Program 2015


The Hobbit & 20 Years of Weta Digital

Joe Letteri (Weta Digital)

Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri will discuss how twenty years of creativity and innovation came together in The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies.  His presentation will focus on key advancements from The Hobbit trilogy with a particular focus on the third film.  Joe provides context for this work by highlighting how the core principles of Weta Digital’s approach to visual effects going back to The Lord of the Rings and King Kong can be seen in Avatar and more recent films like the Planet of the Apes and The Hobbit films.

Joe Letteri

Joe Letteri , Sr. Visual Effects Supervisor, Weta Digital,

Joe Letteri's pioneering work on digital visual effects has earned him four Academy Awards® for Best Visual Effects on Avatar, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and King Kong. He has also received the Academy’s Technical Achievement Award for co-developing the subsurface scattering technique that brought Gollum to life.

Joe joined Weta Digital as Visual Effects Supervisor on The Two Towers and over the last eleven years he has led Weta Digital to become one of the world's premiere visual effects studios.

Joe has developed many techniques that have become standards for bringing photographic quality to digital visual effects. He specializes in the creation of compellingly realistic creatures, from the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, to Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, the 25ft gorilla in King Kong, the Na'vi in Avatar, and Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

As Senior Visual Effects Supervisor on Avatar, Joe oversaw a programme of research and development over four years that produced shots larger and more complex than ever attempted before. This involved shooting on a virtual stage with a new camera system, along with the development a full pipeline of tools effectively launching a new approach to filmmaking called virtual production.

Last year, Joe led the Weta Digital team back into Middle-earth to bring to life the third film of Peter Jackson’s much-anticipated trilogy The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, as well as completing work on the summer blockbuster Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He is currently working on Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice; The Fantastic Four; The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, and several unannounced projects.

Weta Digital is one of the world’s premier visual effects companies. Led by Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri, the studio is known for uncompromising creativity and a commitment to developing innovative technology.  Groundbreaking performance-driven digital characters like Smaug, Gollum, Kong, Neytiri and Caesar from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are widely acknowledged as some of the best digital characters ever put on screen.   Weta's development of revolutionary virtual production workflows for Avatar, The Adventures of Tintin and the The Hobbit trilogy of films has firmly integrated digital production techniques into the film production paradigm. 

Weta Digital established its reputation for cutting edge visual effects with work on blockbusters like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong and has five Visual Effects Oscars to its credit. The company began work in 1993 on co-founder Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures and is based in Wellington, New Zealand.  

FMX is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and Arts and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the City of Stuttgart and MFG Baden-Wuerttemberg, taking place in cooperation with the VES Visual Effects Society and ACM SIGGRAPH. FMX is an event by the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, organized by Animationsinstitut, hosting the Animation Production Days (APD), a joint venture with the Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS).

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