Computer Graphics World

January/February 2015

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j a n u a r y . f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 5 c g w 1 1 visor and Weta Digital director. "He didn't, so we did a lot of Five Armies with Peter using a virtual camera on the virtual produc- tion stage with new technology that was breaking every day. We worked through it." For the last fi lm in The Lord of the Rings series, the studio had created battles by shooting some actors on location and then fi lling in the rest using Massive so ware to manage CG characters in the background. "For this fi lm, everything [for the battles] was on stage," Letteri says. "We had hero actors on greenscreen and used virtual production for everything else. Hopefully, it looks like we were shooting on location, but we were shooting on stages." N E W T E C H : G A Z E B O The new tools implemented for the fi lm included the real-time lighting so ware Gazebo, technology in development two years ago (see "Shaping Middle- earth," January/February 2013), new rendering so ware called Manuka, and a new virtual production pipeline. The scale of shots with the armies made their implementation necessary. "Gazebo came fi rst because we were trying to do a real-time renderer for the stage," Letteri says. "It grew out of thinking how to improve virtual produc- tion post-Avatar. The thing that was missing was a lighting tool that mimicked the result we'd get with our existing produc- tion-renderer, RenderMan. We wanted to know if we could render equivalent lights and shaders in hardware that would approximate a fi nal render. Gazebo gave us that and speed optimization. It was robust for the virtual stage." Gazebo also had a second- ary, equally important role as a pre-lighting tool for technical directors. "We knew that once we had that equivalency, we could use the fast engine for blocking in lighting," Letteri says. "That's when we started to bridge that gap." N E W T E C H : M A N U K A A new approach for rendering became an important consid- eration with Tintin. In Tintin, DIRECTOR PETER JACKSON FILMED ALL THE BATTLES IN FIVE ARMIES IN VIRTUAL PRODUCTION. Images courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

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