Behind the Scenes of RANGO: Emotion Capture

By Tom Snyder, Editor

Director Gore Verbinski and Actor Johnny Depp have worked together on three PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies. Now, they’ve turned their attention to creating RANGO, a new animated movie for families that

has a unique look and style.

In the movie, Depp plays a pet chameleon who fancies himself an actor and finds himself playing the new sheriff of a desert town full of crazy animals.

Verbinski and Depp said they’ve developed their own brand of communication.

“We have a shorthand way of talking, using sound effects and unfinished sentences,” Verbinski said.

“Working with Gore, there are no limits to the possibilities,” Depp said. “I mean, he allows you to try all kinds of things, that sometimes fail miserably. He creates an atmosphere that allows you to just, you know, go essentially ape. . . it’s a blast.”

Verbinski added, “He’s incredibly brave, on top of being incredibly talented.”

Unlike most animated movies, RANGO was not shot with the actors performing their lines in a booth, but acting them out in motion capture suits.

Depp labeled the process “emotion capture,” noting that he and the other actors in RANGO used gestures, body movements, eye movements, and facial expressions to perform the story, which the animators would then transform into the completed characters in each scene.

Actress Isla Fisher, who co-stars with Depp in the movie, said, “The characters had humanity because we were interacting with each other, and more chemistry. So, it felt more organic and real.”

Verbinski decided to forego making the movie in 3D.

“We talked about it early on and it just didn’t seem like we needed to go there,” he said. “I watched the movie; I don’t think there’s a dimension missing.”

“I’m waiting for 5D,” Depp joked. “That’s what I want.”