There are a number of fierce fight scenes in
Kong: Skull Island – one of the most intense is the final battle between Kong and a giant Skullcrawler. ILM handled the complex sequence, which included not only extensive character animation, but also a photoreal jungle and water environment and plenty of effects simulations.
Academy Award nominee
Scott Benza was ILM’s animation supervisor on Kong: Skull Island. The other Oscar nominees for this film in the VFX category are Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White and Michael Meinardus. Here Benza details how that final fight came together.
I worked with three or four animators for about two months designing the end battle. A large percentage of it was previs’d based on a description that was in the script but about half of it had to be re-worked – once we got into designing it with previs there were changes that the director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, wanted to make and things that we discovered along the way that needed solutions that we had to find creative ways around.
For reference, anything we can get our hands on is fair game, but then we always had to rein it in to make sure that we were staying on model with the characters – to stay true to what the character is and how it should behave.
We were constantly trying to explore different ways and different things the characters can do. You’ve got the goal of trying to accomplish something that hasn’t been seen by audiences before. You want to keep the pacing of the scene exciting all while creating very dynamic shot compositions.
Another aspect of it was that you can’t work on it linearly. You’ve got artists working on the beginning, middle and end all at the same time and it requires a certain type of thinking to get your head around that – working on something in its entirety all at one time kind of in parallel rather than in the natural progression of things, which sometimes you can paint yourself into a corner with that.
Luckily the director was focused, and he had a pretty clear direction of where he wanted things to go and just needed help working out the details. He knew that he needed, say, a fun moment in this part of the fight but didn’t really know what that was, and that created fun opportunities for the team here to come up with fun opportunities that he was able to latch onto and expand from.
Overall it was probably the most rewarding sequence that we worked on and that we helped from its conception all the way through the finished product, and it’s my favourite scene in the movie.