I assumed that the movie version of Rocket Raccoon was going to have anthropomorphic movement, essentially going about his business like a man in a suit – at least to the extent of Gollum or Caesar the chimp. Seems that I was very wrong.
Speaking to Cinema Blend, with thanks to Hit Fix for the tip, Marvel Movieverse VFX producer Victoria Alonso explained that ILM were already working out how to bring Rocket and Groot alive for Guardians of the Galaxy.
You can’t do any motion capture with a raccoon – they won’t let you put the suit on [laughs]. But we will do rotomation, probably, for some of the behavior.
Rotomation is animation through rotoscoping. Which is to say, the animation is done “over” live action reference. Think of Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings, say, or Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly.
Don’t expect a cel-shaded kind of look, though. The final animation can have the same sort of texture and lighting integration as any typical CG creation.
Groot will require his own techniques too, but the one thing that seems clear is that humans will be used, under James Gunn‘s direction, to create parts of the performance on a motion capture stage.
Rocket will have his own personality, of course, and clearly we can’t do mocap on a tree, per say, but we definitely will have performers to emulate what James Gunn will lead to be the behavior and the performance. He’s very clear on where he wants to take the characters.
It doesn’t sound like the voice actors will necessarily be the ones doing the performance capture, which dashes my dreams of Jason Statham in a dotty leotard scampering about like a rodent right against the rocks.