Visual FX (cont'd)

Starting with storyboards drawn in pencil, these drawings allow the director and VFX designers and animators to flesh out their visual interpretation of the script. After receiving approval from the director on the proposed creative direction of a specific character, such as Stuart Little, the VFX team then creates a three-dimensional model of the character. Using the latest technology available, a three-dimensional digital scan of the model is created and stored in the computer’s hard drive.
From there, artists create digital wire-frame models of the characters. Digital Character Animators initially work with these rudimentary, low-resolution wire-frame images to create the character’s movements.
When live-action background plates are filmed during principal photography, computer animators and the VFX team are on the set throughout this process, taking detailed measurements and lighting references from all angles. The data gathered is then downloaded into the computers so that the digital characters can be properly lit to match their live-action environment.
Once a visual effects shot is completed and the sequence has been cut together by the director and an editor, the VFX artists will position a rough-animation of a character into the background plate for the director to view and analyze. After the director approves the shot or sequence, more detailed animation work begins. In the case of the characters in STUART LITTLE, this painstaking process moved forward in what is sometimes referred to as a "digital assembly line." The character was built, and in this case, lit, furred, clothed, and fully integrated into the scene of the movie.

Simple pencil-drawn storyboards are the first step in designing the visual effects.

Achieving the final shot of Stuart and Margalo took weeks to accomplish.