Peter Baustaedter’s Hollywood career is an adventure worthy of a movie. After cracking the demoscene in Austria, he took a chance and wrote to Digital Domain — only for them to offer him a job. From here, he worked on a string of movies with groundbreaking VFX: Apollo 13, Dante’s Peak, The Fifth Element, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Sin City, King Kong, and Avatar.
In this extraordinary episode, Peter explains the minor role Arnold Schwarzenegger played in his career, discusses the dangerous world of practical effects in the mid-90s, and reveals why the power kept tripping at Square Pictures’ Hawaiian production facility. Peter also talks about stepping up to become a visual effects art director and shares tidbits on using Unreal Engine to produce a major upcoming TV series from Amazon Studios.
4:13 Peter’s early years in computing
09:15 The demoscene and software cracking
16:12 First jobs in Vienna
19:45 Getting into Digital Domain
27:28 The CG scene in 1995
33:34 “The Fifth Element,” “Dante’s Peak,” and “Titanic”
37:08 “Final Fantasy: Spirits Within” in Hawaii
44:08 “Lord of the Rings: Two Towers” and “Day After Tomorrow”
49:52 “Avatar’s” origins
55:15 Being a visual effects art director
01:04:52 “Lord of the Rings” TV series
01:10:13 The future of the art department and the VFX pipeline