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Darren Aronofsky talks the complexity of effects and using CGI animals in Noah

10.09.2013

Director Darren Aronofsky is deep into editing on his upcoming film, NOAH, the biblical epic starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Kevin Durand, Douglas Booth, and Anthony Hopkins. Speaking to DGA Quarterly, Aronofsky opened up about how he's tackling such a large-scale film, giving details about the challenges of shooting with effects in mind, the "tweaking" of the animals, having the most complex shot in ILM history, and the decision not to use real animals. Check out the highlights below.

Aronofsky on the major effects in NOAH:

"There are fantastical creatures, fantastical events. There’s a huge deluge. What you’re photographing is often not the thing that will appear on screen—that’s the underpinning. There will be a huge amount of visual architecture placed on top of that, and that sort of makes it a different job. Sometimes only the actor’s face will be in the final image.”

Aronofsky on the "look" of the animals in the film:

“All the animals in the movie are slightly tweaked; I didn’t want the clichéd polar bear, elephant, and lion walking onto the Ark; I didn’t want the shot of a giraffe’s head looking over the rail. I wanted to respect the storyline and think what would have been involved if it all really happened.

We basically went through the animal kingdom and pinpointed the body types we wanted: some pachyderms, some rodents, reptiles, and the bird kingdom. We chose the species and they were brought to life with different furs and colors. We didn’t want anything fully recognizable but not completely absurd either.”

Aronofsky on having the most complicated rendering in ILM’s history involving the animals on the Ark:

“It was a nice badge of honor. I don’t think it’s the most incredible shot, but I think because of all the hair on the animals it was incredibly complicated for them. They said, ‘We can only render it two or three more times so make sure those are exactly right because they take so long and are so complex.’”

Aronofsky on the decision to not use real animals:

“I think we’ve learned from people who have done it before that that’s a really bad move. Politically it’s not a great thing to work with live animals and that’s becoming more apparent to people as time goes by, but also, technically, it would have been extremely difficult. And we’ve learned from lots of other films how hard it is to bring different kinds of animals together.”

I'm excited for NOAH, especially with Aronofsky at the helm. With a stellar cast and a cool take on an old tale, I think it will be a tremendous film. Aronofsky has proven time and again that he is a talent to be reckoned with and I look forward to seeing how he handles an epic of this size. It sounds, as usual, that he's taken great care and pains to ensure that the film is something original and one that carries his personal vision to the big screen.

NOAH sets sail on March 28, 2014.

Extra Tidbit: I still would've loved to have seen Aronofsky's The Wolverine...sigh...

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