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Archive for the ‘WETA Digital’ Category

Weta Digital’s Oscar winners share the tech driving Gollum and Azog

Gollum_gallery_primary Back in February, Simon Clutterbuck, James Jacobs and Dr. Richard Dorling won a technical Oscar (The Scientific and Engineering Award) for developing a technique which makes computer-generated characters (such as Gollum) more life-like than ever before. In this video from Weta Digital, the team share how they do it, and what it means for the future CG-character animation in film.

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Production, The Hobbit, WETA Digital

TORN Message Boards Weekly Roundup – March 3, 2013

Speak Friend and Enter The One Expected PartyWelcome to our collection of TORn’s hottest topics for the past week. If you’ve fallen behind on what’s happening on the Message Boards, here’s a great way to catch the highlights. Or if you’re new to TORn and want to enjoy some great conversations, just follow the links to some of our most popular discussions. Watch this space as every weekend we will spotlight the most popular buzz on TORn’s Message Boards. Everyone is welcome, so come on in and join in the fun!

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Posted in Events, Fans, Hobbit Movie, Make the Hobbit Happen, Meet Ups, Oscar Parties, The Hobbit, The One Expected Party, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien, WETA Digital

Geekexchange reports the One Expected Party

It is a little difficult to imagine what event might have had more geek credibility on Oscar night than our own One Expected Party. GeekExchange.com certainly managed a solid report complete with the YouTube video above that shows highlights from many of the events that took the stage. They also managed a photo gallery that is definitely worth a look. You can read the entire report if you click this simple link.

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Joe Letteri, The Hobbit, WETA Digital

Oscar countdown: Weta Digital’s artistry displayed in 6 videos

Weta Digital is nominated for Visual Effects for its work on “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” That means co-founder Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White could all be walking away from the Academy Awards ceremony this Sunday with golden statues. And the competition comes in the form of more folks at Weta Digital for work on “The Avengers,” and “Prometheus.” “The Life of Pi,” and “Snow White and The Huntsman,” are in the mix as well. Pundits say it comes down to Hobbit vs. Pi. Whatever the outcome, Weta Digital has had a pretty astounding year and with the warm glow of Smaug on the horizon, 2013 looks promising as well. You probably knew all that but what you may have missed are the terrific reels Weta Digital has available to help viewers (and maybe voters) understand what went into the creatures, environments and characters it created for the first of three Hobbit films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s 75-year-old children’s book.

One of the six showcases on YouTube, “VFX of The Hobbit: Fantastical Creatures & Lands of Epic Beauty & Darkness,” something of a highlight of all the videos, has been watched more than the rest but for anybody who loves cinema, loves the Hobbit film, technology or visual effects, the whole collection is outstanding. And so, we present them all below, embedded in one place for your viewing pleasure.

VFX OF THE HOBBIT: FANTASTICAL CREATURES & LANDS OF EPIC BEAUTY & DARKNESS



WETA DIGITAL’S ARTISTRY BEHIND GOLLUM

WETA DIGITAL’S ARTISTRY BEHIND THE GOBLIN CAVERNS

WETA DIGITAL’S ARTISTRY BEHIND RIVENDELL

WETA DIGITAL’S ARTISTRY BEHIND THE GOBLIN KING

WETA DIGITAL’S ARTISTRY BEHIND AZOG

Posted in Andy Serkis, Barry Humphries, Hobbit Movie, Joe Letteri, The Hobbit, WETA Digital

Researching The Frodo Franchise: Part 3, Places Full of Magic

Once again it has been a long time since I posted in this series, but what with the run-up to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure and the reaction to it, TheOneRing.net has been a busy place, and now we’re coming up on The One Expected Party on Oscar night! But I’ll delay no longer.

In the first entry I recalled getting the permission to interview the filmmakers and going down to start my work, back in September-October of 2003. The second one dealt with my first interview and tours of the Three Foot Six office building and the Stone Street Studios. Now, more of the facilities I visited.

The Film Unit

Film Unit Oct 2003My third full day in Wellington was Wednesday, October 1. Melissa Booth called and said I could come to the new Film Unit building to meet Barrie Osborne. He, as I cannot stress often enough, was the one responsible for getting me New Line’s permission to interview the filmmakers for my book. This meeting, though, wouldn’t be for an interview. (I interviewed Barrie twice for the book, first a couple of weeks later and again during my third Wellington visit in December, 2004.) He was driving out to the old Film Unit facility that afternoon to give the people working there, sound mixers, editors, and other post-production crew members, a pep talk.

As most readers know, the race to finish The Return of the King was on by that point, and a lot of people were working long hours. I was told that Barrie often gave these pep talks, and the filmmakers really appreciated them; it was part of what gave the production that feeling of being one big family. I could at least introduce myself to Barrie and ride with him to the Film Unit; the half-hour drives there and back would allow us time to talk about my project. (more…)

Posted in Barrie Osborne, Daniel Falconer, LotR Movies, Models, Other production, Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, WETA Digital, WETA Workshop

‘Hobbit’ earns first Oscars with science, tech

Weta Digital's Simon Clutterbuck, James Jacobs, Dr. Richard Dorling won Oscars Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013.

Weta Digital’s Simon Clutterbuck, James Jacobs, Dr. Richard Dorling won Oscars Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013.

Most think of film as art form and much is made about those who dazzle at its highest levels, but science has always been a key component to cinema. A group who worked on “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” received early Oscar awards — for science — Sunday night. Those who perform such technical innovation rarely get even a sniff of the spotlight but Simon Clutterbuck, Richard Dorling and James Jacobs were recognized for their work bringing Gollum to life, especially for his skin and movement.

The new tech makes Gollum appear more lifelike in an approach the team calls “Tissue: A Physically-Based Character Simulation Framework.”

“The framework is used to construct and simulate the anatomical components of our digital creatures and characters,” Jacobs, a supervisor for creature special-effects told NBC. (Read the whole article right here.)

Reuters also has a story with details about the Weta Digital winners and others recognized Sunday night.

Congrats to those gentlemen and all of Weta Digital for its mastery of converting Andy Serkis’ performance to screen. TheOneRing.net will celebrate the Oscars, including other nominees for work on The Hobbit, in two weeks featuring on stage Beecake with Billy Boyd. Details to buy tickets are right here.

Software brought Gollum's skin to life for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," earning it an Oscar for technology and science.

Software brought Gollum’s skin to life for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” earning it an Oscar for technology and science

Posted in Characters, Events, Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit, WETA Digital

‘Hobbit’ grabs industry-leading 7 Visual Effects Society noms including Gollum vs. Goblin King vs. Hulk

The Goblin King from "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

The Goblin King from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” Image by Warner Bros. Pictures

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” earned the top nomination for visual effects and six others nominations at the 11th annual Visual Effects Society Awards, set for Feb. 5 at the Beverly Hilton. “The Avengers,” and “The Life of Pi,” are close behind with six nominations each and are also in the top category.

The awards recognize special effect driven films such as those mentioned above in a different category from those features where effects play a secondary role. It recognizes work in animated films, broadcast, commercials, video games and student work. Weta Digital is represented with “The Hobbit” and a work on a few others films as well.

It also recognizes special effect characters pitting Gollum against the Goblin King, Hulk and the tiger from “Life of Pi,” named Richard Parker. There are currently 10 films on the Academy Award list for Best Visual Effects with the official nominations expected January 10. “The Hobbit,” is very likely to be on the final ballot. TheOneRing.net is hosting an awards-night celebration in Hollywood on the nights of the awards. Some tickets remain available.

Nominations for The Hobbit are as follows:

1. Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Joe Letteri
Eileen Moran
Eric Saindon
Kevin L. Sherwood

2 & 3. Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
The Hobbit: Goblin King
Jung Min Chan
James Jacobs
David Clayton
Guillaume Francois

The Hobbit: Gollum
Gino Acevedo
Alessandro Bonora
Jeff Capogreco
Kevin Estey

4. Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
The Hobbit: Goblin Caverns
Ryan Arcus
Simon Jung
Alastair Maher
Anthony M. Patti

5. Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Matt Aitken
Victor Huang
R. Christopher White

6. Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Areito Echevarria
Garry Runke
Francois Sugny

7. Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Jean-Luc Azzis
Steven Mcgillen
Christoph Salzmann
Charles Tait

For a full story and the complete list of nominations please see The Hollywood Reporter’s story.

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Oscar Parties, Production, The Hobbit, WETA Digital

Weta Digital Joe Letteri: 48 FPS Enhances 3-D, But ‘It’s A Choice’

Talking to Shawn Adler from movieline.com, Weta Digital visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri talks about the use of 3D HFR in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He explains why it takes some getting used to, and why he feels it’s a big step forward for films, like the transition from black and white to color.

“If you grew up seeing films in black and white and suddenly start seeing films in color, some people are going to have the reaction ‘Wow, that’s great!’ and other people are going to have the reaction, ‘That’s not moviemaking! Films should be made in black and white! You’re losing the mystery of how to deal with tonality, you’re sacrificing that to deal with color!’”  [Read more]

Posted in Crew News, Hobbit Movie, Joe Letteri, Production, Production Q&A, The Hobbit, WETA Digital

FXguide.com: Weta returns to Middle-earth

Jackson and Lesnie with the RED EPICs and 3Ality stereo rig. (Courtesy: FXguide.com)“Weta Digital has grown to now define state of the art in visual effects worldwide. Its dedication to storytelling and realizing director’s visions has lead to the company working with some of the best directors in the world. For The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Weta Digital continued to employ its exquisite attention to detail into helping to tell the story of the fantastical world of Middle-earth.” [Read More]

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Media Reviews, Production, The Hobbit, WETA Digital, WETA Workshop

Richard Taylor talks about Weta’s work

Ever wondered exactly what they do at Weta Workshop and Weta Digital? Richard Taylor talks about their work in this neat little clip. Plus there’s some footage and red carpet interviews from the Wellington premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey that you may not have sen previously. (more…)

Posted in Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Events, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Hugo Weaving, Martin Freeman, Peter Jackson, Premieres, Richard Armitage, Richard Taylor, Wellington, WETA Digital, WETA Workshop

Sad news – Visual Effects Producer Eileen Moran dies in New Zealand

In amongst all the excitement and celebration of the new Hobbit movie, tonight the very sad news has broken that Eileen Moran, an Executive Producer at Weta Digital, died in New Zealand on Monday this week.  Moran worked extensively with Peter Jackson and the Weta team, including on The Lord of the Rings movies and The Hobbit movies.  She missed the Hobbit premiere last week because she was in hospital.  You can read more here.  Everyone in the TORn community would like to extend deepest sympathies to her family, her loved ones, her friends and her colleagues.

Posted in Crew News, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, Production, The Hobbit, WETA Digital

Joe Letteri talks visual fx and re-visualising The Hobbit

Gollum Unexpected Journey character poster

Will Gollum appear at the end of the third film?

Although the wait is nearly over for the familiar goblins and mystical forests of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, senior visual-effects supervisor Joe Letteri says the only thing that remains the same for this iteration of Peter Jackson’s fantasy films is on the surface. The digital tools that brought countless Orcs to life and gave Gollum his distinctive distorted face are virtually unrecognizable from those used a decade ago for the The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

“It’s changed almost completely,” Letteri says. “On the outside, you want Gollum to look like the same character, but he’s completely different” underneath.

The biggest change from the first set of films is the way that actor Andy Serkis’ performance is captured and analyzed in order to create the digital character, according to visual-effects supervisor Eric Saindon. “Our facial capture has progressed leaps and bounds,” he says. “Now we actually capture all of Andy’s performance, when he’s acting with Martin (Freeman) in Gollum’s cage on set. We have a small camera attached in front of his face that captures his exact facial performance. Rather than an animator going in and doing it frame-by-frame, the computer analyzes Andy’s performance and then fires Gollum’s muscles to do the exact same thing. So the first half of the animation, which is the raw mo-cap data, is really Andy.”

“We know so much more about how the face works,” Letteri adds. “When people communicate face to face there are so many things that are going on that you really have to study now and put into the characters. We hope that people recognize that there’s this extra layer of depth.”

[Read More]

Posted in Andy Serkis, Hobbit Movie, Joe Letteri, Production, The Hobbit, WETA Digital