Sci Fi Wire (US), June 26, 2006

Scanner Scrambles For Suit

Mike Szymanski

Creators of the film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly told SCI FI Wire that lots of people they know show up in pieces of the "Scramble Suit" worn by Keanu Reeves' character in the film. A Scramble Suit is the kinetic protective suit worn by the undercover drug cops in Dick's futuristic SF novel.

"The Scramble Suit was a big challenge," said director Richard Linklater, who also adapted the story for the film. "There's a lengthy description of it [in the book], but it's also vague. It's a bit of a blur of multi-personalities. We spent months coming up with a design for it."

The outcome is a mask that generates an array of human faces of every age and race, which is worn by Reeves' character, Bob Arctor. Arctor is a secret agent trying to uncover a drug ring.

The Scramble Suit is accomplished by using animation over live footage. Linklater used the technique for the entire movie, much as he did in his 2001 film Waking Life. "No one face ever shows up in total at one time," the director said of the Scramble Suit. Author Dick's likeness is one of the faces that pop through the hundreds of animated characters that make up the suit.

Producer Tommy Pallotta said that he had to keep a watchful eye on the animation team while they were drawing the many characters for the suit. "They drew people they knew—friends, and stuff like that—but they began adding different characters from other science fiction stories, nerdy stuff, and they would have jumped out too much if I let [it go] through," Pallotta said.

Reeves said when they actually filmed the scenes of him wearing the mask, it didn't have all the faces it does in the final animated version. "It was some nylon stuff," he said. Also starring Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson, A Scanner Darkly opens nationwide July 7.

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A Scanner Darkly


A Scanner Darkly

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