THE FU­TURE OF MOVIE MAGIC IS HERE

Jungle Book di­rec­tor Jon Favreau out-dis­neys Walt Dis­ney.

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - How Your World Works - I NTERVIEW BY DAVID WAL­TERS

POP­U­LAR ME­CHAN­ICS: How much did you know about the tech­nol­ogy avail­able go­ing into re­mak­ing The Jungle Book? Jon Favreau: I've been slowly in­doc­tri­nated into be­ing com­fort­able with vis­ual ef­fects. I've had the cool ex­pe­ri­ence of walk­ing through the his­tory of the sci­ence through the projects I've worked on, from forced per­spec­tive and stop-mo­tion, through early CGI us­ing hard sur­faces and comp­ing and even­tu­ally to CG char­ac­ters. And in this case, fur and wa­ter and ray trac­ing . PM: Some of the tech­nol­ogy you used to make The Jungle Book was de­vel­oped by James Cameron for Avatar. Were you two able to com­pare notes? PM: He came by the set. He knew many of the peo­ple I was work­ing with, and he was very happy to see some­one else tak­ing ad­van­tage of what he had cre­ated. But the thing that was a lit­tle dif­fer­ent on our movie was the level of in­ter­ac­tiv­ity be­tween the dig­i­tal and the prac­ti­cal. Be­cause Neel [Sethi, who plays Mowgli] is in most of the movie, ev­ery shot was in­te­grated, which added a de­gree of dif­fi­culty that they didn't have to con­tend with as much on Avatar. PM: Are you wor­ried that fans of the an­i­mated movie won’t like re­al­is­tic ver­sions of the an­i­mal char­ac­ters? JF: The no­tion was: let's have all flora and fauna be pho­to­real while still main­tain­ing the aes­thetic of the 1967 film. The an­i­mals couldn't be­have in a way that you wouldn't ex­pect of real an­i­mals. Walt Dis­ney had gone through a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence when he was be­tween Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi. He brought in ref­er­ence an­i­mals for the an­i­ma­tors to look at, so you'll see that the be­hav­iour of the an­i­mals in Bambi is a lot dif­fer­ent to in Snow White, where it feels more car­toony. PM: Did you do any mo­tion cap­ture with live an­i­mals? JF: When it came to the ac­tual move­ment, all of that was done key frame by ref­er­ence. Thanks to the In­ter­net, we have ac­cess to mil­lions of hours of footage of the en­tire an­i­mal king­dom. What Walt would have had to do by bring­ing his an­i­ma­tors to the zoo or bring­ing an­i­mals in, we could just look up. There's a scene where the tiger roars. Tigers don't re­ally roar that much – they're not like lions. But it was pow­er­ful, so we looked up ref­er­ences of tigers vo­cal­is­ing and found ver­sions of it that we thought were ac­cept­able. That in­formed the way the an­i­ma­tors put that se­quence to­gether. PM: Were any of your voice ac­tors in­volved in the mo­tion-cap­ture process? JF: It de­pended on the an­i­mal. For a char­ac­ter like Kaa the snake [voiced by Scar­lett Jo­hans­son], mo­tion cap­ture isn't that help­ful. But for Chris Walken's King Louie – a pre­his­toric ape – we did a com­bi­na­tion of mo­tion cap­ture and roto cap­ture to add a vis­ual ex­pe­ri­ence. PM: What was it like di­rect­ing Christo­pher Walken as an ape? JF: It was awe­some! You want some­one who has a recog­nis­able voice, be­cause a lot of the per­for­mance comes through the voice, and he def­i­nitely has that. Ev­ery­one was in­trigued by the process, and you feel that en­thu­si­asm in their per­for­mances. When you in­clude the ac­tors in the tech­ni­cal side of things, it ends up spawn­ing a lot of new ideas.

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