Directed by Luis Llosa
Visual Effects Supervisor: John Nelson
Animatronics Supervised by: Walt Conti

Visual Effects Produced by:

Visual Effects Producers: Robin Griffin and Aileen Timmers
Director of Animation: Eric Armstrong
CG Supervisor: John McLaughlin

Animatronic Effects Produced by:


Animatronics and Prosthetics Produced by:


SPOILERS AHEAD - Do not continue if you have not seen the film yet and want to be surprised.

Jennifer Lopez and Jon Voight star in the Columbia Pictures thriller, ANACONDA, directed by Luis Llosa. A crew of documentarians travel deep into the Brazillian rainforest to document a lost tribe, but run into trouble--the Anaconda snakes. Dozens of feet long, these killer snakes seem to enjoy killing, and are threats to our heroes at all times. Voight appears as a crazed snake hunter who is on a mission to capture an Anaconda alive.

Although some real snakes were used in the filming of ANACONDA, the enormous killer snake was created by anamatronic and digital means.

Providing the digital imagery for the film is Sony Pictures Imageworks. Their computer generated snake appears in dozens of shots, and was used when the snake's actions simply could not be recreated on the set with the animatronic models.

Some dazzling imagery was created with the CG Anaconda snakes. In numerous shots, the CG snake appeared in slow motion sequences, a technique that is infrequently used. The first shot of the CG Anaconda is a slo-mo shot, where a man is surprised by the snake while wading in the water. The background plate was probably shot at 48 frames per second, and the animation fit that frame rate quite well. The motion of the snake is very realistic, but the shot suffers from the same problem as subsequent CG shots--the interaction of the CG snake with the splashing water did not feel realistic.

An extremely well-animated and rendered shot appears after the giant snake eats one of our heroes. The camera is underwater, while the CG snake slithers past the camera with an enormous bulge in its body, its most recent prey. The rendering and compositing of the CG image make the snake truly appear like it was in the water.

Another fine effort of animation appears as a character leaps from the top of a waterfall in an attempt to escape from the snake. In a dramatic, low-angle shot (also in slow-motion), the man jumps from the ledge and flies in the air toward the camera, while the snake (still at the top of the ledge) lunges toward the man, grabs him, and stops his fall in midair. The snake quickly wraps itself around the man and pulls him back up. The animation was startling and well-paced in this terrific shot, and the compositing and lighting of the CG snake against the sky was crisp.

After gobbling up Jon Voight, the Anaconda stalks Jennifer Lopez. In probably the most memorable shot of the film, the snake stares at Lopez, pauses, then proceeds to regurgitate Voight right in her face! The man, covered with slime from head to toe, falls at Lopez' feet. The execution of this sequence, from the CG animation to the makeup, was fantastic.

Although the animatronic snakes performed admirably and looked great onscreen, they did not cut well with the CG snakes. Shots with the animatronic snake were usually from a hand-held camera, with the action moving at a breakneck speed and only the snake's head or body appearing at one time. In contrast, the CG shots were primarily locked down shots, where the snake would appear in its entirety and would perform a complicated move to attack its prey. These styles do not cut together well, since their approaches were quite opposite of one another.

ANACONDA does have the honor of having the most realistic trachiotomy sequence in recent movie history. In an early sequence, Voight performs an emergency trachiotomy on Eric Stoltz. In an uninterrupted shot, it appears as though Voight cuts directly into Stolz's neck and shoves a tube down the incision to allow him to breathe.

ANACONDA, as a thriller, is quite average, although it does contain some fine performances and some tension-filled sequences. The pacing is quite fast, and the plot is very formulaic, and didn't contain much human drama or tension.

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