[WATCH] VFX Supervisor Robert Legato (‘The Jungle Book’) on creating talking animals for new Disney classic

“It wasn’t as daunting to me because technology has grown up to that stage,” reveals visual effects supervisor Robert Legato during our recent webcam chat (watch above) when asked about the massive challenges of bringing Jon Favreau‘s live action adaptation of “The Jungle Book” to the screen. He adds, “The capability of it isn’t put into effect until you just literally choose to do it.”

Based on the writings of Rudyard Kipling, this Disney release follows the adventures of Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a young boy raised in the jungle by wild animals. The story was previously filmed by the studio in 1967 as an animated musical that’s still widely viewed today.

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It’s one thing to adapt this classic tale into a cartoon songfest. It’s a completely different beast creating realistic talking animals to be voiced by the likes of Bill MurrayBen KingsleyIdris ElbaLupita Nyong’oScarlett JohanssonGiancarlo Esposito, and Christopher Walken, and place them in an environment largely realized through visual effects. “I felt that the technology was up to speed to produce something that will fool your eye,” Legato divulges. “Other movies that are totally done in this virtual world usually are stylistic,” yet Legato and Favreau pushed for photo-realism over fantasy.

Dish ‘The Jungle Book’ with Hollywood insiders in our notorious forums

Legato is a two-time Academy Award winner for his work on “Titanic” (1997) and “Hugo” (2011) and was also nominated for “Apollo 13” (1995). He cut his teeth in television, snagging Emmys for the “Star Trek” spin-offs “The Next Generation” (1992) and “Deep Space Nine” (1993) (he reaped three additional bids for “Next Generation” in 1990 and twice in 1991). After a victory Sunday night at the Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Visual Effects, is Oscar #3 on the horizon?

Watch our recent chat with ‘Jungle Book’ director Jon Favreau

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. How do you think “The Jungle Book” will do with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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