Nothing Real, a compositing software provider to the digital content creation market, announces that WETA Digital, a New Zealand-based visual effects facility, is using its Shake software as the primary film compositing system to handle the enormous visual effects requirements for New Line Cinema’s and Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy. WETA is producing all three films in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, simultaneously. To date, Shake has helped WETA tackle more than 1,000 compositing intensive effects shots on the projects.

WETA has installed more than 52 GUI and 100 render-only Shake software licenses since it began building its new state-of-the-art studio and model postproduction environment, nearly three years ago. Shake now serves as the cornerstone of the facility’s compositing pipeline.

WETA‘s massive undertaking in bringing to cinematic life three of the world’s literary masterpieces, demanded, and continues to demand, technological innovation at every step of the postproduction process,” says Allen Edwards, president of Nothing Real. “Nothing Real is especially thrilled that they have selected Shake as a foundation application to support its digital post production pipeline and successfully create cutting-edge visual effects that will serve these hugely visual and epic stories.”

WETA faced a number of compositing challenges in the creation of more than 570 shots for the first film in the trilogy. The casting of actors of normal stature as hobbits and dwarves required the development of scale compositing techniques to seamlessly integrate them with the larger races on the screen. Thousands of CG elements, including crowds, creatures, environments, digital matte paintings, and digital stunt doubles were also created by WETA for integration by the 27 members of the compositing team. Motion control photography was used extensively on both the live action and miniature stages. A typical shot might depend on twin backgrounds, a digital matte object, multiple blue/greenscreen and CG smoke and creature elements, and miniatures. The most complex shot had over 300 input layers of various types, thousands of operations in the final compositing script, and was nearly 1500 frames in length.

“Integrating Shake facility-wide as our primary compositing system was mission-critical to our production efforts on these monumental projects.

Shake’s speed, flexibility, and scalability make it unquestionably the best compositing tool for complex imagery creation and manipulation,” says Jon Labrie, CTO at WETA. “Simply put, we couldn’t have completed The Fellowship of the Rings without it.

“The production-proven experience of Nothing Real’s development team coupled with its superior understanding of film compositing technology has been invaluable to our efforts to jointly develop and customize aspects of Shake to our particular production needs,” added Labrie. “Our relationship with Nothing Real remains essential as we move forward to complete the following two films.”

“Working closely with WETA and having access to ‘real-world feedback’ allows us to exchange ideas and information so that we can continue to deliver superior quality and innovative compositing technologies that helps our customers raise the standard by which special effects for high-end film applications are realized,” says Arnaud Hervas CFO at Nothing Real.