RT Explores the Art of Horton Hears A Who

Blue Sky's Chris Wedge and Mike Thurmeier take RT through the movie.

by | March 14, 2008 | Comments

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!

From visually realising the microscopic inhabitants of Whoville through bringing to life Dr. Seuss’ loveable talking elephant Horton, the creative team at Blue Sky have spent years painstakingly designing and animating the world of the Dr. Seuss classic, Horton Hears a Who!. As the film gets ready to open in cinemas around the world, Blue Sky’s VP of Creative Development, Chris Wedge – best known as the voice of Scrat in their Ice Age movies – and Mike Thurmeier, Senior Supervising Animator on the film, sat down with RT and talked through the film’s visual style.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!


Chris Wedge, VP of Creative Development, Blue Sky:

I don’t know about anyone else but I was pretty terrified about taking on the world of Dr. Seuss. We knew at the beginning that we had to do it right and co-director Jimmy Hayward dove in and started working on the story. Steve Martino, the second director, dove in and started working out how to interpret Seuss’ simple, funny drawings into colour and a multi-dimensional world.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!


Chris Wedge:

Taking the whimsical tone that exists in the story and having the actors pick that up was very important. Jim Carrey did a fantastic job of making Horton a much more entertaining character than he is on the page. Steve Carell, doing his job as the mayor of Whoville, a role that exists as one little drawing in the book, is a role that’s fleshed out into a character with big problems.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!


Mike Thurmeier, Senior Supervising Animator on Horton:

I was nervous because of the Chuck Jones animation – the only time we’ve seen Whoville animated was in The Grinch, which is a classic – but I knew we could do it. We were all hungry for the challenge. It seemed like a good match for Jimmy and Steve too, because Steve is so strong artistically, he’s got a great design sense, and Jimmy’s so funny, he’s got a great sense of humour.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!


Chris Wedge:

In animation you want to start with a world. You want to go to places you couldn’t go otherwise. Seuss has certainly created a whimsical world in all of his stories and a world that has a common feeling. Horton, in particular, is a story that has a beginning, middle and end and it’s full of compelling characters and with a great problem to deal with. It felt like it could be fleshed out and made into something fun, funny and colourful.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!


Mike Thurmeier:

Maybe it’s not the smartest way to start a movie, because in my opinion the story is more important than the world you go to, but because we make animation, storytelling in animation is done with the picture, it seems. It just feels natural to get excited about a world first, whether it’s imagining a prehistoric world in Ice Age or whether it’s imagining a world full of mechanical people in Robots. Seuss is the natural next place to go.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!


Chris Wedge:

When we get excited about a movie we picture something in our heads that sometimes takes years to get to. Along the way it’s like looking at the plans, the scaffolding or the paintwork. It’s like, “This is going to get covered in plaster… This is going to get painted…” When you get to the end you get to a moment where you get to check with your imagination if it fits and there always comes a time where you think, “I can’t come up with anything new…” But then comes a moment where it’s like, “Holy crap, this is more than I ever thought we’d get in the movie!” It’s a fun process to watch.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!


Mike Thurmeier:

We have a tool where you can see what’s just been lit and rendered and I’ll check all the frames and I’m like, “Oh my God, look at this,” and I’ll send a little email to the rest of the animation department. After it leaves our department we forget about it until we see the lighters getting their hands on it and then you see everyone drooling! It makes their work look great. Departments before us build the models and then we animate them so they get excited by what we do, I guess, so it works at every stage of the process.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!


Chris Wedge:

We started the company because we had ideas about how we wanted images to look. We thought about technology that would make it possible. We didn’t have ideas about how it would work ultimately, but there’s a toolset that people at Blue Sky have access to now that allows them to do incredible things. Things like working with light but with all the control you could possibly want.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!


Mike Thurmeier:

Blue Sky’s renderer is unique in the business. Nobody else does it quite the same way from a technical aspect. I think it gives a slightly different flavour to the films we make than other animated films.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!


Chris Wedge:

Once the designs have been done and the fantastic animation has been done, really it’s the frosting on the cake, the colour and the way the light is done and all that sort of stuff, which is actually done last, that blows everybody away. It’s really your little reward because it all just comes together perfectly.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!


Chris Wedge:

People ask, “How can you work on the same movie for three years?” The reason is that every day there’s something new. There’s always something to look forward to, there’s always something to get excited about. We get to go places no-one’s ever been before.

The Art of Horton Hears a Who!

Horton Hears a Who arrives in cinemas in the US on 14th March, Australia on 20th March and the UK on 21st March.

Tag Cloud

Masterpiece TV Land Interview political drama war Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Reality Competition cinemax travel VICE Dark Horse Comics Tomatazos Watching Series Star Wars Schedule BBC NYCC CBS All Access ESPN diversity Valentine's Day First Look Horror Pirates Warner Bros. Showtime Winners Rom-Com Ghostbusters The CW BET WGN Grammys Holidays technology Fall TV science fiction aliens TCM police drama LGBTQ ITV Year in Review Photos Emmys cooking CMT E! Amazon Logo discovery Mary Tyler Moore Trivia Music dramedy based on movie Awards supernatural Musical Tumblr docudrama Musicals Election Cosplay composers Super Bowl Opinion Superheroes Oscars CBS BBC America Mystery Pop period drama A&E transformers 45 cops SDCC TCA TLC Spring TV thriller Bravo Lifetime historical drama Extras Sci-Fi Cartoon Network E3 MTV Freeform NBC binge OWN TCA 2017 HBO AMC APB Best and Worst Mindy Kaling Video Games Kids & Family TruTV X-Men PBS singing competition 007 The Arrangement romance Teen Winter TV Netflix 2017 Nat Geo Adult Swim Nominations Podcast TNT Star Trek Set visit Syfy El Rey President Polls and Games boxoffice DC Universe Writers Guild of America Sundance sitcom Comedy Central FXX SundanceTV 24 frames American Society of Cinematographers GIFs Thanksgiving social media Summer YA USA adventure TV Paramount Rocky Reality Infographic Animation FX Martial Arts Ellie Kemper Disney Marathons politics IFC History Trailer Universal Food Network Crackle Certified Fresh Box Office crime drama Drama harry potter Hulu GLAAD Red Carpet Countdown Lionsgate VH1 cats PaleyFest Sneak Peek TIFF zombie Toys CNN DC Comics Biopics 2016 Premiere Dates Esquire Disney Channel Character Guide Calendar Country DirecTV ABC Family Comic Book serial killer what to watch Comedy sports Starz Marvel biography ABC Rock psycho FOX comiccon Fantasy TBS GoT talk show Action crime thriller Nickelodeon vampires MSNBC RT History crime 2015 Fox News