Introducing Beebop & Rocksteady in “TMNT: Out of the Shadows” – Animation Scoop

Introducing Beebop & Rocksteady in “TMNT: Out of the Shadows”

Shredder’s mutant henchmen, Beebop (Gary Anthony Williams) & Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly), finally get the spotlight in the TMNT sequel, Out of the Shadows, directed by Dave Green (Earth to Echo). They made for off-beat transformations into mutant warthog and rhino.

“Typically, these transformations are painful, but these two guys enjoy their new bodies,” explained Kevin Martel, ILM’s associate animation supervisor. “They see that they’re getting stronger and growing a tail or growing tusks or pig snout.”

ILM matched and blended models from the plate actor and fully realized CG model. “It’s not an old school morphing,” added Martel. “You’ve got the bone and the flesh put together and offsetting the timing makes it much more interesting.


“One of the differences between the two is that Rocksteady in human form has a mo-hawk and mutton chops, and he has to lose hair during the transformation into a rhino and his face has to stretch to accommodate this horn growth, while Bebop has to gain hair as a warthog and his nose has to mutate into this pig snout. His mo-hawk gets spikier and longer because it runs all the way down his back. So you have a reverse hair transformation.”

This time, though, Industrial Light & Magic, had to hit the ground running, with so much more character work overall. Fortunately, the groundwork had already been laid with the advent of ILM Muse, the advanced facial capture system pioneered on the first film. It allows for the actor’s performance to be captured on-set or in a volume at the highest fidelity.

Muse is comprised of both hardware and software including twin head-mounted HD cameras and a back-end solver that allows animators direct access to the capture data as editable animation curves in Maya rather than an indecipherable series of keyframes. And for the first time in its history, ILM captures eye movement, teeth, and even the tongue.

“We analyzed what we could do better,” continued Martel. “We softened the Turtles’ features, removing wrinkles and rounding out the jaw lines. We wanted to improve their aesthetic slightly to help the appeal.”


Plus there’s a lot more screen time and emotional range for Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Donatello (Jeremy Howard) and Raphael (Alan Ritchson).

ILM continues to use a combination of traditional mocap on stage as well as Imocap on location, which is tracked with multiple cameras on set. And it still relies on keyframe animation in conjunction with mocap.

Then there’s the alien, Krang (Brad Garrett): “a disembodied brain inside a computer.” For Martel, it’s fun conveying emotion with little movement. And the weird physical form and anatomy were difficult to appear tangible.

The end sequence was difficult because of the action and the fact that it was full-CG when it involved the Turtles fighting. “So there was the challenge of rendering it to make it look like it fits in the rest of the live-action film and that world. With anything that’s fully CG, you have to get the choreography right and you’ve got to figure out all of the camera angles. It really becomes the same sort of pipeline that an animated film would have,” Martel continued.

Although The Third Floor performed two-thirds of the previs, ILM did its own for the third act. “When we completed the previs and rolled that into production, it became a lot easier because we’re using our own assets and it’s all in Maya so we didn’t have to worry about any previs conversion,” said Martel.

And who’s his favorite Turtle? “I have to say Mickey. I love his humor, he likes pizza and I certainly can eat pizza every day of my life and be happy. I think there’s something endearing about him. He’s goofy and carefree, and there’s an innocence about him — and he’s certainly the heart of the group.”


Bill Desowitz

Bill Desowitz

Bill Desowitz is Crafts Editor of Indiewire ( and the author of James Bond Unmasked (
Bill Desowitz

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