Ashland Producer Gary Kout Talks About His Work on Oscar Winning Film “Rango”

Behind the scenes footage from the making of “Rango”:

Many of you may know Gary Kout as the president of Southern Oregon Film and Television (SOFAT) and producer of films like “Walk In,” “Calvin Marshal,” “Conversations With God” as well as many commercials.  A few years back, he was contacted by Gore Verbinski’s team on the Academy Award winning film “Rango” to be the production supervisor on the live action performance capture shoot for the film.  The process was unique to animated feature films, but helped the film makers create something special.  Gary took a few minutes to answer some questions about the project.


Q. How did you come to be the Production Supervisor on this project?

When the budget and schedule for the live-action reference shoot for RANGO were worked out, it was evident that it was going to be a very different type of shoot than big studio features are used to; huge crews, far-flung locations, complex production logistics. Instead, this was more like an independent feature – small and fast.  I had worked with the film’s Line Producer for many years in the commercial world, including several shoots with the director. Gore Verbinski, so they already knew me. Since I also line produce and production manage independent features in addition to commercials, they thought I would be the perfect person to oversee the production.
Q. Why did Gore Verbinski want to do this process?
As Gore explains it in interviews, as a live-action director, he wasn’t interested in the usual process of recording each actor’s dialogue in a sound booth and then working with animators for 2 years to figure out the visual elements of framing, composition, blocking, and the overall pace and tone of the film. Also, since the characters in the film are animals, their correlation to the human form wasn’t really suitable for the typical motion capture process. And finally, with such a great cast to work with, many of whom had worked together  on other films – most notably Johnny Depp and Bill Nighy as Captain Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones respectively in the PIRATES movies – Gore knew he would get much more genuine performances by giving the actors the chance to not just act, but to react with each other. Thus the term “Emotion Capture” was used to describe our shoot.
Q. What part of the production exists in the actual film?
None of it and all of it. The finished dialogue is almost entirely what we captured during the reference shoot, but none of what we shot is technically in the film. Instead, the staging and choreography (with the exception of a few sequences that would have required complicated stunts), the camera work and editing were used by ILM as a reference for the animation and the entire film was re-imagined from our live action shoot into the animated final version.

More behind the scenes footage and outtakes from the making of “Rango”:

Q. How long of a shoot was this?
The shoot was 22 days and took place on one sound stage at Universal Studios.
Q. Do you think this was a one time process for an animated film or do you see this as a new way to produce animation?
While motion capture and some live-action reference has been used for the animation process on many films, even going all the way back to the early days of Disney, nothing this complete – making the entire movie on video as a reference – had ever been done and no one has done it since the “Emotion Capture” shoot took place back in January of 2009. But with the Oscar award for Best Animated Feature Film, I hope animation and live-action directors and producers will consider it as a very worthwhile part of the process towards creating better animated films.

Gary Kout – Producer / Line Producer

Gary Kout has been a working professional in the film industry for over  20 years. After discovering a love for filmmaking growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, he studied film production at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television. Gary’s experience runs the gamut from feature films, shorts, documentaries, television, music videos, and internet content, with a primary focus on commercials, PSAs, and promos.

Gary has produced over 100 national and regional commercials for such diverse clients as Toyota, Chevy, McDonalds, Logitech, Comcast, Partnership for a Drug Free America, Showtime, and the US government. Gary was UPM and Line Producer on several independent feature films, including several four made in Southern Oregon – CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, MY NAME IS BRUCE, CALVIN MARSHALL, and the soon to be released WALK-IN – as well AMY’S O, THE OH IN OHIO, and the upcoming BLUE LIKE JAZZ. Gary was the Production Supervisor on the 2011 Best Animated Feature Film Academy Award-winner RANGO, working with an A-list cast and crew, including director Gore Verbinski (“Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy) and star Johnny Depp.

He has lived and worked in New York City and Los Angeles, as well as producing and managing jobs all over the United States and many foreign countries. In 1997, Gary completed a charitable motorcycle expedition from Los Angeles to the southern tip of Argentina, a journey of 15,000 miles through 14 countries, to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society and Save the Children. He combined adventure, travel, and social awareness again on a 400-mile bicycle ride to raise money for AIDS vaccine research in 2001.

Still actively working as a producer and line producer, Gary is currently the Executive Director of Southern Oregon Film and Television, a professional association he founded to increase film production in the southern Oregon region. He now calls Ashland, Oregon his home base, where he is focused on his most important job of raising two beautiful daughters.
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