'Isle of Dogs' Puppet Master Says
'Isle of Dogs' Puppet Master Says

Unrolling the Masterful Sushi Scene in 'Isle of Dogs'

Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” is like no other stop-motion film, so it makes sense that its animation process was like no other. Instead of CGI, the movie’s art department made thousands of characters by hand.

“[It’s] probably the most ambitious stop-motion film certainly I’ve ever worked on,” says the movie’s head puppet master, Andy Gent. “There’s always a lot of detail … When you create miniatures they have to be absolutely working miniature versions of real life.”

Gent says Anderson zoned it on every little thing and made sure miniature buttons, zips, and watch dials all had the details of their real-life counterparts.

For instance, Gent says the original script called for a minute-and-a-half sushi preparation sequence. It took seven months to shoot. In the film, a chef slices up fish, which involved magnetizing the already cut silicon pieces to resemble a whole fish. Then, when the knife slices through it, it would open up to the internal pieces, Gent says.

It took a lot of planning, testing with paper cutouts and plasticine, molding, plus hand painting to ensure the shot was exactly right, he continues. Occasionally, a sudden change can derail hours of work, like when the team had built multiple gloves for the chef’s hands in the sushi cutting scene, only for Anderson to change his mind about jump cuts.

“We’d plan for one eventuality and then it changed around, which often happens. You’d be like, ‘Well why do we need to do this? Why are those the rules?'” Gent says. “It took three animators because it broke quite a few people to get through the shot. Seven months later we end up with one minute of animation.”

Popular on Variety

More Popular on Variety

  • John FavreauDisney Legends Ceremony, Arrivals, D23

    Jon Favreau Is 'Optimistic' About Spider-Man's Future in the MCU

    Director Jon Favreau said he’s “optimistic” and holding out hope for Spider-Man’s future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the character is caught in a battle between Disney and Sony. The rights for Spidey and his supporting characters seem to be returning to Sony after the two companies couldn’t compromise on the comic book property. [...]

  • Kirsten Dunst, a cast member in

    Kirsten Dunst On Acting Through Braces 'On Becoming a God in Central Florida'

    Kirsten Dunst describes acting in braces on her 90s-set series, “On Becoming a God in Central Florida.”  “They’re like a retainer. You just clip them on and off,” Dunst told Variety’s Marc Malkin on the red carpet at the show’s premiere. “Every time on set, I’d take them off and there’d be a line of saliva [...]

  • Conan O'Brien Podcast Variety Cover Story

    Conan O'Brien on Podcast Schilling: Pay Me in Squatty Potties!

    Late-night TV star Conan O’Brien discussed the differences between hosting his talk show and his podcast, “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” for Variety‘s cover story. The comedian said the conversations are more intimate and candid without having a camera and audience present. “Big stars come in, they just dropped their kids off at school and [...]

Most Popular

Access exclusive content