89th Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: Visual Effects

CATEGORY: Visual Effects
SPEECH BY: Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon



Q. I understand that working with nature and animals, because of the details, takes much difficult and takes longer.  Is that so? 
A. (Robert Legato)  Working with real animals and nature, it takes a long time, and ours took about 40 times longer than that when we did it.  These guys are much more experts about that than I am, but it took like maybe 40 hours a frame to render some of the more beautiful scenes that we've done.  So it was pretty difficult, but these guys should answer that question.
A. (Adam Valdez)  I think the thing to know about our film, JUNGLE BOOK, was that Disney and Jon Favreau, our director, decided to make a film almost entirely on the computer.  And so when you are watching the movie go by, it may not be that obvious, but everything that you see, almost everything you see except for the one little boy is created in the computer.  And I would say yes, the jungle is difficult ‑‑ very difficult to do.  Every detail needs to be there for your mind to believe it.  And animals, we all know animals.  We love animals.  People love to watch animals.  So if anything felt artificial, it wouldn't be the magic trick or the movie wouldn't work.

Q. So talk about ‑‑ speaking of the artificiality at an age where everything is rendered and animated films can be nominated for visual effects, how do you do a film that is essentially all animated and keep the verisimilitude, the reality of the jungle and the animals when you are in downtown L.A.? 
A. (Robert Legato)  Well, one of them is a complete observance of nature and what nature gives you by accident, not by design, and sometimes you just throw it all out there and we've pioneered or used a sort of a virtual way of shooting where we feel like we are live‑action cameramen again where you pick up a camera, you move it around, you make choices that are based on realtime input.  And you then start making dailies and the dailies then get edited with an editor with the same type of material they would have if they shot a live‑action film.  And then we infused every chance we had to remind the audience they were watching a real movie.  Sometimes things went out of focus.  Sometimes the camera shook when something got too close to it.  So observing very keenly the physical world and then embracing the mistakes that we've grown to live with in a live‑action movie, we incorporated those in there and actually cherished them as opposed to try to fix them as we often try to do in a live‑action movie. 

Q. I think we are, you know, I'm sure you will agree, we are living in a really exciting time for visual effects, whereas it was something that was reserved as set pieces or touching things up.  Now, I mean, I see your movie and I don't know if it's an animated movie or a real movie and I don't know what's real and what's not, but I figure most of it is not.  So, like, where is that line going now?  And, like, you know, you guys are doing so much and so much of the responsibility of performance and story is now on your shoulders as well. 
A. (Robert Legato)  Okay.  Well, part of it is that we are creating something that has the same discipline as photography, has the same discipline as editing, has the same discipline as literally makeup and hair because every time you see the boy it was like 150 shots where he's a computer‑generated boy.  So all of the disciplines that we are awarding tonight are all incorporated into that and so there's no real difference when you see it on the screen.  When you see it on the screen, it should be a photographed, beautifully art‑directed, acted, all the various things that we like to do.  And then let Andy talk about the animation where it's literally it's an observance just like a real actor would turning psychology into behavior and that behavior is something that you believe in.  So, Andy?
A. (Andrew Jones)  Just a quick comment on that.  We did a lot of animation in this film and tried to find the right movement and feel for each character and it's a lot of ‑‑ basically, it's a lot of research into all the animals, so finding all the ‑‑ you know, why a tiger is submissive, why it's aggressive.  Same thing with all of the wolves and every animal in this film; we kind of had this huge amount of research and we'd find out different ways using to kind of sell the performance and using different ‑‑ the voice talent was so great.  Idris Elba was amazing and, you know, and of course King Louie as well.  I'll have Dan talk a little bit about that.  It was a fun film to work on.  Jon Favreau was a great director.  He's really fun.  Had a good vision for the film.
(Dan Lemmon)  I think you hit the nail on the head though.  It is all about the story and you're making different decisions for different films and there's different, kind of, specific stories that are there to be told and whether you tell it in an animated kind of way or whether you tell it in a photo realistic kind of way, it's a decision that you're ‑‑ our job is basically to aid and abet in the suspension of disbelief and if the audience totally can sink in without having to work too hard and be able to just concentrate on the story without having to look past the fakeness of it, then we've done our job.

Q. Thank you so much and congratulations.




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