Visual Challenges Behind the New Kong


King Kong rises once again in this year's reboot as, Kong: Skull Island.  From his first debut in Willis O'Brien's 1933 version of the monster, King Kong has come a long way in his look development as well as showing more of his character. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and lead VFX house, Industrial Light and Magic, had many challenges to face in recreating this new Kong.

As a central character, it was important for Kong to show some of his personality yet difficult to show because he could not talk.

Lead VFX supervisor of ILM, Jeff White, explains that facial animation, in particular the eye animation, was key in achieving this. To fully bring out the Kong's character, motion-capture sessions with actor Terry Notary and facial capture work with Toby Kebbell were utilized to bring the giant ape to life.

With the new 100-foot tall character, a lot of attention had to go into simulating Kong's fur and his interaction with the environment. ILM estimated about 19 million hairs would be covering Kong's body and took a team of artist a year to make the curls change direction along with everything that would make it feel natural and organic. This lead their hair development team to push beyond what was shown on Warcraft and The Revenant. In addition to this improvement, ILM developed a new technology that allowed them to create small ecosystems such as leaves, sticks, mud and a swarm of flies around Kong's body.

As for the environment, CG water posed another problem as Kong's size would make a big impact against it. A lot of research was put to work as White explains "Even if we slowed Kong down to account for his scale, his hand or foot would still be hitting the water at 40-50 mph." Multiple simulations were taken and how Kong's hair would look from dry to wet.