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By Film Threat Staff | June 24, 2002

Cinesite Hollywood created an armada of 2-D warships, CG warplanes, and a tiny animated butterfly for MGM’s new drama “Windtalkers.”
Directed by John Woo, Windtalkers tells the story of the Navajo Americans who were recruited as United States Marines and developed a code based on their native language to use during World War II. In the film, because of the code’s incredible success during battle, Marine Joe Enders(Nicolas Cage) is assigned to protect code talker Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach) at all costs.
The animated butterfly is a computer-generated character that serves as a visual metaphor for the calm before the storm. “We dissolve from a shot in Monument Valley with the camera about an inch or two above a body of water at some indeterminable place in the jungle,” Lingenfelser says. “The butterfly enters from the distant left of the frame and flitters around in the foreground. A leaf floats by and the butterfly follows it until it comes to the beginning of a trail of blood that enters the frame from screen right. The butterfly is spooked and flies off the right side of the screen.”
Cinesite identified some 20 to 30 specimens of butterflies from the Solomon Islands. They showed Woo pictures and then used the Internet to locate people who had specimens of the butterflies that appealed to the director. After they acquired the butterflies, detailed photographs were taken with a macro lens and the images were scanned into digital format. Texture painter Brian Ridley used those images as references for studying textures, colors and other details. They also studied real-time and slow motion live action film to get a handle on wing speed, velocity and height.
Cinesite is one of the largest effects gropus in the world, and more on their many projects can be found over at the official Cine-site

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