The Dominion
January 4, 2001

American Visual Effects Expert Quits Rings
Staff Reporter

Top American visual effects expert Mark Stetson has left the $600-million Lord of the Rings project amid a big production shake-up on the movie set.

Stetson, nominated for special effects Oscars for the movies 2010 and The Fifth Element, has left his home in the Wellington suburb of Hataitai and returned to the United States.

Rings director Peter Jackson could not be contacted about reports of creative differences with Stetson.

Stetson's is the second high-profile departure from the set, after Irish actor Stuart Townsend (cast to play Aragorn) was dismissed over creative differences with Jackson.

Stetson works in the highly-acclaimed Digital Domain special effects company, and first achieved fame with his work on miniatures in the science-fiction movie Blade Runner in 1982.

But in recent years he has expanded his role to overseeing all the visual effects in major Hollywood movies.

In his appointment as visual effects supervisor for the Rings trilogy, he was expected to bring valuable expertise in both miniatures and in the special computer effects needed to create big battle scenes with thousands of characters.

He was supervising Weta Digital in creating those special visual effects, a job which was expected to continue till till the delivery of the third film in mid-2002.

Weta Workshop, another division of the same company, was charged with creating the armour, miniatures, creatures and special effects needed for the fantasy trilogy.