Computer Graphics World

January/February 2015

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10 cgw j a n u a r y . f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 5 hen Weta Digi- tal won a visual eff ects Oscar in 2002 for its fi rst blockbuster fi lm, The Lord of the Rings, it was a fl edgling studio. Since then, Weta Digital artists have brought home four more Oscars, fi ve BAFTAs, and numerous other awards and nominations. This year, the well-established studio shouldered the eff ects for two blockbuster fi lms, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, both sequels in successful franchises. Each fi lm represents a culmination of state-of-the-art tools and techniques devel- oped at the successful studio: Dawn (see "Evolution," July/ August 2014) brought character creation and performance to a new level, and the recently released Five Armies provided a battleground for effi cient and exacting methods of virtual pro- duction. Both received BAFTA nominations for Best Visual Eff ects, and Dawn has received an Oscar nomination. With Five Armies, Director Peter Jackson ended his journey into Middle-earth that started with The Lord of the Rings. So, too, did Visual Eff ects Super- visor Eric Saindon, who joined Weta Digital in 1999. For Five Armies, Saindon cast his eye on all shots the studio submitted to Jackson, but shared visual eff ects supervi- sion with two other longtime Weta supervisors: R. Christo- pher White and Matt Aitkin. "We split the show so Matt could take shots in Dol Guldur, several in Erebor, shots where Bolg and Azog meet for the fi rst time in this movie – 10 or 15 shots in each," Saindon says. "Chris did Lake-town – the fi rst 20 minutes of the show – and then all the Ravenhill sequences." In addition to the overall guidance, with the help of Animation Supervisor Aaron Gilman, Saindon handled the big battles in Dale, in Erebor Valley, the Beorn attack, and the Gundabad attack. These sequences spurred the studio to roll out new technology for virtual production. "I asked Peter [Jackson] if he minded being a guinea pig," says Joe Letteri, senior VFX super- WETA DIGITAL IMPLEMENTS NEW CG TOOLS TO CREATE THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, THE FINAL FILM IN THE SERIES BY BARBARA ROBERTSON Fight to the W Finish Fight to the Fight to the Fight Finish Fight Finish Fight

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