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WETA Digital has released a brand new two and a half minute video exclusively the The Hollywood Reporter detailing the creation of the dragon Smaug. The Hollywood Reporter also spoke to Smaug VFX artist David Clayton (who is nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the film) about the process of translating actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s motion capture performance into the fire-breathing creature you see on the screen in The Desolation of Smaug. = David Clayton:
“The translation of performance from Benedict to Smaug wasn’t a one-to-one match like you’d get from a humanoid creature. They have very different physiologies,” Clayton explains. “As animators we had to transpose the elements of Benedict’s performance that were critical to the shot, such as head nuances and facial expressions. We then built up the majority of his motion with keyframe animation” –meaning that it was animated by hand.
While Desolation had some things I wasn't too fond of, Smaug is hands-down the best and most impressive movie dragon I've seen. The exchange between him and Bilbo is my favorite scene from the Hobbit movies so far.
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