WRITTEN BY HUA JIAHUI
Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Jungle Book” (2016) grossed 955.5 million US dollars during its cinematic run, making it one of the highest-grossing films of 2016. One element that drove audiences to theatres is its amazing visuals, which are made with digital imaging technologies.
In this film, except the protagonist – a little boy, other things like beautiful jungle and all of its animals are created with computer-generated imaging (CGI) technologies after shooting ended. As Michael Allen mentions, “digital imaging technologies and techniques are striving to replicate what already exist: the photographic representation of reality.” (Allen, M., 2002, p825) In another words, in this animation film, the CGI serves to make a plausible world seem real.
Digital methods have given filmmakers a new set of tools to manipulate images. However, as Stephen Prince states, “Visual effects always have been a seduction of reality, more so today than ever before.” (Prince, S., 2012, p9) Therefore, according to “The Jungle Book”, the filmmakers make the bear, tiger, snack, wolves and other animals to be as naturalistic as possible, even their facial expressions and details, like tears and sweats. It was the subtlety and all refinements to the animation that allowed us to make those creatures look like real animals and not like movie monsters.
Moreover, it is easy to make a combination of the little boy and CGI animals. However it might be unbelievable a decade ago. According to Allen’s argument in his article that “The problem of combining CGI with real objects within the same shot was sufficiently difficult, technically, to result in a separation of the two, resulting in an alternation between CGI image and non-CGI image.” (Allen, M., 2002, p828) Therefore, this animation film also shows the CGI animals and the human actor in the same shot.
To sum up, digital tools enhance the perceptual realism of effects sequences. Thus, they help some objectives in this animation look so convincing that many filmmakers are hailing it and regarding it as some of the best visual effects of all time.
Allen, M. (2002). “The Impact of Digital Technologies on Film Aesthetics,” In: Braudy, L. & Cohen, M. (Ed.). Film Theory & Criticism. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. P825&828
Prince, S. (2012). Digital Visual Effects in Cinema: the seduction of reality. New Brunswick & N.J. : Rutgers University Press.