A Breakdown of How the Jaegers and Kaiju Were Digitally Constructed for Pacific Rim Uprising

Aaron Gilman, DNEG Animation supervisor for Pacific Rim Uprising, takes us behind the scenes of the animation work on the Jaegers and Kaiju. It’s always extraordinary to see how artists put together very unrealistically animated films, especially when there are 240-foot Jaeger monsters and their 300-foot rivals that partake in massive city destruction. In a Behind the VFX clip, Gilman explains a step-by-step description of the animation process, emphasizing the importance of finding the perfect Motion Capture actors as a key starting point.

Pacific Rim Uprising was fascinating to watch due to its impeccable animation style. There was a subtle balance of physically realistic and stylistically fantastic animation that made each and every battle scene invigorating. How was all this possible? Well, Gilman indicates that the very first step in the animation process requires awareness across the entire company, which means taking a lot of time compiling a fluent and detailed style guide for each and every character.

Animation production is far from easy and requires much time and patience. Although the first Pacific Rim film provided massive inspiration in terms of the stylistic features, there were many changes in the second film, such as speeding up the characters movements. This can be quite difficult, Gilman says, trying to find the perfect speed that the studios, directors, and animation teams all agree on.

The most fascinating animation scene in the film, and Gilman’s favorite, is the Mega Kaiju transformation. This scene is incredibly massive and technical on so many levels that it was challenging to find a way to approach it in order to capture form, shape, and abstraction. This is where lighting was a major help, helping them really execute the scene perfectly. Something seeming so simple like lighting can really make or break an image in the movie world.

Lastly, Gilman highlights the significance of acquiring the perfect team of MoCap actors. Although we do not see their actual faces on the camera, their talents are even more important than typical movie actors. They must fulfill the physical capabilities of the characters, having incredible fighting skills, and a broad range of different styles, from boxing to martial arts. These actors are as talented as massive robotic Jaegers. In creating the fighting scenes, they essentially act out every single motion we see on the characters in the film.

Featured Image: Jaeger mech “Bracer Phoenix” in “Pacific Rim Uprising.” The globe-spanning conflict between otherworldly monsters of mass destruction and the human-piloted super-machines built to vanquish them was only a prelude to the all-out assault on humanity.