I know I’m not alone in mistaking the first The Lion King trailer for a real-life lion doco.
In fact, it wasn’t until the animals began talking that I realised the trailer was indeed The Lion King and those animals were indeed CGI.
After the initial shock subsided, I had to investigate.
Did director John Favreau somehow manage to get a human/animal hybrid to act in the blockbuster flick? Are there animals out there that can actually speak fluent English and I’ve just never noticed? I had so many questions.
Turns out, there was no genetic modification – just a whole lotta manpower behind making The Lion King look so insanely real.
Here’s how they did it:
To create the two-hour-long feature film, John Favreau’s team ventured to Kenya and Nairobi to get a visual of Pride Rock and its surrounding lands in all its glory.
Apparently, three helicopters and six safari Land Cruisers covered 18,000kms of land over a two-week stint.
I’m not saying that they should’ve included me on the trip but I mean, I do have extensive knowledge of the animated Lion King, having seen it 400 times, so if they did happen to ask for my expertise I wouldn’t have said no. Na’mean?
Guess how many species featured in The Lion King? Guessing time is over.
Throughout the entire movie, a staggering 86 species are featured. 86. I didn’t even know there were 86 species on this planet (I did) (maybe) (maybe not) (you’ll never know).
I can’t begin to imagine how much time went into perfecting each of the species shown but all I know is that they had to lug a literal tonne (2,200 pounds) of camera equipment around Africa and I get so very tired just thinking about it.
So from what I can gather from all of this technical jargon, the process went a little something like this: after taking over 240,000 (!!!) photographs, the voice actors got to whack on some futuristic VR and roam around the African countries like they were genuinely there, which I assume would help immensely when getting into character as an animal.
VFX also went into the hyper-realistic CGI too, which I assume means a lot to a fair few of you.
Just a fun side note: if you wanted to turn that footage into a VR experience for the masses, Disney, I would be the first to sign up for it.
THE ATTENTION TO DETAIL
The scene where Scar‘s ear twitches was one of the main factors behind my whole ‘the animals are definitely real’ conspiracy theory.
It just looked so convincing. Who even considered going into that much detail? Give them a raise. Give them the key to the city. Give ’em something.
It gets even more hectic too – the 86 species were all hand-animated and entirely new software tools – as in, never even existed before this movie – were created to make the fur, skin and muscles look almost indistinguishable from that of real animals.
I need to lie down, it’s all a bit tew much.
Take a squiz at some BTS footage right ‘ere:
Disney’s The Lion King is in cinemas now.Image: Disney