Extract: “Ape in the Rain” — Godzilla vs Kong visual effects by Scanline VFX

Jia (Kaylee Hottle) reaches towards the giant ape Kong in "Godzilla vs Kong"

In this exclusive extract from The Illusion Almanac: Creating Godzilla vs Kong, the Scanline VFX team discusses the scenes involving Kong on the deck of the transport ship. As lead visual effects vendor for Godzilla vs Kong, Scanline handled the sea battle, the three-way Titan fight in Hong Kong, the attack on the APEX facility in Pensacola, plus a number of other sequences. The Scanline team also created the master assets for Kong and Mechagodzilla.

Read the full story about the design, cinematography and visual effects of Godzilla vs Kong in Issue 1 of The Illusion Almanac, available now as an 80-page* digital magazine formatted for Kindle. Download it from Amazon online stores worldwide — just search for “illusion almanac.”

The Scanline team first deployed its digital Kong in the transport ship sequence, compositing the giant ape into live-action plates photographed at Kalaeloa Airport and extending the partial set to flesh out the missing parts of the vessel. The most challenging work involved Kong’s night-time encounter with Jia. “One of the areas we got stuck on was getting the sign language correct,” recalled animation supervisor Eric Petey. “The studio sent us reference of somebody who was well-trained as a sign language speaker, but by the time we translated that to someone doing it as motion capture, then translated from that on to Kong, it had subtly changed. We discovered that the tiniest difference in what you’re doing with your hand can turn it into saying something completely different!”

The Jia sequence was further complicated by the fact that it is set during a storm. “The night-time shots were quite elaborate,” said visual effects supervisor Bryan Hirota, “because Kong was being rained on. He’s so big that any movement he makes will throw the water off him, which means you have these cascading layers of dependent action: the fur is wet so it needs to clump together and move a certain way, but then water also has to stream off the fur and, due to Kong’s size, some of that water will become mist. Those shots were very complex from a simulation standpoint.”

Responsible for generating the simulated rainfall, effects supervisor Jonathan Freisler worked closely with the animation department and creature effects team to ensure close interaction between Kong’s fur and the downpour. “When the shots came out of animation,” Freisler said, “they came with a basic hair wrap that stuck the hair to the skin, without any simulation.” Through dynamic creature effects, the ape’s movements drove a fur simulation that created realistic hair movement. “We would emit drips off the fur simulation, and those drips would get their motion from the fur. So, whenever a clump of fur is dynamically reacting to Kong’s movement, then the drips are also reacting.”

Extract from “The Illusion Almanac: Creating Godzilla vs Kong” — available now for Kindle from Amazon
  • Godzilla vs Kong - visual effects by Scanline VFX
  • Godzilla vs Kong - visual effects by Scanline VFX
  • Godzilla vs Kong - visual effects by Scanline VFX
  • Godzilla vs Kong - visual effects by Scanline VFX

*Print equivalent. “Godzilla vs Kong” images © 2021 Legendary and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Godzilla TM & © Toho Co., Ltd.

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