Paddington Bear Hits the Big Screen

From the printed page to larger-than-life, Intel technology helps power Paddington’s big-screen transformation. 

One of the technology leaders behind the hugely anticipated big-screen debut of the world’s best-loved bear has a refreshingly humble method for evaluating the success or failure of his team’s latest multi-million dollar movie project. He calls it ‘The Mom Test’.

Steve MacPherson is the Chief Technology Officer of Framestore, the Oscar and BAFTA-winning team that has used Intel technology to bring Michael Bond’s beloved creation to life in the new Paddington movie starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi and Julie Walters.

Paddington World Premiere

Framestore’s credits also include all eight Harry Potter films, Oscar-winning blockbusters Gravity and The Dark Knight, the BAFTA-winning War Horse plus Guardians of the Galaxy and Dracula Untold.

Yet despite the chorus of industry approval for his company’s character animation, the first person MacPherson goes to for an honest assessment his latest work is his mom.

“When I’m sitting in the movie theatre with my mom,” he says, “her reaction tells me whether or not the characters are right and if they’re not you know about it pretty quick.”

The film’s animators wanted to make sure they could re-create a classic character that today’s audiences could connect with.

Paddington movie still

“It was slightly scary taking on such an iconic character,” said Andy Kind, the film’s visual effects supervisor. “From the Peggy Fortnum illustrations to the 1970s BBC series, there are a lot of looks for Paddington, and everyone has their favorite. We spent a lot of time on the design before we found something that hit the mark.”

Please look after this bear. Thank you. This message, famously written on the luggage tag which adorned the marmalade-loving bear when he was first discovered at Paddington Station, is an instruction that has been meticulously followed by Framestore as they set about the task of animating Paddington.

The results remain true to the spirit of the classic tales that have captivated children and adults since 1958. While the polite bear is decidedly low-tech, his re-creation for the big screen embraces everything technology has to offer.

Intel and Framestore, tech partners for five years, both understand that the main role for technology is to not make the audience gasp, but to make them believe.

“We work with directors and producers across the complete filmmaking process to help design, plan and create visual effects to support their storytelling,” explained MacPherson. “We’re lucky to have all this incredible technology but ultimately there is only one objective, to make Paddington a believable and lovable animated character that people can connect with.”

MacPherson said Framestore’s whole infrastructure is powered by Intel technology, from thier Core i7 based workstations to our servers.

“A few years ago we transferred over to the Intel compiler and that has really helped us in terms of our optimizations and the physics of what we’re doing with hair, water and other materials,” he said.

“As everybody knows, Paddington is a hairy creature and, as the central character of the film, he has a lot of screen time which means there are a number of different environments to create,” said MacPherson. “Paddington is seen eating cake; skateboarding; throwing snowballs and even flying down the staircase so he has to be believable. Factors like the way his hair reacts to objects and water have to be authentic and realistic.”

Though Framestore’s known for creativity, MacPherson says their bedrock is technology.

“The relentless march of technology has completely changed the film industry and it’s the power of technology that allows our creative teams to turn their visions into reality,” he said.

Paddington the movie, directed by Paul King and produced by David Heyman is being released in 50 countries over the holiday season, arriving in US theaters on January 16, 2015. The classic tales of the much-loved bear have sold more than 35 million books worldwide, and been translated into over 40 languages.

Follow Paddington’s adventures on Twitter: @paddingtonbear and on Facebook:

This story, contributed by Perveen Akhtar, first appeared on


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