Directed by John Frankenheimer
Visual Effects Supervisor: Kevin Mack
Digital Effects Supervisor: Dennis Blakey

Visual Effects Produced by:


Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando star in this sufficiently bizzare film, directed by John Frankenheimer. The film marks Digital Domain's third major effects film of 1996, and their work is once again solid. Although the number of effects shots was nothing compared to TRUE LIES or INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, the CG animation and digital matte paintings were great.

The CG models of the hyena and the leopard-man, LoMai, looked fantastic. Effects Supervisor Kevin Mack told me the modelling team meticulously created the complex models, employing some techniques used in Mack's HARD project [Human Animation Research and Development]. The animation for the beasts was created through a variety of techniques. Animators studied the movements of a trained Bengal tiger performing moves that the CG LoMai must perform. A quicktime of this process can be downloaded from the DR. MOREAU web site.

An early scene from the film. The sky and airfield were
created by Digital Domain using 2D and 3D elements.

A test render of
of one of the mutant mice.

Midway through the film, David Thewlis stumbles onto a docked boat, which he quickly realizes is inhabited by some of Dr. Moreau's mutant mice. The mice scamper around Thewlis--walking on their two hind legs--in this terrific scene. For this animation, Mack and other performers wore motion capture suits, and performed the rats' actions. The data was massaged and applied to the CG rats. The result was an absolutely chilling sequence.

David Thewlis encounters Digital Domain's CG rats.

A great, old-fashioned technique was used for two sequences for the transformation of real-life actor to photorealistic CG thespian. For both shots, the animal would run toward the camera, and fly out of frame for a brief moment. The camera pans to follow, and as the camera arrives on the subject, he is replaced by the CG model, jumping and running and doing stunts that a human in a suit simply couldn't perform. Mack also told me there were a few digital matte paintings, that featured 3D and 2D digital elements. These shots were nearly invisible within the context of the film, which is an enormous complement to the compositing, which was top-notch throughout every effects shot (around 30 total for the entire film).

Check out Cinefex 68 and American Cinematographer August '96.

Download a behind the scenes Quicktime from the DR. MOREAU web site: quicktime, ~800K

Official Web Site:

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