Weta Digital’s Joe Letteri Talks THE HOBBIT, BATMAN V SUPERMAN, the AVATAR Sequels, The Future of Motion-Capture Technology, and More

     December 29, 2014


Last week I landed an exclusive video interview with Weta Digital’s Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri.  During the wide-ranging interview he talked about making The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, working with Peter Jackson, if they’re working on the extended cut, if he’s heard about more deleted scenes from The Lord of the Rings being included in the eventual ultimate Blu-ray box set for all six films (which I’ve heard is being worked on right now), the Avatar sequels, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (says they’re working on a sequence in the film that’s self-contained like the Krypton sequence from Man of Steel), the future of motion-capture technology, what other projects are they’re working on (the Maze Runner sequel, Spectral, Fantastic Four), if they have already started on the next Matt Reeves Apes movie, and so much more.  If you’re curious about movie special effects it’s a must watch interview.

the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-final-posterJoe Letteri Time Index:

  • :11 – Have they been having conversations about the next Apes movie yet?
  • 1:15 – Says they’re already working on the extended cut of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.  One sequence in particular is a chariot scene on the ice that was glimpsed in the trailer.
  • 2:36 – Has he heard anything about even more deleted scenes from The Lord of the Rings?
  • 3:54 – Talks about advances in technology and what they’re working to make better.
  • 4:58 – Has there been a time when a director has come to them and they’ve had to say they couldn’t do it?  Says the closest they came was Avatar.
  • 5:55 – Talks about the Avatar sequels.
  • 6:50 – Says Avatar 2, 3, and 4 will be the most ambitious thing they ever tried.
  • 8:00 – How long do people at Weta normally sign on for?  Are they on for the entirety of a certain project?
  • 9:07 – With regards to underwater motion-capture, he says they haven’t put someone in a tank just yet.
  • 9:25 – Talks Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Says they’re working on a sequence in the film that’s self-contained—it wasn’t the sequence that was shown at Comic-Con.
  • 10:50 – What other projects are they doing?  Says they’re working on the Maze Runner sequel, Spectral, and a bit of work on Fantastic Four.
  • 11:25 – Says productions don’t really shoot VFX-heavy sequences early in the schedule anymore, which used to give the VFX houses more time to work on the effects.
  • 12:27 – What has he seen recently that really impressed him?  Talks about the integration of lighting in Gravity.
  • 13:15 – Is he able to watch VFX-heavy films and just enjoy the story, or is he focused on the technology aspect of it?
  • 13:50 – Talks about the superhero genre and what he likes about it.
  • 15:08 – The future of motion-capture technology.  Talks about what they learned on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and what they’ve been pushing for in terms of capture.
  • 17:03 – Talks about the collaboration process with Peter Jackson on The Hobbit movies.  Says they created 150+ characters for The Battle of the Five Armies.
  • 18:45 – Talks about their server farms.  Say they refresh and upgrade once or twice a year.


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