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In-depth look at the creation of Gollum, The Goblin King, and Azog from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

02.21.2013

Next month you'll be able to experience THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY from the comfort of your own home when it hits blu-ray/DVD/digital release and to help warm you up to the hours of special features that will populate the disc(s) we have three special effects featurettes that are actually really cool.  Hero Complex sat down with WETA visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri, who discussed the creation (and recreation) of the CGI characters Gollum, The Goblin King, and Azog, three key characters in the new film.

For Gollum, veteran mo-cap maestro Andy Serkis once again returned to the role he made so famous in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, in a pivotal 9-minute scene that arguably sets the events of LORD OF THE RINGS in motion.  Gollum looked great in those films and was tremendous in THE HOBBIT as well, which Letteri felt kicked off well.

It was really unusual to be able to do a character piece like that, a nine-minute dialogue scene between a CG character and a very good actor. There’s a level of detail that’s beyond what we were able to do 10 years ago.”

For The Goblin King, voiced and mo-capped by Aussie actor Barry Humphries, the process was a little more...disgusting.  The WETA team poured through medical journal images of herpes, boils, gangrene, tumors and rashes to give the diseased and morbidly obese character the most menacing attributes without going over the top. Letteri elaborates,

He’s a giant, evil goblin.  It was all about making him as disgusting as possible, and fine tuning the performance to give you the sense of the weight, the massiveness of him.”

Lastly, one of my favorite characters from the new film, Azog, the Pale Orc leader with a vendetta against Thorin, was originally cast as an actor in prosthetics, but director Peter Jackson later decided to make him a mo-cap character.  I know some may disagree, but in this instance I think it was a great choice, as Azog really came across as a menacing villain that looked brilliant and frightening throughout.

Pretty cool shit, eh?  I am fascinated by the process of merging these CGI characters with live action and Peter Jackson and WETA have done such a great job, earning a much-deserved Oscar nomination for their work at this year's Academy Awards.  I enjoyed the film much more than I anticipated and can't wait to see it again, let alone the next chapter.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY hits Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Download on March 19, 2013.

Extra Tidbit: Do you think that there is a time for CGI characters or are you vehemently against them?
Source: Hero Complex

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