His work on the Lord of the Rings franchise, Avatar and Planet of the Apes films not only heralded industry-wide changes in the way that filmmakers create CGI characters, but transformed the way audiences experience and relate to them. And the Director of Weta Digital, he has overseen dozens of other productions as they implemented the technology developed and unveiled to make fantasy not just come alive, but become real on screen.
Letteri is currently deep in production on James Cameron’s forthcoming Avatar sequels, but the visual effects artist and supervisor recently visited Film Fest 919, currently celebrating its second year in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for a presentation of materials from his vast and eclectic career. Afterward, the filmmaker sat down with Nerdist for an exclusive conversation about the progress he and Cameron are making on Avatar; in addition to talking about the opportunities and challenges they’re dealing with on that eight-year production, Letteri revealed some of the secrets, and foundations, to creating memorable and believable CGI characters, and reflected on his own past, present and future in the industry as other titans like Martin Scorsese begin to utilize the technology he and his collaborators pioneered to make it possible to tell different kinds of stories than he, or they, ever imagined.
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