Cool VFX: Important Looking Pirates provides shark action for Kon-Tiki
In our studio focus, we meet Niklas Jacobson and Måns Björklund from Scandinavian studio ILP to find out how they created the white shark in Kon-Tiki
▲ The shark sequences made up some of the most dramatic parts of the film
In the Summer of 2011, the Swedish visual effects facility Important Looking Pirates were awarded a massive sequence for the upcoming Norwegian feature film Kon-Tiki directed by Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg. The film is about the legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal’s epic journey crossing the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in 1947.
Launched from Lima, Peru, the Kon-Tiki raft carried its crew over 4,300 miles of the Pacific before arriving in the Tuamotu Islands. In the new issue of 3D World, we meet three Scandinavian studios (Gimpville, Storm Studios and Fido) who worked predominantly on the VFX ocean scenes and here we talk to ILP about their work on sharks and other sea creatures.
The sequence takes place during a major emotional peak of the movie, as the crew struggles with internal conflicts while facing a critical situation involving white sharks.
Producer Måns Björklund says: “One of the greatest challenges with this sequence was that it had to look 100% believable in order not to spoil the emotional moment, which put incredibly high demands on everything from models, textures, lighting, animation to compositing and integration of the computer-generated elements into the filmed plates.”
ILP did some interesting creature work like a digital double of the crew’s pet parrot, Lorita. This was used for some effects scenes that just could not be achieved with live action.
▲ In some scenes, Lorita the parrot had to be computer generated as live action was not possible
Niklas Jacobson, Visual Effects Supervisor at ILP, says: “The work with digital sharks began immediately after we were awarded the work. We watched endless hours of documentary films like Planet Earth to study shark behaviour and underwater photography in order to prepare for the task.”
ILP also did plenty of complicated effects work, such as blood, bubbles and cutting-edge water effects. With state-of-the-art software such as Exotic Matter’s Naiad for water simulation and ILP’s proprietary render engine, Tempest, for rendering particles and volumetric effects such as blood, ILP managed to complete 58 shots, many of which were extremely complex fully computer-generated scenes that needed to cut seamlessly with the live action footage.
As Måns concludes: “In the end, the most important factor of all was all the hard work put down by our incredibly talented artists.”
▲ The impressive work done by Important Looking Pirates on Kon-Tiki garnered both respect and a future commission from Kon-Tiki filmmakers
In 3D World issue 163, we take an in-depth look at how three Scandivanian studios Gimpville, Storm Studios and Fido rose to the challenge of creating Hollywood-style VFX for Kon-Tiki at a tenth of the cost of a Hollywood production.
Read more about ILP’s work on a Norwegian oil guild project.
on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 at 2:12 pm under Movies, Showcase.
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Tags: CGI, Kon-Tiki, particle simulation, shark, VFX