By Jane Bracher
One of the most popular fun facts from The Lion King thus far has been director Jon Favreau’s revelation that there was one real shot in a film that’s entirely CG. He has since identified which shot that was. But for a film that’s such a huge photorealistic and visual effects feat, there are many more curious, enlightening facts about how Simba, Mufasa, and the entire movie came to be.
Here are 5 fun VFX facts about the making of The Lion King that should paint a clearer picture of the sheer scale of the project and underscore the significance of what MPC Film has achieved as the VFX studio behind the movie.
- The Pride Lands are home to all kinds of different species of animals, with The Lion King ruling them all. For this film, MPC Film built 17 hero characters together with 63 unique species in 365 variations, ranging from Aardvarks to Zebras. On top of that, 9,063 characters and 31,421 crowd agents were animated for this movie.
- If you think your 1TB hard drive of photos is a lot, think again. From a trip to Kenya as part of research for the movie, the crew captured roughly 240,000 photographs, which amounted to 10TB worth of data. There were 7,000 videos shot as well or around 11.7TB of data.
- Animals and critters weren’t the only characters that needed careful attention in this film. Behind the hero animals are hero trees — 41 of them to be exact. They are part of a total of 921 assets for various species of greens in the film. That number includes 25 unique tree species in 238 variations, 49 unique plant species with 494 variations, and 18 unique grass species in 148 variations.
- Great visual effects require painstaking work throughout the whole pipeline. One proof of that is the over 100 billion blades of grass simulated for this film, using an in-house technology called PaX. For a sense of the timescale, it took one week to simulate the environment dynamics in one specific jungle shot in the film.
- As Mufasa wisely said, every creature is part of the Circle of Life, which includes the 676,578 bugs that were simulated for the film. However, Timon and Pumbaa may or may not have eaten them all.
Learn more about MPC Film’s work on The Lion King by visiting Technicolor’s case study page. — thefocus.com