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Behind the Scenes of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" Movies

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Behind the Scenes of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" Movies

Bill Nighy in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

Photo Credit: Industrial Light and Magic, © Disney Enterprises

Interview with Hal Hickel – Animation Director

The Finished Footage of the Dice Game: “Most of that stuff, like the stuff in the dice game, we had finished all that before it was cut so we didn't have to add anything to it or return to it. There was probably about 15 ½ minutes of Davy on screen in the film and two minutes more that was cut - scenes with Davy - and most of that was in the dice game. The dice game was much longer and had to get cut down. We had basically finished all that work off and then it was trimmed, and then there were some bits and pieces from some of the other sequences that we trimmed down some shots but not as much of a whole chunk.

There was a nice gag where the twins are standing behind Orlando [Bloom], behind Will, and they pick his pocket at the beginning when he's watching them play the game before Bootstrap comes in. They have this third arm between them that sort of extends out and sort of reach into his pocket and pull out a coin and pocket it. Then he turns around. That went away. There was also an original sort of second round of betting with Clanker, Kolenico and Maccus, the three guys who are playing dice at the beginning of that scene. There was a bit more dialogue between them, some more shots. Those shots I don't think we ever finished off. Those were cut earlier. We animated them but they weren't rendered so it probably wouldn't show up. It was more the later half of the dice game that got cut so much.”

Using Bill Nighy's Eyes for Davy Jones' Reference: “It's all just about work and detail. There's no magic bullet. Again, it helped to have him in the actual photography so we could study the way the light was striking his eyes, Bill's eyes. But really it was just a lot of the animators paying very close attention to how much the eyes are converged so that they really look focused on the other actor. The exact shape of the eye lids, the way they frame the eyes and then once it got to the TDs, to do the lighting and compositing that they just paid very close attention to the light levels and the amount of balance in the eyes. There's a tendency with CG characters when you don't have that direct reference to overlight the eyes a bit so they really read and make their whites really punchy, so the eye direction is very strong and reads well. You end up with eyes that look kind of glowy and just a little bit fake, even if they're really close. That's actually one of the main difficulties of doing human characters, or humanish. The closer you get to really real, the more glaring the omissions become. The last few percentage points of realism really become glaring because everything else is working.”

Finding Octopus References for the Kraken: “It was hard to find good references because most of the octopus reference you'll find, they're under water which didn't really help us. Then we'd find little documentaries here and there where some marine biologist would haul an octopus out of the water and look at it. I found a great piece of reference mostly for Davy's tentacles but it helped us a bit with the Kraken too. I was driving to work and I was thinking, 'I remember when I was a kid, one of the Godzilla movies had a real octopus in it.' It turned out it was Godzilla Vs. King Kong. There's this little Polynesian town and in one scene they built a miniature of the village and turned loose this very large red octopus. It was crawling around on top of this miniature village crushing it. So I got the DVD and showed it to all the animators and the creature TDs and everything. 'See how the webbing stretches here and see how the tentacle curls up and flops over? It's not like a snake and it's not like an elephant's trunk.' That ended up being the best reference I could find because it was out of water. It was great reference for the texture of the skin and the sliminess of it, too.”

Resurrecting Rejected Gags for Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End: “It's always a great opportunity. Like that turtle guy, I was really hoping we'd get him in. So far there haven't been any character gags that we missed out on. We're doing some nice new stuff with the characters that we didn't get to do before. I can't say anything about the story. Davy gets to be more, I'll just say, more active in this one which is a lot of fun. So yeah, there were some gags that got cut out of the dice game. We were really hoping that the dice game could get a chance to feature more of the guys. Actually, in the film in general, going into it, we had 18 guys including Davy. We were really hoping to give each of those guys a little cool bit of business. And once the movie gets cut down and was really focused on what the storyline is, a lot of stuff ends up going by the board which is too bad. We'll see.

The thing is, Gore [Verbinski's] imagination is so fertile and Jim Byrkit, the storyboard guy that he works with, they're always coming up with new stuff. Sometimes something might get resurrected that didn't work out, but the other thing is generally, more than a lot of other filmmakers I've worked with, Gore is very focused on keeping things related to the story. He tries to not have things just gratuitously thrown in just for the sake of being funny. You get the odd thing in there like Hadras' shell head turning into a crab and coming out and crawling off, just crazy. But generally stuff tends to be focused on moving the story forward so it's hard to recycle a lot of those. You've got a new story this time around. You've got to focus things that way so there hasn't been too much of that.”

There’s New Technology Required for Pirates 3: “We have some new characters in 3. There's not a big technological hurdle with those characters but there is an aspect to 3 which is a huge hurdle for the visual effects crew. I can't really say what it is but as big as Davy was for us on 2, this other stuff is going to be just as big a headache for us on 3.”

Page 3: Interview with Geoff Campbell

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