The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau, required the work of over 800 artists, production crew and technologists across MPC’s UK and Indian offices to complete. Two years in the making, it is truly a feat of VFX wonder. Below, Elliot Newman tells us how it was done.
Creative Review: What particular techniques did The Jungle Book require? How did you achieve this?
Elliot Newman: The Jungle Book required a massive range of different technical and creative techniques and skills. We worked on the movie from its very beginning development stages right until the end, so we were involved in everything from the virtual production on set to the environment building, FX simulation work and characters. We have more than 18 departments at MPC, each specialising in different CG skills, from fur and hair simulations, to animation, rigging, lighting and physics elements such as water and fire – an important part of this movie.
A big part of our work was integration of the live action photography of Neel Sethi [the actor playing Mowgli] into extensive full 3D CG worlds; replacing a mostly blue screen set and lighting that world in a way that convinces the viewer that those environments really did exist. A large part of making these worlds feel believable was our switch to much more physically plausible, photoreal rendering techniques.
Film showing development of scenes from The Jungle Book in post
CR: How many of these techniques were new to this film? Can you highlight any that you felt were particularly significant?
EN: The fur and hair tools were obviously very important to this movie and we had to upgrade our fur simulation tools. We also created new muscle simulation tools for the rigs of the animals to give the animals realistic muscle movements, like flex and wobble. The lighting was crucial, it’s something that can make a huge difference to something looking photoreal or not, and we pushed our rendering and shading to be more physical than ever before.
Another area we developed was our approach to environments. Being able to simulate leaves and grass and being able to modify positions of trees and plants for either animation or compositional reasons was essential for us to stay on top of the vast scenes we built for the movie.
Film showing the creation of the animals in post
CR: How involved were you with the actor’s shoot?
EN: We were on set throughout the shoot. As the only real element of the movie was Mowgli, it was very important that we were there to help advise on how to shoot the best material for our team in London to use.
CR: What are you most proud of from your work in The Jungle Book?
EN: Shere Khan was by far the most fun character to work on and I think he looks great in the movie – I am happy that all the details we put into that character came through in the final movie. I would also say the 3D worlds we built; how geometrically complex they were, and all the extra-fine details – moss, the stones, leaves and twigs – that we sprinkled over the terrains all made it fun to watch back, and appreciate all the work the teams put into it.
Trailer for the finished film