In the extensive production design phase it was decided Mr. Bib should look "more fit and agile, less overinflated," explains Ekker. "Selecting the proportions was very tricky; he can't look anything like the Doughboy. There was talk of doing it all CG, but then it becomes an exercise in the recreation of reality rather than the capturing of reality. A rule I live by is, if you can get it live, you should get it live. We lose business this way, but we gain trust, hence we gain business. Using a live suit will give us a photo-real character that can shake hands with an actor, pick something up and set it down. We originally planned to replace the features only, but realized eventually it would be much more successful to replace the entire head. So we turned the suit head into a tracking object with adhesive dots on it."
The head is animated in Maya and rendered in Lightwave. The suit was made by Bill Bryan at L.A.'s famed MastersFX. It's fabricated from flat sheets of foam, and Bryan, incidentally was the man behind and in the wonderful Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man getup, from Ghostbusters. But he wasn't in this suit. "He's too small," says Ekker. "We needed a guy between 6-0 and 6-4."
More spots are expected, of course. The new Mr. Bib could run for 100 years. OK, now he moves; will he ever talk? "He never has spoken, to my knowledge," says Ekker. "Who he is and how he feels about things - Michelin's not willing to go there. I doubt he'll ever speak. This is already a stretch for them, and they're very nervous about it. But right now, they're delighted."