How do they shoot movies with live tigers?

Do they use real live dangerous animals to shoot movies? If they are not real then how they do it?

2 Answers 2


How to shoot dangerous animals in movie?

There are many methods of doing it, such as:

1. Using real animals: But it can go the wrong way easily if not done properly, like the case of Roar (1981) from premiumbeat

Roar, a 1981 drama thriller, perhaps embraced realism too wholeheartedly in its production. Portraying a private zoo filled with over 100 wild animals, the film actually used a large number of legitimately dangerous wild animals on set.

As a result, over seventy of the cast and crew were severely injured. While no injury proved fatal, some crew members required hundreds of stitches to repair their various wounds, which included bites, maulings, broken bones, scalpings, and even cases of gangrene.

But it doesn't end up with tragedy always and there are successful safe examples too, from NDTV:

T 2489 - Fighting a real tiger for 'Khoon Pasina' .. a real task .. shared it with stunt directors of today .. they thought I was MAD .. - Amitabh

Or the case of Two Brother where they used professional animal trainers:

"Once I decided to make the movie, I had the first draft of the script sent to Thierry Le Portier, who had worked out the puma scene in The Bear. He's a true professional and I have nothing but admiration for him. A highly respected specialist in wild animals, he's probably the world's greatest animal trainer. I remember his first phone call. It's fabulous and completely undoable, so we are going to do it!' he said. Recalls Le Portier, "We talked a lot about many aspects of working with tigers. cinemareview

2. The mix of Real and digital animals: From digitaltrends:

According to Life of Pi visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer, almost 86-percent of the scenes featuring Richard Parker use a computer-generated tiger, with the remaining scenes using one of the real tigers – usually when the story calls for the tiger to be in a completely different location (i.e., the water) from teenage actor Suraj Sharma, who plays Pi.

“We used [real tigers] for single shots, where it was just the tiger in the frame, and they’re doing something that didn’t have to be all that specific in the action that we were after,” Westenhofer told The New York Times. “By doing that, it set our bar high for CGI. We couldn’t cheat at all. It pushed the artists to go and deliver something that’s never been done before, something as photo-real as anyone has ever done with an animal.”

3. Full Digital Animals: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe used full digital animals only as you can check in behind the scenes and various other articles.

4. Animatronic From Jaws to Jurassic World many films used mechanical fake animals for this purpose. Refer livescience for many such examples.

Related readings:

How do they prevent animal cruelty in movies?

How does a movie get animals to "like" a character?

Why are real animals used in film production subject to the exposure of violence, 'slaughter' and abuse?

How did Mongo "punch" the horse?


There are couple of ways that these type of shoot be taken. Below are some of the scenarios:

  • Using real tigers: Movies like "Brothers in blood" are shoot by forest department experts. You can see such episodes in channels like geography. Sometimes they use trained tigers of zoo to shoot. Lionsgate lion roar making is example of it.
  • Mixing real with fake: This technique is used mostly and well known. In shoot where hero needs to fight tigers, they use real tigers to approach towards. Then either they use toys tiger or man with tiger dress. If they need to show tiger running away then they shoot it with real tiger.
  • Using graphics: The graphics can be used in two types:
    1. To make changes in real video: You can find video of tigers hunting or fighting each other in their natural habitat. So to use this video as per requirement they change background of the scenes per clip and create video.
    2. Make entire video: In first method sometimes viewer can identify that the background has modified. So to overcome this issue, the graphic designer study the real video and try to make graphic animation according to that.

You can learn this in any good animation academy or can join any animation film maker and lean by assisting them.

  • I'd add that in some cases glass is used to separate the actor from the animals. This was used for the Snake Pit scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. I will admit that glass would probably be inadequate for something as large as a tiger. Reflections could also pose a challenge when placing lights and cameras. Jan 18, 2017 at 8:13

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