We bring Dead Men to life for the latest Pirates of the Caribbean
MPC’s team lead by VFX Supervisors Sheldon Stopsack and Patrick Ledda worked with directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg and Production VFX Supervisor Gary Brozenich to craft effects including epic ship battles, Captain Salazar and his motley crew of sailors, the ghost sharks and various environments. The complexity and variety of work was an exciting challenge for the team, requiring MPC’s RnD team to create new tools for water, cloth and hair simulations. The work was completed by MPC artists’ across the globe in London, Montreal and Bangalore, delivering 1200 shots for the movie. It was a colossal team effort that took more than 2 years and involved more than 700 artists and production crew.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has some of the most epic and ambitious sea battles yet. Principle photography took place in a dry dock on the Gold Coast of Australia, where a giant blue screen stood in for the ocean. Although some impressive moving boat sets were built, many of the ships needed to be replaced or extended including 5 major hero boats. MPC’s team built and rendered these ships in great detail with full rigging and sails, to match the onset photography. The story also required that these ships could be damaged, so the CG models had to work with MPC’s physics based destruction tool KALI. The ships sail on an almost entirely digital ocean so not only did the boats need to interact with a huge volume of CG water, but the ocean in the denouement of the film needed to part and form a giant watery chasm. MPC have huge experience creating complex water simulations but Joachim and Espen were very particular in the look required for this movie. The team spent close to a year perfecting the look of the walls of the chasm and how they moved, crested and interacted with ships. MPC rendered more water than it had attempted on any other movie, and that water had to work in all its forms; ocean surfaces, huge interactive splashes, dripping galleons, cresting waves and a magical abyss.
MPC also created the majority of the ghostly crew that Captain Salazar leads as well as the Ghostly form of Salazar himself. The idea behind the ghosts was that they are preserved in the exact form that they died in, when their ship exploded in the Devil’s Triangle. Salazar has a giant hole in his head and other pirates are in similarly maimed states. In addition their hair and clothes were meant to appear as if underwater. Some of these characters were entirely digital throughout the movie, while for the more hero characters; actors were filmed with tight fitting costumes and close cropped hair. MPC closely roto-animated the actors and created digital doubles of each, with maimed parts and resimmed hair and clothes. Salazar has thousands of hairs that needed to collide, interact and be directable. MPC’s RnD team developed tools that allowed the animators to have control over the performance of the hair, whilst at the same time running physics simulations to keep it feeling natural. The second challenge was to augment the practical make up and extend it to include a giant hole on the left side of Salazaar’s head. His eyes were also given a ghostly texture and pattern. .
Finally there were several island environments that required extensive matte painting and 3D environment work as well as the creation of the Devil's Triangle, a rocky environment in the middle of the ocean where the pirates are trapped because of a magical spell. As the spell is broken, the entire landscape collapses into the ocean, which required complex rigid body and fluid simulations.
MPC also worked on the Ghost Sharks, Ghost Birds and character digital doubles.
Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg
Walt Disney Pictures