‘The Jungle Book’ Is Disney CGI At Its Very Best

When it comes to CGI, you either love it or hate it. If you love it, chances are the CGI was done well. In the case of The Jungle Book, the CGI isn’t done well. It sets a whole new bar. It is done so fantastically, you’ll be become lost in the jungle. The Jungle Book is a visually mesmerizing film, and we are not just saying that because we were hypnotized by Kaa. We were hypnotized by the whole film.

The Jungle Book
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Almost 50 years after the original film released, Disney has brought us the latest in their live-action remakes with The Jungle Book. The difference between the films is so vast, it almost doesn't feel right to compare. This 2016 version brings us into the jungle in a way we've never quite been before. It's an adventure into CGI that deviates from the typical CGI action story.
The Jungle Book, Neel Sethi
Walt Disney Studios
It's hard to imagine that these elegant landscapes were filmed in a warehouse. The animals that we become intimately familiar with are no more than just CGI renditions of magnificent creatures. The CGI is so enchanting, the longer you watch, the most immersed you become with the jungle. You truly start to feel like you are the man cub and you belong in the jungle. 
The Jungle Book, Neel Sethi
Walt Disney Studios
Neel Sethi is the only human in the entire film and that is fitting, given he's the only human in the jungle. After watching the film, you wouldn't think that these scenes were filmed with stand-in stuffed animals and hand puppets. As Mowgli, Neel is the heart of this entire film. His imagination and energy make it easy to forget you're watching a film created entirely using CGI.
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The Jungle Book, Neel Sethi
Walt Disney Studios
The Jungle Book director Jon Favreau took inspiration from both Gravity and Avatar. Along with those two films, Favreau pulled from Disney's own history. The film was storyboarded in pencil and then refined by a story department, as they would do for an animated film. Filming first was done with motion capture, which was then used to build the sets using the method of previsualisation.

The film’s production designers recreated small sections of the set meant for Neel’s live-action shots. They used blue screens and props, while puppeteers or actors stood in for animals like Raksha, Baloo, and Bagheera. Every detail was meticulously planned, even down to the lighting. They created special LED panels to cast shadows in similar fashion to large jungle animals passing through.

The Jungle Book, Neel Sethi
Walt Disney Studios via Business Insider
"… to make you see things and feel things. And to make it something you're not going to wait to see until it's on download," said Favreau in an interview. His goal to push the envelope with CGI worked, as not only will you find the effects impressive, you’ll leave the film feeling different about CGI. He achieved his goal of making this technology relatable on an emotional level. It’s a film that will actually make you feel something. It’s not just magnificent CGI. The Jungle Book tells us the story of Mowgli the man cub, who doesn’t know exactly how he belongs in the jungle, but finds his way and you're there for the journey.