Directed by Peter Jackson, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is the second installment of “The Hobbit” trilogy. He mainly owes his success to the impressive dragon embodied by Benedict Cumberbatch. Find out how Smaug was created.
The Hobbit : a new trilogy that pays off
Ten years after The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Kingdirector Peter Jackson returned to Middle-earth to direct a trilogy adapted from the novel The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. A new adventure, this time centered on Bilbo, played by Martin Freeman. Helped by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Thorin (Richard Armitage), the little Hobbit has the mission to take back the lost Kingdom of the Dwarves of Erebor from the claws of the terrible dragon Smaug.
Although the trilogy of Hobbit has met criticisms less eloquent than those around the Lord of the Ringsthis second saga nevertheless brought in more than $2.9 billion in box office receipts.
The desolation of Smaug : the most successful of the trilogy
Thus, in 2013, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second chapter of this new trilogy, is released in cinemas. A second part that takes our hero to the kingdom of Erebor. He then sees himself having to steal a powerful artifact from the dragon, still asleep in a deep sleep. An enthralling game follows, a perfectly mastered game of cat and mouse. A sublime apotheosis, which came conclude a globally successful second part.
If we really like this second film, it is in particular thanks to the presence of Smaug. The big lizard is, for the occasion, encamped by the big Benedict Cumberbatch, notably famous for his role as Dr Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Creation of Smaug
Weta Digital, Peter Jackson’s special effects companyhas, in 2014, unveiled at The Hollywood Reporter, a behind-the-scenes video of the creation of Smaug. David Clayton, who was part of the Oscar-nominated VFX team for his work on The Great Dragon, explained:
Our challenge with Smaug was to make it just as engaging and believable as its live-action counterparts.
Still according to David Clayton, the creation of Smaug begins in 2012when Benedict Cumberbatch travels to Wellington, New Zealand, at the Weta Digital studios:
Using our motion capture system, we recorded his performance. We first focused on the dialogue between Bilbo and the dragon. Having Benedict in a mocap suit was a lot of fun, for us, and hopefully for him too. It seemed to help him immerse himself and get to grips with the character.
After recording the actor’s performance, the VFX team then grafted his work on the dragon still in CGI:
Transforming Benedict’s performance into Smaug was no easy exercise. They have very different physiologies. As animators, we had to transpose Benedict’s performance, like the nuances of the head and the facial expressions. We then built most of his movements with keyframe animation.
Smaug comes to life little by little
To allow Smaug to move, the technical team wanted to put forward a confident dragon, sure of himself, that nothing impresses:
Smaug needed a formidable presence, so we worked hard to create awesome poses for his body, wings, and massive tail. He is also covered in a full range of moods, from supreme arrogance to paranoid suspicion, from curiosity to violent rage. The creation of his hands added versatility to his character. We achieved this by adding an extra thumb and index fingers to Smaug’s wings.
In addition to the dragon, the technical team was also forced to bring life to the rooms around it. Indeed, at the end of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the dragon evolves in a room filled with gold and treasures of all kinds. It was therefore necessary for the VFX team to bring each of the gold coins to life who interacted with the reptile. Some sequences required the creation of a hundred million parts in CGI which move at the same time. A work of titan which was therefore nominated for the 86th edition of the Oscars in 2014. Unfortunately for David Clayton’s team, no Oscar was awarded to Peter Jackson’s film.