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Animators Reveal Grueling Work Phil Lord Made Them Do to Animate Fully CGI Jonah Hill in 21 Jump Street

LOS ANGELES — Animators working on 2012 comedy film 21 Jump Street came forward anonymously to detail the grueling work they had to do to create Jonah Hill, according to a new report.

“There’s no doubt that 21 Jump Street is one of the most important films in animation history; Jonah Hill is such a fully realized and realistic-looking CGI character that pushed the medium forward further than any film since Toy Story,” said one of the animators who worked on the film. “But when we were working on scenes that included Jonah, we were working around the clock — 80 hour weeks, crunching, for months — to get him finished. It was the most grueling work I’ve ever done as an animator. For some reason, though, the Channing Tatum animations only took us like 20 minutes to make.”

According to those familiar with the situation, many of the issues came from co-director Phil Lord.

“Phil [Lord] always had notes for us that came way too late in the process,” said another animator. “We would come to him early in the process, with Jonah Hill storyboards and rough animations, and they’d say it was fine. Then we’d spend the next three months rendering all of his skin, hair, facial expressions, etc. and Phil would come by and be like, ‘hmmm, can we actually have Jonah go a little bigger with his reaction to Ice Cube yelling at him?’ and we’d literally have to start the whole scene from scratch. It was like constructing and demolishing a building over and over again. Except the building is Jonah Hill.”

“I’m honored I got to work on such a critically acclaimed animated project,” they said. “But I think the power has gone to Phil’s head. Jonah Hill was nearly impossible to make; who knows what he’ll try to do next?”

Animators around the world have pushed for stronger unions and collective bargaining to protect their rights.

“The reason productions like this go to Canada is because they know they can pay smaller rates for animators to construct fully CGI characters like Jonah,” said a third animator. “When a movie looks really bad, that’s not because the animators are bad. It’s because they are being rushed in order to save money and they’re desperate to finish their work while crunching. I don’t even want to know what the production schedule for that Netflix movie You People looked like, holy shit.”

Despite the concerns about 21 Jump Street, animators admitted to having a much easier time working on its 2014 sequel 22 Jump Street, due to the fact that an animatronic Jonah Hill was used for the filming of that movie.

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