News 19.05.21

MR. X’S JASON BILLINGTON ON MORTAL KOMBAT



MR. X had the opportunity to chat with their very own Senior VFX Supervisor, Jason Billington, on his experience working on the action-packed, South Australian-made feature Mortal Kombat.

When did you first get involved in the project?

I began working on Mortal Kombat during pre-production and started developing the pre-viz for a few of the bigger animation sequences, like the timing and scale of the unique four-armed character named Goro. Goro is a giant character with four arms and we had to design a way for him to not only fit into some of the sets and structures the production designer wanted to build, but also explore how he might fight with his four arms. We are all familiar with how a boxer fights with two arms, but what does a character like Goro do with the extra two arms.

Another one of our primary objectives during pre-production was to identify how we were going to deliver the complex character Jax and the varying nature of his metal arms. We discussed various techniques for how we would capture the actors performance data, so that we could delivery the seemless integration of his arms and torso that you ultimately see in the film.

What was the creative vision for the film?

The overarching creative vision was to make a film that not only kept the fans of the video game happy, but was also enjoyable to a broader range of viewers who may not have had as much of a relationship with the Mortal Kombat franchise. Keeping the traditional blood splatter and fight scenes was a definite mandate from the start.

The Director wanted to tell every character’s story and motivations behind their reasons to fight to the death. This meant balancing dialogue and fight scenes, staying true to the original game references and fantasy effects while giving the story a stimulating way forward.

Courtesy of MR. X

What kind of references and influences did you receive from the director?

The Director conveyed the importance of each characters arcana (superpowers) being an extension of themselves. So naturally we referenced game trailers, as well as just the straight up gameplay of the characters. The Director wanted to be true to the game and keep certain aspects of how each character performed with their arcana, and from there we would find any live reference we could to help enhance the realism.

What were your favourite moments working on the film?

Bringing the character Jax to life was definitely my favourite part of the film – and also the most challenging. Thanks to some highly detailed concept images, we knew exactly what he needed to look like and it became apparent very quickly that we would need to create his body entirely in CG rather than just his arms alone. If we had simply created CG arms it would have been too challenging to integrate them with his skin, the muscle movements and the actors performance.

So instead we had the actor wear a blue screen shirt, and from there we were able to replace his torso between his waist and the neck, giving us the ability control the skin and muscle movements and seamlessly integrate his metal arms giving us total control over how all of those elements worked together and the ability to further enhance certain muscle movements and dynamics when needed. 

How many artists contributed to the project and how many shots overall?

MR. X had 582 artists, production and tech crew members contributing to Mortal Kombat. We delivered 442 shots for the final film.

Featured Image Credit: Mehcad Brooks as Major Jackson “Jax” Briggs. Courtesy of New Line Cinema & Warner Bros. Pictures.

Find out more about: