In the brand new adventure Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the tables are turned as four teenagers in detention are sucked into the world of Jumanji. When they discover an old video game console with a game they’ve never heard of, they are immediately thrust into the game’s jungle setting, into the bodies of their avatars, played by Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji – Jumanjiplays you. They’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, or they’ll be stuck in the game forever…
Led by MPC VFX Supervisor Bob Winter, who worked closely with director Jake Kasden and overall VFX Supervisor Jerome Chen, MPC’s VFX team completed 160 shots for Jumanji.
The team’s work involved creating jungle animals including jaguars, an elephant, black mamba snakes, and a swarm of insects and varmints; digital doubles for Spencer (Johnson), Martha (Gillan) and Fridge (Hart); and CG environments for the film’s thrilling finale.
MPC’s brief was to make the jungle creatures look realistic, and although the team had a great deal of experience creating photo-real creatures, each animal had its own challenges. The most significant challenge was how to rig and animate a den of more than one thousand black mamba.
MPC VFX Supervisor Bob Winter said: “We knew we couldn’t keyframe animate that many snakes, and our crowd tools weren’t created for the unique challenges of dealing with entangled creatures with a snake’s anatomy.”
The team’s solution was to divide the den into smaller groups they called “pods.” MPC’s animators were then able to use keyframe animation to create the complex motion and interaction of the snakes within each pod, which was then fed that into a crowd system to add variation and higher-level swarm behavior.
For the jaguars, on-set stuntmen dressed in black interacted with the actors by jumping on them and knocking them over. They also used stuffed big cat plushes to give the actors the right eye line. Using reference photography of jaguars, MPC’s team then crafted the cats from bone to whisker, and replaced the stuntmen.
For a scene where Fridge rides in on an elephant, MPC were given plate shots of actor Kevin Hart riding a specially rigged all-terrain vehicle. The vehicle was then removed in post and MPC’s team added their full CG elephant, which was created based on reference photography and video of African elephants.
In the film’s final act, Spencer rides a dirt bike up a huge 200 ft. jaguar statue in the jungle. To create this scene, the head of the statue was built practically for Dwayne Johnson to climb, with a greenscreen background. MPC were given a lidar scan of the head and then built the rest of the statue and background environments in CG. In the final movie, the motorcylist riding up the statue is real, however the environment is full CG. The rider was shot riding up a steep terrain in California, and then rotoscoped and added to the rocky statue environment built by MPC.
In addition to the animal and environment work, MPC’s FX team created the Jumanji curse effects shown at the beginning and end of the movie. This included transitioning Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) from a human to a swarm of insects and vermin, and the green energy effects surrounds the Jewel.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is in theaters nationwide through Sony Pictures. More about MPC Film and its projects at moving-picture.com/film.