Percy Jackson encounters plenty of monsters along his quest in the mythical adaptation, but one of the first he runs across is the fearsome Minotaur.
The magical creature chases him, his mom, and Grover as they make their way to the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood.
Changing the Minotaur in Percy Jackson and the Olympians
In an exclusive interview with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, Percy Jackson and the Olympians VFX supervisor Jeff White shared the one key change they made to make the Minotaur even scarier.
The conversation first started with The Direct mentioning the older Percy Jackson films, which White revealed "[they] didn’t really focus on” while creating this new take on the series.
Instead, all of the team’s “design choices were rooted in the stories and rooted in the characters:”
“Yeah, I think for us, we didn't really focus on the old movies as much as just trying to go to the source and take advantage of the fact that we had the author there ready to bounce ideas off of. And that was incredible. I think, across this entire series, all of the design choices are unique to this project. And really, from what I loved about working with [Jonathan E. Steinberg] and Dan [Shotz] and Eric is that their design choices were rooted in the stories and rooted in the characters and what needed to happen in the action at that time.”
White specifically called out the Minotaur as a great example. He explained how they “wanted to introduce the Minotaur in this way that felt it was even scarier:”
“A great example is the Minotaur. So traditionally, Minotaurs have been bipeds. And I've done biped Minotaurs before, but in this particular case, they wanted to introduce the Minotaur in this way that they felt it was even scarier with this sequence where the entire thing takes place from the character's perspective inside the car. We never go out, you know--I guess there's one shot really to introduce a gag with the underwear. But other than that, we stay entirely inside the car and experience how scary this thing is chasing them.”
In approaching the scene in this unique way, White and the team made one unique change, the Minotaur would be introduced as a quadruped monster and eventually switch to being a bi-pedal threat:
“But that meant that if we designed that sequence with a minotaur on two legs running next to them, it would have looked incredibly goofy. It's trying to bend down and attack them. So, right from the beginning, the Minotaur needed to be a quadruped when we first meet it. But then a quadruped wouldn't necessarily have been as exciting a fight for Percy once we get into the field if you've seen the sequence. So, the beauty is we got to use quadruped when it was the most exciting movement and then switch to biped when it needed that more hand-to-hand interaction.”
He reiterated how the story and action points really “drove the creature design more than anything else:”
“And I think that's where, again, like the story points and the action that we're trying to get across really drove the creature design more than anything else. And I think with this Minotaur in particular, we were going for what I call sort of scary cute. Where it is very threatening, it's massive, and it's huge. But at the same time, we want to find elements that just soften it a little bit.”
The VFX designer admitted “it was really hard” to “figure out how to get a quadruped animal to look good and work effectively as a biped” as well:
“Like, this isn't horror. It's designed to be action and scary. So that's why the Minotaur has ears and the back that reference of Brahma bull, because they tend to be a little less scary of a creature. And sort of combining those design elements was great. It was really hard, though, to figure out how to get a quadruped animal to look good and work effectively as a biped. Because in nature, like anything that walks on four legs, it isn't very graceful when it stands on two.”
A Great Design Choice for Percy Jackson Show Minotaur
The design choice to have the Minotaur change stances as they did was a great idea, and one that makes this new adaptation of the monster stick out from previous iterations even outside the source material.
The VFX department did a fantastic job because the final version of the scene looks incredible. It is a shame the majestic creature won’t be seen until The Last Olympian gets adapted.
With how well the series did the Minotaur, it is safe to say that the same care will apply to the show's interpretation of Medusa, the Chimera, and even Cerberus.
When it comes time to work on Season 2 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, there will no doubt be a plethora of new creatures for the VFX team to bring to life—seeing as the original book is called The Sea of Monsters.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians continues its Season 1 run with new episodes debuting on Disney+ every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.