Christy Grosz is Editor of AwardsLine.
Although the wait is nearly over for the familiar goblins and mystical forests of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, senior visual-effects supervisor Joe Letteri says the only thing that remains the same for this iteration of Peter Jackson’s fantasy films is on the surface. The digital tools that brought countless Orcs to life and gave Gollum his distinctive distorted face are virtually unrecognizable from those used a decade ago for the The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
“It’s changed almost completely,” Letteri says. “On the outside, you want Gollum to look like the same character, but he’s completely different” underneath.
The biggest change from the first set of films is the way that actor Andy Serkis’ performance is captured and analyzed in order to create the digital character, according to visual-effects supervisor Eric Saindon. “Our facial capture has progressed leaps and bounds,” he 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.”
Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor.
Although the visual-effects Oscar race has long been dominated by summer season superhero epics and action-heavy films, a subtle shift has been taking place over the last few years that makes predicting the outcome a little more challenging than it used to be. While visual-effects artists bring ever more realistic digital characters and environments to convincing life, the effects themselves have grown increasingly sophisticated, to the point that even insiders can’t always tell how an effect was done.
“It gets really difficult for someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time in this business analyzing what’s going on to actually know what they’re looking at on the screen and how it was created and what the level of achievement was that went into it,” says Joe Letteri, a four-time Oscar winner and contender for a fifth as visual-effects supervisor on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Throw in the fact that nearly every film has at least some visual effects, and the field of eligibility includes everything from Men In Black 3 to Silver Linings Playbook to Ted.
EXCLUSIVE: Stephen David Entertainment, producer of documentary-style shows for History Channel, TLC, Lifetime and others, and award-winning feature and TV effects house Brainstorm Digital have established an exclusive strategic partnership to create pioneering event TV. First up is History’s The Men …
The Visual Effects Society, the industry’s organization of visual effects artists and technicians, today released a Bill of Rights designed to call attention to problems affecting its membership and Hollywood. The document follows an open letter to the entertainment …
“I’m often quoted in the press talking about visual effects like an actress talks about her use of botox… I know visual effects people pride themselves on doing the impossible. I’d just like to encourage you to say no to the unreasonable,” Chris Nolan receiving the inaugural Visual Effects Society’s …
Beverly Hills, CA –The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that seven films remain in the running in the Visual Effects category for the 83rd Academy Awards®.
The films are listed below in alphabetical order:
“Alice in Wonderland”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
“Iron Man 2”