Justin writes: Jim Rygiel did a chat on LOTR effects on Saturday. For 3 hours he showed progression composites, green screen, digital doubles, tests, everything – it was great. A few key notes:

  • 90% of all “size” issues with hobbits and dwarves were done in camera, not digitally
  • The maquette scanner to digitize characters is actually a sheep carcass scanner developed in Aus, used to test slaughter imperfections
  • Renderman was used as main renderer
  • New Massive renderer called “GRUNT” – General Renderer of Unlimited Number of Things
  • Mount Doom fireballs at end of film are simple charcoal briquettes Lava is the same gel-substance used in McDonalds shakes for consistancy – same technique from “Volcano”
  • Rotoscoping team had 50-80 people at all times
  • Original fire software was 100% real physics engine, but was ditched because balrog moved too fast and blew himself out like a candle. They tried turning up “pressure” and Balrog looked like the Human Torch. Finally ended up with Maya Particle simulator.

On another note, I’m starting an online fan video network, showing fan films and broadcasting live from the star wars line in Hollywood. We are currently making short fan interviews, and will be shooting several professionals like prop guys, matte painters, and all the unsung heroes of major FX films. Jim Rygiel has commited to an interview, so look forward to an in depth “fan interview” with Jim Rygiel in the coming weeks.