Monday, December 03, 2012

The Hobbit's "Re-visualized" Special Effects

In a new article from Deadline, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey visual-effects supervisors discuss how creating the visual effects for The Hobbit is much different then how they did it for The Lord of the Rings.
“It’s changed almost completely,” [Joe] Letteri says. “On the outside, you want Gollum to look like the same character, but he’s completely different” underneath.

“Our facial capture has progressed leaps and bounds,” [Eric Saindon] says. “Now we actually capture all of Andy’s performance, when he’s acting with Martin (Freeman) in Gollum’s cage on set. We have a small camera attached in front of his face that captures his exact facial performance. Rather than an animator going in and doing it frame-by-frame, the computer analyzes Andy’s performance and then fires Gollum’s muscles to do the exact same thing. So the first half of the animation, which is the raw mo-cap data, is really Andy.”

“We know so much more about how the face works,” Letteri adds. “When people communicate face to face there are so many things that are going on that you really have to study now and put into the characters. We hope that people recognize that there’s this extra layer of depth.”

“We did try to capture rain on set; it worked OK, but it was very easy to get rain on the mirror for the 3D, and then the stereo breaks instantly. The lighting was (also) very hard to control with the rain. So we did it for about a day and then we decided that it would be better just to do the rain in post. Then we added the stone giants, which are basically these mountains that come to life to have a thunder battle.”

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