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Visual Effects
"The complexity of shots in visual effects is often based on the number of elements involved in the composite or in the visual effects shot

"The complexity of shots in visual effects is often based on the number of elements involved in the composite or in the visual effects shot. What we had in this project was a lot of performances dependent on visual effects work. We had the creature and various elements, and they all interacted within the photography. So timing was crucial if the illusion was to be achieved," Clotiaux explains. "In Godzilla, we dealt with a lot more stuff that was in-camera and very critical-the creature, smoke, rain, debris. All those elements were not separate pieces that could be composited together later. They had to interact together just right, at exactly the same moment."

Clotiaux notes that many times, the visual effects shot was completed "without the benefit of our star." In fact, Godzilla was almost the last thing to be added to many sequences because he was the result of several different disciplines. As in Independence Day, the film team employed animatronic models in varying sizes, from a 6th-scale model to a 24th-scale. These mechanized representations, their facial and body movements powered by remote control, were 1/6 and 1/24 the size of the actual creature. The 6th-scale and 24th-scale Godzillas corresponded with proportionally scaled miniature buildings. In fact, it was this miniature cityscape and the choppers that dictated the various scales of the animatronic Godzilla.

"For interaction with the models, we built a 6th-scale head, torso and arms, for close-ups of the creature," Patrick Tatopoulos explains.

The 24th-scale incarnation of the creature was not the lumbering monster of the past, but an agile predator brought to life by trained puppeteers, many of whom had backgrounds in dance or performing and were veterans of such sci-fi films as Alien Resurrection and Mimic. Both the 24th-scale and 6th-scale creatures were used primarily for Godzilla's disastrous physical encounters with the urban landscape.

Even so, Bill Fay notes, the effects team married much more computer work to the classic model effects than expected; indeed, the film ended up featuring almost 400 digital shots.

"Even in those cases that would seem to be a natural for animatronics, we sometimes used CG. There was one scene where Godzilla's chin scoops down and smashes into a roadway. We did part of it in CG because the motion of that swooping down was something we couldn't really get with animatronics. We even added digital rain to the practical rain. We discovered that a combination of the two really works best and gives it a consistent look."

Volker Engel adds that Godzilla features much more computer animation because of the creature's new abilities.

"This Godzilla is a very animal-like, fast-moving, fierce creature. With key frame animation, you're 100% free; we can have the creature really move. To give it that really strange creature-feel in terms of motion, you really have to use key frame. We discovered that in the CG realm, for example, we can go a lot closer to the creature than we'd anticipated and it looks really good... really detailed."

Tatopoulos worked closely with the computer wizards at Centropolis Effects early in the process to exactly establish the creature's movements and to synchronize them with those of the animatronic models.

"At that point, there was nothing in the computer yet, just a scan of the creature based on the


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