… for Visual Effects
Tip #1581: Bring the HEAVY Weapons to “Monster Hunter:
If the creatures are going to be CGI, make everything else real.
This article, written by Trevor Hogg, first appeared in VFXVoice.com.
This in-depth article explores how the VFX team responsible for creating Monster Hunter, which is based on a video game. This is a summary.
Director Paul Anderson said: “My approach on this movie was if the creatures have to be CG, let’s shoot on real landscapes rather than in studio backlots against a greenscreen. Every time a creature’s foot goes down on the ground it displaces and showers our actors with real sand, and the lens flare from the sun will be real as well as the wind. It gives the animators an awful lot to match into as well as helps to tie the creatures into the reality of the existing location.”
The cinematic versions of the monsters are not exact replicas. “With the monsters you’re building them at a different level of detail than a video game engine could ever handle,” says Anderson. “Dennis Berardi [The Shape of Water], our Visual Effects Supervisor and co-producer, and his team sat down and analyzed the way that the creatures moved in the game and compared that to creatures of a similar bulk in our world [such as elephants and rhinoceroses] and how they would move with gravity operating on them. A footfall of a creature weighing a certain amount must displace a certain amount of sand or whatever material it’s running on. Something of a certain size normally moves at certain speed.”
Sixty-five minutes of screen time consist of 1,300 visual effects shots created by MR. X facilities in Toronto, Montreal and Bangalore, as well as at South African-based BlackGinger. “We had one situation where Kaname Fujioka [the director of the Monster Hunter games] and the team at Capcom were like, ‘Diablos looks amazing, but her toenails are too sharp,’” recalls MR. X Visual Effects Supervisor Trey Harrell. “Diablos is an herbivore, so the feature should be more like a rhino or elephant with rounded tusks with no pointy sharp bits. The most interesting thing to me that I found over the course of this whole journey was there is a certain amount of hubris involved when you start on a property and go, ‘Now we’re making a movie version of this.’ But a lot of times you do that before you understand the design in the first place. Everything was there for a purpose.”
Trevor’s interview contains far more detail, almost two dozen production stills, and links to other in-depth interviews.