Stoopid Buddy Brings Animated Joy to ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’

As the Guardians in Marvel Studios’ The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special undertake a mission to create an unforgettable holiday for Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, animators at acclaimed Stoopid Buddy Stoodios brought their talents to the Marvel Studios’ Special Presentation to make it equally unforgettable for viewers.

In striking, hand-drawn sequences that bookend the wildly popular new special, which debuted November 25 exclusively on
Disney+, animators at Stoopid Buddy helped create a previously unknown story in a style that echoes nostalgia for late 20th century pop-culture that’s a Guardians of the Galaxy hallmark.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

“Right from the start, James Gunn said he hoped to emulate the Ralph Bakshi style that was popular in the 1960s and ’70s, and there was no way to cheat it — it had to be hand-drawn rotoscoping,” explains Mac Whiting, lead animation supervisor on the project.

“After seeing the animation test, Marvel arranged for us to be involved with the live-action shoot in Georgia. James and the Marvel team made the experience a real bucket list item for any animator and fueled our desire to make the animation in this project as special as it deserved to be.”

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Whiting and his Stoopid Buddy team used the live-action footage to draw each frame by hand — a feat they were able to achieve in just over two months.

While Stoopid Buddy is widely known for its stunning stop-motion animation work, which has included Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. as well as its Emmy Award-winning Robot Chicken series, traditional hand-drawn animation is a growing field for the company. Still, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special represented a singular challenge that Stoopid Buddy co-founder Matt Senreich says they couldn’t resist.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

“James entrusted us with a tremendous vision,” Senreich says. “When we produced an initial eight seconds of test footage with Michael Rooker as Yondu, we knew we could match that vision, and, through animation, bring something entirely new to Guardians of the Galaxy. Stoopid Buddy is incredibly proud to be associated with it.”

Stoopid Buddy produced the animation for The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in association with Victoria, Australia-based Studio Moshi, ensuring a round-the-clock production pipeline to meet the deadline that would get the special to Disney+ in time for a very special holiday for Marvel fans.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

“This has been one of the most exciting and creatively challenging projects I’ve ever been a part of, especially due to the demanding nature and high volume of hand-drawn animation, but the results are more than worth it,” Whiting says. “Fans are going to be watching this holiday special for many years to come, like so many of the specials we grew up with.”

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.

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