The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is the second of C.S. Lewis's classic Narnia sequence of fantasy novels to be filmed. A Walt Disney Studios release, presented with Walden Media, the film was directed by Andrew Adamson with cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub. It was produced by Mark Johnson, Andrew Adamson and Philip Steuer. Prince Caspian opened in the UK on June 26. Framestore's talented creature animators were responsible for bringing many of the talking creatures from Narnia to life in this sequel - including the main heroic figure of Aslan the lion.
In the second film, a year has passed since Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy - the four Pevensie children - first discovered Narnia. But in Narnia, where time passes at a different rate, it is over 1,300 years later. The land is in grave peril. Caspian, a Telemarine Prince, is the rightful heir to the Narnian throne. As the film opens he finds himself on the run, pursued by the forces of his wicked uncle, the usurping King Miraz. In desperation, Caspian magically summons the Pevensies (onetime rulers of Narnia) to his aid. The four children are plucked from a London Underground station, pulled once more into Narnia. A motley assortment of creatures loyal to Narnia - dwarves, badgers, mice and others - assembles to fight with Caspian and the Pevensies, and the film follows the fortunes of the two sides as they teeter back and forth via spectacular battle scenes and gripping intrigue. Finally, Aslan intervenes to save Narnia, and the children are returned to their Underground station an instant after they left it.
Framestore's burgeoning reputation for superlative creature work saw the company land the film's choice digital creature, namely Aslan, the god-like lion who appears throughout the Narnia tales.
In addition, the company also created Trufflehunter, a rather old-fashioned badger who befriends the heroes, and Pattertwig, a loyal Narnian squirrel. The Framestore team also created several effects and effects-based sequences, including the children's translation from the wartime London Underground station to Narnia; a dryad composed of petals; some scenes involving fleeing CG troops, and the film's concluding scene in which a magical tree opens a door into other worlds, and through which the children return to their own.
Altogether, over 200 people at Framestore worked for some 16 months on over 520 shots for Prince Caspian. The team, led by veteran VFX supervisor Jon Thum, created work that covered the full gamut of modern digital artistry: furry/hairy creatures, CG environments, particle FX work, CG crowds, as well as a host of traditional split-screen and clean up work.
"One of the initial tasks we faced was that of recreating something which had already been created," says CG supervisor Mike Mulholland, "Data from Rhythm & Hues (who created Aslan for the first film) was the starting point for that, though for various reasons we used just the most basic model of theirs, rebuilding pretty much everything else. The animation rig, look-dev and so on were all our own." Shadi Almassizadeh led the Aslan look development efforts, with Paul Beilby heading up work on the shaders.
Aslan's eyes played a key role in Framestore's approach. "In trying to think how we could improve upon the first film's sterling effort," says Kevin Spruce, animation supervisor, "One of the things that struck us was that his eyes had previously been given a distinctly 'Egyptian', almost Cleopatra-like look and shape to them. We felt that this could be improved on, and it's one of the more noticeable changes in his appearance."