It turns out, building a better King Kong for his latest cinematic adventure requires making him a damned dirty ape.
ILM has shared a cool little visual effects breakdown of how it brought Kong to life for Skull Island—including how it took inspiration from both the original movie suit from the classic King Kong movie, and the real-life gorillas of the San Francisco Zoo.
But what’s most impressive about the model is what the team calls the “grooming” process—the act of rendering and animating over 17 million follicles of hair over Kong’s body. It’s not just the sheer number of hairs, it’s how they have to be rendered. Kong’s fur has to reflect that he’s been hanging out with monsters on a dirty island for his entire existence, so it’s not a perfectly shiny CGI coat. It’s all matted, twisted, and covered in flecks of mud and leaves and other detritus he’s picked up over years.
It’s a tiny detail in the grand scheme of the towering ape monster, but it’s one that really helps sell the age and weariness of Kong by the time we see him in Skull Island.