Nominee Jonathan Fawkner on Creating a Talking Raccoon

By Mandy Cordero 02-21-15

When a live action film’s main stars are animated, the director relies heavily on visual effects. The VFX team working on “Guardians of the Galaxy” know just how that feels.

Visual effects nominee Jonathan Fawkner worked exclusively on the movie’s wise-cracking raccoon, Rocket, and sentient tree, Groot. Audiences may know them by their celebrity voices, but it was Fawkner and his team who brought the characters to life.

“My role was to…help visualize those two characters,” Fawkner tells WEBN. “With Rocket we took the lead on trying to design him and make him work as a living breathing but computer generated character. It was really important to James Gunn, the director, that these two characters weren’t, didn’t separate from the other Guardians, that the audience could believe in these two characters as much as the others.”

Fawkner says he believes these two characters are what set the film apart from others in this category. The role of Rocket Raccoon came together in pieces. Bradley Cooper provided the voice, Sean Gunn stood in for him on set, and a real life raccoon name Oreo offered the VFX team a body of reference.

“We photographed him and we got very close detail of his fur and the way that he used his hands was very important in particular to James. He said ‘look if Rocket ever had a superpower, it would be his hands.’ So that gave us something else to work with,” Fawkner tells WEBN.

This close attention to detail is what Fawkner is hoping will win them the award.