Posted Jan 03

Making ‘The Lion King’ possible: advanced tech in VFX

by The Focus
Making ‘The Lion King’ possible: advanced tech in VFX by The Focus

Kai Wolter, Head of Production Technology London for MPC R&D, talked about Advancing Technologies for The Lion King and some key technological challenges that MPC Film had to solve to bring The Lion King back onto the big screen. The team had to rethink existing tools, workflows and focus further on optimisations to deliver close to 1,500 shots. These advancements were in, though not limited to, three main areas:


The technical animation department was provided with a full integration of MPC in-house software Furtility. Recent advances to Furtility’s procedural workflow gave artists greater control over the dynamic hairs and data of each groom based on the needs of the shot.

In addition to the grooming and simulation of hair and fur, MPC Film reinvented their fur shader to match the look of real-world animals more closely.


The environments team built 150 square kilometres of sets, including Pride Rock, the vast Pride Lands, lush forests and deserts covered with a wide variety of flora. To do this, MPC Film extended their Houdini pipeline, allowing the environment team to build tools to procedurally generate believable natural sceneries. This included the growth of vegetation, erosion effects, scatter of debris and modelling of intricate inter-dependencies between the elements of the environments.


As the director’s intent was to capture the look and feel of the lenses used in traditional animal documentaries, MPC Film had to account for rendering setups covering the characteristics of very wide to tight telephoto lenses and aperture settings. MPC Film needed to also drastically change their compositing pipeline to make it scale to the demands of the movie’s creation.

MPC Film likewise extended another in-house system, RenderFlow, used to create previews for review.  This was to provide consistent look-dev and lighting across departments and renderers. 

Overcoming these challenges was a platform from which to make future technological improvements and evaluations, such as MPC Film moving their environment and scatter pipeline to USD and investigating more interactive DOF approaches. –

Read the full article here.

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