Jurassic World VFX uncaged

By Trevor Hogg

t-rex roaring

In J.A. Bayona’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing return to Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from an erupting volcano. However, their efforts are undermined by those with more nefarious plans for the prehistoric beasts. Just under 1,200 visual effects shots were supervised by David Vickery, with help from his ILM colleagues in London and Vancouver, along with other contributors.

“We did establishing shots of Isla Nublar,” states ILM visual effects supervisor Alex Wuttke. “The challenge there was to stay true to all of the various depictions of the geography of the island that we’ve seen before, and put a big volcano in the middle of it.”

You could create little boundaries of CG vegetation around the flowing lava, which would catch light and be driven by the thermals being kicked out

Alex Wuttke, ILM

Aerial plate photography was shot of Hawaii with the wider views generated in CG. The opening sequence follows a team of mercenaries in small submersibles, on an expedition to recover the Dominus Rex bones. Powerful searchlights on the aquatic vessels assisted with the illumination of the underwater environment. “Whatever falls within the beam gets slightly less falloff than what’s outside of it. This helps with the sense of claustrophobia, because anything outside of the beams you can’t see, while things that fall within reveal themselves.”

For the thinner smoke, ILM Vancouver used Plume (an in-house ILM tool for simulations) while ILM London created pyroclastic flows in Houdini. “The volcano eruption is compressed from a real-world to a cinematic timeline, so things happen quickly,” notes Wuttke. The team built a big vegetation toolkit, which could be used for scenes involving dinosaurs knocking vegetation aside, but also for capturing lava moving through the jungle.

The volcanic eruption presented major VFX challenges

“You could create little boundaries of CG vegetation around the flowing lava, which would catch light and be driven by the thermals being kicked out by the lava. A lot of times we were augmenting the plate with digital vegetation to give it that interaction.”

The ILM animation team in London used simple geometry and deformers in Maya previs to ensure the lava worked properly. They established the amount of lava, where it would pour and how quickly, to enable the effects team to get their simulations moving in the correct direction.

Practical realism

A gyrosphere containing two of the characters tumbles into the ocean, leading to a long underwater shot. “Those were big and difficult effects simulations that needed to feel believable and be readable on-screen,” states animation supervisor Jance Rubinchik. “We looked at a lot of references of whales breaching and diving back down. What we found was when large objects crash into the water, you get tons of bubbles streaming off of them, which tends to obscure everything. There was a lot of back and forth trying to arrive at something that feels like you’re underwater but also isn’t hiding it too much.”

Every location was based on real elements. “In a lot …read more

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