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It took a smarter-than-the-average animation supervisor to make "Yogi Bear"

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It took a smarter-than-the-average animation supervisor to make "Yogi Bear"

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What was the toughest part of riding herd on all of the CG artists at Rhythm & Hues who worked on "Yogi Bear" ? According to Alex Orrelle, the Animation Supervisor on this new Warner Bros' live-action/computer animated 3D adventure, it was actually when he had to persuade his crew NOT to animate Yogi.

"You have to remember that the guys who animated the original 'Yogi Bear' TV series were all old pros that Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera had personally recruited to come work on that show, " Orrelle explained. "But given the tiny production budgets that those original 'Yogi Bear' cartoons were made on, these guys had to do the most with the least. And the best way to make that limited animation look far better than it actually was, was by staging these Hanna-Barbera characters in really appealing poses."

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

So now jump ahead 50 years. And the Yogi Bear that's supposed to be appearing in this Eric Brevig film has a state-of-the-art CG rig. With all sorts of hi-tech bells & whistles that Orrelle's young crew of animators were just itching to use. But since Alex wanted this state-of-the-art Yogi to have the smart sort of visual appeal that Hanna-Barbera's original bear did ... Well, that sometimes meant less animating and more appealing posing.

"I have to admit that that was one of the real challenges of working on 'Yogi Bear.' Trying to figure how to take this character that had been created back in 1958 and then make him work for 2010 audiences," Orrelle continued. "I realized that this was going to be a real challenge when I showed some of the original 'Yogi Bear' cartoons to my kids and -- after 5 minutes - they walked out of the room because they were bored."

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

But Alex had someone with experience to turn to when it came to contemporizing this classic cartoon character. And that was veteran animator Tom Sito. Who - as it turns out - had worked as an inbetweener on several "Yogi Bear" -related projects back in the 1970s.

"Tom and I had great fun boarding this film, coming up with crazy character-driven stuff for Yogi," Orrelle said. "Mind you, not all of this material made it into the movie. But it was still terrific to have someone who had some real history with this character then come in and help out with 'Yogi.' "

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

Alex also spoke highly of Dan Aykroyd & Justin Timberlake, who voiced Yogi and Boo-Boo for this  Warner Bros. release.

"Timberlake was just scary. He'd come into the recording studio in the morning and then find some classic Boo-Boo footage on YouTube. He'd listen to Don Messick's voice twice and Jthen ustin was able to do this dead-on imitation of the character for hours at a time," Orrelle marveled.

Justin Timberlake and some furry friends at the "Yogi Bear" premiere. Photo by
Baurer Griffin. Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

Aykroyd showed a similar sort of dedication when it came to recording Yogi's dialogue. He obviously drew his inspiration from Daws Butler's inspired performance when it came to voicing this character. But at the same time, Dan recognized that Yogi & Boo-Boo were a team. Which is why Ackroyd asked - whenever possible -- that he & Timberlake be allowed to record their characters' dialogue scenes together.

"That was actually one of the smartest things we did on 'Yogi.' Putting Dan & Justin in the recording studio at the same time, letting them play off of one another," Alex explained. "The tapes we got from those sessions just gave the animators so much to work with."

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

But now that Orrelle has finished working with this "Smarter-than-the-average-bear," what's bruin next for this Pixar Animation Studios alumni? Well, Alex actually has his own animation production company, Crew 972, which does work on TV, film, and video game projects. And he's hoping that his work on "Yogi Bear" will translate into even more employment opportunities for his Tel-Aviv -based company.

"Given that it was 'Adrenaline Lemmings,' a live-action / animated short that Crew 972 did that actually got me my shot on 'Yogi Bear,' it would be really cool if 'Yogi' would then lead to more work for Crew 972," Orrelle said. "We're actually bidding on some visual effects work now. So hopefully you'll see more of our stuff up on the big screen come 2011."

Copyright Crew 972. All rights reserved

If you'd like to see what Alex and his crew are capable of now, be sure and check out "Yogi Bear." Which - in spite of some pretty brutal reviews - is actually a fairly entertaining live-action / animated feature.

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  • To be fair, you could have mentioned the company that actually did the animation for Yogi, Rhythm and Hues Studios.

  • Nice post. Thanks a lot!

  • I want to see more of Adrenaline Lemmings. it is brilliant!.

    Is there anything else besides what is in the linked  blog?

  • Enjoy,


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