Roger Rabbit 2 Update and 1998 CGI Test Uncovered

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Robert Zemeckis has been hinting for years about the possibility of a Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel. In April 2009 he said that he had a good idea for the second installment; on July 22nd he said he’d been discussing the film with Bob Hoskins; and later that month he revealed that the original screenwriters Peter Seaman and Jeffrey Price were working on a script for the follow-up. Now we have a very small update from Hoskins and a newly uncovered 1998 test which turned Roger Rabbit into a computer animated character in the live-action world. Hit the jump to see it now.

Here is the 1998 test (found on CartoonBrew):

But don’t worry, Zemeckis has been pretty vocal that Roger Rabbit or the 2D animated characters from the original film will remain 2D. When asked during the Disney panel at Comic-Con 2009, Zemeckis smiled and went on to dodge the question, saying that he could “neither confirm or deny” the rumor. The crowd at Comic-Con were not happy with the response and booed, forcing Zemeckis to reveal more of his hand.

“I will tell you this, if that ever does happen, the 2D characters from the original movie will remain 2D. They will not be dimensionalized. Not to say there wont be 3D [in the movie].”

David Nethery gives some background on this test sequence:

I worked on this. This is only part of the test we did. The entire test was much longer. Here’s what I recall about it: Made at Disney Feature Animation Florida in 1998 , right after we had finished Mulan. Directed by Eric Goldberg, who also did the streamlined re-design of Roger. Traditional animators: Tom Bancroft (Roger), Barry Temple (Roger), Trey Finney (weasels). Assistant animators: David Nethery (supervising key assistant) , Sherrie Sinclair, James Harris, Teresa Quezada , Jason Peltz, Lon Smart. CG Animators: Eric Guaglione, Rob Bekhurs . There were traditional effects animators on it too, but I have unfortunately forgotten who … I may have a complete crew list somewhere buried in my boxes of “Disney junk” from those years. This section where Roger dances on the table and leaps across to the guy’s desk was traditionally animated by Tom Bancroft , then Rob Bekhurs used Tom’s animation as the basis for the CG version of Roger . (I think it was Rob , maybe Eric Guaglione ? I see Eric Guaglione’s name name on the clip above. Maybe Eric and/or Rob can chime in to correct my somewhat hazy recollection of the project ) What you’re seeing in the test above is the CG version. A fusion of Traditional and CG. Like I said , the entire test was longer . It was traditionally animated, cleaned -up , colored . Props like the weasels’ guns were CG (instead of the puppeteered live props as on the feature … which were a pain to cover up the rigging) . Another example: the tabletop that Roger dances on was animated as a CG element , rather than as a practical prop being jiggled around by stagehands underneath the set. Parts of the test were then re-animated in CG , using the traditional animation as a basis. I don’t remember if the whole thing was re-rendered in CG or if it was only this scene . The entire test that was done in traditional animation probably ran a minute-and-a-half. Sorry if I’ve left anyone’s name out. It seems like another lifetime ago …

Tom Bancroft collaborates the information:

It was directed by Eric Goldberg (from LA) but animated in the Florida studio. We had two seperate teams: one traditional and one CG. Two seperate tests completely. The CG test was a huge secret with a lot of us even in Disney unaware it was going on until it was finished. (My assumption is that Disney execs didn’t want us traditional guys thinking our days were numbered- HA, who thought that back in 98?) Eric G. did his version of Roger and even gave the scenes out with poses included. He put a lot of work into each scene, much like he does when he directs a commercial, its almost a pose test already. I was given the 2d version of this scene to animate BEFORE the CG animators. I heard that it was going to have a CG version of it done about half way through animating it (it took me about two weeks, if I remember right). So, I made sure I put in a lot of tough “smear drawings” that I knew they couldn’t do, just to see how they’d handle it. What “John” above says is correct: the CG version was a huge expensive deal. It took a big team of CG guys (headed by Eric Guaglione with most, if not all, of the “animation” done by the talented Rob Bekuhrs) MONTHS (maybe six?) to complete this one scene. It was like creating a new “model” of Roger for every pose/tween. You could never make a feature like that. It is almost an identical “tracing” of the 2d version I did. You can see my 2d version at the end of my companies animation reel at: http://www.funnypagesprod.com. BTW, the 2d version was a full 5-7 scenes long, not just this one shot. It had a mini story to it with the live action “detective guy” and a live action female with the weasels making an appearance also. The 2d test was designed to show that a 2D Roger would interact well (better than the original film) with CG props. In my 2d test, the magic hat (like it is here), tables, papers, etc. were all CG elements. It worked great, as you’d expect. It was an affordable way to do the sequel, not to make the characters CG also. There are many, many reasons the sequel didn’t get made, but I sure enjoyed working on this test.

As for Hoskins, the actor has recently given a very small update to HeyuGuys on the prospects of a sequel:

‘Zemekis said he’s going to do it like a Christmas Carol, but I’m 67 years old! I’ll look like a cartoon at that point! If they do it, I’m in!’

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