Joe Letteri

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Most Recent Affiliation(s):

  • Industrial Light & Magic, Computer Graphics Supervisor

Other Affiliation(s):

  • Weta Digital Ltd.


  • SIGGRAPH 2023

    Joe Letteri’s pioneering work in visual effects has earned him five Academy® Awards for Best Visual Effects — most recently for “Avatar: The Way of Water” following earlier wins for “Avatar,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” and “King Kong.” He has a long-standing interest in creating compelling, realistic creatures and characters — from the Na’vi to Gollum, Alita, and Caesar. Joe has developed many techniques that have become industry standards for creating photorealistic digital effects. This includes co-developing the subsurface scattering technique that brought Gollum to life (winning an Academy® Technical Achievement Award) and pushing the development of large-scale virtual production. Under Joe’s leadership, Wētā FX has continued to expand and improve these techniques through films like “The Hobbit” and “The Planet of the Apes” trilogies. Joe is currently working on the upcoming “Avatar” sequels and continues to drive the advancement of Wētā’s technological and artistic innovations.

    SIGGRAPH 2007

    Joe Letteri has pioneered and developed many of the digital techniques that have become the standard in bringing photographic quality to high-end visual effects. As an artist, he has specialized in the creation of highly realistic imagery, from the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, to the 25ft gorilla Kong in King Kong. Joe is the winner of two Academy Awards® for the visual effects of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in 2002, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003. He is also the recipient of the Academy’s Technical Achievement Award for co-developing the subsurface scattering technique that was used to bring Gollum to life. Joe joined Weta Digital Ltd in 2001 as visual effects supervisor on the The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, a role he kept for The Return of the King and King Kong. Previously, he had been at Industrial Light & Magic since 1991, and became a visual effects supervisor on Mission: Impossible in 1995.


    Joe Letteri is a Computer Graphics Supervisor in the Computer Graphics Department at Industrial Light & Magic where he specializes in lighting design and rendering of computer graphic images and special effects for integration into feature films. The award-winning work he did for the photo realistic look of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park has made him one of the pioneers in computer graphics. His screen credits include Casper, Flintstones, Jurassic Park and The Abyss. Prior to ILM, Joe worked at MetroLight Studios. He is a member of  ACM Siggraph.  

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