How Disney’s New Jungle Book Movie Pushes the VFX Envelope

“Jon Favreau explains why his new Jungle Book movie is both something familiar and unlike anything you’ve seen before

If you’ve already seen any of the trailers for Walt Disney Pictures‘ new The Jungle Book movie, you might be pretty shocked to learn that what you’re looking at is almost entirely computer generated. All of the animals and even the sets themselves are the result of cutting-edge visual effects work. In fact, the only practical performance in the film comes from 10-year-old actor Neel Sethi in his very first big screen role.

“We looked at 2,000 kids and he was number 2,000,” says director Jon Favreau.

Favreau recently joined The Jungle Book movie’s visual effects supervisor (and two-time Academy Award winner) Rob Legato, for a special behind-the-scenes look at the April 15 release, hosted at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. The theater itself is one of the venues at which fans will be able to see The Jungle Book movie in Dolby Vision, a brand-new laser projection system designed in part to combat the dimming effect of 3D.

“The picture is really bright,” says Favreau of the format. “Once you see it, it’s hard to look at a regular projection system ever again, especially in 3D… For this film, it was interesting to see this level of contrast and dynamic range. We’re dealing with, essentially, a computer-generated image that has a lot of information and latitude.”

“We’re creating a full, photo-real world that we can recognize as real,” adds Legato, whose credits include films like Titanic and Apollo 13, “We’ve all seen the jungle. We’ve all seen pictures of animals. We see how they move. We see how they walk and talk and we can tell if it’s artificial or not.”

The visual effects of The Jungle Book movie have been handled primarily by a VFX house called MPC, whose talented artists created designs for hundreds of different jungle creatures. Then Weta (who have had a great deal of experience with primates) stepped in to handle a sequence set around King Louie (Christopher Walken).” – Silas Lesnick

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