As [New York] has changed so radically in the last 72 years, it was impossible to transform modern New York, so the entire place had to be rebuilt from the ground up. And unlike the totally invented environment of Skull Island, this city has a real-world counterpart and, therefore, had to be constructed within certain confines....
Existing aerial and ground-view photographs from the period provided key reference for artists. These shots were then cross-referenced with a low-resolution digital dataset of present-day New York. Any buildings constructed post 1933 were stripped out, leaving a huge amount of structures to be replaced with data correct for 1933. Since the period photos were black and white, an initial color palette had to be determined by cross-referencing the hues of buildings that still exist from the time. From this starting place, proprietary computer programs began the rebuild the city, adding intricate detail to the low-resolution dataset....
The results, which took over one year to complete:
• 57,468 unique Manhattan buildings were created, which were constructed using 22,011,949 components/cells. Add to that another 32,839 buildings for Queens, Brooklyn and New Jersey, plus 51 "hero" (or starring) buildings....
• Of particular import were the rooftops, as they have changed considerably since the '30s — so even existing period structures could not appear "as is." The roofs are all visible during the film's climactic moments when Kong scales the Empire State Building....
• The city was designed to function in the daytime or at night. When lights are turned on inside one of the buildings, full virtual interiors are visible.
• When superimposed on top of one another, the virtual skyline and the 1933 photographs align almost identically.
According to CG supervisor [Chris] White, "We built over 90,000 buildings, nearly 60,000 of which are unique down to the finest level of detail."
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