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Monster Hunter” director Paul W.S Anderson calls VFX head Dennis Berardi “an invaluable creative partner.” The two have collaborated on movies dating back to “Resident Evil.”

This time, Berardi serves as a producer on the big-screen adaptation of the Capcom video game. “There are 1400 visual effects shots in this movie, so Dennis is a key part of the movie, and I rely on him creatively,” Anderson says.

“Monster Hunter,” out now, brings fan-favorite monsters Nerscylla, Rathalos and Diablos to the big screen.

Anderson and Berardi broke down the process of creating monsters and how they used visual effects to show the scale of the beasts.

CHOOSING THEIR BEASTS

Anderson: It was a three-pronged approach to choosing the monsters. Firstly, we went with fan favorites, and we worked closely with Capcom and the creators of the game to hone in on what the fans wanted to see.

Rathalos was an easy pick because he was the poster boy of the video game, and you couldn’t make a “Monster Hunter” movie without him.

I chose my personal favorite, Nerscylla, who is this unpleasant creature and accesses a lot of fears that we have on this primal level.

The rest of it was chosen with an eye to weaknesses and strengths and how a fight scene would evolve with them. There are five action scenes and you have to be careful against what you’re doing so as not to repeat everything.

CREATING THE BEAST

Berardi: The challenge was to make it feel immersive and cinematic. We decided early on that the creatures should be based in real world physics. We had the actors in real locations and landscapes.

From my perspective, we just wanted to make sure that creatures felt cinematic. We wanted to level up the experience from the video game. This is a director’s curated take on a video game experience, but we also had to create and design from the audience’s perspective and what they were seeing.

We looked at anatomical correctness. We built the creatures from the skeleton out. We added anatomically correct muscle systems. We did motion studies, where we played with the weighting of the animation processes. We looked at inertial studies of big creatures such as elephants and how they run, and when they stop. We had these inertial forces that you had to respect.

We obeyed the law of physics and by doing that, it stopped the movie from looking like the video game world. In addition to that, we were also working with the original Capcom designs, looking at their 3D models and looking at size, because some of these monsters were huge – 50 feet across.

CREATING THE LANDSCAPES

Berardi: We wanted to have a real texture and physical sense to it. Between Paul and Edward Thomas, the production designer, they built some great sets.

We decided early on that we wanted to be able to replicate any landscape and replicate any location.

We had a data surveying team. It was the largest data surveying team I’ve ever had on a movie. We LIDAR scanned everything, we had drones up in here and we were scanning the landscapes. We needed to capture that data so Paul could recreate any angle at any time.

What you get is this beautiful hybrid of real-world photography and visual effects that are integrated into the real world photography as opposed to the other way around where you have a synthetic set.