The Iron Giant FX Animation

The Iron Giant - The "Lake Tidal Wave" Sequence

Part One - Part Two - Part Three

The final scene from the "Tidal Wave" sequence was a long and involved one. It starts with the wave crashing through the trees and hitting the ground. In a very short time, the water submerges the whole landscape. Dean (still sitting on his chair) enters the screen, twirling around under water, creating a trail of bubbles. Finally, the water recedes as Dean's chair lands back on the ground.

To achieve the effect of the water surging between the trees, I had to animate several separate layers (7 or 8) and sandwiched them between the various painted tree levels. To make the effect more convincing, one of my colleague, Ryan Woodward, bended the painted trees with a morphing program called "Elastic Reality".

Brad Bird asked me to create a "spray" effect when the water shoots through the trees. The simplest way to create that effect would have been to use a CG particle program, but the resources just weren't there, so I had to rely on good old hand drawn techniques. I ended up creating several layers of specks, scanning them in the computer and plotting moves for each individual cluster. It became a logistical nightmare and took me way too much time.

Overall, this was probably the most work intensive scene I did on the movie with somewhere around 40 levels of hand drawn animation elements.