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Animators Try to Design “The Sea Beast”, Sweating the Details

By: Ray Wu

Animators are trying their best to spend their time designing their “sea beast” character. They got their idea from Covid tests. But you may be wondering how?

Covid tests require you to stick a swab into your nose. They also need you to collect as much nasal discharge as possible by rolling the swab on the walls of your nostrils. Chris Williams, the movie director, has dived deeper into the nostrils further than almost anyone else has.

“The Sea Beast”, the animation’s final product’s name, needs a lot of work to complete. First, the team needs to research. They need to watch videos of tiny cameras going through nostrils. He also studied the anatomy of various animal’s airways.

“I watched videos of tiny cameras navigating nasal passages,” he said.

One barrier is to design the beast’s skin. There are some categories of design for the skin. This includes the texture, patterns, and other minor details. We will get into the color later.

One of the top priorities for the team is to “sweat the details,” according to Williams. “Hopefully, we cast a spell where the audience gets a sense of a deep history,” he said.

“We wanted her skin to be beaten up because she’s been through many battles with the hunters,” said Woonyoung Jung, the movie’s art director.

So now we know that they don’t want to make the skin glossy and smooth. All these textures relate to the plot and give the audience clues about the movie. They also wanted to create photo-realistic hairs and bumps to make a realistic virtual reality.

To get the idea, they made clay models of Red, the sea beast, for everyone to get a better idea of what Red should look like.

The eyes are the hard part. Do they want Red to look like a fish? Or do they want him to look like a real beast (for the eyes)? The placement, shape, color, size, and style of the eyes can make the watchers have a stronger reference of ferocity.

They wanted Red to have round, yellow, and cat-like eyes to make her look more like a beast. They also wanted the slitted pupil to be black. “There had to be a place for them to stand,” Lechner said, “and the eye had to be a certain size.”

They also need it to show how fierce it is. They want it to be very large; like how you would think of a dinosaur, but also a reasonable size.

The whole idea about the size was to make Red really look like a beast. They could have made him larger, but that isn’t realistic. They also needed humans to fit and be able to see.

Red’s comparison to humans in size is a nearly uncountable ratio. They even want humans to be smaller than the eyes of the beast. If a whole frame were to fit a human next to the beast, you would barely be able to recognize the ant-sized human. They really pushed the limits to how large the beast could be.

Finally, the color. Like its name, the hue is a saturated red with a pinkish color from its chin through the underbelly and its tail. It was hard trying to find the right amount of saturation to make Red look like what the team wanted.

“When I boosted up the saturation too much, she looked small – she became like a toy creature,” said Jung, the art director. “When I brought down the saturation, she became too realistic, like a live-action creature.”

Williams really wanted to dive very deep into the details. Who knows if he is spending too much time on that? What if he doesn’t spend enough time on the details of the humans. The movie is a puzzle. Can they solve it?

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