Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How They Really Filmed The Cartoon Animals In Tom & Jerry

If you click a link and buy a product or service from a merchant, we may be paid an affiliate commission.

Over the years, CGI technology has developed to the point where filmmakers can show almost anything they imagine on the silver screen. Despite this, the art of practical effects has stood the test of time and has often been used in combination with special effects. Such is the case for the latest escapades of a classic cartoon animal duo. The upcoming Tom & Jerry movie is set to be released on February 26 on HBO Max and in theaters. 

This time around, the legendary frenemies are forced to relocate to New York City after losing their previous home (though London was the stand-in city where Tom & Jerry was actually shot). The eternal rivals split ways but inevitably find themselves shacked up at the same upscale hotel. While there, Tom is hired to run pest control and hunt Jerry down once again. Their usual, comically violent cartoon shenanigans are expected to ensue.

Is there anything different about the new Tom & Jerry?

There is one new twist to this age-old formula: These animated characters will now be set in a live-action world. Tom and Jerry are set to co-star with normal humans played by Chlöe Grace Mortez and Michael Peña. Another twist is that these cartoon characters aren't going to be entirely animated. As with the filming of many other modern movies, the actors interacted with physical references on set.

In a recent Q&A session with the film's young audience, Director Tim Story revealed that for many of the CGI animated characters, including Tom the cat, filmmakers used physical puppets as references for live actors and animators.

"With that, a puppeteer would stand in for Tom," said Story. "...and the actors would work with that puppet."

The puppeteer would manipulate the puppet in question, a grayscale rendition of Tom, from a short distance away to remain out of frame. Story added that, because the cartoon characters are often completely silent, "it worked out perfectly to do the scene with [puppets]."

In addition to puppets, the makers of Tom & Jerry overlaid CGI effects on top of actors, presumably dressed in green-screen suits, for certain roles. According to Story, the character of Spike was filmed with a human stand-in and not a puppet.

This three-way combination of computer-generated effects, puppets, and actors has ideally resulted in a movie where the cartoon characters feel as if they fit right into the same world as the live actors.