This Pacific Rim: Uprising VFX Video Shows How Mo-Cap Performers Become 300-Foot-Tall Jaegers

Pacific Rim Uprising may not have lived up to its predecessor, but it’s still a fun movie about giant monsters fighting giant robots that, sorry to break it to you, weren’t actually so giant before the film’s visual effects artists worked their magic.


VFX studio DNEG shared this behind-the-scenes look at its work on Pacific Rim: Uprising, including some fun, raw footage of motion capture artists (mo-cap) performing the robot-on-robot fight scenes that would eventually flatten sprawling computer-generated cities. But on stage, they just banged into giant yellow pillows and padded walls.

Mo-cap has become a vital tool in the visual effects industry, not only because it’s a faster way to animate a character, but the results are far more lifelike than trying to recreate the movements of a human—or a humanoid Jaeger—using traditional frame-by-frame animation techniques. In this case, the captured motions were slowed down to make the Jaegers’ movements feel more appropriate for a 300-foot tall mech. You know, for science.

[h/t Art of VFX]


Michael Crider

Actually using humans for giant robot mo-cap might have been a bad choice here. In the first movie they specifically didn’t use motion capture because they wanted the giant robots to have a ponderous, weighty motion that made them feel massive. Plus, with motion capture, you have to make your digital character have proportions that more or less match up to your actor, otherwise you’ll have to redo everything anyway. It limits your character design to a certain degree. 

“Because we didn’t want to use motion capture - we talked about it at the beginning of the project and motion capture’s a great tool for certain things, but for this project, particularly with the Jaegers, we just really wanted to make sure it wasn’t completely fluid or organic, that it felt robotic.”

The fights in Uprising were a lot faster in terms of pure motion, too, taking away from the slooooow feel that matched the “guy in a big rubber suit” pace of the classic kaiju movies it was based on.