“At Weta Digital, our focus is feature film visual effects. In order to fulfill the director’s vision for the shot we often create digital doubles of characters in the film. These digital versions of the characters are used in place of real actors in situations where it would be too dangerous to use a real person or it was not possible to shoot the scene with a live actor.
These digital doubles need to move and act like the live action character; indistinguishable from the actor. We use dynamic simulations on their hair, skin and clothing to add a high level of realistic movement. These replicate the effect a real environment would have on an actor and his/her clothing on a live set.
For The Hobbit we wanted to create a larger number of clothes that would be indistinguishable from the behaviour of real clothes when simulated. To do this we chose a pattern-based approach at the modelling stage which could accurately create the volume of the real clothing. Marvelous Designer 2 was chosen because it had a fast and stable solver for draping the clothes when modelling and a simple, user-friendly interface.
The patterns for the live action costumes used-on set were available for us to use as templates for our digital cloth patterns. We then created accurate digital copies of the characters’ bodies from reference pictures and scans and used these as our models.
Although we did not render the geometry from Marvelous Designer 2 , the wrinkles and draping the software produced were an invaluable starting point. This geometry was used as a template and the topology rebuilt in Maya with seams, buttons and other details added and used as the hero digital costume for our Models Department.
The Marvelous Designer 2 geometry was also rebuilt in our Creatures department with topology that fed into their cloth simulation approach. The hero geometry was wrapped or attached to the simulation geometry, which was invisible in the final renders.
For The Hobbit we had to produce a digital double of nearly all of the characters seen in the movie. This amounted to hundreds clothing elements – most of which used Marvelous Designer 2 in their creation. The most intensive use was the dwarf costumes that had up to five layers of clothing. The ability to manage that many layers in Marvelous Designer 2 was a real bonus and made the set up for cloth solves simpler and more stable.
Even though Marvelous Designer 2 was created as a tool for the fashion industry it was adaptable enough to meet our needs for film making and we were very happy with the results.”
You can learn more about Marvelous Designer 2 over at the official website.