Framestore goes to Where the Wild Things Are

One of the highlights of Spoke Jonze's film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are is the emotional depth of the Wild Things' performance

Wild at heart

Framestore’s post-production process began with tracking the heads of the seven Wild Things – Carol, KW, Douglas, Ira, Judith, Alexander and The Bull – in 3D. The team then created CG versions of each of their faces. The CG heads included both the geometry of the head, and high-res textures extracted from them to ensure they matched the original model precisely. The faces were hand-animated to match the performances; the geometry from this was then used to warp the original footage to make the mouths, eyes and other facial features talk and express.

This technique is known as projection mapping, and is often used for making animals speak in films such as Babe. It’s popular for showing small animated motions that are easy to hand-animate, but it often seems to have been superseded by full CG creatures with motion-captured movements. Motion-capture is popular with studios, as it gives a faster workflow, and what some believe to be more realistic results.

For Where the Wild Things Are though, projection mapping and painstaking hand-animation gave it a crafted look drawn straight from the talents of Framestore’s animators, rather than using software to replicate the movements of an actor. It also allowed them to bring emotion to a facial structure that doesn’t exactly match that of a human.

However, projection mapping can’t add information that’s not on the frame, so extra CG elements such as the insides of mouth had to be added.


Framestore took the original footage (left) and tracked the model in 3D space to create a CG model of Alexander’s face (right). This was animated and used to warp his face to create the final shot (below).


The team based the facial animations on both the voice and on-set actors’ performances, as animator supervisor Michael Eames explains.

“Spike put together video selects of the original voice recordings,” he says. “We called them spotting sessions. We would run them in parallel to a sequence and go through what worked, what didn’t, and what the intention of each performance was.”

Eames likens this process to a director talking through a scene with an actor.

“These were referenced both by the suit performers on-set, and later ourselves back in the studio,” he continues. “It was important that the performance worked in the body as well as the facial element. Ultimately, the facial performance was developed and animated by hand.”

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Neil Bennett

Digital Arts Magazine
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?