I couldn’t tell you the plot to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but I vividly remember almost every second of Baby Groot’s flawless dance to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky.” Groot is a creature of few words, repeating his catchphrase “I am Groot” in varying tones to convey whatever it is he’s trying to say. But like Chewbacca, Wall-E, and most other nonverbal characters, Groot makes up for his nonexistent vocabulary in wildly creative ways.
Whether you’re a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy or not, it’s impossible to deny just how freaking cute the sentient tree creature is. To celebrate baby Groot in all his shimmying glory, the Walt Disney Imagineers spent several years bringing him to life.
The Imagineers are the geniuses behind Disney theme parks, cruise ships, attractions, essentially everything at the crossroads between creativity and technology. Their extensive experience and ingenuity made their Disney branch the perfect one to take on project Groot – and fir real, they crushed it.
To celebrate the fruits of their labor, the Imagineers shared a video of their creative process on YouTube. In 2018, the team began work on Groot’s little legs. Once those were up and running, the team added the trunk of Groot’s body before letting him roam free around the office for a while.
“Using custom authoring tools that combine whole-body motion planning and traditional character animation, artists can quickly bring robotic characters to life with expressive motions and interactive behaviors,” Walt Disney Imagineering captioned their video. “There are no immediate plans for use in Disney theme parks; however, a prototype in the form of Groot is being used to test unique traits, gaits and capabilities.”
Robo-Groot had a few missteps, likely far more than the single tumble included in the video. But by 2020, the team was confident enough in their baby Robot to give him the full Groot, resting birch face and all.