How Weta FX Made CGI ‘Cocaine Bear’ for Elizabeth Banks’ Variety Cover

Cokie the Bear was more than ready for her close-up with Elizabeth Banks for Variety’s “Cocaine Bear” cover. However, no real bears were involved in the creation of these images.

She is the computer-generated handiwork of photographer Art Streiber and a team of eight visual effects experts from Weta FX, who created the bear for the film.

Over the span of two weeks, Streiber and Weta FX VFX supervisor Robin Hollander created a storyline for the photos, from Cokie having her nose powdered to a glamorous red carpet moment.

Photographs by Art Streiber; Visual Effects by Weta FX

“This was fun to see how to capture the essence of Cokie and instill it in single images,” Hollander says. He adds, “We didn’t want Cokie to look like a villain — she’s not inherently aggressive.”

The team came to the photo shoot with a bit of a narrative to help inject personality into the bear. “We wanted to capture the essence of Cokie in that scenario,” Hollander says.

While the film’s trailer might give off the idea that Cokie is a brutal killing machine, Hollander stresses she is anything but that, so she even has a little smile in the photos. Explains Hollander, “For the image where she’s having her nose powdered, the idea was that she says, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this, but I’m not that pleased and it’s tickling my nose.’”

The red carpet pose nods to Cokie’s habit. The idea behind this image was that maybe Cokie had over-indulged in her favorite pastime. “She actually looks a little bit defeated and can’t be bothered,” Hollander says.

Photographs by Art Streiber; Visual Effects by Weta FX

The piece de resistance was the cover, which everyone wanted to be a tender moment between two friends and collaborators. “It’s at the end of the day and they’re lying down by the fire. They’ve had dinner with their friends and Cokie has had a big day,” Hollander says. “There’s this beautiful sense of connection between the two.”

Weta FX mavens who also worked on the shots include VFX producer Lily Lawrence and staffers Dan Cox, Ludovic Chailloleau, Daz Christie, Mohand Zennadi, Cedric Canlas and Ryan Smith.

Bear necessities

Originally published at

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