Weta Workshop’s Practical Effects Magic with 3D Printing

To CGI or not CGI? That is the question...

CGI has been proliferating in the film industry for many, many years now. Almost all the movies we see these days, whether it’s the plethora of superhero stories or adapting iconic literary pieces onto the silver screen (you’d be surprised how many scenes in the Great Gatsby were computer generated), there are teams of designers using computer software to create extraordinary visuals.

Since the use of CGI has become such a commonplace, there is also now a movement to bring back practical effects into movies and rely less on the computer.

It's probably a lot quicker to recreate the lavishness of early 1920's Long Island through CGI than to build an actual set, so you can't really blame the movie makers.

Mother knows best.

First premiered at Sundance Film Festival back in January of this year and now available on NetFlix, “I am Mother” is a sci-fi thriller set after the extinction of humankind. The titular character Mother is a robot tasked with repopulating humanity via the stored embryos in a facility. Now, the robot could have been easily placed into the movie by CGI and green screen, especially when Weta Workshop is in charge of the special effects.

However, Weta went with the practical effects approach. Instead of creating a robot animatronic, Weta used 3D printing to create a robot suit for actor Luke Hawker to act in. It’s not the first time either, Weta has had previous experience with 3D printing exoskeletons for the Geisha robots that appeared in 2017’s Ghost in the Shell.

A lot of thought had been put into the design of Mother and the features she should have that makes her a believable and key instrument to reviving humanity. Just as equally important, if not more, is how to take the concept and realise it into something tangible for filming. This is where 3D printing comes in. Find out how Weta Workshop achieved this in their behind the scenes video below. You’ll even recognise a familiar “face” that was used to help create the wearable robot suit.

Did you spot the UP BOX+? 
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