MPC creates a downtown battle in “Godzilla vs. Kong”


In the preliminary stages, MPC Film received concept art of King Kong and Godzilla towering above the pink, cyan and orange city lights of Hong Kong, saturated with blue haze. Famous for its bustling night scenes of neon signage, laser shows and huge LED screens, it was important to encompass an authentic depiction of Hong Kong’s cityscape.

The preview and post-visualization teams helped resolve many of the creative challenges encountered in this pivotal sequence. The work done in pre-production helped set up a successful production on set as well as moving into post-production. The creative collaboration that began in pre-production shows clear visual connections to the final cut of the film.

One of the main goals of the MPC Film team was to recreate the specific lighting concept. Many conversations took place with director Adam Wingard throughout the process regarding the color palette of the city’s neon lighting. Additionally, it was important to demonstrate the scale of Kong and Godzilla, as well as the realism of the CG city.

In addition to developing the dynamic depiction of Hong Kong, the team ensured that these striking colors accurately illuminate the characters throughout the fast-paced and highly destructive clash. What begins as an understated, colorful ensemble is artfully transformed into a fiery hellscape.

Introducing a new proprietary software tool named Populate HK (Hong Kong) technology was created for Godzilla vs. Kong. This was a script, based on PACS, built by MPC Film CG supervisor Joan Panis to help integrate the main city environment into all shots. Populating HK meant that any updates undertaken in building the main environment could be easily incorporated into new blueprints. This included reading any edits made to the plans by the animation team. Populate HK would read the base environment and modified animation and prepare the city for rendering. The script also had the ability to ensure that plans were populated based on visible sections of the city, making them less cumbersome to render.

The Battle of Downtown was a particularly difficult sequence as the majority of the shots were full CG and included many complex destruction effects. Continuity through the sequence was a key goal to ensure the previously destroyed buildings remained in their fragmented appearance, along with the broken neon lights flickering amongst the massive destruction. CG supervisor Timucin Ozger created an automated Houdini destruction workflow scene, which could also render outputs with neon lights as light sources in Mantra Renderer. This workflow created outputs similar to what the lighting department would render. This made it possible to avoid surprises of different views between the departments and to maintain consistency.

MPC has also updated its Parallax Shader to give skyscrapers a photorealistic look. The new shader could merge windows into offices and create parallax rooms that actually looked like offices, not just individual rooms.

The animation team’s main challenge was to create a fierce and dynamic battle that not only emphasized the scale of the titans, but also showed the emotion of combat on their faces. The animators had fun acting out the battle and choreographing how Kong and Godzilla might fight, then reinterpreting that performance in keyframe animation. An additional challenge was creating a loving, non-threatening interaction between Kong and the human Jia, despite Kong’s monstrous size and intimidating appearance. It was essential to get the perfect emotion and expression on Kong’s face to sell his feelings without words.


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