We recently have another opportunity to visit with Scanline VFX’s Bryan Hirota. Last time we discussed Zack Snyder’s Justice League Cut and this time, we discussed “big monsters fighting” in Godzilla vs. Kong. Well come to find out, this was really Scanline’s first foray into big creatures. They have a impeccable reputation for destruction and complex simulation works so this was a great opportunity for them to display their wares in this film and man did they deliver. Because of this challenge, we first asked Bryan what the studios provided them and how they proceeded.

What Scanline VFX Had to Work With

BH: The idea was, we would take some shots from this ocean battle of Godzilla vs Kong (a scene that Scanline had already begun work on) just so everyone could get an appropriate comfort level with our ability to handle this kind of work. Both of the creatures fighting, Godzilla swimming, climbing on the carrier and Kong punching him. Also just to demonstrate our ability to convey emotions through Kong himself.

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The Making of “Old Man Kong”

For this test, we spent a couple of months. We took the previs (previsuals) as inspiration. We received the Godzilla from the ‘King of the Monsters,’ the asset, the model, and the textures. We also received ILM’s Skull Island Kong and we started divvying out the shots. And the one thing we did in the course of our tests was, we took the more adolescent Kong  and we aged him up. We gave him additional body mass and strength. We tweaked his groom by giving him some longer hair. A bit of a beard with some white and grey hairs mixed in the black and brown hairs.

 

Legendary

Ultimately, we presented those shots and we had a shot of Kong visiting Jia, or being visited BY Jia and being sad in the rain. We carried those shots to completion on our end and we showed them to D.J. (John ‘D.J.’ Des Jardin) and the studio. Everybody liked them quite a bit. They liked our treatment of Kong so much that ultimately we got asked to develop the hero asset for this old man Kong for the movie.

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What Went into Kong

So when you asked when we start this process what we were given, for the older Kong, we had the Skull Island Kong. We got some concept art, some idea of what an older Kong might look like. But we really kind of took it and ran with it. We looked into what happens to primates when they get older. What are kind of the tells for an old gorilla or an old chimpanzee. You know that Kong himself isn’t exactly a Gorilla. He a sort of an anthropomorphized primate. A lot of his proportions are very human. So we looked at bodybuilders, MMA fighters, and boxers who were older and past their prime to see how their physique changes as they get older as well. We brought all of those resources to bear and sort of synthesized them into what we sort of affectionately called: The Old Man Kong.

As you can see from the assets that Scanline VFX provided and from the film itself, they obviously hit a home run with their first attempt at “Big Monsters Fighting.” Stay tuned for Part Two of this interview where we talk bout Godzilla and MegaGodzilla. Godzilla vs. Kong can be seen on HBOMax and at select theaters. You can hear our interview with Bryan in its entirety here.


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