Cool Pacific Rim Interview!

We chatted with the dude that helped create the massive monsters from the awesome movie! Hal Hickle told us all about creating 250-foot-tall creatures below!

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Hi Hal! What exactly was your role on the movie?

I was the Animation Supervisor.  My area of focus is the characters, which in this case were the Jaegers, and the Kaiju. I also keep an eye on other animated things (like flying helicopters, etc). I had a team of about 45 animators that I oversaw.

How did you get into what you are doing now?

I watched a lot of movies as a kid. Especially Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy films, but really just a lot of movies in general.

When I was 8 or so, I saw the original  King Kong on TV. I became fascinated with how they made Kong, and got my hands on some books about the making of the film. That got me interested in Stop-Motion animation.

What advice would you give  kids interested in special effects or animation?

It’s easier to start animating now, than it’s ever been before.

When I was 10, you needed equipment that was harder to come by than it is now (movie camera, lights, etc). You also had to buy film, and get it developed (which could take weeks).

Now, computers are relatively cheap, or at least available through school. Even if you don’t have access right away to a computer, you can start by making flipbooks, nothing could be simpler.

The point being: Don’t make excuses why you “can’t” do it. Just start, just make something. You’ll learn by doing.

Was it harder to animate dinosaurs in  The Lost World: Jurassic Park, or Jaegers and Kaijus in Pacific Rim?

Both are difficult in their own way. Dinosaurs are much closer to animals that we are familiar with (Elephants, Rhinos, Ostriches, etc). So the challenge there is making them not feel like “monsters”, but rather like animals. As if you went on Safari and were looking at real, living animals in the wild. That was always the goal on the Jurassic film.

On Pacific Rim, the challenge was the enormous size of the Jaegers and Kaiju. They are around 250 feet tall. There’s nothing in real life that the animators could look at for inspiration or to instruct them on how these gigantic characters should move. So we really had to figure out what looked “cool”, and felt “huge”, just by using our imaginations (which is the fun part!).

Did the Kaijus have any inspiration from dinosaurs?

 There is a line in the film about how the dinosaurs were evidence of a first failed attempt to colonize earth by the aliens who created the Kaiju. Really though, I think Guillermo’s main inspiration with the Kaiju was to pay homage to the giant Japanese monsters of the movies. Godzilla, Rodan, Gamera, Ghidora, etc. He didn’t want to copy any of those creatures, but he definitely wanted these monsters to feel like they fit within the whole “world” of Kaiju that already existed.

Who would be your dream celebrity partner if you had to operate a Jaeger?

Wow, tough question! Maybe Sandra Bullock? I just saw her in Gravity. She’s smart, funny, and she really seems to be able to take care of herself.

Will you be working on Pacific Rim 2? (And is this happening!)

I’ve read that Guillermo is planning a sequel, but I really don’t know if I’ll be working on it or not. It just depends on when it starts up, and what else I’m working on when that happens. I would LOVE to work on another Guillermo Del Toro film though.

Pacific Rim was the first time that we had worked with him, and now I would do anything for the guy. He’s the best!