Hunting ground
3D World UK|March 2021
Trevor Hogg goes on an expedition with Mr. X through the epic world of Monster Hunter…
Trevor Hogg

Even though Mr. X has frequently collaborated with British filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil), nothing has compared to the scope and scale of Monster Hunter; this adaptation of the video game franchise by Capcom sees Lieutenant Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her military unit mysteriously transported to an alternate world where they partner with a band of hunters to prevent massive volatile creatures from travelling to Earth.

SANDS OF TIME

The first third of the movie takes place on an island surrounded by sand rather than water…

“The sand simulations pushed us way past every limit that we ever had in terms of simulation time,” remarks Mr. X digital effects supervisor Ayo Burgess. “We had shots in the beginning with the sand ship where the turnaround time was almost two days to get all of the pieces of the simulation through. On top of that we had a point replication procedure that allowed us to increase the density of the sand even more at render time.”

A critical piece of technology was the cloud rendering provided by Microsoft Azure. “It was hugely beneficial for pushing shots through and getting things rendered,” states Burgess. “But the caches were so big we couldn’t upload them to the cloud, so we had to render them all on-premises. It was a real fight to get these heavy caches going. It was a lot of heavy simulation, low-quality renders, getting the composites through, iterating until we got the performance of the sand that we liked and then pulling the trigger, rendering in high quality and refining it from there.”

Monster Hunter, unlike Resident Evil, was essentially unknown in the West until Monster Hunter: World came out in 2018,” explains Mr. X visual effects supervisor Trey Harrell. “We were already greenlit and in production when the IP exploded. Kaname Fujioka, the director of the Monster Hunter series at Capcom, was heavily involved in guiding the creatures. So much thought had been put into every feature of the creatures and the ecosystems that they live in. It was important to him and the team at Capcom that Monster Hunter felt like a real-world that had an internal logic. For example, the Nerscylla, a mantisspider hybrid that features prominently in the movie, have these crystalline spikes on their backs. The logic is that they nest upside down in caves and the crystal is the venom secretions through their body that drip and turn into stalagmites on their backs.”

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