The VFX wizard behind such films as Titanic and Apollo 13, Robert Legato has made it his mission in recent years to advance the art form of photorealistic computer-generated animation.

Winning his third Oscar in 2016 for his work on Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book, Legato then reteamed with the director on a CG remake of The Lion King, taking the techniques and technology he’d developed for the former film to new heights, and a new degree of sophistication.

Referred to now as “live-action animation,” the visual style Legato developed for Jungle Book was immediately appealing to Favreau, because it gave him the ability to tell spectacular, otherworldly stories with a pristine live-action aesthetic.

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While the work of Legato and his team earned an Oscar nomination last month, it’s also been met with some controversy. Throughout the 2019 awards season, certain critics have raised questions, as to how the film should be discussed. Is The Lion King an animated film, a VFX triumph or both?

Below, Legato gives his thoughts on the matter, after breaking down in detail the process of bringing the film to life.

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