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April 20, 2002 - April 27, 2002

4-27-02 Latest News

Technology/NZ And LOTR
Xoanon @ 2:45 pm EST

This article appeared in Urbis magazine (Autumn edition) in New Zealand. Here it is.

typed by Fraggle

‘Without the technology we have now there would be no Lord of the Rings’

Jamie Selkirk stated his career as a trainee cameraman in the early days of New Zealand TV. Now, as a founding partner of Weta, he’s up to his eyeballs in the Lord of the Rings. He tell us why live TV really was fun, why The Lord of the Rings was impossible (until now) and why it’s a good idea to clone Peter Jackson.

Jamie, what will your credit on The Lord of the Rings read?

My job title’s Co-Producer’. I work very closely with the producers managing the production, in particular the post-production, the things that happen after the location filming – the editing, sound, visual effects and delivery of the final film elements through the laboratory. I look after the scheduling, budgeting and management of all those things. I’m also Supervising Editor on all three movies. In fact, I’m editing the third film in the trilogy.

You got into the film and television industry before all the amazing technology that today’s film makers use.

yes that’s right. I started off as a Trainee at the NZBC, which because TVNZ. I was straight from school. I joined up as a studio cameraman in 1966. New Zealand only got TV in 1964. We used to push these big huge Marconi cameras around. Pretty much everything used to go out live. We recorded very little. There wasn’t much in the way of recording facilities then. And, of course, New Zealand only had black and whit TV then.

Was live broadcasting scary?

it was just the way it was done back then. We didn’t really think about it. You were just frantically pushing cameras around. I remember that I things weren’t ready, sometimes newsreaders, like Dougal Stevenson, would have to pad thing out – ad lib, or go to another item. They’d jump all over the place. They got very good at it. It was very funny. But we didn’t worry about the fact that we were live, the technology or anything. The NZBC was just a great, fin place to work.

Did you ever manage to get out of the studio to do location work?

A little bit. I used to shoot outside on film. Again, the cameras were huge. They were big, greay things – Pro 600s I think – that took two people to carry them. Enormous. You had to heave them up onto your shoulder and stagger round with a cable linked to the sound person. Unfortunately I had a car accident and found that the stuff was just too heavy and I though ‘I’ve got to get out of here’. Well, the NZBC were great. They’d never kick you out, they’d just move you to another department. They said ‘OK, why don’t you have a crack at film editing’.

So in some ways, that car accident put you on the road to Middle Earth.

You would say that. When I first started film editing my job was to put commercials into films. A film would arrive and I would wind through it and every fifteen minutes or so I’d find a nice little dramatic spot and cut these commercials in. After the film had been shown, I would take the commercials out and the film was sent on to the next televisions station. The same film moved round from station to station and each time it was shown there’s be a few more frames missing, there’d be scratches and splices all over it. From there I went on to news film editing. That was fun too. When a big story broke there would be this mad panic to shoot the story, get the film processed and then into us for editing. Very often we only just managed to get it on the projectors fro the newscast. If we had a news story that was shot on film in Auckland, we wouldn’t get the film here in Wellington until the nest day,. The South Island would get it the day after. News from Auckland wasn’t shown in Christchurch until maybe three days later. Even though there was that delay, we were up against the wire all the time, trying to get stuff ready.

Today editing is done digitally…

Yes, with non-linear editing systems available these days it’s all so instant. In the early days we’d use ‘hot splices’. We’d scrap a little bit of emulsion off one side of the film where we wanted to make the splice put a little glue on, put the two ends of film together, put them in a clamp, hold them together for five seconds and it would be cemented up.

Later you were a senior Editor on ‘Governor Grey’, a landmark TV series for New Zealand.

Actually, speaking of technology, that’s when I bought myself a colour TV. ‘Grey’ was shot in colour. I’d been cutting it in colour. And were was no way I was going to watch I at home in black and white. This was about 1973. It was a big production then. A million dollar production, unheard of for local drama. It broke a lot of boundaries and move New Zealand TV forward, artistically and technically. It was a very important, but gosh, I bet it would look a bit tack now, though.

On that, you’ve got some interesting thoughts on old filmmaking technologies versus the new.

I’ve always cut peter Jackson's movies the 'old fashioned way' on an editing machine called a Steenback - cutting actual film up. Even 'The Frighteners' with all those special effects was mainly cut that way - apart from a few effects sequences when we used digital editing. I think that, sometimes, with electronic editing, the rhythm of the finished movie doesn't feel right. With electronic editing you'll play something down and look at just two or three shots together at a time., On a Steenback you tended to roll the whole sequence. You can't jump around from scene to scene as you can with electronic editing. Most movies today are cut on a computer, and Avid, then matched back to film once editing is completed. Although audiences pick up stories quicker these days, I often feel some scenes are too rushed. I’d watch a movie and feel ‘you need a bit more breathing space in there’. There’s something about handling and editing physical film, it’s a kind of earthy, tactile thing.

But you’re open to new technology?

I am. Totally. 100%. There’s no way that we could do The lord of the Rings without Avids for example. It would’ve been impossible. There are so many images we have to put together. The Avids are perfecto for that. On the third film of the trilogy, which as I said I’m editing, I will basically be sitting on a couch in the editing room and giving my operator notes on how I’d like the editing to evolve.

So do you thing that Lord of the Rings could have been made at any other time in history?

No, you couldn’t have made this movie before. Now
technology’s allowed us to do the things that we have managed to do. They’re like, ‘impossible shots’. We’ve got scenes in which there are 15,000 people fighting. You could never have done that without the computers and technology we have today. Technology allowed use to pre-visualise the movie by shooting storyboards and creating simple animation. In fact we made a three hour animated storyboard of the first movie that we screened when we stared so people could get their heads round Peter’s vision. Even in this form, people were spellbound. There was an animated version of The Lord of the Rings years ago that I’ve deliberately not seen. I’ve hears it wasn’t that great. But now we’ve got the technology that we needed to do it right.

What do you feel is the big achievement in making The Lord of the Rings?

well, we’re doing a huge number of effects but to a certain extend, making three films at one is the biggest achievement – because no one’s every done that before. We used technology in a big way to help us to that. Telecom set up a system for us that allowed Peter to see what was being shot at other locations. He would be shooting at one location and have a monitor set up that would show him what was being filmed at a different location. Peter is obviously, totally committed to The Lord of the Rings. And with that system, not matter where other units were shooting, he could see what they were doing and, by talking to either the camera operator or unit director, get exactly the stuff he wanted. Y’know, ‘Oh Peter, is this the angle you’re looking for? Do you want this action to happen here?’ He would have direct input into what was being hot, even though he and they were miles apart.

Very useful.

yes, considering that at time we’ve had five units shooting in different places. Another great technological achievement is ‘Massive’ This is a software program that we’ve developed at Weta. We actually began developing it when we were planning a remake of ‘King King’. When that fell through we switched it across to The Lord of the Rings. In the movie, we’ve created scenes with enormous numbers of animated computer generated characters. ‘Massive’ is a program that basically give these little animated characters their very own individual little ‘brains’. That means they can behave as individuals. They ‘know’ who’s a friend, who’s an enemy. So they don’t fight amongst themselves, the only fight their enemies.

It sounds like, with ‘Massive’ you’ve cracked artificial intelligence.

Yeah well, it’s a bit like that. Obviously you can use if for more than just battles. You can use it for computer generated characters in all sorts of ways. It’s amazing.

Sounds like there could be some great ‘making of’ documentaries.

Huge. It’ll probably be my retirement package – I’ll be involved in ‘the making of’ products on ‘the Rings’ for years to come.

Naturally, there’s huge amount of excitement around the world about The Lord of the Rings.

Yes. That’s great. It has meant that security has been a bit of an issue. We’ve got a firewall here to stop things leaking out. We think that we’ve done justice to the books. There’s a few things that are a bit different to the books. Slight filmic interpretations of certain things. But believe that people will be very happy with the way that we’ve done it.

And after The Lord of the Rings?

We’ve got some very talented people in this country. We hope that once this movies is release film makers from overseas will say ‘OK let’s go down to New Zealand to shoot our next picture, let’s get our effects shots completed in New Zealand’. There are a few difficulties with that, but it could happen, it really could. Other things we have talked about at Weta, are getting into EAP games and computer games, PlayStation stuff. We’ve got brilliant people who are very keen on doing that.

Can you think of any piece of technology that doesn’t exist now, that you would like someone to invent?

Gosh, that’ something I’ve never thought about. Well it would be great on this production to clone Peter Jackson. Yeah, that would be great. When he was over in the UK working on the music, we’d need him here too. Every day we would send stuff too Peter for him to look at. Then we’d have conference calls so he could give his comments. We were trying to get lots of effects shots through the system. We’d sent footage to FTP sites so he could download it off the Internet. Technology has helped us make this movie. It would be better to have a clone, but technology’s taken care of most of it.

Finally, Jamie, tell us your favourite movies.

I see so many. I really enjoyed ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Gladiator’. A great old classic is ‘King King’ – still fun to watch. ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ – a great movie. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Schindler’s List’ – good movies. I like ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, that was fun. I lie those light movies. Tot tell you the truth, I do really like watching movies that aren’t effects based. The Lord of the Rings has a lot of effects in it, but many are just there to enhance the ‘middle earth’ environment. The most important thing isn’t the technology, it’s the story,. It’s an awesome story and I feel privileged to have been involved.

In filming the4 entire Lord of the Rings saga, Peter Jackson was doing something that had never been done before. He was setting out to prove that it was more efficient to film three Hollywood blockbusters at simultaneously rather than three separate movies. The enormity of the task meant that up to five separate units were filming at once. The problem was that Peter could only be at one of them, and that’s not the ideal way to keep your visions intact. A few months before the cameras started rolling, the Lord of the Rings asked Telecom what they would do for them. Telecom responded with a world-first satellite link-up that allowed Peter to be on set with a video, voice and data link to three or more other locations. While directing the action, he could keep a keen eye on the work of the other units. It had to be a robust connection too, with military grade optic fibre though enough to survive the horses’ hooves and Queenstown floods.

You can visit the Weta website at www.wetafx.co.nz. The official Lord of the Rings site is at www.lordoftherings.net while www.theonering.net and www.tolkien-movies.com have plenty of Lord of the Rings info, discussion and rumours. Meanwhile, pretty well everything you need to know about film making in New Zealand can be seen at www.nzfilm.co.nz. To find out how being connected can help you keep in touch now and in the future go to www.telecom.co.nz.

Wenham Play Review
Xoanon @ 2:32 pm EST

From: Peter

Thought you might be interested in a review of a play, currently on stage in Melbourne, Australia, starring David Wenham (Faramir). The title of the article is "Spine-tingling drama and acting that's as good as it get".

Here's an extract:

"David Tredinnick gives a fine performance as Austin, but it is David Wenham's night. His portrayal of Lee is about as good as acting gets.

From the moment he appears, the tension builds, suspense grows - we cannot take our eyes off him. He creates a complex character whose disregard of consequence, freedom from social constraint and suppressed rage that erupts without warning, makes us fear him much as his brother does.

Austin makes the mistake of romanticising this character, but it is part of Wenham's triumph to reveal that beneath the sound and fury of Lee lies as tragic an emptiness as found in the true west of America's deserts." [More]

4-26-02 Latest News

Another AGIdeas Report
Xoanon @ 12:12 pm EST

Weta Workshop presentation at AGIdeas Conference in Melbourne

At the end of Day 1 of the AGIdeas Conference in Melbourne, Australia, Daniel Falconer, one of the 6 in-house designers at Weta, gave a presentation on what Weta Workshop is all about and how he came to be there.

Daniel opened his presentation by showing the Fellowship of the Ring trailer before starting his speech. Daniel¹s role within Weta is to draw all the conceptual pictures for the creatures, armour, weaponary, costumes, sets etc. before they are rendered and constructed by the Workshop. He started working for Weta about a year before they commenced work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which Weta has now been working on for 5 years.

Daniel then moved on to a short history of Weta Workshop and showed us an interesting photo of Richard Taylor¹s head appearing out of a cow¹s behind. After that, he gave us an overview of the all the different special effect services that Weta offers, such as prosthetics, weapons, ³bigitures²/miniatures etc.

During the overview Daniel gave us some interesting details on the various prosthetics and weapons that are found in Lord of the Rings. Lurtz, had full prosthetics on his face and body, dentures, contacts, wig and a 1 inch thick body suit to make the actor to appear even larger than he already was. Gimli¹s face was also a full prosthetic job, the only part of John Rhys-Davis¹ face that was his own were his eyes. Aragorn and Boromir were the only two in the Fellowship who didn¹t require some form of prosthetics.

The weapons were all hand forged and they normally made at least two of each sword; Lighter versions for stunt sequences and heavier versions for the other scenes. Their was a large amount of detail (not only in the weapons) in the pieces that Weta produced for Lord of the Rings and some of it isn¹t even evident on screen. But, it is this level of detail which adds culture to the movie.

There was so much information in this presentation that I didn¹t manage to get all of it. But here are some quick facts that Daniel gave us on the production of Lord of the Rings.

* Weta Workshop was hired 2 years before the Wardrobe department

* John Howe one of the two Tolkien artists who was on set is also an expert on Medieval Weapons.

* Peter Jackson didn¹t want to alienate the audience with fantasy elements that the audience couldn¹t comprehend. He wanted to give the movie a historical feel, as if the events in the movie actually happened in very early times. PJ gave movies such as Braveheart, Rob Roy and Elizabeth as examples of the historical feel he was trying to achieve.

* Creatures, such as the Cave T roll for example, were built from the ground up when they were animated. Starting with the skeleton, then the muscles, skin etc. instead of just animating an empty skin. This gave the creatures a more realistic look to them.

* All the pieces Weta designed for the movie went through the process of first being drawn as conceptual/finished art drawings by Daniel and the 5 other in-house designers at Weta. Once the drawings were approved (sometimes it took about 300-400 drawings to create the perfect design!) they were turned into Marquettes, (sp? I¹m not even sure what they are... I think I might have missed that bit!), then mini-sculptures before being made into full-scale prototypes before going onto the screen.

We were then shown two show reels, one of all of Weta¹s work prior to Lord of the Rings and one specifically for Lord of the Rings. The show reel prior to LotR showed a number of films/scenes that I didn¹t recognise, so I can¹t really tell you what they were. One of the few I did recognise was the ³wormhole² effect from the Jodie Foster movie ³Contact².

In the Lord of the Rings show reel we were shown snippets of only 1/3 of the digital effects that were in the movie. The show reel covered the Fireworks at Bilbo¹s party, the birds that Legolas spots while the Fellowship are taking a rest, the Balrog, the Cave Troll, the Ringwraiths, Lothlorien, Rivendell, Cadaharas, Lurtz, the Eye of Sauron, the Lake Creature outside of Moria, Orthanc... you get the idea!

Daniel then moved onto where Weta goes next after Lord of the Rings and here we were then given an overview of the Sideshow/Weta LotR merchandising arm of the Workshop. Weta¹s philosophy behind the move into the merchandising for the movie is that they are the ones that are best qualified to make the toys, figurines etc. (in association with Sideshow) for LotR after working on the movie for so long. Weta also wants to prolong the experience of LotR for as long as possible (who doesn¹t?!) and they see merchandising as a way of doing this.

To get the rights (I think that¹s what you¹d call them) to make merchandise for LotR, Weta sent off a video of the cast/crew from the movie to New Line in which the actors etc. talked about how Weta could do this, how great it would be and so forth. The video worked, and New Line gave approval.

Richard Taylor has had an interest in sculpture and fine arts, so this was the perfect opportunity for him to get into this sort of thing. Sideshow/Weta have made over 200 times so far. As most of the designers work for Lord of the Rings has been completed they have been participating in the sculpting and production of the merchandise.

We were then shown another show reel, this time for Sideshow/Weta, which showcased some of the items they have produced and a look at ³behind the scenes² of production. We saw various pieces, such as Aragorn, Saruman and the Palantir, Gandalf, Orthanc, armour sets and so on. We also saw the various designers and sculptures working on a variety of pieces. The designers actually work from photos of the characters on all different angles which are stuck up on the wall in front of them.

The best part for me, was seeing the actor¹s reactions when they saw the various sculptures of their characters, for what I assume was the first time. Orlando Bloom was jumping around in costume with his figurine repeating ³it¹s like Christmas!² We also saw Orlando a little later on inspecting the bow that came with his figurine and discussing it with the designer. Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan, and Elijah Wood were also all featured looking and posing with their sculptures. Billy Boyd was the funniest though. He was in costume, and he turned so he was in profile with the bust in front of him in the same position, before turning around the opposite way. All the actors seemed to be quite amazed, almost in awe, at the level of detail and the realistic look of the sculptures.

Finally, Daniel wrapped up his presentation by saying that Weta had a ³desire to make and create.² As the conference was attended by mainly Australian and New Zealand Graphic Design students he pointed out in his closing remarks that there is no reason why any of us from this side of the world couldn¹t achieve what he did if we pursued our dreams. Daniel pointed out the ³Gumleaf Mafia² domination at the Oscars as an example and then went on to say that Australians and New Zealanders can do it better than anyone in the world. :D

Also, at some point during the presentation, I don¹t remember exactly where, Daniel mentioned that he had wanted to show some of his design work from LotR. Unfortunately, he couldn¹t because later in the year an artbook of is going to be released featuring his and the other designers works. So keep your eyes peeled for that one. I got the feeling from the presentation that even now New Line and Weta are still very conscientious in keeping things under wraps until their release.

Overall, I really enjoyed the presentation by Daniel from Weta Workshop. I went into the session with two minds. I wanted to see the presentation but in another way I didn¹t. I was afraid that LotR would lose it¹s magic after seeing how certain special effects were created. Knowing how certain shots and scenes are achieved tends to spoil the effect and impact, in my opinion. Luckily, I came out of the session none the wiser and I enjoyed my fourth viewing of The Fellowship of the Ring as much as the first later on that night.

Thanks to Daniel for one fantastic presentation.

4-25-02 Latest News

Join us in celebrating FOTR's Final Days on Screen!
Flinch @ 1:48 pm EST

In the Orange County/Los Angeles Area? Then come on down to the Aliso Viejo Edwards 20 Theater this Sunday [April 28th] and join us for a day of gaming and movie going! We will be seeing Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring at 4:15pm BUT for everyone who shows up at 2pm we'll have tons of great Decipher action! I'll be on hand demonstrating the Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game and opening up the tables to allow those interested a chance to play this Card Game that has become the Number One Trading Card Game in the World!

The cost to play is ten dollars, and that gets you a Starter Deck, A Booster Pack, A Bag of Counters, and Two Raffle Tickets to win great prizes from the Decipher Card Game! Additional raffle tickets will be available for two dollars each and all proceeds go to TheOneRing.net in our quest to upgrade our server!

Don't miss out on the fun! If you have any questions or comments please contact me at flinch@theonering.net. Hope to see you all there!


*DIRECTIONS FROM THE SOUTH* North on the 5 fwy, exit Oso pkwy, turn left. Drive for about 2-3 miles and note that Oso turns into Pacific Park, turn Right on Aliso Creek rd, then left on Enterprise and park in the shopping center.

*DIRECTIONS FROM THE NORTH, BEACH CITIES* South on the 405 fwy, until it merges with the 5 fwy, and continue South. Exit Oso pkwy and turn right, then follow the above directions.

*DIRECTIONS FROM THE NORTH, INLAND AREA* South on the 5 fwy, beyond the 5-405 merge, then exit Oso pkwy and turn right. Follow the directions above.

You may want to purchase your tickets in advance at Fandango.com

4-24-02 Latest News

Orlando Bloom In 'Denim Invasion'
Xoanon @ 6:57 pm EST

From: Wizardlex

According to Entertainment Newswire, Orlando will be featured in a jeans ad for The Gap set to start running April 28. He and Kate Beckinsdale (Pearl Harbor) will be featured in an ad called "Denim Invasion," which will be directed by Cameron Crowe.

The spots debut April 28 in the United States on Law & Order, Criminal Intent and the X-Files. Throughout May, the spots can be seen during episodes of 24, West Wing, Friends, ER, Will and Grace, Felicity and the NBA Playoffs. The TV spots also will air in the United Kingdom and Canada.

The campaign was created under the direction of Lisa Prisco, the creative director behind some of Gap's most memorable TV ads, including Khakis Swing, Khakis Groove and Khaki Soul. Prisco and the directors collaborated to create commercials that would feel like short films. Contributing to this effect is the ``one take'' technique, which required unedited, carefully choreographed camera movement from start to finish. In addition, each spot is set to two different soundtracks of '60s-inspired music, creating dramatically different emotions of the same scene.

Gap's summer campaign also includes black and white photography taken by David Strick, with images featured in Gap store windows globally and online at gap.com.

Knizia LOTR 'Sauron' Expansion
Berendir @ 5:18 pm EST

Thanks to Green Books staff member Ostadan for sending this along:

A recent USENET article from one of Knizia's leading playtesters.

The release date is Essen this year (so end of October), always has been to my knowledge. I suspect that Fantasy Flight will release the American edition about the same time.

With this expansion you will be able to play a number of different formats.
Basic + F&F [Friends and Foes]
Basic + Sauron
Basic + F&F + Sauron
You can now double the combinations as you can play with or without the Dark Events option (evil laugh....) on all four of the above. There should also be the Dark Gate (name may change) option to use with the F&F as well.

Then there is the Extreme version (start Sauron on 10 and game is lost if *any* Hobbit is eliminated plus Ring needs to be dunked in Mt Doom). Just a little more difficult :) Dark Gate will make the military victory a little harder to achieve with the F&F expansion.

Please note that the above is based on the last playtest sessions, the final release may be different. We will have to wait until the official release announcements are made before we know for sure.

FX Rentals builds Studio in Hotel for Tolkien Composer
Xoanon @ 1:17 am EST

Angela writes:

I work in the music industry and recieve a monthly newsletter from a London-based company called FX Rentals that rents audio equipment to studios, engineers, producers, etc., etc. The February 2002 newsletter has a little story relating to their work for Howard Shore.

'FX Rentals were recently asked by Air Edel to convert a two-room suite at the Landmark Hotel, London into a fully-fledged production studio. The extraordinary request was made on behalf of the top film composer Howard Shore, who was in London to compose and record the Lord of the Rings film score.

Shore, whose credits include the Silence of the Lambs, Seven and Philadelphia, asked for the hotel suite to be transformed into an environment that was similar to his New York-based studio, Tuxedo.

FX supplied a range of equipment including a selection of MIDI keyboards, a Klipsch Promedia 2.1 personal audio system, five 1031a Genelec self-powered speakers for surround monitoring, a Mackie 1604 mixer, a Sony PVM video monitor and Furman pro-power distribution.

Air Edel's Karen Elliott says: 'Howard decided to set up a temporary studio in his hotel suite because he needed to deal with picture changes and recording sessions during the day, which meant he would write at the end of each session, usually 10pm until the early hours of the morning.'

Elliott adds: 'When I was asked to fulfil such an ambitious equipment request I instantly thought of FX Rentals. Put simply, I knew they would be able to deliver the equipment we needed on time and on budget.'

4-23-02 Latest News

More LOTR pipes for pipesmokers
Tehanu @ 10:20 pm EST

News for pipesmokers - first a report from Kirby:
"Here is the website of Tom Johnson of Luna Pipes who makes long LOTR "churchwarden" pipes as you see in the movie: CrossroadUSA
He has been making these for some time out of Ash...both stems and bowls. Briar bowls on special order for just a bit more. Three sizes: "14 inch "Hobbit", 16 inch "Strider" and 18 inch "Gandalf". The prices are very reasonable too. $50, $65 and $75. The bowls are pre carbonized (less time for "breaking in") and come with a fleece drawstring bag to keep them in.
I know some pipesmokers who have bought these and say they draw very smoothly and the "pipeweed" smokes very cool because of their length of stem. (longer the stem, the cooler the smoke becomes).
So if anyone is looking for a LOTR pipe that Looks like those used the movie/book...rather than a more commercial "churchwarden" with a vulcanite or acrylic long stem....then Tom Johnson has what you are looking for.
As a pipesmoker myself, I came across his site while looking for "Churchwarden" long stemmed pipes. Called him up in Seattle Washington USA and spoke with him for awhile. Very conciensus about his work and a JRR Tolkien reader himself."

We were also contacted by Ryan MacQueen of MacQueen's pipes. "I was on your website earlier today when I noticed your article on your search for Lord Of The Rings style pipes and I thought I may be of some help to you. I actually own a small company that designs and handcrafts pipes 100% inspired by J.R.R Tolkien's writing and the way he described them in his books:
"In the middle of the Earth,
In the land of The Shire
Lived a brave little Hobbit,
Whom we all admire.
With his long WOODEN PIPE,
And his fluffy woolly toes,
He lives in a hobbit hole and everybody knows him,
Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins,
Only three feet tall.
Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins, The bravest little Hobbit of them all."

"We have kept our pipes completely wooden, stem and all because of this quote. Even the pipes featured in the movie fell short of J.R.R Tolkiens original description (They were actually made from clay to speed the production of them). We pride ourselves in the quality and care that goes into every pipe crafted for people looking for a little taste of Middle Earth.We have already ran a small ad campaign with your site and are planning to continue on stronger in the near future. You can check them out at MacQueenPipes"

Flinch @ 6:33 pm EST


Elves to play a starring role in the third
The Lord of the Rings TCG expansion!

(NORFOLK, Va., April X, 2002) — Elrond, Galadriel, Legolas, and Arwen are just a few of the Elves who will headline the Realms of the Elf-lords expansion, the third installment of Decipher’s The Lord of the Rings™ Trading Card Game (TCG). The set will debut in stores with the worldwide release of the Starter Decks on June 19 and the worldwide release of Booster Packs on July 3.

The April and May issues of Comics & Games Retailer magazine report that The Lord of the Rings TCG has been the number one-selling trading card game for two consecutive months (January and February 2002). According to the magazine, this is only the second time in the history of TCGs that a game has displaced Magic: The Gathering in the top-ranking position.

The 122-card Realms of the Elf-lords set will introduce new gameplay strategies featuring the prominent Elven characters, including many of their allies from Lothlórien and Rivendell. Plus, the nefarious Saruman will enter The Lord of the Rings TCG playing scene for the very first time.

In addition, there will be two new starter decks — one featuring a new version of Legolas and the forces of Isengard, the other showcasing a new version of Boromir and Sauron’s Orc hordes. Exciting, new artifact cards, such as The Three Elven Rings, The Shards of Narsil, and The Palant'r of Orthanc. As with all Lord of theRings TCG cards, all cards in Realms of the Elf-lords will receive a foil treatment in a parallel set.

“Obviously, the Elves will gain incredible strength with this set, and now that Saruman has arrived, entire decks will be built around him,” says game designer Joe Alread. “But one of my favorite new design elements in this set is the introduction of the Isengard Orcs. For the first time in the game, we have introduced a whole new subculture, and it is extremely powerful.”

Players will get a sneak peek at the set during the DGMA Pre-release Tournaments scheduled for the weekend of June 15-16, 2002. Approximately 50 retail locations worldwide will participate in this exclusive pre-release tournament series. Prizes will be awarded to the top finishers, and a special Realms of the Elf-lords Pre-release Tournament card will be presented to all competitors. To find a location near you, log on to DGMA.com, which is set to debut sometime in May.

Realms of the Elf-lordsis available in two playable starter decks, which contain nine site cards, three random Realms of the Elf-lords rares, Frodo, The One Ring, and a mix of cards from all three sets: The Fellowship of the Ring, Mines of Moria and Realms of the Elf-lords. The set also will be available in 11-card booster backs. Recommended retail for the starter decks is $US 10.95 and for the booster packs is $US 3.29.

WXP Visit
DarthCaeser @ 12:30 pm EST

As you might have noticed, I've been pretty quiet on the Gaming Havens as of late. I've been moving around quite a bit and my online time has taken a hit as a result. I'm still involved with the Havens however, and am doing a lot of work behind the scenes. There is a lot of exciting stuff coming up soon on the Havens, so stay tuned.

As part of my various journeys, I visited Washington State. While out in Washington, I was invited to take a tour of WXP, the developers of the Fellowship of the Ring for Xbox.

After re-familiarizing myself with the Washington State transportation system, getting lost several times in the process, I managed to stumble across WXP's downtown Seattle office. I was escorted inside to a conference room, decked out with concept art from the game, as well as HDTV and an Xbox. I sat down with some of the developers from WXP and a team from Universal Interactive, and after introductions and some chitchat the action began.

The game was booted up and we began our journey through Middle Earth. Well, what will soon be Middle Earth, the game was far from finished. But even at this early stage the graphics looked great. Because the game is still early in development, I can't get in to
too much detail. But rest assured, the game is shaping up great.

The biggest improvement since E3 in my opinion? No more Frodo: Warrior Hobbit! You still control Frodo and you still have Sting, but now he's more like the Frodo Baggins we all know and love and less like Link with hairy feet. No more slaying killer badgers with flaming pinecones, no more magical rune powered Sting. WXP's new philosophy is: If it ain't in the books, it ain't in the game. While you can go around trying to hack to pieces anything that moves, you wont get very far. Just like in the books, it's best to use your Hobbit stealth and keep fighting to a last resort. Frodo might be tough for a little guy, but he can only take so much damage.

Frodo wont be the only character you control either, which other members of the Fellowship you'll be able to control are still up in the air, but you'll definitely get a good mix of different tactics. We went through various sections of the Shire and Moria levels. The shire is warm and inviting, filled with playing children and squirrels. Moria on the other hand, is anything but warm and inviting. All darkness and shadow, filled with sneaking goblins and all kinds of other unseemly creatures, not a place to bring your family for vacation. Both levels look great, filled with a lot of detail. Not a lot to do though, combat is still a work in progress.

After the tour of virtual Middle Earth, we did a tour of WXP's offices. After checking out some more concept art posted here and there on the walls, we visited some of the programmers at work. I got a look at some of the 3D models and the software used to control them, as well as software to actually build the levels, very cool.

WXP and Universal Interactive are taking a step in the right direction with how they are handling the game. This is a game for Tolkien fans by Tolkien fans. All the developers, artists, programmers, even management are Tolkien fans. And some of the top Tolkien experts in the world, like our own Green Books Guru Quickbeam, are involved with the project. The fans will have their hand in shaping the game as well. More on that later down the road. Check out Universal's LOTR site for more info on the game, and keep your eyes peeled to the Havens for all your LOTR gaming news.

4-22-02 Latest News

Hobbit Extra on the mend.
Tehanu @ 1:03 pm EST

A few days ago we reported that Jeffery Hawkes, the hobbit extra injured in a car/train accident, had suffered a serious accident. We've heard from his friend Inger that he is doing well. "Awake, but still on the mend. Has had a lot of surgery last week on his arm. His leg has been amputated below the leg."
Inger gave us an update today: "He is looking a heck of a lot better than last week. Unfortunately he has also broken his other ankle so getting around will be a mish for him for a while."
Inger told us that Jeffrey played Pippin's double as well as a party hobbit, and he was Pippin when he's escaping the farmer in the corn field.

Inger Vos has agreed to accept e-mail "get well" wishes, and convey them to Mr. Hawkes.

You can send your get-well emails for Jeffery to Inger.Vos@Waikato-Times.co.nz

Thanks to Altaira for the idea.

Weekend Round Up
Xoanon @ 12:59 am EST

Pre-Order The FOTR Collector's DVD Gift Box Now!

Meeting Viggo Mortensen

Otto The Flavour In US

Billy Boyd At I-Con Report

Liv's Visa-Asia Commercial Available for Download

The Annotated Hobbit is Back!

Andy Serkis' Birthday!

Latest Photos of Viggo

Billy Boyd At I-Con

Wenham's 'The Bank' Playing In DC

Sheet Music for LOTR

Figwit Lives Internationally

Hill Reigns In Rings Sequels

4-20-02 Latest News

Sheet Music: More reviews, and where to buy.
Tehanu @ 11:53 am EST

Lee Ann wrote in: "My 17yo daughter and I found several copies of the LotR soundtrack sheet music at the Music Mart in New Mexico. The skill level for these pieces is, in my daughter's estimation, intermediate.

"She played through "The Prophecy" and "Many Meetings," which were both lovely arrangements and true to the soundtrack. I was glad to see the words for "The Prophecy," since I have trouble understanding the singers on the soundtrack CD.

People can e-mail info@musicmart.com for more information."

Elisa suggests another way to get the music: "Go to this site and type "Lord of the Rings" into the search box--there are all kinds of goodies in there! See the second page of results for the piano/vocal score we discussed."

She added "I would guess you'd need to be about level 3 or maybe 4 to handle the piano score (which is what I have) easily. My two kids both started piano lessons in kindergarten, and my 4th grader is working on "May It Be" with little difficulty. I've played piano on and off all my life (and poorly), and I can sight read these. They are not really in hard keys--E Major and A Major are the most challenging ones, and they're designed to be eminently playable (so they'll sell, duh). "Aniron (Theme for Aragorn and Arwen)" is perhaps the most challenging--it changes time signature a couple of times (3/4 to 4/4 and back) and has a lot of accidentals--it starts in A-flat Major and ends on a D-flat chord. But it is quite short and still not what I would consider hard at all.

The vocal lines are all in the middle range, mostly in the octave above middle C.

The nicest part is the English translation of all the Elvish lyrics! "Lament for Gandalf" is given, and "Aniron." I don't think these are in the CD liner notes.

And Elwing wrote in: "I found a site that sells the Warner Brother's new piano music score for LOTR here

Another site selling the music, according to Daniela, is SheetmusicPlus.com

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