Roger Rabbit CG test

Someone posted a rare 1998 cgi test film for an unmade Roger Rabbit 2. If anyone has any background info on this piece, I’d like to hear about it:

UPDATE: Eric Goldberg, who directed this piece, writes in the comments:

Okay, time to put some things to rest.

Rob, Dave, Tom Bancroft, and Eric Guaglione are all correct. It is indeed CGI, from 1998. I directed both pieces, the 2-D and the 3-D, with a view toward directing the animation in the sequel, being developed by Pocahontas producer Jim Pentecost. While time-consuming in 1998 to get this effect, it was, and still is, ground-breaking in my opinion. As we were completing the 2-D with CG props test, I said to Kathleen Gavin, who was heading up offbeat” projects at the time, “Well, everyone already knows the Roger gimmick of tone mattes. Why don’t we see if we can do Roger himself in CG? If we can animate something as fluid and eminently squashy-stretchy as Roger Rabbit, then we can animate anything in CG.” I was also interested in pursuing it to solve the dreaded “foot-float” problem you get when when roto-ing planted feet to an incrementally moving camera. In this case, Roger was tracked perfectly, the same way the dinos in Jurassic Park were tracked perfectly. Whether we would use the technique or not in the sequel, it was to prove that we could do Disney quality animation in CG, which no one had ever attempted before. The Florida team proved me right, in spades, and major kudos to them all.

The next logical step for the studio was to see if we could achieve that kind of animation without pre-animating it as 2-D first. The result was Magic Lamp Theater, now a popular 3-D stereo attraction at Tokyo DisneySea. Again, expensive to do at the time, but this time I did detailed poses, while the CG guys really did the animation, supervised by Jason Ryan. Flash-forward 12 years later, and the tools to do this kind of work are most certainly available, without the need for special expense.

While the Roger sequel never got made, there were plenty of other reasons for that decision as well, involving then-current studio politics. Also, the too-expensive budget that was being considered was based on the original techniques.

Anyway, that’s the way I heared it, Johnny.

(Thanks, Matthew Gaastra)


  • http://weirdurl.com Zekey

    Holy crap. That is some really rubbery fluid CGI for 1998. I wish the video was sharper. :C

    • http://hand-drawn-animation.blogspot.com David Nethery

      @ Zekey – Yeah, that was Eric Goldberg’s vision : to have the CG be as loose and cartoony as traditional . That’s why it was traditionally animated first , then the hand-drawn work was used as the basis for the CG .

      • http://mayberabies.blogspot.com Raven M. Molisee

        Wow. What a great idea! It really shows.. holy crap is that snappy.

    • joshbalog

      hahaha. i found this video somewhere on the internet and i put it on youtube. i had no idea it was going to create such a commotion. but i thought people should see this. it’s quite impressive.

  • Mac
  • uncle wayne

    i think it’d be a mistake….in a big way. That’s the whole damn idea to mix humans with TOON! He doesn’t get it?

  • http://2dwannabe.blogspot.com robcat2075

    I bet that was very, very time consuming and expensive to do in 1998; possibly a reason RR2 wasn’t greenlit.

    I also bet that was pencil-animated first before it went to CG.

  • Atomicfox

    Yeah I’m really surprised how good it looks as well. I agree it’s hard to really tell from video quality but it looks more like that computer assisted shading that they used on Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

  • Roman

    Wow! Only background I can give is that in 1999 I worked as a tour guide @ Disney-MGM Studios, and in the little part of the production area you could actually see on the tour, there were definitely binders labeled Roger Rabbit 2. I remember reading that there was a slight redesign of the characters done by Eric Goldberg and the thought was first to do the characters Cel, anything they interacted with CGI to look like live action… then it became all CGI when they couldn’t quite get that look to mesh… then the budget was pulled and went to Pearl Harbor. From what I have also read, the RR2 concept was set on Broadway, as a prequel to the 40′s Hollywood WFRR… Alan Menken apparently wrote a bunch of Tin Pan Alley style songs for it. I don’t know how commercial it would have been, but it would have been 100% up my alley.

    • Stephan

      The money went to Pearl Harbor!? What a cruel development… I guess we’re lucky to get the one Roger Rabbit!

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Pathetic really. More to fulfill Michael Bay’s ego I guess.

      • Richard

        The movie? ‘Cause I’m pretty dang sure Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7th, 1941.

        Although Disney probably funded that, too…

  • http://hand-drawn-animation.blogspot.com David Nethery

    I worked on this. This is only part of the test we did. The entire test was much longer.

    Here’s what I recall about it:

    Made at Disney Feature Animation Florida in 1998 , right after we had finished Mulan.

    Directed by Eric Goldberg, who also did the streamlined re-design of Roger.

    Traditional animators: Tom Bancroft (Roger), Barry Temple (Roger), Trey Finney (weasels). Assistant animators: David Nethery (supervising key assistant) , Sherrie Sinclair, James Harris, Teresa Quezada , Jason Peltz, Lon Smart.

    CG Animators: Eric Guaglione, Rob Bekhurs . There were traditional effects animators on it too, but I have unfortunately forgotten who … I may have a complete crew list somewhere buried in my boxes of “Disney junk” from those years.

    This section where Roger dances on the table and leaps across to the guy’s desk was traditionally animated by Tom Bancroft , then Rob Bekhurs used Tom’s animation as the basis for the CG version of Roger . (I think it was Rob , maybe Eric Guaglione ? I see Eric Guaglione’s name name on the clip above. Maybe Eric and/or Rob can chime in to correct my somewhat hazy recollection of the project ) What you’re seeing in the test above is the CG version. A fusion of Traditional and CG.

    Like I said , the entire test was longer . It was traditionally animated, cleaned -up , colored . Props like the weasels’ guns were CG (instead of the puppeteered live props as on the feature … which were a pain to cover up the rigging) . Another example: the tabletop that Roger dances on was animated as a CG element , rather than as a practical prop being jiggled around by stagehands underneath the set.

    Parts of the test were then re-animated in CG , using the traditional animation as a basis. I don’t remember if the whole thing was re-rendered in CG or if it was only this scene . The entire test that was done in traditional animation probably ran a minute-and-a-half.

    Sorry if I’ve left anyone’s name out. It seems like another lifetime ago …

    • Joffe

      props man, this was very good, especially considering the expectations I had going in. It’s nice to know I can still be surprised by genuine quality.

      Personally I always liked my idea for a Roger Rabbit sequel set in the 80s where all the toons had aged in real time. So Mickey was a deranged Reagan-style politician, Daffy had joined the Black Panthers and then disappeared in the 60s, Bugs had been outed and moved to Europe, and Donald still wasn’t the same after Vietnam. But then again I have issues.

    • Stu Jones

      One of my teachers at UCF worked on this test as well, Darlene Hadrika. She was an effects and technical animator that also worked on Brother Bear and Mulan. I believe she was part of the Roger rig team.

    • Wayne Lemoine

      this is awesome!! Barry Temple is one of my course directors at school! So after seeing his name on this post i got all excited and HAD to talk to him about it!

  • http://Roundtableanimation.com joan

    Is it just me???
    I think that’s Classical not CGI!!!
    if it is CGI then i quote the first comment here:
    “Holy crap. That is some really rubbery fluid CGI for 1998″

  • http://chrisboyd-characterdesign.blogspot.com/ Chris Boyd

    Very cool. It would be really fun to see them make a RR2 today.

    • jic

      Disney is supposed to have a screenplay in development, with a release penciled in for 2012 (surely too soon if they are only at the sceenplay stage?). It is supposed to be 2D ‘toons’ with mocap ‘humans’, but I hope they see sense and use human ‘humans’.

  • Manny

    HUGS ROGER RABBIT!!! SQUEE!!!

  • Mark

    Looks better than most of the animation in the original film. What a horrible movie it was, though—muddled script, bad acting, and that awful charles fleischer…ugh.

    Some OK animaiton, but rendered like never stopping water balloons. So ugly.

    • Mr. Crankypants

      The moviegoing public clearly had a different point of view.

      • http://2dwannabe.blogspot.com robcat2075

        I remember coming out of RR quite stunned, because every book and article I had ever read on animation up to that point told me that full animation was no longer possible. It was too expensive and everyone who could do it was gone anyway.

        But there it was on screen. Whatever its flaws it was still great fun to see.

      • Mark

        It wasn’t as big of a hit as people want to believe. Transformers made more money, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good film. Bob Hoskins was, as usual, great. Much better than the material. The script really was muddled.

      • Brody

        I agree completely; never understood the love for this movie, Back to the Future, Tron, Gremlins or most other overrated 80s plastic schlock.

      • http://2dwannabe.blogspot.com robcat2075

        Roger Rabbit not a hit? It was the #2 box office movie released in 1988. It’s $156 million gross would be about $300 million today. That’s a genuine “hit”.

        More importantly, it got adults and the mainstream media talking about animation in a way they just did not do prior to that. That’s an achievement completely aside from dollars taken in.

      • Al

        Like shrek?

      • http://www.wardjenkins.com Ward

        Yeah, man, this film was a MAJOR hit in 1988. I was completely blown away by it that summer! This, along with The Little Mermaid the following year, helped solidify my dreams of becoming an animator.

    • http://los-utopicos.blogspot.com allari

      Because Richard Williams was at the helm, the Paganini of animation (way to much flashy movement!!!!!).
      Still, i love that film.

    • Carl

      Roger Rabbit was one unappealing character, and it’s no wonder they didn’t bother with a sequel. (If it HAD made as much money as they said, they wouldn’t have scrapped a sequel.)

  • uncle wayne

    to Mark: that’s hysterical! You must’ve been watching Who Framed Ben Hur instead!

    • Mark

      I didn’t know Bob Hoskin’s was in Ben Hur! But lets face it, Bobby Z. is NO William Wyler (America’s Greatest Motion Picture Director).

  • ben c

    holy crap that was 1998? quality!

  • http://Roundtableanimation.com joan

    HERE BOB ZEMECKIS TALKS ABOUT HOW THEY WILL MAKE IT CLASSICAL, BUT SHOWN IN 3D:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ricik6_ZHo&NR=1

  • Rooniman

    Thats the most cartoony, fluid, and down-right smoothist piece of CG animation I have ever seen.

  • http://siskavard.blogspot.com Corey

    As fun as this test is, animating the characters in CG instead of hand-drawn goes against the entire world that is set up for Roger Rabbit. Most of the gags center around the toons being HAND-DRAWN and PAINTED as well as the time period is supposed to be from the GOLDEN AGE of animation, where there was no CG.

    So we’re going to see Roger Rabbit & Jessica all CG and are we supposed to trick our brains into thinking they are hand drawn and painted cartoons from the 1940′s?

    • http://mayberabies.blogspot.com Raven M. Molisee

      I’m going to have to suspend my suspension of disbelief!

    • Tanuki

      That’s exactly what I was thinking.

      It would only make sense if they set the movie in 21C and Roger was hanging out with Buzz, Woody, Shrek et al.

      As for the mocap humans, it seems Zemeckis has resolved to work that way for the rest of his days. Even if he did a little romcom, it would be mocap. Imagine the love scenes! Ugh!

  • http://dontpokesmot.blogspot.com/ Annie-Mae

    That’s…really not bad. I was expecting it to be terrible but it’s good even for modern standards. Thanks David for that information cause it gives us an idea of what went into it. And while my 1st impulse is to say the liveaction elements of the 1st movie really made the characters look like they’re IN our world, I agree that making CGI guns would give the best results.

    Thanks for sharing…somehow I don’t see much hope with Zemeckis version.

  • Doug Nichols

    Rob Bekuhrs did the CG animation. Eric Guaglione was the CG Supe.

  • john

    I was working at Disney at the time although I didn’t work on this, so feel free to correct me Dave. I’m pretty sure that since the 2D animation was so… well, Goldbergian, it would have been pretty much impossible to rig a CG model to achieve all the deformations that you see here. Maybe you could do it now, but back then, no. So the way they did it was to pull CVs around and essentially create a new model for, if not every frame, certainly every pose, and blend between these extremes. So it was very expensive to do, and extrapolate that out to feature length, times X number of characters, and it became a budget buster, and they shelved it.

    • http://hand-drawn-animation.blogspot.com David Nethery

      John,

      Eric Guaglione gives a detailed run-down of how they worked over the hand-drawn animation that Tom Bancroft did in this interview:

      http://brendanbody.blogspot.com/2010/05/eric-guagliones-roger-rabbit-2-test.html

      The interview with Eric is an audio file near the end of that blog post.

    • JG

      I disaggree. In 1998 3d software already had progressed immensely and had the essential rigging features still used today. The only thing different is the processing power at hand, which can be worked around. Since the 3d animators practically traced the hand drawn animation frames, they could make use of a slower cumbersome rig; in such a situation rig’s responsiveness isn’t as important as when comming up with original animation. I’m relatively sure you can take the tools they used (like 3DsMaxR2, released ’97 september, since Maya only came ’98) and replicate the result today.

      Besides, you can tell by the lighting and shadows that it’s a 3d model. Such accurate cell shading would’ve taken ridiculous time to produce.

  • http://wallysketches.wordpress.com Wouter

    Way better that all the 3D/live-action combos we see in theaters today..
    This is incredible.

  • http://www.ericguaglione.com/Animation.html fanatico
    • http://Roundtableanimation.com joan

      i just saw it thanks for the link

      it is CGI!!! AMAZING!

  • Caresse

    I’ve utilized this method of animating traditionally then transposing the motion into Maya, as well. I don’t really think it’s excessively time consuming in that, like most Animation processes regardless of the medium – it’s effective pre-planning that saves you time in the end. Perhaps nowadays, with our advanced and higher capacity CPUs, a collaborative effort to use this technique could result in something pretty damn good.

    The difference between CG and Traditional is the hardness of shape. In Traditional, a still frame of – for example – a pencil, can be a barely recognizable blur, but still effective in motion. Whereas, a still frame of CG pencil will always read as a strict cylindrical object. Use of motion blurs can kind of cheat this, but it’s still not very natural or human.

    I think if you’re not afraid to get dirty, you’ll sometimes chose animating CV’s over using a conventional rig. This can get very messy and confusing – but, if you pre-planned traditionally, then all you’re doing is moving a CG model into the same silhouette as your hand drawn frames.

    I think of a wireframe as all the directions my pencil would go were I animating this traditionally.

  • http://www.funnypagesprod.com tom bancroft

    Dave Nethery, Doug Nichols and “john” gave all correct background on this project. It was directed by Eric Goldberg (from LA) but animated in the Florida studio. We had two seperate teams: one traditional and one CG. Two seperate tests completely. The CG test was a huge secret with a lot of us even in Disney unaware it was going on until it was finished. (My assumption is that Disney execs didn’t want us traditional guys thinking our days were numbered- HA, who thought that back in 98?) Eric G. did his version of Roger and even gave the scenes out with poses included. He put a lot of work into each scene, much like he does when he directs a commercial, its almost a pose test already. I was given the 2d version of this scene to animate BEFORE the CG animators. I heard that it was going to have a CG version of it done about half way through animating it (it took me about two weeks, if I remember right). So, I made sure I put in a lot of tough “smear drawings” that I knew they couldn’t do, just to see how they’d handle it. What “John” above says is correct: the CG version was a huge expensive deal. It took a big team of CG guys (headed by Eric Guaglione with most, if not all, of the “animation” done by the talented Rob Bekuhrs) MONTHS (maybe six?) to complete this one scene. It was like creating a new “model” of Roger for every pose/tween. You could never make a feature like that. It is almost an identical “tracing” of the 2d version I did. You can see my 2d version at the end of my companies animation reel at: http://www.funnypagesprod.com.

    BTW, the 2d version was a full 5-7 scenes long, not just this one shot. It had a mini story to it with the live action “detective guy” and a live action female with the weasels making an appearance also. The 2d test was designed to show that a 2D Roger would interact well (better than the original film) with CG props. In my 2d test, the magic hat (like it is here), tables, papers, etc. were all CG elements. It worked great, as you’d expect. It was an affordable way to do the sequel, not to make the characters CG also. There are many, many reasons the sequel didn’t get made, but I sure enjoyed working on this test.

    • http://guzforster.com Guz

      “It was like creating a new model of Roger for every pose/tween.” Wow. Now it makes more sense that in 1998 it was possible to do such character animation in 3D!

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Looks cool. Too bad it wasn’t made.

    I enjoy ROGER RABBIT. Its animation is an incredible accomplishment. I’ve watched it many times, but it’s a really crappy movie for too many reasons. I’ll watch it again, though.

    • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

      It really isn’t a great film, you’re right.
      One of the worst things about it is Roger himself, who’s unbearably and constantly shrill.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    This is TERRIFIC.

  • papasmurf

    I think it looks amazing, but why not just stick with 2D instead of going over it with 3D. Am I missing something? And I know it isn’t but that dude looks like John Hamm.

  • http://www.pauloralvarado.com Paulo Alvarado

    All this makes me think is “Why did they shut the Florida studio down?”

  • http://blissfulignorance551.deviantart.com/ Austin

    ….am i the only one who see the complete lack of practicallity in re-animating and entire scene in cg for no good reason?
    Anywho, This is far greater than anything i’ve seen pixar, dreamworks, or bluesky do in this field.

  • Scarabim

    Well, that was amazing. Love it, but isn’t it ironic? In order to make CG animation look as lively and funny and fluid as 2D, 2D had to be employed first. Hah.

    I’m all for another Roger Rabbit film, but I agree with others here that a good script is the crucial first step. And also, if cartoon character cameos are to be used, please let the cameos be IN character. That scene in the original RR with Bugs Bunny picking on Eddie Valiant for no reason, and Mickey Mouse being more or less the accessory, was a violation of both their characters. And oh, yeah, it was also not funny.

    I don’t get the Charles Fleischer hate. I thought he did great as Roger.

  • purin

    Hey, that looks pretty good! I wouldn’t want a GC Roger Rabbit movie, and I’m glad a sequel wasn’t made, but I wouldn’t mind a different live action-and-(CGI version, because who wants to see a 2D version of a 2D character, anyhow?) cartoon movie that actually looked like this! It actually… kind of still looks like a cartoon instead of some sort of hyperreal rendering.

  • John F A

    I had heard that it was Eisner that was really pushing for the all CG Roger, to flaunt his studio’s superiority over Dreamworks. When he found out how expensive and time consuming 1998 CG really was, Eisner, who never much of a fan of 2D animation, had the whole project shelved.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    I like the animation. Maybe too many shadows, but apart from that it’s really good. The life action part seems to lack the elegance of the original one, for some reason, but it’s a very little scene to judge that.

    I guess this was from that prequel script about Roger trying to get his first job as a movie star during II World War.

    That was a very interesing concept for a movie, though I guess that meant no Eddie Valiant at all.

    I love everything in the movie, but like others, I also consider Bob Hoskins to be one of the best things in it.

    Maybe it’s for the best that there is no sequel…though it seems Zemeckis is going to do it sooner or later. I’m afraid they will never make it as great as the first one. They should make more Roger Rabbit shorts instead.

  • holyduck

    Roger Rabbit is NOT Roger Rabbit unless it’s hand-drawn, to me. Because the original was a tribute to 1940′s cartoons, and all cartoons in that era were hand-drawn. That is logical.

    Nice attempt though.

  • Cyle

    This is certainly an interesting experiment, but it’s one of those cases where I don’t understand the goal. Why use CG if the goal was for it to look like hand drawn animation, and they had to do the hand drawn animation first anyway just to get this look? It’d be like filming a movie in live action, then devoting all of your resources to painstakingly recreate each frame in CG. If the first step already gives you the desired look, why not use that? That’s a waste of time and money.

    I wouldn’t call this super-fluid/rubbery CG because essentially it’s still hand drawn animation just with CG models on top. I still don’t get why even today, people keep trying to perfectly replicate hand drawn animation with CG. I like that there are different types of animation with different looks. Combining different types is cool, but attempting to use one to replace the other is pointless to me. Using CG models for the props the characters interact with was a smart idea though.

    • http://www.antoniolinhares.com Antonio

      I totally agree.

      The only reason that could justify this kind of process would be if the movie was going to be shot and shown in stereoscopic 3D. Perhaps not the case tough back in 1998.

      I don’t get it too that everyone is calling this 10 second test ‘the best GC ever’ or ‘way better than recent stuff’ since this is merely an (insanely well done) test. Animation is also about character and how much the audience care about what’s going on. Many GC features, including 1995′s Toy Story, have already showcased a lot of that.

  • David Breneman

    I can see the case for CGI. After all, in the original film, the characters were only drawn “flat” in the cartoon prologue. Once they entered the human world, they were painstakingly drawn as solid objects (with shading, etc.) in physical space. I’d imagine that if modern CGI tools were available then, the original producers would have used a process very similar to what we see here to create what is really that effect.

    • jic

      Yeah, Roger Rabbit was probably the closest that hand-drawn animation got to being 3D.

  • tonma

    Yeah, that’s something I will always believe. We were RRREEEAAALLLYYY lucky to ever see the first one actually done.

    I think now is a terrible time to try to do the sequel. You know, mister Zemeckis Hasn’t been very well in his head lately.

  • Egbert

    As influential as the original Roger was (it DID provide the major box office firepower that kicked off the first 2D animation boom in 1988), a Roger sequel would be about as hot a ticket as the 1990 sequel to “The Last Picture Show”, “Texasville”, turned out to be.

    • http://www.sweetposer.tk/urbmn/ Cameron A.

      Well, Wall Street and TRON have sequels. Manos: The Hands of Fate will have a sequel, featuring Gene Snitsky of WWE infamy.

      If Manos, of all films, merits a sequel, Roger Rabbit’s prospects don’t look that bad. I’d be more surprised to see a sequel to Howard the Duck or Radioland Murders.

      • Karen

        Agreed. It’s not a particularly good film–I don’t care about any of the characters or what happens to them. As for the eye candy, it’s very inconsistant–with some nice animation here and there and a LOT of bad animation, too. Disney’s marketing made it a minor hit, but frankly, the shorts, especially the Tummy Trouble and Roller Coaster Rabbit were better all the way around. The animation was more controlled and had more character.

  • http://www.stringstornasunder.blogspot.com Chris Powell

    wanna see the ENTIRE test!! Does anyone know if its possible to see the ENTIRE test with the weasels and all?
    thanks for posting this!!

  • http://MrFun'sBlog Floyd Norman

    I did early development on this film shortly before moving north to Pixar. Jim Pentecost was the producer, and we even had a meeting with Steven Spielberg’s lieutenants in the animation building on Riverside.

    I read the script, and like the previous poster said, the movie opened with Roger and his partner failing as broadway stars, and moving west to begin a new career in Hollywood.

    Eventually, this movie is bound to resurface, don’t you think?

    • http://www.bishopanimation.com FloydBishop

      If it does, Zemeckis has already expressed interest in going the mocap route: http://www.newsinfilm.com/2009/11/04/motion-capture-and-writers-for-roger-rabbit-2/

      With Disney shutting down Imagemovers back in March, that may have changed things.

      This is hardly the only implementation of CG meant to mimic hand drawn. Eric Goldberg oversaw a project with a CG Genie that was quite successful, but I’m sure there are other (non Goldberg related) examples out there.

      From a tech standpoint, so long as the end goal is in mind during the various creation stages, a CG character can do everything a hand drawn character can do. What changes is the amount of effort and in which area. Sure, a 2D animator can draw any wild pose they like from frame to frame, and a CG animator will have to work hard to hit those same poses with the digital character. It may require special rigs for a shot (like an IK tongue or something like that), but it can be done. It’s also nowhere near as financially prohibitive as it was in the 90′s. We’re already seeing it as common place (but not to the extreme in this test) in movies, television, and even in commercials.

      This would be possible to do with todays technology and talent pool, but the trick is getting a studio brave enough to put the money and trust into a crew to do it, and sadly we’re not there yet. That is squarely where the deficiency lies.

      • John

        “but I’m sure there are other (non Goldberg related) examples out there.”

        Yeah. like 2 years before this in ’96 for Marvin the Martian in the 3rd Dimension.

  • Rob Bekuhrs

    As noted by T Bancroft and D Nethery above, this was almost all a roto of not only Tom’s (thanks for teh tip o’ the hat, Tom) animation but of the detailed cleanup line from the Florida crew.
    Only motion I added was some waviness to tufts and ears as he sails across the room.
    E Guagilone did the roto after he lands on the desk, I did what happens before. I did an earlier posed test based just on Eric Goldbergs poses, but each pose was a new apology…’Yep, we’ll work at extending that forearm’…’No, we’ll get it to bend’…’His eyes arent there yet, I know’. So E Goldberg had us go the roto route.
    Each frame was a practically a new set of deformers, and even with that I believe we needed some multi layer comping…getting Rogers chin over bulgy tie over arm over chest is a dandy 2D cheat that can go to pieces if you try to preserve volume for 3D shading.
    It was done in Maya, we were alpha testing it and had a lot of experience with Power Animator and Wavefront before that, keeping up our conversations with Alias, getting changes pretty quickly, most days.
    There are plenty of elements in 2D work (the ‘language’ of drawn animation) that don’t necessarily translate into 3D. Sustain of a one part of a shape from one frame to the next, partial motion of a character, changing of broad areas of flat color bounded by pencil lines; stuff like this can get visually crippled by shading and erased by motion blur. With some experience you animate in 3D knowing how the machines down the line will affect your work and hopefully plan ahead for that.
    It was an exercise, I would not do it again.

  • Mr. James

    I’m more interested in seeing more tests and development work from the small snippet Eric Guaglione posted of Disney’s unrealized film, “My Peoples” here:

    http://www.ericguaglione.com/Animation.html

    What was THAT all about? I’m intrigued!

    Anyone got more info or imagery/animation tests they can share?

  • Rob Bekuhrs

    Aren’t the principal characters are still owned by ‘Silver Screen Partners’ -> Roger, Jessica, Baby Herman.
    A part of that means they’re jointly owned by WD and Spielberg (and perhaps by association, Katzenberg)? I’d rather watch glaciers melt than wait for that to arrive.
    And I’ve been very wrong before, so keep your eyes peeled.

  • http://www.daryl-rhystaylor.co.uk DarylT

    Anyone else glad they didn’t make this sequel?

  • http://www.daryl-rhystaylor.co.uk DarylT

    What was it even going to be about?

  • http://guzforster.com Guz

    Dudes, I may be totally wrong here, but I really think that’s no CG. Watch the original Roger Rabbit footage, that’s just about the same high quality animation as this one, wich presents more fine-tuned shadows and volume.

    And, for 1998, I really doubt that that character rig was even posssible…

    • Cyle

      Check out the comments from Tom Bancroft, Dan Nethery, and Rob Bekuhrs above and listen to the interview Dan posted.
      It’s CG, but you are right that kind of rigging wasn’t possible. From Rob’s comment above: “Each frame was a practically a new set of deformers, and even with that I believe we needed some multi layer comping…”

      • http://guzforster.com Guz

        Yeah, I’m reading them now! Thanks ^^

      • http://guzforster.com Guz

        Yeah, I’m reading them now. Thanks!

  • MisterZulu

    I always thought that a Roger sequel would be a great idea, especially if it were set during this time period, with all the Toons being forced underground after Doom’s freeway system wound up coming to fruition without him, with Roger and Jessica with a crapload of kids.

    The plot could revolve around some of the newer Toons not wanting to be “hiding under the rug of society”–with the ringleader of it being non other than Lisa Simpson–ultimately rekindling the fighting spirit of the older generation to take on an evil executive out to destroy them all.

    Yeah, it’s a pipe dream, but it would be nice…

  • Eric Goldberg

    Okay, time to put some things to rest.

    Rob, Dave, Tom Bancroft, and Eric Guaglione are all correct. It is indeed CGI, from 1998. I directed both pieces, the 2-D and the 3-D, with a view toward directing the animation in the sequel, being developed by Pocahontas producer Jim Pentecost. While time-consuming in 1998 to get this effect, it was, and still is, ground-breaking in my opinion. As we were completing the 2-D with CG props test, I said to Kathleen Gavin, who was heading up offbeat” projects at the time, “Well, everyone already knows the Roger gimmick of tone mattes. Why don’t we see if we can do Roger himself in CG? If we can animate something as fluid and eminently squashy-stretchy as Roger Rabbit, then we can animate anything in CG.” I was also interested in pursuing it to solve the dreaded “foot-float” problem you get when when roto-ing planted feet to an incrementally moving camera. In this case, Roger was tracked perfectly, the same way the dinos in Jurassic Park were tracked perfectly. Whether we would use the technique or not in the sequel, it was to prove that we could do Disney quality animation in CG, which no one had ever attempted before. The Florida team proved me right, in spades, and major kudos to them all.

    The next logical step for the studio was to see if we could achieve that kind of animation without pre-animating it as 2-D first. The result was Magic Lamp Theater, now a popular 3-D stereo attraction at Tokyo DisneySea. Again, expensive to do at the time, but this time I did detailed poses, while the CG guys really did the animation, supervised by Jason Ryan. Flash-forward 12 years later, and the tools to do this kind of work are most certainly available, without the need for special expense.

    While the Roger sequel never got made, there were plenty of other reasons for that decision as well, involving then-current studio politics. Also, the too-expensive budget that was being considered was based on the original techniques.

    Anyway, that’s the way I heared it, Johnny.

    Eric Goldberg

  • http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=139327142748827 Taco Wiz

    Woah, that’d beautiful. I SO wish this was greenlighted.

  • mat
  • http://pizzasketchbook.blogspot.com Kingfish

    This actually isn’t as bad as I would have thought, he looks surprisingly like Roger. Guess the initial 2-D work paid off. Still, I think in the spirit of the movie it really ought to be done hand-drawn with human actors.

    For the record, I LOVED this movie when it came out and still do. It captured my 7-year-old imagination harder than any other movie I have ever seen. The concept is so fantastic, the animation, I truly believe, amazing, and they did things technically that nobody had done before.

  • Samjoe

    Years ago, I believe the reason that why a 2 wasn’t made, is that the other Studio toons were now too valuable just to give away. “They wanted more money”.
    Disney doesn’t pay anybody else anything if it doesn’t have to.
    And now, if they can get Tom Hanks to play Eddie, they have a sure fire hit on thier hands.

  • looney lover

    I saw this thing at sigraph in 2001 or 2. I’m going to tell you exactly what I thought then. What’s the point. The lighting was too bright. The characters have no line work. Makes it hard to see Rogers expressions. I remember they showed the pencil drawings and then showed now the cgi artists bent the model for every frame. It was amazing. Cgi animators and flash animators don’t think like Eric Goldberg. He is a classical genius .

    In 2001 when I saw this test 2d was desperately dying. At that time it made me sad to see what I think is one of 2d animation’s greatest modern achievements made into another Disney sequel. Especially. A 3d sequel. Congratulations to all who worked on this test it is truly beautiful. I thought then and think now that the technique should be applied to all cgi toon style animation. Just roger needs to be hand drawn with hand drawn shadows. Or else it ends up being just like everything else made now.

    The combination of live action and cgi will not wow an audience anymore. Perhaps the old technique still would. Most audiences don’t think any animation is drawn any more. That idea of drawing every frame is still magic to the masses. I would love to see Disney do another roger rabbit type movie. But that movie came out at a different time. Disney would never allow one of their movies to have lines like … nice boobie trap. Or characters named smart ass. Or my favorite, not prostate you idiot probate.

  • fishmorgjp

    Mr. Crankypants: “The moviegoing public clearly had a different point of view.”

    That’s nice. It was still a lousy film.

  • http://pizzasketchbook.blogspot.com Kingfish

    fishmorgjp: It was not a “lousy film.”

    It was an amazing technical achievement, for then OR now. It created a world we had never seen before, where you could walk into a bar and have a drink with Yosemite Sam- how cool is that? It had fun characters, a great cast, and captured a romantic vision of Hollywood in the 40′s, and celebrated classic animation that we all love in a very genuine way.

    To dismiss the whole thing as “lousy” is just being cynical for the sake of it and it doesn’t make you seem smarter or better.

  • Eric Guaglione

    It’s great to see so many responses – and also the clarifications from Eric, Tom and David. I was the CG Supe on the piece and am in great debt for Eric’s vision and wisdom – I learned so much working with Eric.

    Since time was pressing, Rob Bekuhrs and I split the shot into two – he animated the first half and I tackled the second half. (The animation transitions as Roger jumps midair across the room.) I’d like to share some of the wisdom gained from this exercise, which I also presented at Siggraph the following year under the title of “Shape based character animation.” Since the 2D animation was completed first, we used the animation as a guide, but just like anything that makes a jump from 2D to CG things don’t always look right by simply copying 2D animation. In 2D animation you do a lot of drawn manipulations to make a character look as appealing as possible – some call those 2D cheats – but In CG these drawn approaches aren’t always achievable in sculptural forms, which means you can’t be too literal about following the 2D or it will simply look wrong. There were significant differences between the 2D and CG animated versions of this test, but the flavor was the same. What we learned from this process informed us how to rig and deform characters going forward – enabling us to treat CG characters with the same eye as one would in drawn animation, while considering the of handling the volumes and shapes in CG. The first visible outcome of this was seen years later in Chicken Little.

    For those interested I also spoke a bit about this Roger test in an interview posted on Brendan Body’s blog at http://brendanbody.blogspot.com/

    Lastly, as the person whose name is burned in on the video, I’d like to remind that this clip is the property of Disney Animation Studios – the clip was extracted from my materials (ahem…) where it properly, legally credits the studio.

    I hope this provides some further insight!

    Eric Guaglione

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    People have the right to dislike Roger Rabbit (though it was as good as a Hollywood animated movie can get, in fact, it was even a little better than that).

    But they have to give reasons to call it lousy. The plot was very good considering they were trying to blend such different things as cinema noir and slapstick cartoon gags. The technical aspects were very well done. The original characters were different and well designed. The human actors did a great job.

    I mean, you may not like the story or the characters for some subjective reasons, but call it lousy requires a lot of good arguments to explain it.

    Of course it wasn’t as good as the golden era Looney Tunes or whatever but it was an excellent homage to that era and it’s one of the few films that tells an interesting story using very cartoony characters as the main characters.

  • Bart

    This looks awesome indeed, but like others have said, why do a movie about toons where 3D is employed to try to make them more realistic and get rid of the exact detachment that is important to the plot, world and characters?

    Also, why’s Eric Goldberg’s full career made from taking from Richard Williams? It’s almost as if Dick did another thing publicly, Eric Goldberg would have it buried and done much more efficiently with Mouse money in a second.

    Sheesh.

    • http://hand-drawn-animation.blogspot.com David Nethery

      What on earth are you talking about Bart ? That’s ridiculous. Eric Goldberg’s career has been successful based on Eric’s own unique talents and accomplishments , not “taking from Richard Williams” .

      In case you don’t know , Roger Rabbit is not and never was the property of Richard Williams. The character belongs to Disney and Amblin. At one point there was intrest in making a sequel. Eric was the man tapped to do the job on testing the viability of a sequel . At that time Richard Williams was no longer an employee of Disney and I’m fairly secure in saying that Richard had no interest whatsoever in heading up a sequel to Roger Rabbit. So if you’re implying that somehow the planned sequel with Eric in charge of animation was taking something away from Richard Williams you are incorrect.

      Some fans seem to be making a big deal over what was an internal TEST , not a piece of finished footage meant to be seen by the public. . Relax.

      • Bart

        Of course I realize Richard Williams does not own the rights to Roger. That’s not the case here. It’s Eric Goldberg basically lifting from Richard Williams over and over again to further their career.

        Goldberg used to work for Williams. I’m sure it’s no coincidence Aladdin lifted so much from the Thief. Disney can do whatever they want with Roger Rabbit, but it’s just the point of Goldberg adding so much insult to injury.

        I will never have respect for Goldberg, even in good conscience Aladdin shouldn’t have existed like a bad Thief and the Cobbler clone if he had any sort of lack of disdain for his former boss.

        We all know the director who made Roger Rabbit good and appealing in the first place, Goldbergs wasn’t him.

        Also, are you this condescending and presumptuous in real life?

      • simon

        WTF??? Are you insane?? So anyone who has ever worked for Dick – myself included – have to claim that he was the one who gave us our talent?? Eric Goldberg is a great animator in his own right. He and a handful of other animators can do ‘funny’ like no others! And that isn’t down to Dick!! Sheesh, guy. And you are totally wrong to accuse HIM of any taking of ideas for Aladdin – he was in charge of the Genie – which bears no resemblance to The Thief and Cobbler characters (whereas another character DOES). You don’t have to “respect” Eric as you put it, but you also don’t need to talk crap about him here under your pseudonym. Trollboy. I can say this with confidence – without even knowing who you are – you will never possess the skills that Eric possess’s!! (even though that’s not the issue here) Now go practice your Dick Williams course (which IS great, by the way)

  • http://orangecow.org Garrett Gilchrist

    Brilliant, unexpected use of CGI, proving again the genius of Goldberg – and kudos to all involved.

    I would love to see a CGI film that moved like this.

    But not Roger.

    The use of CGI is completely wrong for Roger Rabbit himself. It literally defeats the entire point of the character. Also, Roger is completely off-model – as he always seems to be in anything not overseen by Richard Williams himself. The post-movie theatrical shorts started a bit off model and got more and more off model as they went.

  • Polyvios C.

    This is amazing!
    “Waddya say big fella”
    Roger says.

    So when will Disney get into the prospect of reviving the Roger Rabbit sequel?

  • Scarabim

    I have to say this again – Roger Rabbit is an extremely appealing character, the closest thing we have to a new Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse…and it’s kind of a shame that he’s been allowed to languish. I’d love to see him come back, but he’s got to have better writers. And if a second film is made – this is my own personal preference – I’d like to see a little more Chuck Jones and a little less Tex Avery in any treatment of the toons’ world. Zaniness can be grating after awhile. But I never get tired of Jone’s mannered comic style. His characters were characters you could see yourself sharing a cup o’ Joe with, and some interesting conversation, not loud annoyances you wish WOULD get hit with an anvil. Just my two cents (or two bits, as the case may be).

  • Scarabim

    Oh, and it seems Bob Hoskins has signed up for RR 2: http://www.familyvideo.com/entertainment-news/article/800083052/bob-hoskins-signs-up-for-sequel-to-who-framed-roger-rabbit

    And happily, he’s no fan of motion capture. From your lips to Zemeckis’ ears, Bob.

  • http://www.stringstornasunder.blogspot.com Chris Powell

    Whoa! this article says that sequel would be FULLY ANIMATED and “the same as we did for (2009 animated movie) ‘A Christmas Carol.”

    is this legit?

    • Mesterius1

      I’m afraid so…

      Gee, I wish someone could cure Zemeckis for his seemlingly permanent convertion to mocap.

  • http://thundercatssite.com/ Chris

    I think Roger Rabbit was a great movie which catered for both adults and kids. While the dads were drooling over Jessica Rabbit the kids were laughing at Roger. Priceless!!

  • Marc Baker

    For A CGI screen test, it looks just as cartoony as pencil animation. If that was a combination of pencil, and CGI, then the result doesn’t look that bad.

  • Andyman

    I’ve read all the comments and I have to admit I get a kick out of the few people who dismiss “Roger Rabbit” as being a “lousy” (funny that they use the same term) without offering any specifics as to why it is so. No movie is ever perfect, but there was an incredible amount of care and affection for the source materials used to create what is one of the most ground-breaking movies of the last 50 years. The only reason I curse “Roger Rabbit” is that it’s success bequeathed us a truly lousy (dare I say sh*tty) movie known as “Cool World”.

  • mat

    Roger rabbit was one of the best movies of the 80s. Plus it brought classic animation back.

  • Kaleuh

    I understand it was hard to animate the cartoons in 2D, but if they put that much effort into the first one, there should be just as much effort for the second one. I didn’t find this CG test horrible, but it just isn’t as fluid as normal 2D. I think Roger and the rest of the toons should stay the way they were animated in the first one, not recreated.