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arts / rec.arts.sf.movies / [Los Angeles Times] How VFX updates take Godzilla back to its nuclear roots

o [Los Angeles Times] How VFX updates take Godzilla back to its nuclear rootskyonshi

[Los Angeles Times] How VFX updates take Godzilla back to its nuclear roots


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From: (kyonshi)
Subject: [Los Angeles Times] How VFX updates take Godzilla back to its nuclear
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2024 11:39:59 +0100
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 by: kyonshi - Sat, 10 Feb 2024 10:39 UTC

How VFX updates take Godzilla back to its nuclear roots

By Bob Strauss
Feb. 6, 2024 4:30 AM PT

“Godzilla: Minus One’s” Takashi Yamazaki is the first feature director
to be nominated for a visual effects Academy Award since Stanley Kubrick
in 1969. That was for the medium-changing “2001: A Space Odyssey,”
something the 59-year-old Japanese filmmaker is abashedly aware of.

“Thank you so much for even mentioning it,” a blushing Yamazaki says
through an interpreter on a Zoom interview from his single-floor Tokyo
CG studio, where a 35-person crew made Japan’s 70-year-old king of kaiju
monsters look better than ever. “I don’t think I can really process that
right now. I definitely can’t get carried away!”

Yamazaki definitely has a knack for self-control. “Minus One’s” rich,
gorgeous visual effects, seen in two-thirds of the unusually emotional,
38th Godzilla movie, cost between a quarter and a third of the film’s
bargain-basement budget (less than $15 million). There were no limits to
his formal ambitions, though. Set primarily two years after World War II
in devastated Tokyo and the nearby Pacific, “Minus One” indulges lavish
recreations of 1940s cityscapes in various stages of repair (which are
again, of course, soon demolished), spectacles at and under the sea of
the giant, radioactive lizard battling flotillas of warships, and the
most persuasively beastial Godzilla ever filmed.

“We wanted to make Godzilla very, very cool for this film,” says
Yamazaki, who after much trial and error utilized aesthetics his team
employed for the “Godzilla: The Ride” attraction at Japan’s Seibuen
Amusement Park. “The head is on the smaller side, the legs are very
thick. When the feet are stomping on the ground, you can almost see the
toes being raised, like a wild animal’s. And we wanted impact for the
audience, so there’s an intense level of getting up close, personal and
detailed, that you can’t really do with a man in a suit.”

Yamazaki refers to Toho Studios’ original method of filming Godzilla
rampages in 1954. But his movie’s creaturific particulars surpass those
of Legendary Entertainment’s nine-figure Monsterverse adaptations as well.

“In terms of polygon counts, we’re talking millions that went into
creating Godzilla this time,” says Yamazaki, who did initial drawings
and sculpture software models that were then refined by artist Kosuke
Taguchi with optimized computer graphics data. “In terms of the skin
texture, there was a dinosaur origin, but when it’s wounded, a
regeneration happens and there’s a different texture, like you would see
on any wound. We wanted a mix, brought in new layers that would make the
look very unique.”

Also distinctive is how the monster’s super-spikey dorsal fins realign
and emit blue radiation light as he fires up his devastating heat ray.

“We wanted to go back to the original reason for Godzilla’s existence,”
Yamazaki explains. “The creature is a metaphor for nuclear weapons, so
we mimicked the way a weapon would work inside of his body. Each element
would come together and create an implosion, and that’s when the blue
rays would come out.”

Since Godzilla grew out of Japan’s atomic bombing trauma, his
destruction of Tokyo’s Ginza district and assorted ships culminate in
terrible — but gorgeous — mushroom clouds. Trouble was, the look
Yamazaki craved was too big to simulate in CG. An old-fashioned
technique saved the day for the otherwise computer-generated spectacle.

“We had a matte artist who did 2-D that had a little bit of movement,”
the director says. “Once we found that that switch was actually working,
we were like, ‘Oh, my gosh, we spent so much time with CG that couldn’t
get it, but now we have this really cool trick to get the mushroom
clouds in there!’”

arts / rec.arts.sf.movies / [Los Angeles Times] How VFX updates take Godzilla back to its nuclear roots


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