One of the neater aspects of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was the design of Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his band of ghost soldiers. The movie utilized a neat kind of underwater effect so that the partial bodies of the soldiers would always seem to be submerged even when they were on dry land. It was a nice way of differentiating this group of baddies from the skeleton pirates of the first film, Davy Jones’ crew from the second two films, and whatever the hell the bad guys were in the completely forgettable fourth movie.
Today, we’re pleased to show you some concept art (courtesy of MPC’s Culver City based Concept Art team) that shows the development of the ghost soldiers. As you can see, all the designs made use of the submersion effect, but this early concept art shows that there was originally an idea to have burn marks as well so that the soldiers would also look like they were on fire. Perhaps they ditched it because it was too similar to Blackbeard’s smoldering beard in On Stranger Tides, or maybe it was just too much going on when combined with the submersion effect, but whatever the case may be, the final film dropped it.
Here’s what MPC had to say about designing the ghost soldiers:
MPC also created the majority of the ghostly crew that Captain Salazar leads as well as the Ghostly form of Salazar himself starting with concept art designs created by MPC’s Culver City team to show how the crew could look. The idea behind the ghosts was that they are preserved in the exact form that they died in when their ship exploded in the Devils Triangle. Salazar has a giant hole in his head and other pirates are in similarly maimed states. In addition their hair and clothes were meant to appear as if underwater. Some of these characters were entirely digital throughout the movie, while for the more hero characters, actors were filmed with tight fitting costumes and close cropped hair. MPC closely rotoanimated the actors and created digital doubles of each, with maimed parts and resimmed hair and clothes. Salazar has thousands of hairs that needed to collide, interact and be directable. MPC’s RnD team developed tools that allowed the animators to have control over the performance of the hair, whilst at the same time running physics simulations to keep it feeling natural. The second challenge was to augment the practical make up and extend it to include a giant hole on the left side of his head. His eyes were also given a ghostly texture and pattern.
Check out the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales concept art below. The film is currently in theaters.
Here’s the official synopsis for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales:
Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” a rip-roaring adventure that finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil’s Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack.