When Life of Pi wins the Best VFX Oscar next month, they should bring the animal consultants, researchers, and whoever else contributed to creating such textured behaviors, onto the stage with them. Besides the detail and design of the animals, the reactions and personality attributes are alarmingly spot-on. Watching the video below, I realized that not only has CGI evolved but working carefully to create realistically portrayals of animals is still very rare. Most times animals do not what they would actually do but what the writer/director thinks best serves the story. Life of Pi is a convincing film primarily because it avoids cheap emotion or sentimentality and because of how perfectly realized the animals are while inside an otherwise fantastical world.
Here’s another great video essay from Press Play. Here, creator Kevin Lee walks us through the almost 20 year history of CGI animals, from Babe’s primitive mouth movements to the extraordinary achievement of Life of Pi. Enjoy.