For 35 years ILM has been creating creatures for almost every live action film. They worked with director Gore Verbinski on the "Pirates" franchise, which is why he picked ILM for his first animated feature.
"It's a very different animal for us," ILM animation director Hal Hickel said.
"Rango" is a cross between Don Knotts and Hunter S. Thompson.
"We discovered that the skin on his eyes, these concentric wrinkles on his eyes were actually for expression," Hickel said.
Verbinski did something unusual. He brought the actors together to act out scenes for the film in a miniature movie shoot.
"Why give up a technique we use in live action films because it is animated," he said. "It wasn't a blue print for the acting. The film was still hand animated, but it was just great stuff to soak up and to use as a spring board for the animators to create the performances.
Hickel says this isn't about competing with Pixar or DreamWorks. He has respect for them and Pixar even sent over people to give advice on how to make an animated film. If this does well, there will be another animated feature from ILM.