Dneg grows Jungle Cruise’s Tree of Life


Visual effects and animation studio Dneg completed extensive and complex visual effects for Disney’s new feature film Jungle Cruise.

Led by VFX supervisor Christopher Downs, the studio’s work encompassed much of the third act, totaling 385 shots. The company’s artists in Montreal, Vancouver and Mumbai all contributed to the project.

Downs and his team were responsible for the intricate construction of the massive Tree of Life and the cavern and lunar roof that surrounds it. The Tree of Life also served as a focal point for the rendered city and temple complex, as it comes to life and then dies throughout the film’s climax.

The tree is highly sought after because its petals are believed to have healing power that could change the face of medicine. Philanthropist Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) sets out to find the tree, supported on her Amazon adventure by Captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson).

Highlights of Dneg’s visual effects included the important plot point of the continuous drainage of the river, which previously filled the cavern. This meant that the water simulations had to interact with the geometry of the cavern. Hero simulations were also needed for close-to-camera interaction with tree branches.

“I’m extremely pleased with the outcome of the work we’ve developed for Jungle Cruise,” says Downs. “It’s always refreshing to tackle a new project that forces us to think outside the box and push the boundaries of creative visual effects.

“Given the dynamic nature of the final act, with actions taking place in and around the Tree of Life asset, one of our challenges in Jungle Cruise was to ensure that the components were constructed in a way that that a camera could be placed anywhere in the cavern and the visuals would still look compelling. It required huge amounts of computing power and artwork, and the team did a brilliant job of developing techniques to capture only the geometry and elements needed to bring the shots to life.


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