Local "Hobbit" Effects Engineer Awaits Film Premiere
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" was one of several films that Overland Park resident Derek Scherer had a hand in making last year, during a period of work with Weta Workshop in New Zealand. Weta Workshop, a special effects company established by Richard Taylor (shown on the left of the picture with Derek), was made famous by its work in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Derek's field of expertise is in robotics, and for "The Hobbit" that landed him in the animatronics department. In the modern blockbuster film industry, computer graphics effects have come so far as to nearly supplant practical effects like puppets and animatronics, so it was a rare treat for Derek to be part of a substantial animatronics team in such a high profile film. However, the harsh reality of a big film - with various options for effect shots - is that many if not all of the shots that Derek helped create may never be seen by audiences. So Derek and others like him sit in anticipation, eagerly awaiting the films release for the same reasons as everyone else, but also for a certain few reasons of their own.
With degrees in computer science and electrical engineering, Derek began his career on the US East Coast as a computer engineer in the field of robotics, developing systems in US Army Research Lab. While working in this environment, he transferred his military robotics skill set 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 creating 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 (aka, "Middle Earth"), 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.
Derek 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.
For More Information on Golem Workshop go to golemworkshop.com For More Information on Derek go to derekscherer.com
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