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Guys from io9 recently posted an interview with MPC VFX Supervisor Pete Dionne asking him about Detective Pikachu and challenges behind creation of the world-known Pokémon.
Detective Pikachu has shown an adorably weird approach to the world of Pokemon. It was a risky game but it turned out great unlike of what we saw in the Sonic The Hedgehog first trailer.
“Being the most recognizable and iconic Pokémon, and character designs, in the last few decades, he was probably the most difficult character to get right from the point of, ‘How much do we bend his design before he no longer looks like Pikachu?’,” explained Pete. Other characters had slightly more possibilities of deviation from the cartoon design but. with Pikachu, any slight deviation had a great chance to ruin everything.
The MPC team started with drawing a silhouette keeping in mind they had to save every single aspect of the original 2D version. They were constantly comparing their work with the original design.
Once it was decided that the silhouette was ready, Dionne and his team turned to the animal kingdom in search of any anatomy, muscles & bones reference. The aim was to find a creature that could exist and physically fit into Pikachu shapes. The closest body reference appeared to be a bushbaby or a lemur.
After Pikachu received a body, the team faced another issue: they had to decide if Pikachu had fur or not.
The team went back and forth trying many versions of him. The main question was ‘What is the cutest furred animal we can come up with?’. It wasn’t exactly the concern about fur but they wanted to emphasize cuteness – the major trademark of this character. They compared different kittens and bunnies trying to distinguish what makes one look quite and fluffy and the other coarse and rugged. This helped to build nice quality fur and distribution is certain places of its body.
Another serious challenge for MPC was building mocap a character for a start that had yet to be cast. Once they received a list of all actors being considered, they went on YouTube and started to animate using the clips they could find. Choosing Ryan Reynolds was the right decision, said Dionne as he was great from the facial performance point of view.
In the end, the only problem was to find a compromise between the humanRyan’s facial performance and Pikachu’s finalized design. A little less Ryan Reynolds, and a little more Pikachu—but 100 percent adorable.