The Art of VFX has an excellent, detailed interview of Alex Pejic and Kevin Spruce, VFXers who are responsible for the work in Legend of Tarzan.
How did you and Framestore get involved with this show?
Alex Pejic // Framestore became involved around 2 years ago; we are always looking for opportunities to be part of the creative process at the very beginning of a project, before all the questions have already been answered. This was a great chance to be reunited with David Yates and Tim Burke, who we previously worked with on the last HARRY POTTER films, producing creature animation and large environments for those films.
How was your collaboration with director David Yates and VFX Supervisor Tim Burke?
Alex Pejic // If you work in VFX in London then at some point in your career, in some way, you have worked with David and Tim! It’s a very rewarding process; collaboration from every side with one single aim to make the best pictures we possible can. During the shoot there were several occasions where we met with David and Tim to discuss animation requirements. After the shoot was done we mainly dealt with Tim during the post production process.
What was their approach to the visual effects?
Alex Pejic // From the very beginning, the main focus was around the animated apes; the Manganis. The design was already in place when they approached us, and there was a photoreal sculpture of a fully groomed Akut that we used as reference. The decision to hand-animate the Mangani, and steer away from motion capture, was taken early on. It was a bold decision, but really the only one that would work for what the client wanted out of ape’s performances.
In my view, it was about what the visual effects can do to emphasize and support the narrative rather than seeing the visual effects as a tool just make the impossible, possible.
What are the sequences worked on by Framestore?
Alex Pejic // Framestore worked on over 700 shots. These include:
1) All Mangani / young Tarzan flashback sequences
2) Akut and Tarzan fight
3) Flashback Kulonga
4) Mountain path
5) Train ambush (We shared shots with Rising Sun Pictures. Our work here was characters only)
6) Jane rom
7) Meeting elephants
8) Mangani Jane
9) Tarzan’s charge
10) Wildbeast stampedo (we shared shots with MPC. Framestore worked on the creatures, digi double Tarzan and Jane)
What was your approach about the Mangani characters?
Kevin Spruce // Mangani are fictitious characters from the book, so we had license to be imaginative with the design. We saw them as a blend of the great apes and humans with a large helping of gorilla thrown in. Gorillas are incredibly majestic, powerful and graceful so we attempted to realise these attributes in our Mangani.