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XYZ RGB Contributes to Return of the King's VFX Achievements

When the Visual Information Technology laboratory at the Canadian National Research Council started developing its high resolution 3D scanners in the early 1980s, it probably had no idea that 20 years later one of its spin-offs, XYZ RGB Inc., would be contracted to help bring the characters of THE LORD OF THE RINGS to life on the big screen.

Turns out that many of the stunning vfx in THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING (opening Dec. 17) would not have been possible without the assistance of XYZ RGB, a pioneering 3D scanning bureau that's working to broaden its brand of Canadian laser technology.

In fact, the unique task of breathing life into the giant spider Shelob began by scanning detailed resin maquettes that were sent half way around the world from Weta's Workshop in New Zealand to XYZ RGB offices in Ottawa, Canada. Once scanned with XYZ RGB's high-precision laser the 3D datasets stood as the films archival masters. While the level of detail for the numerous characters varied, the typical CG models produced for the films visual effects artists ranged in size from 14 million polygons for the bust of Shelob to more than 28 million polygons for the massive Mumakil elephants used to populated Middle-earth.

XYZ RGB's unique ability to exactly reproduce characters and creatures digitally with microscopic detail and photographic realism is the reason they have also been contracted by the filmmakers of THE MATRIX RELOADED, THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS and PETER PAN (opening Christmas Day).

"The maquette scans that we are getting from XYZ RGB with their high degree of accuracy, coherence and detail, are enabling us to push our digital models to new levels of realism," proclaimed Matt Aitken, digital models supervisor, Weta Digital. " With [RETURN OF THE KING], Weta Digital is producing visual effects work that will have to withstand an even greater level of scrutiny than the first two episodes, and our collaboration with XYZ RGB is part of this process."

XYZ RGB ( was founded in 2001 by a core team of 3D imaging specialists. Using a new kind of 3D optical scanner, its digitized data reputedly exceeds requirements for film, animation, manufacturing and CAD.

Bill Desowitz's picture

Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.