WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — VFX artist Derek Scherer (www.derekscherer.com) recently contributed to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey while working with Weta Workshop. Weta Workshop is the special effects company that was established by Richard Taylor (shown on the left of the picture with Scherer). The studio was made famous by its work on the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Scherer’s field of expertise is in robotics, and for The Hobbit, he worked in the animatronics department. With degrees in computer science and electrical engineering, Scherer began his career on the US East Coast as a computer engineer in the field of robotics, developing systems in the US Army Research Lab. While working in this environment, he transferred his military robotics skillset toward robots for entertainment. He worked with a team of artists and craftsmen to create a hulking 7-foot robotic monster for a haunted house, as well as created many other entertainment technology products.
After developing these robotic systems with his own team, he jumped at an opportunity to join the film industry, travel to New Zealand, and help create the prequels to a film series that inspired him. The largest portion of his work since leaving New Zealand late last year has been in developing robots to support academic research initiatives, but he is now beginning to look into the film, haunted house, and other industries in the Kansas City area where technology and artistic design merge; a point of intersection where he finds engineering to be the most intriguing.
Scherer performs much of this work under his banner of Golem Workshop — an affiliation of freelance artists, engineers, and technicians — which serves as a vehicle for executing complex and cutting-edge work without the overhead obligations that larger, more rigid organizations must meet. You can visit their Website at: golemworkshop.com.