Ask the Artist: Hanna Hurndell, Rotoscope Artist

July 1, 2020
tags: Mocha Pro, Ask the Artist, News, Blog

Hanna Hurndell is a Rotoscope Artist working at Weta Digital. Recent credits include Gemini Man and Alita: Battle Angel.

WETA artist Hanna Hurndell at her workstation

Where are you from and how did you get your start in the industry? I am a born and bred Kiwi. I started work at Weta Digital back in 2011 in the facilities department. I was lucky enough to have a talented cousin already working there who passed on my CV. They seemed to like my combination of graphic design training and hospitality + admin experience… I like to think my excellent cheeseboards and Friday evening snacks stood for something too! After a spell as a runner, I was taken on by the rotoscoping department during peak Hobbit. We were shown the ropes during a training period and then got straight into it.

What project are you most proud of and why? Most recently I am proud of the work we did on Gemini Man. Our department showed amazing perseverance and attention to detail on some incredibly heavy plates (120fps, 4k plates, native stereo!). Notable mentions also for Alita: Battle Angel, which was a long and tricky project with a cool end result to show for it. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was a fun project that had some technically tricky rotoscope to help pull off Bubble’s performance/many costume changes.

Young and old Will Smith, Gemini Man(Gemini Man, credit: Paramount Pictures)

How do you prep before a big project? Familiarising myself with any particular technical aspects of that particular project. Also, I rather like knowing the characters and storylines too.

What’s a keyboard shortcut you can’t live without? All the usual suspects, the hotkeys for transform, rotate, b-spline, ctrl+z, and of course the ctrl+s twitch every minute or so. Nothing worse than having your computer freeze if you haven’t saved that articulate hair rotoscoping you’ve been slaving over!

How do you keep yourself fueled/your favorite snack when you’re in an epic session? A lot of water and if it’s desperate times, Whittakers Creamy Milk chocolate for sweet or Kettles ready salted chips for savoury.

Where do you turn for creative inspiration? Gardening, nature in general.

What do you do when you start feeling creative burnout? Luckily in the rotoscoping department, creative burnout isn’t too much of a problem. If I’m getting bogged down troubleshooting, I’m surrounded by clever and lovely colleagues who can usually be relied upon to lend a brain cell or two, bounce ideas off, or just lighten the mood with some banter and a cuppa. If I’m feeling burnt out in general, a walk in the fresh sea air and natural light is always a good idea.

What’s your favorite film and/or TV series? It depends on my mood. I’m currently enjoying The Crown and finally got to watch Jojo Rabbit recently to see what all the fuss was about. I really enjoyed it. Favourites from way back — Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet has to be right up there. The TV series — The Americans, that had me hooked.

What are your go-to Boris FX products (Continuum, Sapphire, Mocha Pro, Silhouette), and which effect/features do you rely on most? Silhouette is our workhorse, combined with the Mocha Pro plugin which I use constantly. I find Silhouette’s magnetic reshape tool handy, and the latest Mocha updates make for some really solid tracking.


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