A Visit To DreamWorks Animation To Chat The Croods and more…

NEWS | | March 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Did the 1st part of the heading seem like a dream to you? I admit it still gives me goosebumps as I write about it. As much as I have met A List celebrities as part of my work, this visit to DreamWorks will be one I share with my grandkids with a huge grin on my toothless face.  Firstly the welcome DreamWorks extended to bloggers blew me away and I am sure part of the kudos goes to Big Honcho Media for the amazing way they work. Sometimes creating content feels like pulling teeth and I have always felt working on any project with Big Honcho that great content oozes out and I grapple where to start because there is so much to share. In other words: expect a few posts. Trust me you will want to read each and every one.

So DreamWorks Animation invited a team of parenting bloggers to Dreamworks Animation Studios in LA to chat about the upcoming release of The Croods. So while we got a tour around the DreamWorks Animation campus and listened to what it was like in the day of working there I could not help but feel that it felt so much like when I was working at my internet startup company in Cambridge, MA. In fact I felt my geeky heart get excited when I our “tour guide” (an actual employee) at DreamWorks talk about their server room which housed their software and how it was built to withstand earthquakes and more.

Photo credit: Eric Charbonneau.

The first night we got to watch a special screening of the movie and not only was it extremely special to be watching it at DreamWorks Animation itself but to be introduced to the movie by filmakers Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders. We were also honored to learn that we were the first ones to be watching the final version of the movie, which honestly made it super special to us.  I am going to be posting interviews with the filmmakers so watch this space.

But let me introduce you to the characters of The Croods

I personally love that we get to explore cavemen in this movie and am hoping that this kicks off a huge line of movies. While you will be able to see the character descriptions online, I have an in-depth character analysis straight from the Head of Character Animation at DreamWorks James Baxter. The evolution of the characters themselves is priceless.  The statements in quotes below are all directly from James Baxter!

Photo credit: Eric Charbonneau.


We wanted to try and get some sort of animal influences on a lot of these characters.  So, Grug especially is sort of like this big silverback gorilla.

You notice how those characters are hunched over so their hands almost touch the ground? Well that was pretty much drawn from actual cavemen.


We decided to mix it up.  Sometimes, we’ll put his fist down.  Sometimes, we’ll put his knuckles down like a gorilla.  Sometimes, we’ll put a flat hand down.


So, Eep, she’s got the tiger skin on, she’s much more like a cat, you know, sort of more like a tiger.

The way that she moves around is much more athletic, much more dynamic, more like a jungle cat than a monkey.


Of course you can’t dissect the character of Eep without Emma Stone, who does the voice for Eep, being mentioned. Apparently supervising animator, Lena Anderson, started noticing the bounty of expressions on Emma Stone herself and pulled some of it into the character. Honestly if you watch the movie carefully you would swear that it is Emma Stone’s face there at times as you stare at Eep.


His thing is definitely much less about being animal like.  We wanted to try and make him special.  And Yucca Bienson [sp], who’s the animator for him, really tried to create a very individual way of behaving and moving.  He did a lot of performance tests with Guy just to try and nail down the sort of frenetic kind of crazy “I’ve been on my own for too long,” “I talk to myself” kind of vibe that he’s got going on.

You can clearly see the “evolving” just as you watch Guy as his habits are so different from that of The Croods.


This character could not have been easy. This was very much a dad-daughter movie but mom needed to be there but not totally in your face there.

It was important to us to save the classic “baby on your hip” pose until the end of the movie.

All the way through the beginning of the movie, it’s much more chimp-like.  Ugga toss Sandy on her back and so on. We did multiple tests early on to show how she would relate picking Sandy up.


I swear at times I forgot the baby was a baby and could easily have mistaken her for a little dog and it seems I was not far off the mark when I heard how she was created.

Sandy especially was a blast to do, and we modeled her after something like a little Jack Russell Terrier in behavior.  Because she runs around, bites everything


He’s actually based a lot on this little baby chimp that Hans (Duster) found with these incredibly floppy arms. Hans was doing these experiments with these crazy, overly floppy, goofy, arm movements.  You see, even with the feet, they’re sort of turned in and sideways?



I love the concept of Gran, this sort of crusty old lady in a hollowed out lizard skin.  We wanted to infuse her a little bit with that sort of crocodile vibe.

You notice in the movie, sometimes she sort of slinks around and does this  slippery movement, but that coupled with like the classic sort of crunchy old lady vibe.

Disclosure: DreamWorks covered my travel and lodging for the trip to LA!

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    CharlesKazy says:

    Via @BillyBrooks VFX artists and supporters have gathered in Glendale for today s Go Green rally organized around President Obama s visit to DreamWorks Animation. The President is slated to address an audience on the closed DWA campus shortly; look for coverage from Deadline s Dominic Patten.

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