Pacific Rim Kaijus VS Godzilla – The VFX Face-off.


STRANGE BEASTS (KAIJU) started reappearing cinematic screens last year with PACIFIC RIM. In 2014 GODZILLA carried the legacy forward.

SOUL-PURPOSE is to understand the ART behind “Concept Creation”, Modeling & animating based on that Concept. How these illustrious Visual Effects Studios like MPC AND ILM approach to Character development and the film itself.

Let us compare the KAIJUS of Pacific RimVs GODZILLA (most popular KAIJU also known in its Japanese context as “GOJIRA)

Pacific Rim(2013) Directed by – Guillermo Del Toro having sound understanding and strong interest in Visual Effects Industry.

Historic but deadly!
Historic but deadly!

Godzilla (2014) Directed by – Gareth Edwards Visual Effects Artist Turned Hollywood director.

Your Friendly Reptilian Neighborhood
Your Friendly Reptilian Neighborhood

KAIJUS (pacific rim) were created by collaboration of ideas between Guillermo Dell Toro and his VFX Team at ILM with Supervisor John Knoll and Lindy DeQuattro. The director wanted to venerate the classic KAIJU movies from 1950s-60s.

Godzilla was actualized by keeping the Toho Company movies base model Gojira in mind, they are the Japanese TV and movie industry giants, who have been making several Godzilla movies previously. The director wanted Godzilla to be severely gigantic but to be able to convey emotions as well. VFX supervisor Jim Rygiel- John Dykstra and MPC VFX Supervisor Guillaume Rocheron helped Gareth Edwards to achieve his vision.

There were 9 types of KAIJU monsters shown in Pacific Rim classified categorically with Category 1 being weakest and Category 5 being most dangerous. Popular Kaijus amongst the fans were Knife head, Otachi and Slattern, who was a category 5.

Bad-Assery Defined!
Bad-Assery Defined!
Yo! Gypsey Danger, I am gonna rip you apart.
Yo! Gypsey Danger, I am gonna rip you apart.
One of the most popular Kaijus!
One of the most popular Kaijus!

In Godzilla 2 type of monsters were depicted, the great Godzilla and the MUTOs: Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism, the MUTOs were capable of flying.

Animation Technicalities

Animaters creating Kaijus referenced animals like sharks and gorillas to get an idea for synthesizing their body language.

Whereas VFX team creating Godzilla mimicked body language from Reptiles and Bears.

In Pacific Rimall Kaijus had different references for looks like crabs, gorillas, bats , dinosaurs etc. One of them had Electric charge attacks, spitting blue colored toxic fluid, hidden wings or appendages. Each Kaiju had its own set of special powers.

Godzilla reveals its special power in the late half of the movie by flurrying out radioactive blasts pulverizing its preys.

Kaijus in Pacific Rim had many fighting moves few of them used biped posture while fighting, deploying punches, breaking arms of giant robos (the Jaegers), the Slattern used its tail for attack. VFX team had to figure out the right balance between Speed of animation and sense of weight they wanted to give these creatures. Slowing down the speed reinforces the sense that the creature is very heavy and thus very huge. But at the same time turning the speed down also affected different fluid simulations used in the scenes during fight sequences in sea.

Godzilla had more animal like fighting moves. And Gareth and his team did a fabulous job handling the scale and weight of Godzilla as well as for the MUTOs. They really gave the sense of humongous size and weight in every aspect they appeared on the screen.

Who's the daddy?
Who’s the daddy?


Extensive flesh simulation were used for Kaijus and Godzilla with experts dealing with anatomy, handling different creature animation rigs and each of them were animated manually using Key frame animation. Both VFX teams for respective models kept musculoskeletal relationships in mind while working on shapes to give the feel of realistic muscle movement under the skin.

So, what did we learned with this behind the scene knowledge?

1. Every aspiring Visual Effects Artist or student while designing CREATURES for your projects or just for learning should get some REFERENCE from REAL WORLD examples.

2. Try to figure out the personality you intend to give the creature. How it should move, behave, roar and work on other such basic but minute specifics of the body language. Now, if you have a creature in mind that’s going to be funny and jittery, we can take a cue from chipmunks or monkey who have basic nature of being jumpy, fast and hilarious in their own rights. Similarly if the target is to generate a hostile, heavy and deadly monster, we can map the moves of tiger, gorilla or hippo.

3. Try learning Musculo-skeletal system of your reference animal before going to model your creature. This will help in giving the reality to the movements of the creature during close shots and the overall anatomy along with physics will be enhanced.

4. Keep your creature more VISUALY COMPREHANDABLE; this will help the audience to register its movements both while moving or during high speed fighting sequences.

5. If you want your audience to feel that the creature is huge in scale, SLOW down its movements so that it adds WEIGHT to the creature but keep in mind the environmental interaction because more heavy the creature is, its movement will cause damage in a certain way to the objects around it. This has to be pin pointed with acute accuracy or else we will jeopardize the sensation of illusion. You can get away with high speed movement closer to camera but if you are planning extreme wide shot with huge monster as your creature you better work on different speed modulations to achieve the desired outcome.

OK, Who actually WON THE BATTLE?

If we look at this faceoff from the angle of complexity, we can definitely conclude that Kaijus required much more efforts compared to Godzilla, but when observing the  end audience experience impact, Godzilla will be a sure shot winner and this also gets reflected in the Box-office collections. Godzilla’s presence was much more palpable as it successfully rejuvenated the sense of  “Visual Clarity”. If you would ask me, Kaijus physical features were overshadowed by the bad lighting during the fight sequences. However, Del Toro has already announced a sequel to the Pacific Rim, and knowing his caliber of direction, we can expect something good that would get some heads rolled. But in this face off our good old friendly Reptile Godzilla has won it.

Do comment below and let us know who is your favorite Monster of all time? Who won this battle in your perspective?  We will be back soon, with more interesting reads.