sheet line snapped,
it would whip across the pond...

and if you were in the way
you wouldn't happy.

Little high, Little low!

There's another costume
for Stuart, the tuxedo.

This tuxedo was especially difficult...

because it's white
and it's pretty featureless...

and it can show actually
all the problems you have in cloth...

meaning, computer graphic cloth.

The simulator we use to create
the cloth dynamics...

actually can cause
a lot of strange artefacts.

Little weird what we call noise,
little pops in the cloth.

And usually when you had a plaid
pattern or colour on it, it would hide it.

In this case,
he had a white tuxedo.

Luckily, most of the shots
are from a distance.

But these took...

Some of these took two months
just to create cloth for.

What you have coming up
actually is an introduction...

of two more CG mice characters.

This is a great shot here.

The reveal of Stuart's fake parents.

We took everything we learned
about creating Stuart by himself...

and applied it
toward these two characters...

who are equally as difficult.

You'll notice her coat
actually has fur trim on it.

So not only do you have to deal
with the realistic fur of her head...

you have her coat too...

and the layers of cloth
that interact with each other.

The Reginald character
and the Camille character...

were more caricature,
I think, than Stuart.

They were a little bit broader,
more cartoon-like.

And I think one of the challenges
was to keep them...

in our real world,
and at the same time...

keep the charm that was designed
into their body shapes.

Of course, when you're animating
some of these characters...

the short arms and legs that
Reginald has, present a problem.

If he wants to fold his fingers on his
chest, his arms aren't long enough.

So in some cases, we actually
took the character's arms...

and stretched them during the shot.
So as he'd reach forward...

his arm would get longer
inside the sleeve.

Of course the sleeve
would have to go with it.

So in some cases the characters do
change their shape during the move.

In traditional animation...
Cell animation, 2-D animation...

it's pretty common
to adjust your character...

to be able do some action.

And even though
you can do that in the computer...

it became our convention
that Stuart and Reginald and Camille...

all still had to follow
some bounds of reality.

You really felt that they were real.
There are some shots earlier on...

where Stuart's face
may squash and stretch...

for performance enhancement.

We found it actually took you out
of the movie.

So you'll find less and less of it...

from here on out
for the rest of the picture.

He continues to appear real.

You may not realise it,
but I'm sure he does.

What's interesting here...

is actually we had to go back
and spend some time...

making Camille's eyelashes
appear the right way...

so that when she bats them,
they had the right effect.

We designed it first and then
when we started doing the shots...

Rob made a comment
that he didn't like the eyelashes.

We had to go back and fix those.

But Stuart lives here.

George, come on...

This shot that's coming up...

took, I think,
almost a year to finish.

This is a three-shot of...

first Stuart,
and then Reginald will come in.

It was an incredible amount
of integration and shadows...

and things just to make them
appear here.

The cloth simulation for this took
many, many, many months to do.

Plus, you can see how
long the shot was.

Hey, taxi!

What's a mouse have to do
to get a cab in this city?

Any given shot, from the time it began
to the time it completed, on average...

would be some place from
six to eight weeks, I believe.

And some of them
were more difficult than others.

So they didn't all take a year.

It usually involves several people.

You have an animator...

Actually, first the match-mover,
who created the camera.

Then the animator
would do his work.

After the animation was finished...

you'd have a cloth artist
create the cloth.

Then you'd have a lighting artist,
who then lights Stuart.

These shots coming...
The hardest ones to do were anytime...

where he's in the hand of an actor.

And they were especially difficult
to make sure it felt like...

he was actually sitting in the hand.

I love you too, Mom.

Those are the things that
become distracting to a viewer.

Stuart's performing here
and if you have artefacts...

that distract you
from the actual performance...

then you have a problem.

It's why they make actors look great.

They don't have flyaways
in their hair...

they don't have smudges
on their faces.

You expect everyone
in the movies to look perfect...

even if they're supposed
to be dirty.

In this case, the suitcase in
that shot was the real suitcase.

Since Stuart didn't touch it...

we didn't wanna waste our time
having to make it.

This one is CG...

but we had to make sure
it matched back to the real one...

that was in the previous shot.

Let's just make them go away.
We're bigger than they are.

We'll say, "Go, shoo."

In this sequence, originally
they weren't supposed to carry Stuart.

The idea was, Stuart would climb
down the steps by himself.

While blocking the motion,
it turned out it would take too long...

for Stuart to get down the stairs.

So we improvised
right on the set and decided that:

"Why don't we just carry Stuart.
Have Hugh carry Stuart in his hand."

And it makes the scene
all the more touching...

how they have to say goodbye
to him.

One of the difficulties
with the mouse...

is he's very short
and everybody else is tall.

So when you start
composing scenes...

you have to be very careful
about where you put him.

If you leave him on the floor...

and you start looking up passed him
to the adults, they seem distorted.

There's also an issue
of depth of field...

which is, when you focus
on something in the foreground...

like a book or your hand,
the things behind it go out of focus.

So if we focused the lens on Stuart,
who is in the foreground...

very small and very close,
the things behind him tended to be soft.

And that was a difficult conceit
to work with because the character...

so often was separate
and apart from the live actors.

Putting him in the hand was a means
of bringing him closer to their faces...

and allowing, well, more problems
than just depth of field...

but allowing us to keep them all
in sharp focus...

so we could watch performance
from one to the other.

There's actually a thing we did
later on, where we were shooting...

plates that had a foreground.
The ground...

would be out of focus in the front
and then be in sharp focus behind...

and we wanted to put Stuart
in foreground.

We came up with a thing called
"height of field."

So we'd soften the focus
of the character's feet...

where they came into contact
with the ground...

and then we would
sharpen him gradually...

over his length
to where his face was sharp...

in the centre at the end of the shot.

If you notice the cat,
there's a very small smile right here.

Now, you really had to
point that out, don't you?

It's to really show that he is...
Snowbell's behind this whole thing.

This is a great bridge shot.

I did this in New York as a
second-unit piece from a helicopter...

with a gyro-stabilised camera mount,
which was pretty exciting.

We actually
were landing the helicopter...

where there was
a police picnic going on.

The city had permitted the police
and the helicopter for the same spot.

Two guesses who ended up
keeping the spot.

We had to leave, obviously.

The police were very nice about it.
They said, "Nope, you're leaving."

This is the Stout world set.

Originally blue screen
and we put New York in.

If you look at that boat in the
background, that's the party boat.

You'll see that boat
in every one of these backgrounds.

It's always moving around.
It became a joke.

Yeah, that's Jerome's party boat.

The set itself was built on a stage.

It was a small stage
with a blue screen behind it.

And then the New York City
components were added in...

from plates we shot at the same time
we were doing that helicopter shoot.

I love this kid!

Your new bedroom, Stuart.

This is a sequence that I also had
the good fortune to be involved with.

And we built several different
scales of the castle.

The interior of the room,
as you see here...

was built about four times larger...

than it was when you saw it
from the miniature from the outside.

That allows us
to put all the details in the walls...

the wire, the texture
in the wood and the bed frame.

There goes the party boat.
He's pointing the party boat out.

- It's a big pullback...
- That was great shot.

With a matte painting of the
background. So this was on the stage.

The turret that Stuart's in
and the building behind him...

were on the stage.
Then all of the city beyond that...

was created as a matte painting.

Actually, Geena's gonna pick up
this small sailor outfit.

If you were really careful
in watching...

you'll notice that this outfit
doesn't have white stars on the back...

like the one that Stuart wore
for the actual boat race.

That's because she washed it.

We were constantly making
modifications to the costumes...

that Stuart wore...

as we went along creating the shots.
They had to be upgraded...

to handle new capabilities.

For instance, the costume
of the sailor suit had to have...

more flexibility for adding wind...

because we did the sequence
on the boats...

after we did the sequence...

where Stuart was walking around
the pond and talking to George.

And Jim Berney, who headed up
not only the cloth contingent...

the people responsible
for making the cloth work...

and continuing to modify it,
he was also responsible...

for supervising several
of the composites...

that were shots
that were basically assigned...

to his portion of the organisation.

Jim was constantly having to either
add texture or soften the cloth...

or change the colour or figure out
a new way to attach the white stars...

so that everything
remained together.

Oh, how horrible!

Cream of mushroom soup.
Two-for-one sale.

That's a very heavy soup.

More shots of the cat.

Well, he doesn't know.

Is that Prince? Is that the real cat?

Yeah, I think that is.

Won't he wonder where they went?

In the beginning it was hard.

It was very difficult for me
to tell the cats...

but after seeing them for a year...

instantly, you can tell
which ones were which.

Stuart's parents died...

in a tragic cream-mushroom-soup
incident years ago.

I just told you.

Dear, we have to take this up
with the police.

This is where they realise
Stuart's been kidnapped.

There was a great shot
that was in this sequence...

that's no longer in this sequence,
which was the mouse line-up.

Police line-up.

We had to take all of the mice
that we created for the movie...

and change their sizes and
characters, and put them in a line-up...

for the Littles to look at.

This sequence here...

we used... Centropolis Effects
worked on these cat shots...

using the same technique
as Rhythm & Hues.

Basically re-creating 3-D geometry
for the cats.

I'm not a street cat.
I'm a house cat.

They were done at different places.

We had to make sure the size
of the teeth matched...

from one facility to the other,
so that the C-Effects shots...

and the Rhythm & Hues shots
all matched together.

Usually you don't like to split
characters between facilities...

but we wanted to make sure
the work was interspersed in a way...

that we could finish it on time.

A little risky, but John and I had to
basically go from facility to facility...

to make sure that
the visual continuity matched.

This is where the mouse line-up was.

Yeah, the Littles went down to view
a collection of other mice...

that were basically presented
to them as possibilities.

They were wearing orange prison
outfits. It was pretty funny.

We basically took Reginald's model
and Stuart's model...

and just stretched them
and made them fatter...

and put them all
in orange prison outfits.

It didn't make it in the movie.

There's probably 20, 25 shots...

that didn't make it into the movie...

that'll end up
in a collection somewhere.



It's my guess these two sickos...

One of the things that happened...

is we were changing
the physiquing of Stuart...

and the man in charge
of physiquing the characters...

Scott Stokdyk, was called on,
on a regular basis...

to make adjustments to the character
to meet the animator's needs.

Sometimes he'd have to lengthen
the arm or shorten the leg.

And in this case he had to stretch
the character...

to make the tall character...
Already tall character much taller...

and make the short character
have longer arms.

And make the female character
into a male character.

- There's Camille in all her glory.
- These were great night shots of them.

Now this is the
Stout-world sequence.

And this sequence
is where Stuart is...

It's revealed to Stuart that in fact
these are not his real parents.

And one of the things I think
that's interesting about this...

is that we have three animated
characters on-screen at the same time.

All of which are continuously

One of the things that's interesting is
the performances of the characters...

even the ones that aren't featured,
are continuous.

So you get the sense of life
of all three characters.

Often, when you have three characters
in animation...

the two characters that aren't
speaking or being featured...

will kind of fall dormant.

And I don't think that that happens
ever in this sequence.

Which is, to me...

It's a great show of Rob's art.

Yeah, this shot's good.

There's a lot disposition
shown in that shot.

Just having them off camera
with the dialogue.

Here we get to feature
the bedroom again.

One of the things you have to do, as
you do with characters in a real movie...

is create some contrasts.

If you do nothing but close-ups
or nothing but three-shots...

or you have the characters on-screen
all the time, they lose their lustre.

And I think that
by integrating shots...

where you're sort of left wanting
more, and then showing more...

you give the audience a little bit
more bang for their buck.

This sequence was particularly hard
to light in the computer.

We had to make sure
we have enough yellow light...

that was to the side of the castle...

then have the feeling
of the blue light from the moon...

and from the skyline
was affecting the characters.

These are all blue-screen shots
of the miniature set...

that John shot.

The big pan shot that's in there,
we actually went to New York...

and we shot individual plates looking
up, across, and down the river.

And those were "stitched together,"
quote-unquote, in the computer.

And we made the pan
that matched the foreground...

where the camera
went around Stuart...

on the background plate
after the fact.

We didn't shoot the pan...

when we were doing
the photography in New York.

Bye, fake father!

In all these cases, the car...
Stuart's car is real.

We would have to match it
and then place Stuart into the car.

Phil Notaro and the people...

at Imageworks Model Shop
put together that car.

It was really a beautiful car.

There were several versions of the car.
Some that went fast...

some that went very slowly.

Some that had articulate steering
and others were made for stunt work...

where they got crashed
and bashed.

There was a couple of versions
that didn't drive at all...

that included
an opening and closing door...

and one which had
the collapsing suspension...

that we used to show Stuart
getting in and out of the car.

We actually considered making the car
a computer graphic at one point...

but it actually became
too expensive an endeavour.

Which was a good thing...

because luckily
we only had an estimate...

for a certain number of shots
for the car.

And then that number went up,
and since we had the car available...

it was much easier just to shoot it.

Because there's no picture.
We need a picture of Stuart.

The family photo.

This is a case of
the animatronic inside the car...

- or maybe that was the stuffy?
- I think that was a stuffy.

That was in New York at 3:00 in the
morning as the sun was coming up.

This is an interesting shot.

We have the shadows of the cats
talking on this garage door.

This proved to be extremely difficult
to get these nuances of animation.

This was impossible to do
with a real cat...

so we basically shot
blue screen profiles of cats...

and then morphed
and cut and pasted in the computer...

and did all kinds of things to get
the performance of them talking.

The other approach would've been
to create them...

just as a cell-animated technique
and then composite them...

but we had a more realistic feeling
from them...

doing them
as a blue screen element.

Now we're coming to Central Park.

One of the things that's
interesting about the cats was...

Again, this is a sequence
that I got to direct.

And I sat down with Rob,
went through the sequence...

and storyboarded everything
we wanted and how to do it.

Then we got on-stage
and started working with the cats.

And not that the cats didn't
want to do what you wanted...

but often times their "interpretation,"
in quotes...

was better
than what you had planned.

And I think there are
sort of some happy mistakes...

that occurred
in the cats' performances...

both here and in the end sequence
in the film...

where their expressions
have more emotion to them...

than what you could
possibly have designed.

The stuff here
where the cats discover Stuart...

which you'll see in a minute,
is funny.

The looks on their faces
and the way they move.

There's also some great lighting
on the CG Stuart in front of the car.

We had to make the feeling...

that the headlights
were behind him.

And the interaction between cat
and Stuart here really works well.

So, you know, for integration purposes
we also had to add...

reflections of Stuart in the doors.
These are things that really help you...

feel that Stuart's there.

You must be Stuart.

Actually, I must...

When he goes behind the windshield,
there's a distortion effect.

You have to match whenever
the camera changes focus...

if it off Stuart to something else...

we then, in the computer,
have to match.

Basically, we blur him and animate
the blur, so it's timed correctly.

In order to make the cats in this car
look like they're going down a hill...

which we weren't able
to photograph...

we built the trees at an angle,
on a much flatter hill.

And you don't notice the fact
that the hill is only...

at about a 5 degree tilt
as opposed to a 15 degree tilt.

It's an old trick, but in fact it's great.

It's real movie magic
from a historical perspective.

The cats landing in this next shot
were shot at a separate time...

from the car departing
and then composited together.

So no, we weren't able
to get the car to leave...

and the cats to land
at the same time.

The cats landed on one piece of film,
the car departed on another...

and the two were
match-moved together...

and synch-lapped,
basically cross-dissolved...

so it appeared that the cats landed
much closer to the car than they were.

We travelled from...
We go, let's see...

One, we go from one stage...

to another stage,
to yet a third stage...

to a parking lot and back to the
first stage again, in this sequence.

So the cut you've just seen...

from the point at which
Stuart enters the park...

to the point at which
he splashes in the water...

was done in five different places...

that were meant to look
as though it was one scene.

These are all our shots
of Stuart in the water.

We had to contend now
with what is more fur, basically.

How does fur look when he's wet?
We did something called clumping.

If you look at how animals get wet,
their fur strands sticks together...

and in this case,
we applied this to Stuart's fur...

and we had to take some time to
make sure he still looked appealing.

Didn't look too spiky
with his clumped fur.

So it was a balance
of he had to appear wet...

and then also still look good.

The suitcase in these shots
are a real suitcase.

Though some of them,
they're also CG.

Here he leaps to his safety.
That's a great shot.

That's one of my favourite shots
of the wet Stuart right there.

Tina, Uncle Stretch...

Yeah, all the tunnel ones basically...

were a great challenge...

in making sure that
the lighting on him felt realistic.

And actually they were one of the
better sequences in the film.

Yeah, Jay Redd, who was
responsible for creating Stuart's fur...

and overseeing the fur...
Maintaining the fur...

during the course of the movie...

worked long and hard on
getting the clumping to work...

so that the fur looked wet.

And then, of course, added to that
were the specular highlights...

the reflectivity off the fur
to give it that sort of shiny feel...

that you get from wet fur.

I made it.

We split up the responsibilities
of different aspects...

of developing Stuart
among different departments...

so a certain person, Jay Redd,
would be in charge of fur...

as John mentioned,
there's effects animation...

there's physiquing, there's cloth...

and that way you can have
somebody really focus...

on a particular part of Stuart.

Because he was extremely
complicated to create...

because his realism really lays in all
the level of details that you notice.

But you don't want to be
fixated on them.

We went to the details of painting
veins in the flesh of his ears...

and having a bump on his nose,
and just the right degree...

of skin coming through
his muzzle...

to make him appear like a mouse,
but not too much flesh...

so that he appeared unappealing.

We studied a lot of mice.

We looked at what
features made them cute.

If you look closely a mouse,
they're not that cute.

Their tails don't have any hair
on them, their ears are bare...

so, we made Stuart's ears furry,
you know, kind of like a rabbit.

And even you'll notice Snowbell here...

how his ears are fuzzier.

So you notice the tail,
we actually put fur on it.

His hands... Stuart's hands
look like a small boy's hands.

And he's proportioned
as if he was a small boy.

So even though he has the overall
feeling of a mouse...

if you examine all his components,
you can see he's a hybrid...

of a lot of different...
From a lot of different sources.

This shot is mystifying because
everyone wonders how Stuart...

was able to climb up
onto the tabletop here.

And we're not telling.

That's nice lighting.

Some things that always
were important on the mouse.

One of them was rim light.
We used movie-star lighting.

We had a little back-cross to give
him a white line around his outside.

It helped separated him
from the background...

and also made his fur
look very clean.

And the whiskers were no mean feat.

To give the whiskers the right size
and right level of reflectivity...

in each of these scenes...

was a critical component
of making the character have life...

as were the reflections in the eyes.

These shots are interesting.

The picture that you see
of the family in the frame...

initially when we shot this,
there was not a cutout of Stuart.

Then they changed the story line...

and later we had
to run a couple shots...

and add the hole
that was cut out by the family...

when they were looking
for a picture for the posters.

And here comes everybody's
favourite shot.

This is a good example
of the height of field. The foreground...

was out of focus,
and we had to place him in that area.

So we had to blur
the bottom half of his body.

And this is the famous tear shot.

Bye, Snowbell.

It's famous internally.
We'll see how famous it becomes...

There was a debate about whether
you should make Stuart cry or not.

The rule of thumb is if you want
sympathy for your character...

you don't actually make him cry...

you make him a little wet-eyed.
But in this case...

the effect of his tear
humanized him so much...

Rob decided to go for it.
We had two versions originally.

We broke with tradition.

This picture always kills us...

because it's an airbrushed
picture of Stuart...

that we had to make
for a prop on the set...

months before we had
Stuart finished.

So it always looks different
than the real Stuart...

and we wanted to go back
and add the real Stuart on top of that...

but never got around to it.

This is a good example
of how we had to cheat the focus.

When we photographed this,
the area that Stuart's walking to...

is completely out of focus.
But if we followed the plate...

Stuart would be totally blurry.
We cheated his bottom half blurry...

and kept his face sharp
so you could still see it...

and it still works.

Coming up is a sequence where
we spend a lot of time in Central Park.

And it's a very, very dark sequence...

inasmuch as it's at night.

During the course of production,
Kodak came out with a new film stock.

And we had shot the first half
of our work, or not half...

maybe 30 percent of our work,
on an old print stock.

And that stock was lower contrast
than the new stock.

And we ended up having to switch
from one type of stock...

low contrast, to another type,
high contrast...

in the middle of the production.

And as a result we had to adjust
all our colour and contrast correction...

in the scenes that we had finished
at the beginning of the film...

which was no mean feat.

It involved a huge amount of time,
and if you watch this sequence...

you'll see there's a fair amount
of detail in the blacks...

in the dark shadow areas.

And we had to go back in and make
adjustments to those shadow areas...

from the original photography
so they'd show up in our new print.

Who knows CPR?

Yeah, this is a new sequence,
a new ending for the film...

that was devised and had
a much more dramatic ending...

but involved having to figure out...

how to get these cats
up into the trees, basically.

So the tree was designed
with certain little footrests...

and areas that would enable
the cats to be allowed to run up...

as they rose higher
and higher into the tree.

The tree is composed
of two separate sections.

We have a lower part of the tree that
stops, then once we get higher up...

we'll find the upper half
of the tree. And then we...

John shot lots of blue-screen
elements of leaves and stuff...

that we could layer into the frame
to appear that we were in the trees...

looking through
a canopy of foliage...

to basically make us feel
we were within the tree.

What are you doing up there?

The talking cats in this sequence
were done by Rhythm & Hues.

In some cases we'd add highlights
in the eyes of the cats...

to give them a little more life,
give them a little more spark.

Nice going, house cat.

Just for that, when we carve up
the mouse, you get the big half.

Big half?

There's a convention that,
in terms of lighting...

Rob wanted it darker in the lower
part of the tree...

and as you got higher into the tree,
it would get brighter.

And also the idea that
through the leaves of the trees...

you'd be able to see
parts of Central Park around us...

and, actually,
that didn't show up as much.

You still feel like
you're up in the tree itself.

I'll break his fall with my mouth!

These shots were hard, having Stuart
inside the mouth, trying to integrate...

the fact that he was really hanging.
In certain cases that was a stuffy.

We had to take the stuffy out
and put in the CGI Stuart.

Go! Go!

Snowbell. Watch it.
Where are you going?

These cats are landing on
specific little areas...

that were built into the design
of the tree...

that could allow them to climb.

You saved me?

Yeah, yeah.

Look, let's get one thing straight.

It's one of the hardest things, something
we struggled with for the entire film...

was making sure
lighting continuity matched...

in terms of the direction of light
on the cat.

That it was the same
on Stuart and from shot to shot.

It had to feel like they were
all lit together.

And this is some of the most
expressive of the cat stuff.

The cat's called on
to respond emotionally...

and in large quantity too...

because it's all played with the cats
and Stuart. They're all doing...

They're acting here.

So this was a pretty intense

for the people doing the animation
from Rhythm & Hues...

who did the animation of these cats.

And I think it's sort of
a tour de force...

of making cats have personality...

as far as the combination...

of their body language...

and the animation
of their expressions.

Getting the cat's
body language was really an issue...

of finding a means to put a camera...

where the cat would do
what you wanted, as opposed to...

having the cat come to the camera.
Often the camera had to go the cat.

But as a result, we ended up
with head moves...

body moves and body language...

that seemed to fit the emotion
of the scene.

It was really an interesting thing
to figure out...

thinking on your feet
while shooting these cats.

Because what you had to do was
redesign the scene in some cases...

dependent upon
the cat's performance.

So if it called for a single
or a two-shot...

at the beginning of the sequence...

and you happen to get a three-shot
or a good profile of the cat...

then you had to go through
and redesign the sequence on the fly...

while you were shooting
to incorporate that good shot you got.

Because the shots of the cats
performing emotionally...

were few and far between.

Here we have Stuart
making his escape.

That's actually a real...

It's a practical cat collar
that he's sliding down.

We actually attached Stuart onto it.

A lot of the cat stuff, you turn
the camera on and let the magazine...

roll through it.

Thousands of feet of it.
Credit the editor, Tom Finn...

with finding the little pieces
of performance...

to really make the body action work.

Then Rhythm & Hues
would then make the mouth talk...

and do the facial animation.

But just finding that small moment
that worked...

was a really challenging job
for the editor.

Here are some cases
where we add blue-screen leaves...

over the tops of certain shots
to make it feel like the canopy.

Coming up is one of the cat's most
favourite moments in the picture...

where they ended up
going into the drink.

And it turns out, obviously...

that although the cats
were in the water and swam out...

they didn't do the fall.

And what we had was,
we had stuffed cats...

which were quite rigid
as they fell...

and we went back and took their legs
and added animation to the legs...

to bring life to the cats
that were falling away from camera...

which you'll see here in a minute.

Take what?

It's a short shot...

but we actually had to go
and give them some movement.

Not your old buddy.

Don't worry, buddy.
I'm sure you'll land...

- on your...
- Snow, what are you doing?

This was cool, getting the cat to step
on this branch that would give away.

There are those stuffy cats.
No cats were hurt.

No cats were even offended
in the making of this film.

Except perhaps that cat.

They didn't like the water much.
They were willing to do it.

In fact, most of them did it more
than once without too much complaint.

All we've meant to each other?

I mean, I love that guy!

Hey, you guys! Wait up for me!

Pack up the pineapple, Stuart.
This luau's over.

Thanks, Snowbell. You were great.

Well, it must have been...

What's coming up here is there will
be a shot of Stuart holding a branch.

And we had to go in and create...

a computer-graphic branch
for him to hold.

The branch that hits Smokey
in the face is a blue-screen branch.

We shot a puff of air at the cat
to make it look like he was hit...

in the face...

but the branch didn't hit him.
It was a digital composite.

His name is Snowbell.

This is a cat dropped
into blue screen, basically.

And then we had to composite him
into a plate that John shot...

where they dropped weights
into the water to make the splash.

Look how little he gets
when he gets wet.

That's not the same cat though,
is it?

No, it's not, but still,
he was a fluffy cat to start out with.

Both of them got...
They didn't have much body mass.

They were mostly fur.

Little hey, Little ho.

This next shot is pretty tough.
This is Stuart actually riding the cat.

The harder shots are when he goes
through many different light changes...

because you have to animate
values of light.

This is interesting.
This is a blue-screen shot.

The cat and the mouse
were shot on a blue screen...

and they put into a plate of the house
that had no cat or mouse in it.

Yeah, they wanted to save money
and not do any Stuart shots...

so they tied a puppet
to the cat and then we shot it.

Here we have Stuart
arriving at home.

These digital composites
are blue screen, basically.

The area behind Stuart
in Central Park was one plate.

The foreground window was another.
We had to go back...

and put what we call "schmutz"
on the window...

all the dirt on the window
over Stuart to make it appear...

that there is still glass
between us and Stuart.

And subtle reflection of the room,
from the inside on the glass.


Lighting this was fun
because we wanted to play up...

the warm firelight that came in from
the inside of the living room onto him...

so we'd have a warm, happy ending.

And Snowbell.

I just couldn't have done it
without him.


These close-ups of Stuart
are quite nice.

You can really feel the fur
on his face.

At the end of a fairy tale.



And then this last shot,
another Stuart-in-the-hand shot.

This sequence ended up...

Before, we had a version of this
where we rose up above the house...

and went out over the city
of New York, and it got simplified.

To this. Which I think
probably is appropriate...

because the picture is now over.

Seems to make sense.

The film was, for me,
a great experience.

I had a lot of fun.

I came into a facility
that was already existent...

and Jerome and the people
who were there...

had been working as a team and they
welcomed me and I appreciated that.

It could have been a much less
happy experience.

And the challenges of the movie,
I thought, were significant.

Probably as substantial as
the challenges that we saw...

when we were doing
the first Star Wars.

And yet, as with that film...

I think that we were successful
on 99 percent of the stuff.

Which, you know,
there's a lot of talent involved...

but I think there's a lot
of luck involved.

And coming out of this, I count it as
one of my happiest experiences...

doing visual effects
and the second-unit directing.

It was a great treat as well.

I share John's sentiment that
this was a really good experience.

Rob would let us create
a lot of aspects of this film.

We were really involved in creating
the main character.

And the greatest satisfaction
I have...

is the fact that we were able
to accomplish this...

because initially we really didn't
have any idea how we were gonna do it.

We were asked
to do a talking mouse...

and none of us could have expected
to have really created...

not just this visual effect,
but I really feel like we have...

We have manufactured and really
created a new personality here.

He's something that film will remember
as another character.

This project was an enormous
creative and technical challenge.

And the success is a result
of a collaborative effort.

I want to recognise
some key individuals...

who were instrumental to providing
the management structure...

and resource framework
which allowed us to create Stuart.

The production management
was top-notch...

due to senior visual effects
producer Michelle Murdocca...

executive visual effects producer
Debbie Denise...

digital producer Lydia Bottegoni...

associate producer
Audrea Topps Harjo...

and digital production manager
Jody Echegaray.

Handling vender production
was Jacquie Barnbrook...

marketing venues were produced
by John Clinton.

Our digital artist crews were led by
four computer graphic supervisors...

Jim Berney, Bart Giovanetti,
Jay Redd and Scott Stokdyk.

A special recognition to Mike Travers,
who led our digital cloth team...

and Rob Bredow, our one-man
animation effects genius.

Of course, Clint Hanson and Armin
Bruderlin, who gave Stuart his fur.

And Bob Winter and John McGee,
who gave Stuart his fine grooming.

The digital artists and character
animators are too many to name...

but their efforts are what truly
gave Stuart his heart and soul.

For this, they could never be
properly recognised.

I will mention lead animators
Eric Armstrong, Anthony LaMolinara...

and John Clark Matthews.

Plus Kevin Hudson and his modelling
crew who built the digital Stuart.

We're very thankful to the various
departments at Imageworks...

which provided invaluable services
and support to the production.

Marty Kline,
visual effects art director...

head of Imageworks Art Department.

Our digital colour timer
was John Nicolard.

With scanning and filming coordinating
provided by Dennis Webb.

Our Visual Effects Editorial Department
was supervised by Michael Moore.

Our Software Department
was supervised by Amit Agrawal.

And our software lead
on the show was Evan Smith.

Our Training and Artist Development
Department was led by Sande Scoredos.

Systems and support
was supervised by Alberto Velez...

with technical assistant
supervision by Mary Borlik.

And facility operations was provided
by Tom Hershey and Mary Bailly.

Special thanks to Ian Kelly, who was
our on-set video assist operator...

who was there to remember
what we forgot to do.

David Stump, our visual effect
plates supervisor...

who was there for endless hours
to get us our visual effects plates.

Lastly, John, Henry and myself are
deeply appreciative to Don Levy...

who helped the world recognise
Stuart for the accomplishment he was.

We're grateful for the support...

given by the executive management
at Imageworks...

Ken Ralston, Tim Sarnoff,
Ken Williams and Jenny Fulle.