Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey didn't feature both of the titular character's hyenas, but she did get one of them (called "Bruce" in the DC Extended Universe). It was an impressive visual effect for a movie with a relatively small budget, and VFX Supervisor Thrain Shadbolt has now shed some light on how it was achieved.
"The production made the excellent call to use a well trained German Shepherd called ‘Varko’ as a stand in for Bruce," he tells Art of VFX. "This gave Margot a partner to act with, as well as providing us with a reference both for performance and lighting. From observing her interactions with Varko, we were able to appreciate how much the dog’s skin moved when stroked, as well as the fur."
As you can see below, Margot Robbie filmed her scenes with a German Shepard, and the hyena was understandably added during post-production. It's shocking to see how much work went into creating Harley's pet, as you'd think it would be simple enough to switch the two animals out.
"[We] would simulate hand collisions with the skin, which would then drive additional motion and interactions with the fur," Shadbolt added. "These rendered interactions would then be further sweetened in Comp; motion vectors derived from the fur in the plate would drive further motion on the CG. To help sink the fingers into the fur, we would also ‘cheat’ a little and use small parts of the dogs fur around the fingertips, graded to match the hyena."
"We really had to be able to believe that the two were in contact; this process helped make that convincing," he concluded. Were you guys a fan of Bruce in Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey?