Over the past 25 years, Weta Digital has created visual effects for some of the biggest pieces of pop culture the world has ever seen, ranging from The Lord of the Rings franchise to Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame. Now the company is doing something it’s never done before: producing original content under a new animation division.
A press release says filmmakers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) are both going to “play a key role in the development of Weta Animation,” and the two of them will also “write, produce and direct several animated projects for the company.”
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The final confrontation in Avengers: Endgame is one of the most epic scenes in comic book movie history. It’s as if a comic splash page came to life, grabbed a basketball, and windmill dunked on the airport fight in Captain America: Civil War. The Endgame battle is a fight between good and evil on a truly tremendous scale, full of the type of jaw-dropping, “holy shit” moments that make you wonder how any other film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will ever be able to top it.
We’ll have to wait and see if that ever happens, but in the meantime, I spoke with Weta Digital’s visual effects supervisor Matt Aitken about how Endgame‘s final battle came together. Weta created the VFX for that sequence, and Aitken told me about how much the battle changed over time, which actors were present for its key moments, that applause-inducing moment when Captain America grabs Thor’s hammer, the nanotechnology in Iron Man’s suit, and much more. Read More »
War for the Planet of the Apes doesn’t hit theaters until the middle of next month, but this past week brought the first batch of screenings for critics, as well as a batch of global screenings for fans who were quick enough to get free passes to the advanced showing of the blockbuster sequel. The movie has some glowing early buzz, and one of the most impressive aspects of the film are the visual effects by Weta Digital.
A new War for the Planet of the Apes visual effects featurette shows off the absolutely breathtaking work done by the New Zealand company who gives Industrial Light and Magic a run for their money. It shows off behind the scenes footage of Andy Serkis and some of the other ape actors as they appear on set in performance capture gear and puts it alongside the fully rendered, complete sequences from the movie. Check it out after the jump. Read More »
Posted on Friday, April 15th, 2016 by Angie Han
Between Sean Parker’s Screening Room and AMC’s tentatively proposed (and quickly discarded) texting-allowed policy, we’ve seen a lot of debate in recent weeks about the sanctity (or lack thereof) of the theatrical experience. Cinephiles will swear up and down that a pristine movie theater is the only proper way to enjoy a movie — and I tend to agree — but the truth is that for a lot of moviegoers, the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. Why fork over $100 for tickets and popcorn and a babysitter, put up with screaming kids and sticky floors, when you can just rent something from the comfort of your own couch? So what if you’re missing out on 3D and giant screens and surround sound?
Jon Favreau‘s The Jungle Book is the answer to that “so what.” It’s a technical achievement on par with Avatar and Life of Pi, the kind of cutting-edge stunner that actually justifies all the extra premiums and hassles associated with 3D and the theater experience in general. If you’re planning to see this movie at all, see it in 3D while it’s still in theaters. The film’s heart and humor will still be intact when it reaches home video, and thank goodness for that, but the magic of its special effects is on another level altogether. Read More »
It’s kind of a miracle Furious 7 turned out so well. After the tragic loss of actor Paul Walker, nobody knew where that left the unfinished film. Would it be reshot? Scrapped altogether? In the end, Universal, director James Wan (The Conjuring), and all involved worked with Weta to finish Paul Walker’s scenes. Read more about how they did it after the jump. Read More »
With the advancement of technology happening at an exponential rate, it seems like almost anything is possible, especially on the big screen. Special effects are more advanced than they’ve ever been, allowing entire cities and civilizations to be destroyed with the click of a mouse (all right, it’s a little more complicated than that). But is that a good thing?
A new video essay, called The Weta Effect, offers the hypothesis that the reason people seem to not be as impressed by blockbusters and their special effects over the past decade is that special effects look too polished now. Technology allows the creation of such unrealistic characters, creatures and locations in such a realistic way, that it’s become harder to suspend out disbelief to accept them as they are. Does that make sense?
Find out more by watching the Weta Effect video below! Read More »
Posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2014 by Angie Han
The Thunderbirds are back, and the Comic-Con gods have given us our first peek at the new remake. ITV’s upcoming series Thunderbirds Are Go! made a showing at the Weta booth on the Comic-Con floor, displaying a model of the iconic Thunderbird 1. Take a peek after the jump.
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Posted on Friday, February 15th, 2013 by Angie Han
In a weird way, special effects are never less noticeable than when they’re done really well. The best artists are able to blend the real and the unreal so seamlessly that it’s all but impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. So it’s cool to get a chance to see the painstaking labor that goes into enhancing these films, as we do in two new VFX reels for Looper and The Hobbit.
In a similar vein, we also have behind-the-scenes featurettes from Brave and Life of Pi, which not only explore the making-of processes but also offer commentary from directors Mark Andrews and Ang Lee (respectively). Watch all four videos after the jump.
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What’s weirder than a resurgence of the supermarionette show Thunderbirds, which originally premiered in the UK in 1965? How about a version that eschews the puppetry that has long characterized the title, in favor of a blend of live-action and CGI? The weird part is that this isn’t the first live-action venture for the characters. Jonathan Frakes directed a live-action Thunderbirds feature, which was released to rather dismal reviews and box-office returns in 2004.
ITV Studios is backing a new series called Thunderbirds Are Go!, with the CG work to be done by WETA. The new show shares a title with the first Thunderbirds film, released in 1966. This one will have a new creative team; original Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson passed away in December, at age 83.
Info from the press release is below, along with some classic video. Read More »
Duncan Jones would like WETA to help bring his next sci-fi movie to life and, after that, he’s changing genres. The director of Moon and Source Code has been talking about making his third film, an “homage to Blade Runner,” for some time and now he says it might be his last in that genre. In a new interview, Jones revealed that he’s spoken to the crew at WETA, hot off their latest success with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and he “would be privileged to get the chance” for them to work on his mysterious, untitled sci-fi film. Read Jones’ quotes and more after the jump. Read More »