In episode 15 of “The Flash” Season 5, which first aired on March 5, 2019, Gorilla Grodd attacks Central City, leading Barry and his friends to team up with King Shark to defend the city. The ensuing showdown brings together two supersized, fan favorite characters – a telepathic gorilla and muscle-bound humanoid shark, both full-CG creations.
Encore VFX Supervisor Armen Kevorkian has overseen the show’s visual effects since the pilot and has been anticipating a Grodd and King Shark face-off from the first season.
“After we had done both characters for ‘The Flash’ Season 1, it seemed like a natural progression to have them fight each other in an episode and each season I hoped it would happen. I finally got the call from the producers in November letting me know we were going to do this so I immediately started pouring four years of ideas into storyboards and previs for the fights,” Kevorkian shared.
Kevorkian roughly laid out in previs what would become the episode’s two major fight sequences, drawing from his experience as a director and VFX supervisor to suggest scene settings and choreography that would play well visually and were achievable on the show’s production schedule. Writers then constructed the episode’s narrative to fit the proposed sequences.
“Grodd and King Shark are such imposing characters on their own and bringing them together puts a lot in frame. For the first fight, I really liked the raw visual of the under-construction building interior and the contrast it provided,” Kevorkian explained. “I envisioned the next fight as a dynamic, multi-level sequence that starts on the rooftop and ends on street level to really underscore the power of these characters.”
Both sequences feature a handheld camera feel similar to how a live-action fight would have been shot. While the first fight sequence is entirely CG, which gave artists full control over the characters, environment and camera movement, the second fight was created using plate footage from the environment. Complicating the creation of the rooftop fight, were live-action plates that were filmed on a rainy day, requiring animators to give Grodd and King Shark a wet appearance and integrate CG rain, puddles and splashes for a cohesive final composite.
“When I outlined the scope of work for my team – that we were creating a CG gorilla and giant shark man that were going to fight each other in the rain and deliver in three weeks – they were understandably a little nervous. Thankfully everyone stepped up and pulled off some incredible sequences; I’m very proud of my team and appreciative of their hard work,” said Kevorkian.
Along with the Grodd and King Shark battles, the episode also features the transformation of King Shark from human form, something that had yet to be shown on the series. Encore artists achieved the final look after significant R&D to determine how human skin would give way to the shark texture.