Originally posted on 21 January. Scroll down for updates.
CGMeetUp has posted three videos on Vimeo showing breakdowns of Weta’s creature effects on The Hobbit. They’re all very short (two minutes or so), but they do give you a flavour of the work.
The first compares the character of Gollum to his original outings in the Lord of the Rings trilogy: peach fuzz on the ears, better caustics on the eyes, an improved facial rig – but there’s little time to go into detail.
Our own personal favourite is the video on the making of the Goblin King – one of the unexpected highlights of the movie – if only for a glimpse into the kind of research Weta’s texturing team had to undertake.
Apparently, the unlucky artists studied “herpes, boils, gangrene, tumours and countless rashes” before hitting upon the final skin textures – and the results, seen in close up, do look satisfyingly hideous.
The final video covers Azog the Pale Orc, and focuses primarily on performance capture, although there is a brief glimpse of the muscle-simulation system and the facial rig.
Updated 18 February: Weta has just released another VFX breakdown for The Hobbit. It covers some of the same ground as the videos above, but you get to see some of the crowd scenes and environment work.