ILM Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll Discusses "Pirates of the Caribbean

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What?s in Store for Pirates of the Caribbean 3: ?Well, there?s a lot of things we didn?t do in Pirates 2 that we?re going to take care of in Pirates 3," said Knoll. "Pirates 2 was primarily a character-oriented picture with Davy Jones?s crew and all the interplay with Jack. There?s not a lot of ship-to-ship battle action in 2 and we?re going to take care of that in 3.?
What sort of new creatures will be part of Pirates of the Caribbean 3?

Knoll responded, ?I think I can?t say too much specific about what we?re doing in 3 other than the same imagination that went into coming up with new elements for 2 ? all those imaginations are all still present. We?ve got good ideas, new fresh things for 3."

Knoll confirmed one creature that?s definitely not a part of Pirates 3. Knoll says we won't see any mermaids playing around in 3. Asked why not, Knoll replied, ?You?ve got to talk to the writers about that. I just respond to what I see written in the script. [Maybe they?re] saving something for the next chapter??

The Process of Bringing Davy Jones to Life in Pirates 3: ?We don?t have all of the figuring-it-out process to do any more. Since the character?s built, it?s painted, both developments have been done and we?ve worked out all the techniques for making him look good in the shots now. While the shop production actually - the animating him, the lighting him, to really make him sit well in the film - is a time-consuming process that takes a lot of skill, all of the development portion of it is already done.

We can just jump right into the scenes and be productive immediately, so I expect them to go smoothly this time.?

Is there a way to improve Davy Jones? ?I thought he was pretty good. Again, things like animating his beard were an evolutionary process. We were still figuring it out during the first round of shots. The first sequence we did was the dice game. And the first round of shots in the dice game was when we really figured out how the tentacles should move and how they should behave. We gradually got better and better at doing that, and the software continued to evolve. We?re getting better and better results as we?re continuing the sequences. We?ll be going into 3 with already the tools fairly well defined.?

Davy Jones? Crew Returns for Pirates 3: ?There were 18 characters in Davy?s crew and some of them were featured closely and some of them in the background. And as we were working on 2, Gore [Verbinski] started to like some of the things we were doing with the background characters. We may shuffle it around a little bit so that some of the guys that weren?t really featured in 2 will get some close-ups in 3. They?ll get some little bits of action.?

Creating Creatures That May Scare Kids: Did Knoll ever find himself creating creatures that might frighten Pirates? younger audience members? ?Well, that?s Gore?s call,? explained Knoll. ?He?s really the owner of the tone there and how far you go with it. There was a lot of discussion about this [scene in Pirates 2] - the Turkish prison at the beginning. There?s a moment when a raven plucks out a prisoner?s eyeball and he was getting a little nervous about that, what the MPAA was going to think about that. We actually did two versions of the shot. In one version we had a lot more raven flapping wings in the foreground that obscured it as a backup, in case they objected.?

The Challenge of Creating the Kraken: ?The two Kraken scenes are big, elaborate scenes. The tentacles are seen in broad daylight and in wide views and close views, and to make him look good consistently is certainly a challenge. I?m a strong believer in having all of your interactive elements on set, or as many as you can. All of the splashes that the tentacles were making, the smashed wood splinters, the smoke, all those things, we wanted to have those present on set. I think it?s important to do that because it does very much affect the photography. When there?s smoke on set it acts as a bounce card that fills in the shadow side of objects and you can see it reflective in shiny wet decks, that kind of thing. I think you get the best result when you do shoot with all those elements present on set. The downside of that is you?ve created a very difficult compositing situation where this tentacle needs to be behind this splash and behind that piece of smoke but in front of this piece. Layering all that in a believable way is really difficult.?

Page 2:Going with Completely CGI Characters and Difficult Tasks
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