Post Magazine

May/June 2021

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 18 of 39

GODZILLA VS. KONG 17 POST MAY/JUNE 2021 T he clash between mega-monsters King Kong and Godzilla began on-screen in the 1960s, three decades after the colossal ape made his movie debut. Back then, the beasts were played by actors in full-body costumes — more kitschy than frightening. Over the years though, both beasts' aesthetics evolved as each starred in its own VFX-laden film, part of the so- called MonsterVerse franchise from Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures. Kong took a giant leap forward with state-of-the-art CGI in Peter Jackson's 2005 King Kong (which pre-dat- ed the MonsterVerse) and once again in 2017's Kong: Skull Island. Godzilla, meanwhile, received his digital makeover for the 2014 film, whose title bears its namesake, followed by Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). In the recent film Godzilla vs. Kong, the two titans share the screen once again. But, is the world big enough for two gigantic creatures such as these? In the film, these larger-than-life charac- ters battle it out when the large lizard goes on the attack as it seeks out a link from its past, starting in Pensacola, FL. Adding to the mega-mayhem is that link: Mechagodzilla, a secret, man-made all-metal version of Godzilla, with state-of-the-art laser-beam weaponry, built and controlled by Apex Cybernetics, with the aim of destroying all the titans and bringing a power balance back to Earth. Kong is sent to stop the out-of-control Godzilla, and the two clash in the Tasman Sea and, later, in Hong Kong before recognizing the need to team up against their common enemy — Mechagodzilla. Godzilla vs. Kong was directed by Adam Wingard, with John "DJ" Des Jardin serving as production VFX supervisor. The feature contains a significant amount of special effects and visual effects, the latter including work from Scanline VFX, MPC Film, Weta Digital and Luma Pictures, among others. Scanline was the lead vendor, delivering 390 shots across 17 sequences, with work including the design, build and creation of Kong, Godzilla and Mechagodzilla. The facility also participated in the build and destruction of Hong Kong, and produced a significant amount of simulation work to pull off the various battle sequences between the hero characters. Some of Scanline's main sequences comprise the initial attack of Godzilla on Pensacola, those depicting a fight between Kong and Godzilla both atop and under the water, various skirmishes in Hong Kong among the three beasts, and the post-fight sequence. For MPC Film, the project continued its work on the Godzilla franchise. The studio created 177 shots for the film, though MPC VFX supervisor Pier Lefebvre says that shot count is a bit underserving considering the length of some of the shots and the 4K resolution at which they worked. Lefebvre and animation supervisor Michael Langford led the MPC Film VFX team, which spanned locations in Montreal, London and Bangalore. The studio's work was concentrat- ed to a latter portion of the film — dubbed the "Downtown Battle" — when Godzilla first arrives in Hong Kong, causing incredible destruction while searching for Kong. KONG No stranger to the MonsterVerse, Scanline contrib- uted to both Godzilla and Skull Island, but none of its work involved the title creatures. Conversely, in the recent film, the studio was charged with the Kong asset, which it then shared with Weta and MPC. The story line of Godzilla vs. Kong takes place about 50 years after the events of Skull Island. So, to maintain a degree of continuity in the charac- ter, the artists started with the adolescent and much smaller model of Kong from that earlier film, which was provided by the client, and used it as a starting point, along with real-world references. They then cycled through several concepts before landing on the final "old man Kong asset" that's in the latest movie. "The idea was that Kong would be much larger physically and be showing signs of age to reflect the time that has passed," explains Bryan Hirota, Scanline's visual effects supervisor on the film. "We bulked up Kong's model substantially, increasing his muscle mass, and added gray and white hairs throughout his fur, along with various battle scars." Early on, a team of artists studied gorillas at the Los Angeles Zoo and gathered photographic and video reference. They also examined images of old- Kong has grown and aged since he appeared in the 2005 and 2017 films.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Post Magazine - May/June 2021