Mill Paris | Toto, the photoreal CG green gorilla, puts on a show in a casino

Work January 4, 2023

With frenzied dance steps and vocalizations galore, our green gorilla Toto is quite the star! Wearing his royal crown, Toto celebrates victory in a wild show in a casino.

In close collaboration with director Matthijs Van Heijningen, agency Vidiboko and Bunkers production, our artists took care of the complete characterization of the gorilla, from his anatomy to his movements, his expressions and his accessories.

Our almost 2-meter high friend had to have a friendly demeanor and not scare the public with his build, his posture or his carnivorous smile. After many discussions with the agency and the director, as well as numerous searches for references, our artists managed to find ways to humanize the gorilla while maintaining a hyper-realistic rendering. Using several references including Rampage, they changed its natural stooped position to a more human one with a straight back, shortened some of its teeth and made him look more friendly.

Once the characterization was decided upon, our artists took charge of the fur. This was quite a challenge as we are not used to seeing green gorillas! Our artists managed to find a healthy balance between the colours, the variations of curly, short, long smooth hair, the thickness or the light so that the public did not perceive a CG animal or a stuffed animal but a real living imaginary character. The cape of Toto was also a central element for the fur artists. The difference in weight and texture of the two fabrics on it had to be felt in the movement. Once the gorilla was dressed in its fur and cape, it was integrated into the various sets shot in real time using 3D tracking.

On the other hand, as the film was in Dutch and our artists were French, there was an additional difficulty in creating a realistic lipsync. Our artists created a phoneme bank, (i.e. lip movements) associated with sounds to help the animators on the lipsync.

Finally, working carefully on the lighting and compositing, our artists once again managed to meet the brand’s expectations, creating a full CG gorilla capable of interacting with a set and characters shot in real life.

“We had to make and integrate a very realistic and full CG green gorilla called "Toto" in 3 films with completely different environments. As CG supervisor, I had to manage both the finalization of the current films and the preparation of the next ones, in close collaboration with the lead of compositing, Sébastien, we made sure to anticipate and prepare a quite detailed preset Nuke by adapting to each film.
We worked in cascade, when the animations were locked - i.e. the gorilla's movement intentions validated by the agency - the compositing and lighting team immediately got to work while the animators anticipated the next film. Although we had some challenges with the realism of the green fur, the characterization of the gorilla or the management of several films simultaneously, everything went very well and this film confirms the know-how of our team in creating photorealistic animals and other zany characters in full CG.
As usual, we had a united team at The Mill Paris, with motivated artists, concerned with detail and guided by a common goal: to produce beautiful animations and images while respecting delivery schedules and client and agency feedback.”
Marouan El Bekri, CG Supervisor

Want to join our team ? Explore our career opportunities here.


Matthijs van Heijningen:
Post production
Post production Lead: The Mill Paris
Executive Producer: Fabrice Damolini
VFX Producer: Nicolas Huguet, Kahina Lamblin
VFX Coodinators: Ewan Rosenstrauch, Mathilde Cohen Selmon, Ghalia Chammat
VFX Supervisor: Guillaume Ho Tsong Fang
CG Supervisor: Marouan El Bekri
Shoot Supervisor: Patrick Bennar
Modeling & Environment: Arnaud Prat, Vincent Coni, Stephen Martingoulet
Hair & Surfacing: Marion Respaud
Rigging: Marine Sisnaki, Lucie Taglienti
Animation Lead: Alban Lelièvre
Animation: Valerian Lesprillier, Ludovic Martin, Augustin Paliard, Herve Anceau, Marie Moyer, Ganaël Chevalier
FX: Karim Lachaize, Dimitri Durand
CG generalist: Richard Rampaly, Remy Meilliat, Vincent Coni, Marouan El Bekri, Leon Rousseau
Lighting: Yohan Grau
Compositing Lead: Sébastien Podsiadlo
Compositing: Jeremy Gravinay, Luc Martias, Margaux Chambas, Eric Lemains
Flame: Sébastien Kremer, Flore Mounier, Valentin Gingembre
Colourist: Philip Hambi
Colourist Assistant: Loïc Lavaux
Planning: Annabel Akerboom, Sophie maillot, Magalie Luthringer, Orlane Lusbec, Isabelle Renaud
Assistants montage: Antoine Zimmer, Chloe Charrier, Fabien Beraudo, Felix Flechet, Julie Rigaud, Justine Chambert, Maite Tamain
Post production support: The Mill Bangalore
Production Manager: Zahid Khan
Production Coordinator: Mohit Bhomia, Shubham Gajare
Prep Supervisor: Silambarasan R P
Prep Artists: Ramandeep Singh, Ramesh Basanna Vhataghonde, Yasasvini Vagampalli, Aakansha Yadav, Bairi Rakesh, Poornima Rao, Pankaj Harish Ukey, Sangeetha M, Sreeji Mol C.P., Bijeesh K U, Jaswan Vishnu Prasath Balla Mohan Rao
Matchmove Supervisor: Murali Krishna Reddy
Matchmove Lead: Smijumon Viswanathan, Elangovan Ganeshan
Matchmove Artist: Paras Pareshkumar Shah, Avaneetharan Karuppasamy, Pratik Vilas Pawar, Suman Sahu, Lokesh M
Roto Supervisor: Sivakumar R
Roto Lead: Rohit Charde, Yogesh Ahire, Mahendranatha Reddy, Moumita Pratihar
Roto Artist: Karan Sharma, Akhil Mohan, Rahul Mane, Rupan Thirumal, Anita Khandare, Joslin Job Mathew, Shivani Kumari, Mayur Chandrakant Kothawade, Nithish Nandaa T, Pankaj Powar, Raghvendra Singh, Sandeep Mishra
DOP: Lennert Hillege
Editor: Marc Bechtold