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

Oct. 9, 2013by: Paul Shirey

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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12:06PM on 10/09/2013
LIFE OF PI set the bar extremely high for life-like CGI animals.
LIFE OF PI set the bar extremely high for life-like CGI animals.
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12:09PM on 10/09/2013
My thoughts exactly....
My thoughts exactly....
2:07PM on 10/09/2013

Wait, hold the fuck up

Did he just say that he is going to invent animals?! I don't know how else to read that. He is going to invent animals.
Did he just say that he is going to invent animals?! I don't know how else to read that. He is going to invent animals.
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1:38PM on 10/09/2013

Wow what's up with the downvoters?

Why, because this movie is based on a Biblical story? Whatever, I'm sure Aronofsky is going to change a lot of things to add more drama, conflict, and adventure anyway. It's probably not going to resemble the Bible story much, and that's okay. I'm looking forward to seeing his version of this story, it has a stellar cast so the acting isn't going to be a problem at all. Should be interesting!
Why, because this movie is based on a Biblical story? Whatever, I'm sure Aronofsky is going to change a lot of things to add more drama, conflict, and adventure anyway. It's probably not going to resemble the Bible story much, and that's okay. I'm looking forward to seeing his version of this story, it has a stellar cast so the acting isn't going to be a problem at all. Should be interesting!
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6:05AM on 10/10/2013
I'm looking forward to the bit where God tells Noah to leave the dinosaurs behind because they've sinned.
I'm looking forward to the bit where God tells Noah to leave the dinosaurs behind because they've sinned.
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12:01PM on 10/09/2013
I'm very curious to see how this turns out and am looking forward to it. I hope the animals end up feeling like real living, breathing creatures, and the decision to make them look slightly different from the animals we recognise today could end up really interesting.
I'm very curious to see how this turns out and am looking forward to it. I hope the animals end up feeling like real living, breathing creatures, and the decision to make them look slightly different from the animals we recognise today could end up really interesting.
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12:08PM on 10/09/2013
Excited for this but have NO idea what he means regarding the animals. Does he mean rare species that aren't too well known? Prehistoric species? Very interesting....
Excited for this but have NO idea what he means regarding the animals. Does he mean rare species that aren't too well known? Prehistoric species? Very interesting....
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12:44AM on 10/10/2013

I'm down...

this dude is highly under rated.
this dude is highly under rated.
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8:48PM on 10/09/2013
Interesting idea with the animals, adding evolution to a creationists story.
Interesting idea with the animals, adding evolution to a creationists story.
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10:38PM on 10/09/2013

Not sure you're reading the animal comment correctly...

And by "not sure" I also mean I'm not 100% sure but I think he was just saying he wanted to find rarer types of animals - real animals that do exist - and put them in the film but not the rare crazy (or absurd) looking animals that you only see on some special Discovery/Science channel show. Basically, he wanted the typical "Noah animals image" to be "tweaked" not for real animals to be tweaked into a different non-existent animal...
And by "not sure" I also mean I'm not 100% sure but I think he was just saying he wanted to find rarer types of animals - real animals that do exist - and put them in the film but not the rare crazy (or absurd) looking animals that you only see on some special Discovery/Science channel show. Basically, he wanted the typical "Noah animals image" to be "tweaked" not for real animals to be tweaked into a different non-existent animal...
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1:58PM on 10/09/2013
Russle Crow, maybe. MAYBE. But you couldn't find one lead of middle eastern descent?
Russle Crow, maybe. MAYBE. But you couldn't find one lead of middle eastern descent?
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1:10PM on 10/09/2013
I'm assuming that obviously not all of the animals get along and there will be mass chaos when it comes to trying to save all of the animals.

Film sounds and looks great so far. Should be a real treat to see on the big screen.
I'm assuming that obviously not all of the animals get along and there will be mass chaos when it comes to trying to save all of the animals.

Film sounds and looks great so far. Should be a real treat to see on the big screen.
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1:07PM on 10/09/2013
I'm a big fan of his, and am looking forward to this movie, but at the same time I have a feeling it's not going to do well critically or commercially after life of pi and so many sword and sandal movies with crow. Also, what the hell is that picture above of? With some light around snakes and crocs? Is that like a level on the ship?
I'm a big fan of his, and am looking forward to this movie, but at the same time I have a feeling it's not going to do well critically or commercially after life of pi and so many sword and sandal movies with crow. Also, what the hell is that picture above of? With some light around snakes and crocs? Is that like a level on the ship?
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1:09PM on 10/09/2013
But Crowe does look badass in that shot. He would make an incredible batman in a dark knight returns live action film.
But Crowe does look badass in that shot. He would make an incredible batman in a dark knight returns live action film.
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