Quickshots: Making ‘Valerian’s’ Doghan Daguis talk together as one

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The Doghan Daguis are a trio of comical characters appearing in Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. They were created in CG by Weta Digital. On set, full-sized maquettes were filmed and then scanned to help craft the digital versions. Three performers also acted out the roles in performance capture marker suits.

One of the characters’ interesting traits is the ability to finish each other’s sentences, but it was a challenge for Weta Digital to differentiate between each speaker and make sure the audience knew who was talking. Weta Digital’s visual effects supervisor Martin Hill discusses how they pulled that aspect of the character off.

Martin Hill: To really read the vocals rolling across from one character to another, we generally, rather than amping up the character who was actually talking, we commuted the characters who weren’t talking. We generally closed their mouths down a little bit more and would not move their head around so much. It made it very much more clear who was performing at any one time.

Quite often, to make the characters more fun, to make them within the comic book world, we would alter their jaw during a shot so we could get the dental fricatives sounds, the ’th’ sounds so we can actually see their teeth.

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Now, obviously, they’ve got these really long snouts. When they are facing one way or another to camera, they would generally talk on the side of their mouth that was facing camera, which is kind of an unphysical contrivance, but the trick there is always making it look natural, not making it look cartoony, making it feel like you are not noticing that you’re putting all of these cheeks and they’re not obvious things that they’re just all these nuances build the performance and make it more fun to watch.

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