September 16, 2011

A Two-Headed Robot and Other "Real Steel" Fun Facts


As the opening of the action-adventure “Real Steel” approaches, DreamWorks Pictures shares some interesting fun trivia surrounding the film and its creation. Set in the near future, where robots have replaced boxers in the ring, “Real Steel” stars Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton, a financially strapped, risk-taking former boxer who now makes his living on an underworld robot boxing circuit, operating the metal pugilists that made his human profession obsolete.

The robots each have a distinctive look, personality and color scheme and range in size from 7’6” to 8’5” in height. Based on human form, they each have two legs, two arms, a torso and a head—with the exception of a two-headed bot aptly named “Twin Cities.”

In addition to their distinctive personas, every robot has a specific sound personality. When a robot lands a punch there’s a sound specific to his skeletal material, his mechanisms, his bulk and his mass and there’s also an aura sound so that just merely by being turned on every robot has a whir or a whoosh or an engine hum or the sound or a computer.

Evangeline Lilly (“Lost”), who plays Bailey, never saw herself making a boxing film, but when she read the heartfelt script she was won over.

Toronto-native Dakota Goyo was chosen from thousands of 10-year-old boys who auditioned for the role of Max, Hugh Jackman’s on-screen son, as part of an international casting search.

Filming the robot boxing scenes was done with both motion-capture technology and practical-built, full-scale robots. The motion-capture elements were performed and shot months earlier on a stage in Los Angeles. Fighters were put in the ring wearing data-capturing jumpsuits and as they fought, their motions were converted into robot avatars in the computer and instantaneously appeared on the monitors on set. Then, during principal photography, the filmmakers lined up their cameras on an empty ring and the motion-capture data streamed through their cameras, allowing them to watch and frame the robot fighting in the ring in real time.

Sugar Ray Leonard was hired by the filmmakers to serve as the film’s boxing consultant and to train Hugh Jackman for his appearance in the ring.

“Real Steel” costume designer Marlene Stewart created a wardrobe for Hugh Jackman’s character Charlie that was inspired by looks from the 1960s, drawing from rugged Americana styles. Even his sunglasses are retro.

In “Real Steel” there is a clear delineation between the two worlds of robot boxing. There is the official league (the WRB); it’s corporate sponsored, with big money, sanctioned venues and strict rules. Then there is the underworld, which has unsanctioned venues, with no rules, no restrictions—the robots fight to the death.

Opening soon across the Philippines in IMAX and regular theaters, “Real Steel” is a DreamWorks Picture to be distributed locally by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.

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