from the Art of VFX article:
What is your background?
Originally I studied Architecture, then Mathematics at University of Edinburgh and then an MSC in computer animation at Bournemouth University. After graduating I worked at Double Negative for four and a half years before joining Weta Digital as a TD on KING KONG, after which I spent 5 years as the Shader Supervisor which included films such as AVATAR and THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN. PROMETHEUS is my first show as one of Weta Digital’s Visual Effects Supervisors.
How did Weta Digital got involved on this show?
We were first approached in December 2010. Ridley had an early design for the engineer and had a maquette which he lit, put on turntable, shot some footage and sent it to us to see if we could match it. We built the model digitally from scans, recreated the material properties of the skin and added a facial rig so that we could articulate the model and bring it to life. The results gave Ridley the confidence to pursue using digital creatures for the film.
How was the collaboration with director Ridley Scott and Production VFX Supervisor Richard Stammers?
Ridley has a really strong vision in terms of what he wants, but is also very open to have ideas presented to him, so we were able to get involved with the design process and how creatures would move and look on some of the sequences. In some instances there was a creature that already had a maquette built and had a design which we would match and enhance to make sure it was able to articulate in a realistic way, where a puppet was more rigid or unnatural. In conjunction with Richard Stammers we were able to collaborate and design the vision that Ridley wanted.
What was his approach about visual effects?
Ridley likes to shoot as much practical as he possibly can; he much prefers to capture in camera than use CG. This has a lot advantages because it means that his images are real, his actors are responding to real events, not to green screen. It also means he can direct in the style he is used to. As much as possible, even when it was clear we would be replacing something digitally, he would have a physical maquette built – something tangible and real – which would help with the design process.
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