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‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’: How MPC Brought a Supercharged Hedgehog Back to Screens

Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic the Hedgehog 2

VFX

Worldwide

‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’: How MPC Brought a Supercharged Hedgehog Back to Screens

Paramount Pictures and director Jeff Fowler team up with Academy Award-winning VFX studio MPC to bring a fully CGI Sonic to life in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which rolled into theaters this spring and became one of 2022’s biggest box office hits ($161 million in the U.S. & Canada, $323.7M worldwide as of May 1).

Picking up a year after the events of the first movie, the sequel finds Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) eager to prove that he has what it takes to be a true hero. His test comes under fire when Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) returns with a new partner, Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba), in search of a mystical emerald that has the power to destroy civilizations. Sonic teams up with his own sidekick, Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), and together they embark on a globe-trotting journey to find the emerald before it falls into the wrong hands.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

The sequel ramps up the explosive action with the arrival of Knuckles, voiced by Idris Elba.

MPC VFX supervisors Matt Jacobs and Etienne Daigle, alongside VFX producer Hayden White, led a global crew of 1,300 artists, creatives, technologists and support teams, to complete over 1,400 shots for the movie. MPC’s main areas of work revolved around Sonic himself, as well as the new characters Knuckles and Tails. The team also worked on a multitude of environments and explosive scenes, including a thrilling snowboard chase in the mountains of Siberia, Sonic and Knuckles’ epic (and destructive) fight scenes, mystical temple environments, a giant Death Egg Robot and a host of prop assets, including drones, Buzzbomb robots and spaceships.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ features epic showdowns between Knuckles and Sonic, seen here in the digitally crafted Owl Temple.

Having worked on the first film, MPC had been well-acquainted with the Sonic universe and the design of the character himself. However, with the introduction of several new characters and expanded environments in this storyline, MPC’s challenge was to stay true to the canons of the game and what fans have come to love while building on a larger universe and story.

“Having come from an animation background himself, director Jeff Fowler was extremely passionate about the performance aspects of the work,” said Jacobs. “Eric Guaglione, MPC’s animation director on the show, did a great job taking Jeff’s direction and guiding the team of animators to craft the amazing performances — and blistering speeds — you see throughout the movie.”

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

New characters Tails and Knuckles had to match visual langauge of the CG Sonic.

Working in collaboration with the MPC Character Lab, the team was also tasked with the exciting prospect of bringing to life the well-known characters of Knuckles and Tails. Creating in the same animation design language as Sonic and utilizing learnings from the first movie, the team worked on an array of sequences and bespoke looks throughout the storyline, including FX-heavy explosive battles.

Another significant challenge for the team was in crafting the giant Death Egg Robot towards the end of the movie. Here, Dr. Robotnik uses his powers to destroy his surrounding environment to create a giant robot resembling himself and attack Sonic. Working again in collaboration with MPC’s Character Lab, the team referenced the original video-game designs as a base, but stylized and animated to function in real-world photography.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

The MPC team created Dr. Robotnik’s enormous Death Egg Robot as well as the fuzzier characters. 

“As iconic as the characters were in the movie, the team was parallelly superpowered with artists heavily ideating on how to craft multiple environments and FX,” said Jacobs, noting that the Owl Temple and Emerald Chamber were two of the most exciting challenges for the team. “Our Environments team had several huge tasks on their hands, but these were the two environments that relied most heavily on taking concept art and turning it into our sets. There was less to draw on from direct scans and photographs, so these were much more of an empirical approach to the creative challenge.”

The Technicolor Creative Studio network of studios has been a proactive partner for the films, with additional marketing materials for the iconic franchise being delivered by advertising VFX studio The Mill, who teamed up with McDonald’s to advertise Sonic the Hedgehog-themed happy meals.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

The CG characters had to stay true to their original game designs, while blending with live-action environmenets and co-stars, like James Marsden (right).

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 raced to the top of the box office charts, scoring the biggest weekend opening ever for a video-game film adaptation. “The MPC team globally did a fantastic job of rising to the occasion to complete some incredible VFX, especially having worked amidst a global pandemic,” Jacobs beamed. “We’re so proud to see our hard work on the big screen.”

Fans can look forward to even more action-packed adventures with the Blue Blur, as SEGA and Paramount have confirmed Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is in the works, as well as a spin-off series featuring Knuckles (with Elba set to reprise the roll) punching up the Paramount+ lineup in 2023.

Moving Picture Company (MPC) is a global creative studio with a single goal, to make any vision a reality. With decades of storytelling experience, MPC pushes the limits of what is technologically and artistically possible to tell visually stunning stories. MPC continues to lead in an ever-evolving industry, building authentic and long-lasting connections with audiences across all channels.

mpcfilm.com

 

 

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