Making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit
“Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an innovative and entertaining film that features a groundbreaking mix of live action and animation and the first animated/live action film to win four Academy Awards.
Post-production lasted for 14 months. Because the film was made before computer animation and digital compositing were widely used all the animation was done using cels and optical compositing. First, the animators and lay-out artists were given black and white print-outs of the live action scenes , and placed their animation paper on top of them. The artists then drew the animated characters in relationship to the live action footage. Due to Zemeckis’s dynamic camera moves, the animators had to confront the challenge of ensuring the characters were not “slipping and slipping all over the place.” After rough animation was complete, it would run through the normal process of traditional animation until the cels were shot on the Rostrum camera with no background. The animated footage was then sent to ILM for compositing where technicians would animate three lighting layers (Shadows, Highlights and Tone Mattes) separately, in order to make the cartoon characters look three-dimensional and give the illusion of the characters being affected by the lighting on set. Finally the lighting effects were optically composited on to the cartoon characters who were in return composited into the live-action footage. One of the most difficult effects in the movie was Jessica’s dress in the night club scene because it had flashing sequins, an effect accomplished by filtering light through a plastic bag scratched with steel wool.