Studio News

When Elephants Fly!

03.29.2019 — Categories: , ,

At THE THIRD FLOOR, we’ve visualized soaring superheroes, speeding spaceships and daring dragon rides. Now, we’ve had the chance to literally help do the impossible: make an elephant fly.

Our London team was thrilled to work on the new live-action Dumbo (Walt Disney Pictures), collaborating with Director Tim Burton, VFX Supervisor Richard Stammers, VFX Producer Hal Couzens and various departments surrounding production. With all of the animals — including Dumbo, to be done as CG, THE THIRD FLOOR’s previs and postvis artists completed a giant feat visualizing and blocking the characters in shot after shot. Our UK virtual production crew also stepped into the ring to help create magical elephant flights synced with human performers.

THE THIRD FLOOR’s Justin Summers, Visualization Supervisor, reminisces about the project: “We visualize action for fantastical creatures all of the time, yet it was a real challenge to take something as familiar in the real world as an elephant, and think about ways it could defy physics and fly believably.  We were able to help design and influence the looks of Dumbo’s flight and communicate the blocking of what he and the other animals were doing in any given shot.”

“To film the human actors riding Dumbo, we utilized a 3D mold of the digital elephant, articulated by an animatronic and mounted on a 6 axis gimbal,” added Virtual Production Supervisor Kaya Jabar. “Working with stunts, special effects and MPC, we simulated the elephant’s motion as well as the flying camera as the live actors were recorded.”

Look for our work supporting circus, train and flying action across the movie.


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