It's just as well that Marvel Studios has major sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron lined up for this summer, because 2014 is going to be a tough act to follow. The studio started out strong early in the year with the Russo brothers' espionage themed thriller Captain America: The Winter Soldier, only to see that success surpassed by James Gunn's joyful space adventure romp Guardians of the Galaxy, which topped $774 million at the box office and scored two Oscar nominations.
With regards to the latter, Guardians of the Galaxy didn't quite manage to turn the universe inside out and make the Academy any less sniffy towards comic book movies; its nominations were limited to the technical categories and the win for Best Visual Effects went to the arguably more cerebral Insterstellar. Nonetheless, some frankly amazing work went into bringing the two completely CGI Guardians of the Galaxy members to life.
It's hard to believe when watching the final version of Rocket Raccoon leaping about on screen that he was once nothing more than a stuffed raccoon toy, a tennis ball on a stick, or the director's brother loping around in a blue leotard. The character's animation was put together by London-based VFX Framestore, and now the studio has released a short but very interesting look at the process of animating Rocket.
The reel covers the making of Rocket in three particular scenes: his first walk into the confines of the Kyln; the miserable post-shower scene in which Peter Quill spies the metal scars leftover from Rocket's time as a medical experiment; and the showdown between Rocket, Groot, and the Kyln's collection of gun-toting drones.
One wonders where the Rocket puppet used on set ended up, though it's likely that Gunn is keeping it stashed somewhere so that he can break it out again for Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Another key part of bringing Rocket to life, unfortunately not shown in this video, was a live raccoon called Oreo who provided a visual guide for how the county hunter's distant cousins move and behave.
A more extended look at the making-of and visual effects of Guardians of the Galaxy is included in its home video release. Framestore also has a blog post explaining in detail how the movie's various creatures were created.
Guardians of the Galaxy is available on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD now.