Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Weta Digital lifts the lid on their blockbusting work

ITN

Kurt Russell discusses the de-ageing process for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Weta Digital has revealed just what they were responsible for in the blockbusting behemoth Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.

The Wellington-based visual effects company was one of about a dozen around the globe who shared the massive task of bringing the Guardians to life.

Speaking at a recent video-effects conference in Stuttgart ,Germany, Weta's VFX supervisor Guy Williams said one their main jobs was to create Kurt Russell's character Ego.

"He can create an avatar of himself so that people can relate to him, and that avatar can change into different people, at one point David Hasselhoff," he explained to the crowd, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In order to bring that to life, they had to create digital doubles of both men, he said.

Wellington-based Weta Digital helped bring Kurt Russell's character in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 to life.
Supplied

Wellington-based Weta Digital helped bring Kurt Russell's character in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 to life.

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Williams admitted that at one point they had to blow away a large portion of his face, which led to concerns about what censorship ratings that would attract.

"We needed a solution that was visually compelling but not too gory. We relied heavily on fractals [and used math to create the look] to make the destruction areas not look very biological, because we could get away with it as long as it doesn't look like a human. We removed parts of him and then had them grow back."

Some of Weta Digital's effects included creating the fractal inspired Planet Hollow and turning Ego, Star Lord's father, ...
Marvel Studios

Some of Weta Digital's effects included creating the fractal inspired Planet Hollow and turning Ego, Star Lord's father, played by Kurt Russell, into David Hasselhoff.

While Weta didn't work on the creation of crowd-favourites Baby Groot or Rocket the Racoon. Williams said they had to get up to speed on Rocket because he appeared in many of their shots. Working closely with rival effects house Framestore, they created a Rocket with fur that was "hair-to-hair accurate" with the British company's character. They then hand-animated him using Bradley Cooper's voice-performance and the on-set movements of actor Sean Gunn.

"Rocket's performance is based heavily on his breathe, he scowls all the time, and he has a hunch," Williams said.

However, he said 80 per cent of Weta's work on the film – and their biggest challenge – was the interior of Ego's planet.

EUROPA

One of Weta Digital's next projects - Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - debuts in New Zealand in early August.

"[Director] James Gunn preferred an environment based on Hal Tenny's work, and Tenny is a fractal artist [using maths to create patterns]," said Williams.. "The problem is you can't control fractals, and filmmaking requires control. We had to figure out how to use the foundation of fractal math but bend it for what was needed for motion-picture production."

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has been a smash-hit with audiences around the world, with the US$200m film raking in more than US$630m so far (including over NZ$4m in cinemas here).

Oscar winners earlier this year for their involvement in The Jungle Book, Weta Digital's work will feature in two other Hollywood blockbusters over the next few months –  War for the Planet of the Apes (due in New Zealand cinemas on July 13) and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (August 10).

 

 - Stuff

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