Ohio University students and faculty were treated to a crash course in Hollywood special effects far beyond any DVD special feature Thursday night by Chris White of Weta Digital, the visual-effects company that worked with director Peter Jackson on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and, most recently, “King Kong.”

White outlined the various programs and strategies he and his team employed not only to create the giant beast Kong and his habitat, Skull Island, but to complete the unprecedented re-creation of New York City circa 1933.

Perhaps the huge scale of the project was the inspiration for one of the pieces of software White’s team designed, “Massive.” Most of the people going about their lives in the background of “King Kong,” White explained, are actually what he termed “Massive” agents — artificial-intelligence units programmed to have “brains” so that they can actually see, hear and react to things in a realistic manner. [More]