For this winter's blockbuster The Day the Earth Stood Still, two dozen Weta Digital designers spent six months sculpting the film's real star (sorry, Keanu): the spaceship. Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor for the four-time Academy Award-winning digital shop, walked us through the process.

"We started with a very schematic layout of the geometry of the city and Central Park, just to see where everything is placed. The red dots that you see on the sphere are a representation of where the spaceship's light sources are internally."

- Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor, Weta Digital

"We needed to create a spaceship that gave you the impression of being from another world, without actually looking like a planet. It's a vessel; there's something living in there."

- Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor, Weta Digital

"The frame shows making a ground and putting some light on it, so you can see the grass."

- Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor, Weta Digital

"Then we put in the background of the city and some lights in the sky."

- Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor, Weta Digital

"Then we put in the basic sphere—it's a deceptively simple shape. Because we're bringing lights from the sky, they hit the edge of this sphere and start to reveal some of the shapes of the clouds and then dense mist that fills it up."

- Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor, Weta Digital

"To get that sense of atmosphere, you have to build up a volume and put light inside. We mimicked cloud motions, so as these lights move, they hit pieces of cloud and the light bounces and scatters. Every time you start one of these rays on its path, there are millions of these calculations that go on. From the outside, you can see shadows and movements, which gives you the sense of density and deep volume and atmosphere we were really after."

- Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor, Weta Digital

"Adding the people in front was tricky as well because these lights are very broad in size and scope. If you look at how large this light is, compared to the size of the people, that's not something you'd find in the real world."

- Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor, Weta Digital

"Because the light is only really affecting the buildings that are closest to it, on the edge of the park, and because it's so far away, you don't pick up too much of the specific character of the light in the skyline."

- Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor, Weta Digital

Fast Company

Inside Weta Digital's Spaceship

For this winter's blockbuster The Day the Earth Stood Still, two dozen Weta Digital designers spent six months sculpting the film's real star (sorry, Keanu): the spaceship. Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor for the four-time Academy Award-winning digital shop, walked us through the process.

For this winter's blockbuster The Day the Earth Stood Still, two dozen Weta Digital designers spent six months sculpting the film's real star (sorry, Keanu): the spaceship. Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor for the four-time Academy Award-winning digital shop, walked us through the process.

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