01 Sep 2017

How to build King Kong - first render and animate 17 million hairs

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Long's fur transitions and gets more distressed through the story much like Kong himself Long's fur transitions and gets more distressed through the story much like Kong himself ILM

We have come a very long way from the days when CG artists would throw their hands up in horror at even the suggestion of fur on a character.

Fur used to one of the great computer graphics no-nos: a substance, alongside grass and water, that was so computationally expensive to render that it tended to be avoided at all costs, even at the script stage. There is a reason why so many kids' TV shows of a certain vintage all depict smooth skinned aliens on small, arid moons...

That this sort of thing is not much of a consideration anymore (at least if you're ILM) is obvious when you look at the effects breakdown below for Skull Island and realise one of the ILM artists working on the project actually goes by the title of Lead Fur Groomer.

kong 2.png

"The director didn't want a typical fur groom, so we knew that the fur would never be clean," says the artist in question, Gaelle Morand. "It required an insane amount of detail. We ended up incorporating a lot of clumping, we also added very large matted sections into our groom. We knew that we needed to dirty it up, so we added leaves, we added twigs, we added mud, and secondary grooms included the injuries sustained by Kong during the film."

The detail is extraordinary. Have a look below.

Andy Stout

Andy has spent over two decades writing about all aspects of the broadcast and film industries for a variety of high-profile industry publications on both sides of the Atlantic. During that time the industry has moved from 4:3 SD to 16:9 SD to HD and now on to 4K HDR. He's getting kind of curious to see where it goes next.

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