Weta Workshop is one of the premier special effect studios on the planet. The studio is responsible for bringing The Lord of the Rings and other high profile films to life. Now they’re working on The Hobbit, and much of the modeling work is being done with advanced 3D printers.
A news report from July featured an inside look at Weta Workshop’s current operations, including the studio’s custom 3D printers. The report says that Weta is creating many of the props for the film with these 3D printers. The studio is even experimenting with a new kind of 3D printer attached to a large robotic arm for life size prop creation. It’s said that they could even build a car with it.
Another high-profile film from this year – Men in Black III – also used 3D printing for prototype prop modeling. The reports makes it seem like Weta is actually using the 3D printed props they create. Of course, 3D printed swords and other weaponry are most likely prototypes that help in the production of the actual metal-cast props used in the film.
The use of 3D printers at Weta may just help spur their use across other film mediums. Much of the Star Wars prequels were shot in front of a green screen, but Disney may opt to make Star Wars Episode VII feel more real with actual props and sets. I would love to see Industrial Light and Magic get into 3D printing.