Weta Digital Head of Technology and Research, Luca Fascione, discusses the move toward making more “lighting-aware” decisions on set and in the early stages of production and how it combines with the studio’s strategy around final renders. The talk will cover how this trend is enabled by a holistic approach to shader properties as well as the use of real-world camera and light measurements that carry through the entire rendering pipeline. Making fundamental photography constructs, such as shadow hardness and other qualities of light, available during the early stages of production allows the director and the cinematographer to build a specific aesthetic for a movie that is inclusive of the results of computer generated content.
Luca Fascione is Senior Head of Technology & Research at Weta Digital, where he oversees Weta’s core R&D efforts including Simulation and Rendering Research, Software Engineering and Production Engineering.
Luca is the lead architect of Weta Digital’s next-generation proprietary renderer, Manuka. This renderer is the culmination of a three-year research endeavour involving over 40 researchers and continues to allow Weta Digital to produce highly complex images with unprecedented fidelity.
Luca joined Weta Digital in 2004 and has also worked for Pixar Animation Studios. Through a partnership with NVIDIA, Luca co-developed the GPU-based PantaRay that was instrumental in the making of the movie Avatar, and (since 2011’s The Adventures of Tintin) also became the foundation of volumetric shadow support within the Weta pipeline. Luca was recently recognized with a Scientific and Engineering award from the Academy of Motion Pictures for his work on FACETS, Weta's facial motion capture system.
Weta Digital is one of the world’s premier visual effects companies. Led by Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri, Weta Digital is known for uncompromising creativity and a commitment to developing innovative technology. Ground-breaking performance-driven animated characters like Gollum, Kong, Neytiri, and Caesar are widely regarded as some of the best digital characters ever put on screen. Weta's development of the revolutionary virtual production workflow for Avatar firmly integrated these digital techniques into modern filmmaking. They have been now been used on a dozen films at Weta alone, including The Hobbit and The Planet of the Apes trilogies.
Weta Digital has six visual effects Oscars® and six visual effects BAFTAs to its credit including the 2017 win forThe Jungle Book, and is currently finishing work on War for the Planet of the Apes, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.