fxpodcast: ILM’s Hal Hickel on Rango

With the release of Rango, Industrial Light & Magic embarks on its first full-length animated feature. We talk to animation director Hal Hickel about bringing the film to life.

Director Gore Verbinski came to ILM during the two Pirates of the Caribbean sequels with the idea for Rango and production began gearing up at the studio in the summer of 2008. Verbinski introduced a unique process of filming scenes of whole recording sessions with the actors, which were cut together and could be used as reference by ILM. Visual effects supervisors John Knoll and Tim Alexander, as well as Hickel, drew on ILM’s existing expertise in the effects world, but also developed the characters’ distinctive looks via their almost ugly features and ping-pong ball eyes, using a special tool for maintaining proper eye-lines.

Hal Hickel

Click on the images below for a look at ILM’s production process from storyboard, rough camera layout, animation through to the final shot, for a scene in which Rango meets Bad Bill.











6 thoughts on “fxpodcast: ILM’s Hal Hickel on <em>Rango</em>”

  1. Thank you so much for covering this! Loved every bit of it. I have been dreaming since I have been interested in film that someone would make a great feature that is a bit dirty and not full of fluffy animals. Love to see someone actually taking a better look at the process and doing what they think is right. I almost jumped for joy when I saw all the actors actually acting out these scenes on a makeshift set. I have been doing this for quite a few years with crappy cameras and props, and the reference you get is invaluable. As much as I am impressed by the motion-capture technical aspects, this is FAR more interesting to me for many reasons.

    I would love to know some of the more technical details of the Rendering process on this sucker. RenderMan? Does ILM have their own render engine?

    People complain that good films aren’t being made any more… Get the, outta here.

    Thanks again Mike for the great questions and the rest of the fxguide team!

  2. Haha, just had to also commend you Mike on your Clint Eastwood question! I was thinking the exact same thing! I knew it wasn’t Clint as I have watched those Sergio Leone gems over and over. Mr. Olyphant did a great job I think to play the still young version of Clint in that setting. When Rango was going back into town with the Man with No Name look I was nearly cheering at the screen 🙂

  3. I saw the film last night, I was absolutely shocked at how amazing their work was, really stunning indeed. From the animation to the lighting, fx and feel of the film I was won over instantly. The characters were great, the shots, sounds and music…I really hope the teams behind this make another one at some point!
    Superb film.

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