For the average moviegoer, a film like Paddington 2 might seem like a cinematic wonder. Not because of the quality of its story or acting (which, for the record, are amazing) but because of one simple fact: How do you film a live-action movie about a talking bear without ever bringing in an actual bear? Neatorama alerted us to this fun visual effects breakdown from Framestore, the effects company behind the animation in Paddington 2, which takes you through some of the key ways the film makes the impossible come to life.
First, there’s the 3D animation itself, dictating how Paddington (who is voiced by Ben Whishaw) moves and how his facial expressions should change depending on the emotions he's feeling. The animation occurs in multiple steps, creating a smooth virtual outline of Paddington, then overlaying the photorealistic fur and colored clothing.
When it comes time for a shot that only has Paddington in it, animators can put together the whole thing using a mixture of live footage and special effects, allowing him to ride on the back of a running dog, bolt down the roof of a moving train, or dash around the prison dining room.
But there are other shots that require Paddington to interact with the people around him. For those, there are stand-ins who carry out the actions that Paddington needs to—like setting a cafeteria tray on a table or rubbing mustard on Knuckles McGinty’s apron. Afterward, these people will be scrubbed from the shot, replaced by a furry CGI bear. Once the visual effects magic is finished, Paddington looks as natural in a scene as any human actor.
See it for yourself in the video below.