Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!
How Do You Bring a Video Game to Life? Five Nights at Freddy's Creators Explain
Director Emma Tammi and Robert Bennett of Jim Henson's Creature Shop on bringing video game characters to life.
If you've spent any quality time playing video games with any Gen Z kid in the last decade, there's a good chance you've played, or at least heard a lot about Five Nights at Freddy's. The first iteration of the game was released in 2014 and became massively popular with YouTubers and kids who loved its free-roaming, horror vibe. Players assume the role of an employee monitoring the premises of Freddy Fazbear's Pizza restaurant overnight — think, an evil Chuck E. Cheese — and then have to survive being stalked by the life-sized performance animatronics possessed by the souls of murdered children.
The core four antagonists are Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy (with other animatronics introduced in subsequent games), and they've proven time and time again to be worthy enemies to defeat in the video games.
Five Nights at Freddy's game versus real-life moviemaking
But video games aren't real life, especially considering that the programmed cheats of game physics and character invulnerabilities are meant to be larger than life and more fun than real world rules. So what happens when you need to make life-sized reproductions of Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy from actual materials so they can "star" as the heavies in a major motion picture adaptation of the game?
Welcome to the challenges faced by director Emma Tammi (The Wind), lead supervisor at Jim Henson's Creature Shop, Robert Bennett, and their practical effects team, who were tasked with making these four animatronic characters come across equally terrifying as their digital counterparts.
In a recent interview with NBC Insider, Tammi said that it was problem number one to translate the Freddy Fazbear's Pizza creatures into physical characters that looked seamless in the real world. "The scale and the functionality was the paramount hurdle that we needed to first tackle," she explained. "How can we get these up and running, and moving for all the beats in the movie that they needed to be emoting and expressing and moving in?"
With his Jim Henson's Creature Shop team, Bennett said they had a lot of talks about the differences between realities. "I think the biggest challenge is taking a 3D game and bringing it into the real world, then making it look like it belongs in that world," he said. "It's all about the textures and the colors. And then, the functionality."
What audiences will see on screen is the culmination of 40 years of Jim Henson's Creature Shop animatronics and puppetry expertise, tailored to the expectations and high standards of today's obsessive Five Nights at Freddy's gamers. Bennett, the winner of SYFY's Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge, said the final product that audiences will see on the big screen represents a point of pride in his career. "For me, it's being able to look at the whole project now and seeing what we accomplished, and how accurate we were."