S. Korean film production company recreates historic sea battle with visual effects technology

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : December 23, 2023, 04:06 Updated : December 29, 2023, 09:33
Courtesy of Lotte Entertainment
[Courtesy of Lotte Entertainment]
SEOUL -- South Korea's film production company Bigstone Pictures has recreated a historic marine battle using visual effects technology. The intense battle scenes were showcased in "Noryang: Deadly Sea," a war action film directed by Kim Han-min. The film highlights Korea's 16th-century naval commander Yi Sun-sin who scored dramatic victories against Japan.

Visual effects (VFX) technology, which incorporates computer graphics (CG) elements, is often used by filmmakers to produce imagery that is difficult to film or doesn't exist in the real world. According to historical records, about 1,000 naval ships were engaged in the Battle of Noryang, the last clash between Korea's last dynasty "Joseon" and Japan during the seven years of the Japanese invasion that started in 1592.

Noryang is a strait in the Korean Peninsula's South Sea. Admiral Yi Sun-sin is acknowledged by South Koreans as a naval hero who defended Joseon against Japan's invasion (1592~1598). Yi's most famous victory took place at the Battle of Myeongnyang in 1597, where he achieved victory over at least 130 Japanese ships using only 13 battleships. The military hero is renowned for his innovative naval tactics and his contributions to Korean history are still celebrated.

In the final sea battle, the Joseon admiral defeated the Japanese Navy through the allied forces with the Ming Dynasty which ruled China from 1368 to 1644. Before "Noryang: Deadly Sea," director Kim presented Yi's various achievements through a 2014 hit film "The Admiral: Roaring Currents" and its sequel "Hansan: Rising Dragon" in 2022. 

"The intense naval battle scenes shown in 'Noryang: Deadly Sea' were created using VFX without filming at sea," Bigstone Pictures' spokesperson Lee Dong-jin told Aju Korea Daily on December 22. He said most scenes were filmed at a supersized indoor facility on a speed skating rink in the eastern port city of Gangneung. Bigstone Pictures worked with around 800 experts from 25 companies specializing in CG.

Noryang: Deadly Sea had an accumulated 416,403 admissions only two days after its release. The movie has also been released in Los Angeles and is set to hit theaters in Australia and New Zealand on January 4, 2024.

In September 2023, a multi-purpose indoor filming facility for special scenes such as sea battles, artificial rainfall, and ship accidents was built in South Korea's central city of Daejeon. The state-run facility, called "Studio M," features a large water tank that is 30.4-meter-(99.7-foot)-long and 20.9 meter-wide.
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