Autodesk, Lightstorm, Weta Develop Tech for ‘Avatar’ Sequels

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Autodesk has partnered with Lightstorm Entertainment and Weta Digital to develop the next generation of virtual production technology.

The three companies have been working to further expand the virtual production workflows and technologies that were first developed for “Avatar.” Some of the tools and enhancements resulting from the collaboration have been incorporated into certain products in the latest Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suites.

“Creating the virtual production pipeline on ‘Avatar’ was a groundbreaking process that only enabled us to scratch the surface of what is possible. Together with Autodesk and Weta Digital, we have used the knowledge gained from this first experience to clearly define the ideal process and then develop the technology needed to streamline our workflow. With the resulting pipeline, on the ‘Avatar’ sequels, I will be able to devote more of my energy to the creative side of the moviemaking process, and dig deeper into all that is possible with virtual production,” said James Cameron.

To develop the next generation of virtual production technology, Weta Digital forged a particularly close relationship with Autodesk and its development team. As the visual effects studio on “Avatar,” and “The Adventures of Tintin,” as well as the upcoming “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” Weta Digital has established expertise in the virtual production process.

“After completing ‘Avatar,’ we had a clear understanding of the developments needed to make the process more creative and efficient. We knew that by bringing the whole digital pipeline more in line with the traditional onset style of shooting we could open up brand new ways for directors like Jim to make their films. When we’re charting new territory like this, it’s invaluable to have a partner like Autodesk whose tools are the platform and the standard in the industry,” said Joe Letteri, senior digital effects supervisor at Weta Digital.

As part of the Entertainment Creation Suites 2013, the new virtual production enhancements will help studios of all sizes adopt this revolutionary moviemaking process. The tools, found in Autodesk MotionBuilder and Autodesk Maya software, will help improve performance, workflow and image fidelity.

MotionBuilder now loads, saves and merges files together much faster than before, and is more closely integrated to the Editorial workflow. Motion capture and live input data can be recorded to disk in the software’s non-linear editor so directors can record multiple takes in rapid sequence; actors can act out their scenes un-interrupted; and stage crew can work instantly with Editorial to build and refine shots. Furthermore, the software now includes HD SDI video output support, which allows MotionBuilder to be integrated into studio video broadcast systems, designed to introduce zero frames of lag. This gives creative visionaries and camera operators more accurate real time feedback on their virtual camera work.

To learn more, visit Autodesk’s virtual production site.