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Lion King And Avengers Show How Far Computer Graphics Have Come

Lion King
Lion King Credit: Disney

The use of computer graphics in films have come along way. I listened to some talks about some recently released films, including IT 2, Lion King and Avengers: End Game at the annual SIGGRAPH Asia Conference.

I discovered that films are often a collaboration of different departments and different specialist companies spread across the globe, including Weta Digital located in New Zealand. 

Image credit: SIGGRAPH Asia Conference Lion King
The Lion King hit a global box office of $1.334 billion as of after opening in Japan — which puts it above Frozen‘s $1.276 billion, according to BoxOfficeMojo.
Image credit: SIGGRAPH Asia Conference

I listened to how the teams created scenes from start to finish. The first step is often to understand the purpose of a scene. Then a first cut of the scene is created (minus all of the detail and background). Sometimes these are just blocks to represent the characters. As these scenes evolved, some parts are removed, while new elements and more detail are added. The view might be adjusted in regard to scale and depth. 

The scenes might be created from line drawings and sketches, or photographs from the Director (as common with the IT 2’s Director). Some of the scenes from Lion King were based on field research in Kenya – where they studied the rocks, trees, plants, terrain, wildlife and animal movement. While the movements of Spiderman (Endgame) were based on watching a group of people do parkour. 

There was a scene in Endgame were one of the stuntmen had run too fast (ahead of everyone else), so he was removed from the shot. Another had accidentally fallen over, so again he had to be removed. The fighting scenes were mocked up to ensure all of the characters and groups were in the correct place. 

One of the Directors admitted that one of his worst fears was appearing in Cinema Sins on YouTube, with their “Everything wrong with….” series pulling apart films. 

Jungle Book was created with VRX and CG shots, native stereo and complex dynamic environments. The Lion King was created by building on the successes of Jungle Book. It was shot on a physical stage in Los Angles, with no green screen work. The characters and scenes were built as assets in Maya. The aim of this film was to create a documentary feel, inspired by watching BBC documentaries. 

Sometimes the ideas didn’t work and it was common for parts of scenes to be cut out. An early draft of IT 2 was for it to be on track to be 5 hours long!!! Easter Eggs are sometimes added near the end of production. 

Thank you to SIGGRAPH Asia for the media pass. 

#SIGGRAPHAsia | #SIGGRAPHAsia2019

About SIGGRAPH

ACM SIGGRAPH has evolved to become an international community of researchers, artists, developers, filmmakers, scientists, and business professionals who share an interest in computer graphics and interactive techniques. It is a special interest group of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s first and largest computing society. 
https://www.siggraph.org/

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Written by Emma Crameri

I am a Brisbane-based freelance technical reviewer and writer. I have experience working in ICT, online education and digital marketing. I can turn your ideas into engaging and shareable online content. I'm an early adopter with both Android and Apple devices. I'm also the Editor of the Brisbanista website.

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