‘Pacific Rim’ revolutionizes CGI

Photo by Sam Greenhalgh, via flickr

Francisco Rivero/Sports Director

When you think of Computer-Generated Imagery, or CGI, you may think of the epic, earth-shattering battles of Michael Bay’s “Transformers” films or maybe even the mystical universe of James Cameron’s “Avatar.”

At least that was until Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” hit theaters on July 12.

Deviating from his works of dark fantasy, del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” reveals a whole new realm of possibilities when it comes to the use of CGI. Every childhood dream comes to life when 30-stories-tall manned robots, known as Jaegers, go toe to toe with Godzilla-esque creatures from another world, known as Kaiju.

The film cost $190 million to produce, according to boxofficemojo.com, which is not surprising, given the fact that most of the film deals with Titan-like battles between the Jaegers and Kaiju. Far from the rough and bulgy stature of the “Transformers,” the Jaegers are much more crisp and sharp in their design. Add the rough and muscular tone of the Kaiju to the mix and you can begin to see the complexity behind the CGI art of this film.

The two giant figures weren’t the only part of the film that was enhanced by CGI. The surrounding environment and climate were also created using CGI, giving the movie an extra push into the world of mystery and drama.

“What I wanted to do was to make gothic tech,” del Toro said to the Los Angeles Times. “What we went for is a very, very romantic look. I wanted to have a lot of crazy rain, wind, all the drama of an Emily Bronte movie in a high-tech movie.”

Also playing into the CGI factor were the weapons involved during the fight scenes of the movie. As opposed to using guns or swords like in any normal action thriller, del Toro wanted to go above and beyond that by using objects in the environment as weapons.

“The monsters are more powerful than I’ve ever designed,” del Toro said to the LA Times. “We use cars and buildings as you would use walls in a bar fight or glasses and tables in a bar fight.”

Such complexity, in terms of the visual effects, was only heightened when it came to the demands and work necessary to post-convert the grand visuals to 3D. So, just imagine everything that was generated by the power of CGI all having to be converted into 3D: the Jaegers, the Kaiju, the climate and the surrounding buildings and environment.

“Normally in a movie of this size, you’ll get one spaceship, one or two aliens,” del Toro said to the LA Times. “The challenge with this movie was to create all those robots, all the technical stuff we needed for them, all these kaijus and the depths of the ocean. The complexity of the movie was huge.”

As of July 23, according to boxofficemojo.com, the film has made over $72 million in the U.S., while additionally earning over $110 million in the international box office. In total, “Pacific Rim” has gathered over $183 million since its release.

To say that the film was a complete success is yet to be determined, and with del Toro and fellow screenwriter Travis Beacham already in development of a sequel, one would have to think that we haven’t seen the last of the Jaegers and Kaijus.




1. “Pacific Rim,” via Box Office Mojo

2. “‘Pacific Rim’: Guillermo del Toro crafts ‘gothic tech’ for kaiju saga,” via Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Francisco Rivero
: FIU Student Media Sports Director, Co-Host of Panther Sports Talk Live, Sports and Opinion writer, Communications major.

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