In Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back, but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world’s most dangerous game.
For the film’s final showdown, Director Jake Kasdan and Production VFX Supervisor Mark Breakspear enlisted Method Studios to transform basic bluescreen sets into complex environments. Artists then seamlessly integrated actors for a tension-filled climax featuring a snowy fortress, a massive blimp, and a flying horse.
Method Studios VFX Supervisor Glenn Melenhorst was on set during the filming of the sequence in Atlanta. Minimal set pieces were used during the shoot, with Melenhorst and his team building out the fortress and blimp through digital artistry. Using provided concept art as a starting point, Method artists elaborated on initial designs in collaboration with production. It was important that the artists kept the fortress and blimp assets grounded in reality to help immerse the audience in the story. In addition to crafting the detailed environments, Method also added significant dynamic FX to the sequence, which largely takes place in the midst of a snowstorm.
“The fight inside the blimp is a really cool bit of action; the blimp is out of control and ripping apart, with sides flapping, as the characters grapple with each other. We ended up creating nearly everything except the actors in CG and all the pieces came together exactly as we imagined. Everything looks as if it belongs in the scene,” said Melenhorst.
During the battle, new character Ming takes to the sky on a horse that sprouts bat-like wings. Method artists explored different ways to believably depict the motion of the horse’s legs while in flight. To achieve more realistic in-flight riding motion, which was filmed with Ming riding a mechanical buck on bluescreen, Method rebuilt her arms and legs in CG. Artists also crafted the picturesque clouds and light rays surrounding her using extensive FX.
Melenhorst concluded, “We really pushed our internal pipeline forward with this project. The blimp asset alone was thousands of bits and very complicated, but we’ve set ourselves up to be able to scale our resources as needed so that artists can focus on their work and not worry about compressed timelines.”