The biggest surprise movie of the year for me is Godzilla Minus One. It's an epic kaiju movie with a budget of only $15 million USD, but looks like a studio blockbuster.

It's also officially an Oscar contender for VFX with some of the most stunning visuals I've seen all year.

Directed and written by Takashi Yamazaki, Godzilla Minus One not only captivates audiences worldwide but also carves a niche for itself in the realm of VFX mastery.

Yamazaki said of the movie, "Postwar Japan has lost everything. The film depicts an existence that gives unprecedented despair. The title Godzilla Minus One was created with this in mind. In order to depict this, the staff and I have worked together to create a setting where Godzilla looks as if 'fear' itself is walking toward us, and where despair is piled on top of despair. I think this is the culmination of all the films I have made to date, and one that deserves to be 'experienced' rather than 'watched' in the theater. I hope you will experience the most terrifying Godzilla in the best possible environment."

So, how did the VFX in Godzilla Minus One come together to deliver on this promise?

Making Of “Godzilla Minus One” 

The visual effects (VFX) for "Godzilla Minus One," a 2023 Japanese kaiju film, were primarily handled by the studio Shirogumi.

The production's VFX Supervisor was Takashi Yamazaki, who also directed and wrote the film. This movie represents Yamazaki's third on-screen depiction of Godzilla, with previous works including Godzilla through computer-generated imagery in Always: Sunset on Third Street 2 and Godzilla the Ride: Giant Monsters Ultimate Battle.

Yamazaki said, “I had been approached several times but turned it down until my team’s technology was capable of expressing the Godzilla I had envisioned. After seeing Shin Godzilla, my motivation increased, and my technology evolved considerably. I was once again formally approached and decided to give it a try.”

As you can see in the making of video above, a lot of different efforts went into creating the VFX in this movie.

One question asked over and over again is how Godzilla Minus One is made this low budget. While I couldn't find many direct quotes, I did learn that in Japan, artists are paid a lot less than here.

What programs did they use?

Shirogumi says they used 3D animation softwares Houdini and Maya for design, and Nuke for compositing.

What Was the Hardest Part of the 'Godzilla Minus One' VFX? 

The VFX work for Godzilla Minus One began around April 2022 and continued until May 2023.

Of course, there were a lot of challenges along the way.

According to Yamazaki, "The biggest challenge was tackling, you know, those massive bodies of water. Just the water on its own was 500 terabytes. We’re trying to set up all the computing power that’s possible, but we’re running them down, so we actually had to just… it was this cat and mouse chase of, you know, locking down VFX, but we needed more machines, more power, more everything."

During an interview with Shinji Higuchi (co-director of Shin Godzilla), Yamazaki said that the scenes of destruction in Godzilla Minus One were actually inspired by Higuchi's special effects from Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris, which was directed by Shusuke Kaneko.

Even with this massive undertaking, the movie was completed and ready for international release in 2023, where it is doing gangbusters both critically and in the box office.

Godzilla Minus One not only celebrates a legendary cinematic icon but also marks a significant achievement in visual storytelling.

Let me know what you think in the comments.