(SPOT.ph) Have you seen and been impressed by The Little Mermaid in theaters yet? Our favorite mermaid comes to life through Halle Bailey in this magical live adaptation. Of course, with live-action comes a new set of challenges and technological advancements. Behind the scenes, a fascinating blend of on-set filming and cutting-edge CGI techniques takes center stage.
The Little Mermaid proves to be Disney's most ambitious undertaking yet, clocking in at a record-breaking 135 minutes for its longest live-action remake. In the realm of underwater filmmaking, achieving realism is no easy feat: in Titanic, James Cameron was reported to push boundaries by subjecting his extras to hours in cold waters, compromising safety in pursuit of authenticity. So, how was Disney able to do it well?
Director Rob Marshall is behind hit movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, Mary Poppins Returns, and Into the Woods, so it’s not much of a surprise that he was able to pull off the challenges that come with filming The Little Mermaid (darewesay, with the exception of CGI-rendered Flounder).
“The underwater world is entirely digital, and above the water, everything is real and constructed in the way a classic period film is,” Marshall said. Because the film relied so much on visual effects, everything had to be planned from movement to shot.
Here's a quick look behind the scenes:
How The Little Mermaid came to life
According to The Walt Disney Company, the filmmakers used the dry-for-wet approach in which the actors would film their underwater scenes on land in a blue-screen environment.
Bailey is hooked into a harness with a counterweight on the backside that would simulate movement underwater while being suspended in the air. This meant that she had to count on her core strength to simulate natural swimming motions.
To prepare for the scenes, Bailey had to go through intense physical training.
"I'm trying to hold myself up with my core while singing and while acting and trying to look like I'm not shaking because it's like a workout I'm doing, like a plank,” Bailey told USA TODAY. “So it was all of the things, trying to weave them together.”
This is Bailey practicing wire work for the “Under the Sea” musical sequence:
Make no mistake: what they do is no joke. The guy who played King Triton fell 15 feet from 40 feet in the air while filming scenes for The Little Mermaid, which gave the production team quite a scare. "We almost lost Javier," Marshall told Entertainment Weekly.
Of course, it wasn't all CGI. There were moments when Bailey had to get her actual hair wet for a more natural scene, like in this giant pool and in the Italian shores of Sardinia (where the majority of the IRL movie was shot).
So we've got land and sea—but we've also got air.
It might have gone over most people's heads, but The Little Mermaid involved a lot of aerial sequences using drones and helicopters (courtesy of Helicopter Film Services) to show the vastness of the sea. Primarily taken at dawn and dusk, these breathtaking scenes were crucial to set the tone for the entire film.
“Even though it’s a magical world that we created, our goal was to not let it look animated in any way,” Marshall said. “That was really important to us.”
The Little Mermaid is now showing in Philippine cinemas.