With the first two chapters of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters now streaming, we recently caught up with VFX Supervisor Sean Konrad (Loki; Ms. Marvel; Deadpool 2) to gather intel on what went into rendering Godzilla and all of the massive new Titans we meet in the critically acclaimed series.
In addition to explaining the detailed process behind rendering the magnificent Titans, Konrad also teases how many Titans fans can expect to see in the series and whether or not any practical effects went into their creation.
Konrad has plenty of history with the MonsterVerse, and with Godzilla in general, having served as the digital compositor on 2014’s Godzilla and as the VFX supervisor on 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which should help explain why the show features outstanding visual effects on par with what we’ve seen in the aforementioned movies.
In our review of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, we said the series “is wildly entertaining with a compelling human core that keeps you coming back for more. Godzilla and the Titans remain the stars of the MonsterVerse, but, thanks to the outstanding father-son duo of Kurt and Wyatt Russell as well as a star-making turn from Anna Sawai, the universe is finally able to expand in a satisfying way that will hopefully set the stage for a variety of new adventures, including the sure-to-be epic Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire in March.“
Watch and/or read on for our full interview with VFX Supervisor Sean Konrad below, and please remember to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel for more exclusive content!
ROHAN: While the Titans appear sparingly, when they do appear, we get to see them at maximum glory. What is the process behind rendering Godzilla and these new massive monsters?
SEAN: It’s a really detail oriented thing. The first step is, obviously, just animate them in a way that feels realistic and has scale and it’s a real art of finding like, Godzilla doesn’t just move slow, he’s actually moving crazy fast, and when something moves crazy fast, it takes a long time to slow down. So, you get that motion right, you get that sense of momentum, then when you actually go to render it, you want the light to be as realistic as possible, but you want to use things to shape it in some way.
So, if you’re looking at Godzilla, it can help a lot of times to put a little bit of a sense of a cloud between the light source and the various parts of him, so you get like the equivalent of what you would have from a lighting on a real set, like a gobo that sits in front of a light, you sort of use the clouds to kind of do that thing and filter that through, and so you get patches of brightness on his face, and then, that goes off into darkness or midtone across his back. Then, you layer in some atmospherics and effects, and you let them interact with the physical objects in the environment, and that starts to build up scale, and then you finish it off with rendering or with compositing and get a little bit of balancing tweaks and stuff through that.
ROHAN: There’s essentially a new Titan in every episode, how many beasts did you create for this series?
SEAN: I’m not sure how many, like I don’t know if I can give a literal number to it, but, in the first one, we’ve got a good four or five monsters in there, and then, there’s a little bit less in the subsequent episodes, but we do sort of keep introducing new ones, as the series is going up to the end.
ROHAN: Are you utilizing any practical effects to realize any of the Titans?
SEAN: Yeah, I mean, we talked about using some practical models on this one and a lot of it was just down to time, like we were figuring out a lot of what our scenes were going to be a little close to the deadline, so we were shooting things and not necessarily knowing exactly what the things were going to be. That being said, sometimes we would do rough maquette models with the art department, so we could see okay, this is what the whole thing will be when we render it and and then, we had a practical SFX team doing explosions and rain and shaking sets and all that kind of stuff to give that sense of realism to wherever the characters were like, you know, if a rock was falling, you wanted that dust and stuff to bounce off them right and off the actors in a plausible way, rather than try to do it all in post.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is now streaming on Apple TV+!