ACADEMY AWARD

Achievement in Visual Effects

"...using a computer motion capture system to create the split personality character of Gollum and Smeagol."

 

Keanu Reeves

Actor and Presenter

75th Academy Awards

 

THE LORD OF THE RINGS

THE TWO TOWERS

Motion Capture Supervisor
 

The mandate from Peter Jackson was that he wanted to direct Gollum in real-time, a request that has never been achieved before in feature film production for an all computer generated character. The fact that Gollum was a disproportionate biped / quadraped with long arms and legs; oversized hands, feet and head; and stood three feet, ten inches tall added to the challenge of targeting the source data accurately.

Remington was responsible for supervising capture production, designing workflow and implementing methodologies that defined Weta Digital as a performance animation facility capable of the highest caliber of quality.

 

Because the sessions were recorded in real-time, the data was piped into a real-time compositing solution that integrated plates and 3D environments. All the imagery, as well as audio, was recorded at a playback station into Quicktime clips.  At the end of the session all video was delivered to editorial for Peter Jackson to cut into scenes. Once approved, the timing of the selected takes were given to the motion editing team.

Remington expanded the motion capture pipeline from being used as cycled animation for Massive simulations to a powerful real-time system for shot specific actions for the immense amount of capture work needed. However, it was the detailed performance capture sessions with Andy Serkis that elevated the split personality character of Gollum and Smeagol into defining the art of performance in the digital arena.

 

Although the optical capture system was from Giant, it was licensed by Weta and wholly operated by Weta production crew under Remington's supervision. The quality assurance of operating a system in-house was of the highest priority. 

 

In order to meet the extreme demand of the motion capture production, Remington expanded the motion editing team to three times it's initial size. Under Remington's supervision, the motion delivered from the team went straight to the TD's and into lighting.

 

All motion editing work had previously used Giant's Nuance software. Although a powerful editing tool, it was extremely rare to find motion editors who knew the software. Remington hand picked an advanced team of motion editors and managed a new pipeline centered around the use of MotionBuilder as an editing toolset.

 

The capture production ran daily for approximately ten months.  12,011,729 frames of motion capture data was processed, edited and delivered at 60 frames per second. This equals just over 55 hours of motion capture data that was incorporated into the Massive simulations (if played end to end) for both THE TWO TOWERS and RETURN OF THE KING, as well as shot specific actions and performance capture of Gollum and Smeagol for THE TWO TOWERS.

 

“The mocap unit had also transformed from the early days into a fully operational crew working in a swanky new high-tech environment. Remington Scott (who had created the first fully mocapped animation feature, FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN) was now Supervisor.

 

...there was a real sense of “Let’s get down to business.”

 

Andy Serkis 

Actor, Gollum / Sméagol   

THE LORD OF THE RINGS

 

Excerpt from 

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: GOLLUM

HOW WE MADE MOVIE MAGIC

“Gollum’s a creature that you couldn’t really shoot in a rubber suit because he really has to interact…It just pushed us to the point where we realized we had to make this guy fully computer generated and yet ensure he looked absolutely real in his actions and the way he speaks. 

 

So we went for animation via motion capture, and we actually had Andy Serkis do every motion possible…It was beyond amazing, and it enabled Gollum to be real. We didn’t want people sitting there thinking Gollum was an amazing-looking CG creature; we wanted to keep him moving around, just like a real actor, interacting fully with the other people. “

 

Jim Rygiel

Academy Award winning Visual Effects Designer

THE LORD OF THE RINGS

“I worked for Remington while at Weta. His knowledge of both the technical and the artistic part of the motion capture process was refreshing and the result shows in the quality of the performance that is captured. He is one of the best supervisors I have worked for and always could provide help that allowed me to do the best work I could for him. I would work for him again with out question.”

 

Brad Clark

Co-Founder

RIGGING DOJO.COM

 

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