MPC’s “jet-packed” mission was to deliver a seamless blend of media styles for the Disney+ feature while orchestrating a massive team of artists from around the world.
Disney+ teamed up with MPC (Moving Picture Company) on its latest feature, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, which brings the nostalgic 80s cartoon franchise to the big screen as hybrid, live-action/CG, animated action-comedy. The hit film is now up for a 2022 Emmy award, having received a nomination for Outstanding Television Movie.
A comeback 30 years in the making, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers catches up with the former Disney Afternoon television stars in modern-day Los Angeles. Directed by Akiva Schaffer, the story follows Chip and Dale as they rehash their adventures as beloved Rescue Rangers detective personas after succumbing to a life of routine and domesticity. Voiced by John Mulaney and Andy Samberg respectively, Chip and Dale reunite with the rest of their group to save a missing friend and rebuild their friendship.
Unlike previous iterations of the iconic duo, Rescue Rangers features a combination of film styles, treating viewers to live-action actors interacting with 2D cartoon characters, photo-real 3D animals, and even claymation models, mixing several media styles that reflect the history of filmmaking – and the history of Chip ‘n Dale – from the 1980s to present day.
MPC’s Production VFX Supervisor Steve Preeg, VFX Supervisor Axel Bonami, Producers Ben Harrison and Siobhan Bentley, and Animation Supervisor Omar Morsy led MPC’s global team of VFX artists to deliver over 1450 shots for the film. This included the creation of Chip and Dale themselves, as well as over 100 2D hand-drawn characters, 60 3D animated characters, and 30 full computer-generated, designed, and lit sets.
In addition, MPC’s visualization team, led by Patrick Smith and Leandre Legrange, delivered the previz, techviz, postviz, as well as concept art for over 50 characters, with hundreds of variations for the movie.
“Our protagonists were our first explorations – Chip was 2D and Dale was 3D, which we made as a proof of concept,” says Lagrange, MPC Art Director. “Akiva wanted to explore all the possibilities, so he was very involved in the design process from the beginning. A huge creative focus of the film was mixing media – clay, 2D, different eras of animation styles, 3D – all into the same world – which was an exciting challenge.”
"The whole project was a jet-packed mission. MPC was entrusted to make sure there's a seamless blend of all the different worlds,” says Bonami. “Our primary challenge on the film was orchestrating a massive team of creative artists located around the world, with one common goal: to create a seamlessly natural digital world that blends live-action photography with over one hundred digital characters and multiple fully CG environments.”
He adds: “For every single CG character, every performance is keyframe animated, including character design. Each character required detailed skeletal builds and muscle systems and most importantly, had to be able to provide a convincing performance and maintain the comedy of the film’s narrative.”
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is now airing on Disney +.