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April 23, 2004 - May 04, 2004

5-04-04 Latest News

Richard Taylor at Supanova Pop Culture Expo Report
Xoanon @ 10:33 pm EST

megan writes:

Hi from Sydney Australia!!

Richard Taylor was a suprise last minute special guest at the Supanova Pop Culture expo this past weekend in Sydney. He spent the entire day at the Weta Workshop booth, just to meet people, shake their hands, and chat about lord of the rings, as well as other WETA projects, the one that recieved the most comment being the Evangelion live action movie, which Richard says is still seeking finance. He brought with him hobbit feet and ears, a Rohan helmet with real chainmail, warg rider costume with the plastic chainmail, and a gondorian breastplate. It was so delightful to see how down to earth he is, and seemed to just enjoy chatting to people! Richard also gave a 45 minute talk and specially mentioned the "fantastic" onering.net oscar party!

Other lord of the rings guest was John Noble, who was also a last minute standin for John-Rhys Davies, who had to withdraw due to filming commitments. John was signing all day, and gave a highly amusing talk about his experiences shooting the films, as well as commented on some extra scenes that are in the extended edition which hes seen and recorded commentary for. (though he didnt give away in depth things). The houses of healing are definitly in, and a scene which involved him falling down a step which resulted in a very bruised rear end from Peter Jackson's many takes of "do it again". He also quite cleverly looked at the role of Denathor in relation to King Lear, which as a Shakespeare nut really made me look again at his performance and how the character was established, and yes, a very good observation.

Stephen Ure was also present, however his talk was on Sunday afternoon which i wasn't able to attend. Maybe you'll get another spy report along!

Hope this helps. Didn't know you guys quite want to write! I'll get a couple of pictures developed in the next couple of days if you're interested.

Keep up the great work!!

CollectorMania 5 Images and Report
Xoanon @ 10:22 pm EST

Collectormania 2004 Images

Thanks to everyone who sent in their pics!

Cheshire Cat writes: Cheshire Cat reporting in fresh from a day at the Collectormania convention in Milton Keynes, UK. Had a smashing day and got to meet a few more of the actors from LOTR plus re-acquaint myself with some (seemingly) old friends.

I arrived at the venue around 11 o’clockish. It was the final day of a four day event, but because of family commitments I’d only been able to attend for the one day. But it was definitely worth the trip. It was a much quieter affair than the October Collectormania, as the guests weren’t quite so high profile this time around. There weren’t horrendous queues to contend with and the guests had plenty of time for a chat as the signed autographs.

First of all, I went to see Brad Dourif. He was about as scarey as I thought he’d be, and not overly sociable it has to be said. I just got the feeling he didn’t really want to be there, but never the less I paid my £15 and went for a quick chat. He was polite and he told me a little about his next project, which was nice, then he signed my book and I moved on.

I noticed that Sala Baker (Sauron) and Lawrence Makoare (Lurtz) were sitting next to each other, so I took a deep breath and decided to ask them to do something I’d wanted for a long time…. I approached Sala and started chatting to him. I said that I’d seen him at The TORn Oscar Party in Hollywood and asked him if perhaps he were a “little” drunk that night. He flatly denied it and said he wasn’t drunk at all. I pointed out that he was swearing rather a lot on the stage and he said “Well that’s because it was our %#&$ing party and the authorities had no %#&$ing right to throw us out early!” At this point I had to agree with him whole-heartedly. Then I asked him for the favour… “Is there any chance I can have my photo taken with you AND Lawrence?” “Yeah sure” he replied and he went over to ask Lawrence. As I shook hands with Lawrence I told him that we had met before at the last Collectormania. I told him we were sitting on the front row at the Question and Answer session and that I was there with my friend from Alabama, at which point both he and Sala burst into song with a rousing rendition of “I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee” just as they had done back in October. They remembered us!!! Woo hoo. :o) So then I got my photo taken (see footer) squished between these two hunky Maoris one of them wearing a full length leather coat. * swoon Thud! *

Next I head over to where Isildur and the King of the Dead are seated. Harry Sinclair (Isildur) is a charming chap, but a little shy. Next I go to see the King of the Dead (the leader of the Dead army in ROTK) Paul Norell. As I walk up to him I tell him how much nicer he looks with lips!!! And for that he gives me a nice kiss on the cheek and says thanks very much with a great big smile. He is very friendly and chirpy and fun to talk to, not at all how you’d imagine a dead king to be at all. He was very interested in the set of FOTR Production Notes that I was having signed and asked where it was from. I said it was produced for the press at the London Premier and he said he hadn’t seen one before.

Next it’s Jed Brophy’s turn. He plays all the nasty little skinny Orcs like Snaga and Sharku the Warg rider. He is full of twitchy energy and keeps the crowds amused even when he didn’t have a queue. I told him that the last time I saw him, he was dancing the Haka in Hollywood. “You were there!” he exclaimed. He said it had been an amazing time and that it was probably the only time he’s likely to be invited to a party in Hollywood. He was a hoot.

Finally, last but by no means least, came Hunky Haldir, Craig Parker. I was actually quite stunned at how good looking this man is. He had slightly scruffy hair and a short beard and he was bursting with energy. He spent ages talking to every person who came to see him, chatted with the children and posed for as many photos as people wanted. Bearing in mind this was the fourth day he’d been doing this! You really couldn’t tell. I asked him to sign my book and he wanted to know if I had other autographs in it already – I said that I had attended last time when Elijah, Sean and Dom were there, and he said it was mad whenever they turned up – they were like the Beatles! I thanked him for being such a good Haldir and he gave me a big hug after we’d had a photo taken. What a nice man! :o)

I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the place having a nosey at some of the other celebs. Brian Blessed was there, who has been a hero of mine for a long time, and many Star Trek and Star Wars people. It was nice to see Tasha Yar, Neelix, Voyager’s doctor and also Phlox, Chewbacca and Freddy Krueger. Then, walking past the collectors’ stalls, I finally succumbed to temptation and bought myself a United Cutleries replica Sting. I’d been wanting one for ages and just decided that as interest in the films slows down, genuine replicas would start to become more expensive. So I took the plunge and whipped out my credit card!!! Sting is beautiful and I am very, very pleased with it.

So at the end of a whirlwind afternoon I headed back to the train station. It had been an afternoon of happy memories from the wonderful three days I’d spent with fellow TORNsibs there in October. It was great to see the hotel where we’d stayed - knowing that members of the LOTR cast were sleeping under the same roof. I passed the Pizza Hut where we had howled laughing at the photos we’d taken and probably irritated the heck out of all the other diners. And I giggled to myself as I walked through the underpass where myself and jordan the discursive had received a full-frontal flash from a rather intoxicated gentleman on our way back to the hotel one night!!! It brought back a lot of very happy memories. Today was very much quieter but fun even so.

The Cave Troll Goes to his Long Home.
weetanya @ 5:06 pm EST

Tehanu here, with a late spy report.

I was down in Wellington recently when friends reported seeing a truck passing by their house with a giant cave-troll on the back. The Troll and Fell Beast have been taken off the buildings where they've perched since before the World Premiere last year. After a short time lying in a field they started to get damaged by people climbing over them, once the newspapers had reported on their whereabouts. So now they've been moved.

Well, I'm not going to say where they are now, for that reason. And also because while I'm willing to climb up some rotting wood and rusting tin, or climb tall wobbly ladders in order to take photos, I'm not going to be responsible for somebody heavier or less lucky injuring themselves doing the same.

Climbing up said rotting wooden bits netted me some poor shots through a small gap in the wall. My friends went back and got a truck and a ladder so we could reach a more substantial hole in the wall just under the roof. Just as they were propping it against the wall of the building, the police turned up. I saw them first; my friends were oblivious. I had the interesting task of trying to run towards them in a casual and non-guilty-looking way while shouting very quietly "Put the ladder away, the cops are here!" God only knows what the cops were looking for. They turned around and drove off without even looking at us and our ladder propped against the wall of a lonely warehouse in the middle of nowhere.

I climbed up and stuck my head in the small opening under the roof. There was the Cave Troll, resting on his back in the dark amid a heap of other strange debris - badly-made paper-machier trees (not from Weta obviously), plaster swans, part of what looked like a large model Saturn V rocket, and various rejected decorations from other shopfronts. It was a graveyard of sorts. Rubble, dust, rusting girders and chains hanging uselessly from the ceiling - it was a very sad sight.

Later my friends rang to say that a funeral cortege had passed by carrying the Cave Troll's friends - the giant Gollum that used to sit on the roof of Wellington Airport, and the Fell Beasts and Nazgul from above the Embassy and Reading cinemas. So perhaps we have seen the last of them - they have gone to their final resting place, their long home.

-- Tehanu

5-03-04 Latest News

Sean Astin at Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, VA
Xoanon @ 9:47 pm EST

Sean Astin at Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, VA

Thanks to EVERYONE who sent in their pics!

SemiSilver writes:

Last Sunday, my friend Combeferre and I, drove the 1 and a half hour confusing drive (thanks to wonderful Mapquest) to Winchester, Virginia for the Annual Apple Blossom Festival (and I wore my spiffy Goonies Shirt, just for the occasion!). This year, Special guests Loni Anderson (who wasnt very crowd friendly) and Sean Astin were to be the Grand Marshals of the festival and were to ride in the parade along with Soap Star Eva LaRue, and other celebrities like Chevy Chase and Kwame Jackson, runner up of the Apprentice.

We arrived around 12:30 ish, and wandered the streets that the parade floats had adorned. We saw nothing that Sean Astin could possibly be gracing his presence with.

So we moved on. Untill we noticed (some 45 minutes later) that a large crowd had gathered in a parking lot lined with convertible cars of all assorted models. We figured that was a good place to investigate. And aren't we glad we did! Because therwe near the front was a really nice, old convertible labeled with banners saying "SEAN ASTIN, Sam, The Hobbit" Which I thought was rather comical. We waited, gathered with other Sean Fans (and a huge fan girl group that had Sean Astin written all over themselves in a bunch of different places) and before we knew it, there were a few screams and "There he is!" shouts.

Needless to say, I think my heart momentarily stopped. I have been a fan of Sean's since I was 7, and I am now 21, so...you do the math :)

So here he comes, along with his wife and two daughters. He has such a beautiful family, and I could just eat his kids up. (Don't look at me like that, it is a figure of speech!) :) And people, no joke, FLOODED around the car. It was like releasing a dam at the begining of the Nile River... Everyone was shouting "Sean Sean!" and it got a bit rediculous. The security started stepping in a bit. People were asking him to sign things, and he had to decline, regretfully because Security wouldn't allow it. (I wont say anything...) But Sean managed to respond to all the "Seans!" and made eyecontact with whoever he could, and someone gave him a monopoly One Ring on a chain, which I kind of had to laugh at, because honestly, HOW MANY TIMES do you think hes gotten a version of the one ring? LOL. But Sean was very generous, and said "I thought we destroyed this thing!" and of course everyone laughed.

Thats when they started the car and pulled out onto the main drag where the parade would begin. Only, they stopped in the street, and more people realized who it was, and since they weren't moving, more people went to the car. And he still made sure to chat with everyone.

That's when he looked at me. And he kept looking at me. I tugged down my Goonies shirt so it was readable and he smiled. So of course, I said "Rock on! He saw my shirt!" And again he was distracted away by people screaming his name. Thats also when I noticed that Combeferre was at the car shaking his hand and speaking with him! I hadn't even noticed she had left me on the sidewalk and gone over! So I contemplated getting yelled at to go over, when Combeferre returned to me and informed me that he was leaving straight from the Festival to go to The White House in Washington, DC. So... he would most likely not be able to sign anything later. She also told me I should go to the car, and my reluctance was begining to fade. So I took a breath and walked to that car. And he looked at me and smiled (He is SO nice, lemme tell you!) And I said extremely chipperly "Hi Sean!"

To which he replied "Hi! How are you!?" I told him I was well and explained that I had been a fan of his for 15 years, since Goonies was released and I saw it for the first time. To which he said "Oh wow! Thank you! I was admiring your shirt way over there!" And I said "Oh! Thanks! I loved the Goonies!"

Before I could open my mouth to praise his Sam, the car began to move, so before I walked back, I asked him if I could take a picture, which he said yes to, and I extended my hand, and he shook it with a big Sean Astin Grin that I absolutely adore.

It was a fabulous day. The weather was great, the Hobbit Karma was great, and aside from sunburned arms and face, I am feeling extremely well! Once I get the pics scanned I will definately send them in. Take Care everyone and have a hobbit day!

LOTR Concert in Oz
Xoanon @ 8:36 pm EST

Award-winning composer Howard Shore will conduct the Sydney Symphony for the Australian Premiere of his acclaimed work, The Lord of the Rings Symphony. With 250 performers on stage, the Orchestra will be joined by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Sydney Children’s Choir, with special guest vocalists. Following the extraordinary success of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King at the 2004 Academy Awards, this unmissable concert event will be presented in the Concert Hall of Sydney Opera House on 17,18 and 19 June, 2004.

Howard Shore’s epic music score for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is a brilliant portrayal of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world. The music captures its sweeping emotion, evokes the vast Middle Earth vistas, and carries us along the grand journeys undertaken by the characters. When Peter Jackson conceived his trilogy, he saw them as one work, at some point being able to be screened continuously as one film. When he commissioned Howard Shore to write the score, the same was true for the music.

After four years of writing, The Lord of the Rings Symphony now presents this award-winning music in a breathtaking symphonic concert. The vast scope of the work calls for a huge symphony orchestra, massed choirs and a children’s chorus, together with instrumental and vocal soloists. The work also features songs from the films including Gollum’s Song, and the winner of the 2004 Best Song Oscar, Into the West, co-written by Annie Lennox.

Shore's music for The Lord of the Rings has garnered him every major award in cinema and music. At the 2002 Academy Awards, he won the Best Score Oscar for his music for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In an unprecedented move, the Academy again awarded Shore the Oscar for Best Score in 2004 for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. He has also won two Golden Globes and two Grammy Awards.

Following his repeat triumph at the Academy Awards, Shore has commenced a major tour, performing The Lord of the Rings Symphony with the great orchestras of the world in major cities including New York, London, Los Angeles and Tokyo. In June, 2004 this extraordinary event arrives in Sydney.

The concert will be accompanied by the stunning imagery of John Howe and Alan Lee, the world’s foremost illustrative interpreters of Tolkien’s work and conceptual artists for the films. These beautiful and never-before-seen storyboards and sketches, which were the basis of the design of the films, will be projected onto a giant screen above the Orchestra.

Dates: Thursday 17, Friday 18 June at 8pm & Saturday 19 June at 2pm
Venue: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Bookings: (02) 9250 7777 or online at sydneyoperahouse.com

Weta Digital Conference in Milan
Xoanon @ 8:21 pm EST

Weta Digital Conference in Milan

Hey on 26.04.2004 Alias Wavefront, presenting its new software Maya 6.0, organized an event in Milan with Shawn Dunn from Weta Digital. He showed the making of The Return of The King, being involved in it for almost a year. I was there, and I was lucky enough to interview him! He is really friendly and forthcoming, even if he couldn?t say anything about ROTK extended or King Kong! However, before passing to the interview and the report, let me thank Oronzo Cilli of the Italian Tolkien Society who indicated to me the event, and to Alias which provided to me the entrance.

A brief interview with Shawn Dunn, Weta Digital Animation Technical Director.

-When did you join Weta digital crew? How was the atmosphere there?

I joined Weta Digital in March of 2003, it was during the postproduction of Return of the King

-Are you involved in the next Weta Digital projects, as KK?

Yes, I?m still working with Weta, and I?ll be there for another couple of years, so I?ll work on King Kong and the other projects.

-When you were working on Return of the King, did you feel as you were working on a eleven-oscars movie? Weta Digital must be proud of its 3 oscars in 3 years!

I think it. Working on RotK was an incredible experience. And I?m really proud to be involved into the project. When I got there and started to see the scenes that people were producing, I began to have the sense that I was doing something really, really amazing and huge. And you can look at it: look some of the shots, later during the conference. I was involved into that, I followed the making of that scenes step by step, but every time I see that movie on the screen, it makes me goose bumps! It?s pretty amazing being part of that team.

-What about your 2 thousand processors? Is it true they are actually onleasing? Who is renting them currently?

I don?t exactly know who is currently renting them, we have this huge rendering-wall, which is divided in two parts, and I know that we are currently leasing one of them. The other part we?ll use for our current projects, like I, Robot or Rotk EE. But be sure that for King Kong that render-wall will be really busy?

-What an average day involved during last year of postproduction?

Well, for ROTK I was the Animation Technical Director. My role was primarily to support the Animation Team, so I was building tools for them, I was helping them to solve the problems, making work flow? We worked a lot, many times we thought it was impossible. Some days we finished a scene and had to begin with two, and my work was to keep them working well.

-a very important question. The leader of the Mumakil that?s killed by Eomer. Was he totally real? Or totally animated?

I guess he was real only in really close ups. Anyway, it?s totally photorealistic.That?s real during the really close-ups. When he plays the horn, he?s real (p.s. in fact, during the conferende, we saw a live action plate with an actor in a bluescreen studio playing the horn). But in wide scenes, and when he?s shot by the spear, that?s completely cg. That scene, when he falls down from the mumakil, and the mumakil itself hurts another olyphaunt, is one of my favorites scenes.

-Did you animate the olyphaunts totally by keyframing?

Yes. It?s not something we can do motion capturing for, it's hard to get an elephant to stand into a studio and so on?!

-speaking of the Extended Edition of rotk, we know that the new scenes have just been finished. How many new visual effects scenes have been added?

I can't talk about that, sorry. How many more S.E. scenes? I can only say that they are a lot. When I left them they said to me: you can talk only about some things?these aren?t into that things. Just because isn?t released yet, you know...

-what about king kong and Evangelion?

All I can say is that we are working on King Kong?sorry

-No matter. Thank you very much and good job!

See you!

The conference was pretty amazing. He projected many parts of the movie, and explained how they did them. Many scenes were ?dissected?, so we could see how was the clean plate, and then, layer after layer, the finished plate compositing itself. It?s really amazing to realize how much work is behind this trilogy, especially the third movie. I?m serious: It?s really impressive the huge amount of work they had, and the passion and the devotion they invested during this years.

It began with a reel of clips from rotk, before that he spoke. The clips were the most important visual effects scenes of rotk, and obviously involved Minas Morgul, the trolls, shelob, the mumakils, the monsters pulling Grond, the nazguls and the Fell Beasts, Legolas on the Mumakil and? Gollum.

After that he explained the difference between Weta Workshop, which makes physical effects, and Weta Digital, which makes visual effects. He said that they are quite different, and even if now they work separately (W.Workshop?s working on Narnia and other movies, W.Digital made some scenes of Van Helsing and is working on I, Robot and the extended edition of Rotk), they?ll reunite for King Kong, which is currently on pre-production (Weta Digital is currently developing the technology for Kong).

For RotK Weta Digital had a huge amount of work, and it was a run against time.

They finished the last scene only one week before their last deadline. It had more than 1,527 visual effects shots. Whereas FOTRhad accumulated 7.5 terabytes of online data, and TTT 30 terabytes, ROTK amassed 72. They had 600 workstations and increased the amount of processors of 1200. He said that if they would processed the movie with only one of their 2,100 processors, it would take 11 millions years to render all the three movies. He showed, projecting the display of his personal computer, Weta Digital?s pipeline: a diagram that organizes all the steps of the postproduction of a movie. This is linked to a sharing of data that has to be really functional and quick, and to an organization of the data really tidy. Most of the creatures were modeled and animated using Alias? Maya, that software

was involved almost in every step of the pipeline (modeling, creatures, cameras, animation, environment?).

To make a creature they would do many sketches as first step, then sculpted many models in clay. Than Peter approved one, than they scanned it with ad high-resolution scanner by hand (unto 60 millions of polygons). After that they generated a low-resolution model and compared it with the hi-rez model. Between them they did many displacement map. The ending was a low resolution model easy to animate, but working in high-resolution (with a lot of details) when rendered. Gollum was animated in many different ways. They usually motion captured Andy Serkis: as we know, he acted on location with the other actors, and then re-acted all in a motion capture studio. Other times it was ?rotoscoped? on Andy Serkis, and other times was totally animated by key-frames. The face, for instance, was inspired by Serkis? acting, but was totally key-framed, using a library of facial expressions too. For RotK Gollum was really improved. He showed us that amazing scene that?s when he speaks with himself sleeping. He said that they improved the lips, as you can see in that scene they are stickier on themselves, wet, and more realistic in the dynamics. They improved the eyelids, the way they move and flow closing themselves; and the way the muscles swell: he said that they use a plug-in they wrote for Maya to make the muscle system of LotR models. For RotK they also worked on Gollum Model making that thinner and haggard, as the character evolves in the book. So it began even more difficult to transfer Serkis? movements on Gollum Model, because of the difference between the proportions.

Gollum was also the only creature that had close-ups needing an interpretation and some kind of ?presence?. For RotK, they improved their library to more than 600 different facial expressions.

He opened the Facial Animation System, and showed us some of the facial shapes. They used to combine and melt different expressions to make a facial animation, using keyframe.

But also every part of the face was animable separately: the eyes, the tongue, the lips, the eyebrows? The wireframe model of the head wasn?t a low-rez model, but a medium-rez, because of the complexity of it. Obviously the hi-rez details came from the displacement maps during rendering. He showed us many interfaces Weta Digital uses to organize the pipeline and the data. First of all there was the Weta Digital Manager, a database of models or scenes divided by movie. On the left there was the LotR section, the Van Helsing section, the I, Robot one and?the King Kong one. Obviously he opened only the LotR one, and I began to drool thinking that there was kept some of the early Kong CG models!!

Then into the Setup he showed us many models they made for LotR: Ents, gondorian soldiers or riders, digital doubles of the actors, the King of the Dead?s body?and the King of the Dead?s head! Thanks to that ?organizer? and that interfaces, every animator was able to search and obtain every kind of data or model he looked for. Every time someone finished to work on a shot, ?published? it on the Weta Digital Animation Publisher, so the shot could go to an higher step of processing.

The Fell Beast Model was really complicated to animate, because of the neck and the tail which were long and supple. Every time they moved them, they had to pay attention the dynamics wouldn?t make the model hurt something in the scene: a soldier, a building?

Shelob was really complex. They decided to change the position of the eyes (that in a normal spider are located in another part of the ?head?) because they wanted her to interact with Sam during the fighting. In that way she could see him during the fight. He said that when she rolls up Frodo in her web, that is totally CG.He showed the clean plate, which was shooted in studio with only stones and a painted background, and then they added the CG Shelob and Frodo. He said the web was really complex to animate. And the fight scene is almost totally CG, unless in close-ups. When Sam hit Shelob with his feet, he is real, Shelob is digital, and Sam?s feet are digital too!

The strange triceratops-beasts that draw Grond were something they go really proud. They appear only for few shots, but for that they produced sketches and models and worked a lot! All is digital there, Grond is a real miniature only in some close-ups. The Trolls were 6 and were different each other. They were really high-detailed, thanks to the displacement maps. The problem with them was that because of their size, they had to control everything worked ok, every movement they did. He showed us many scenes in which the Trolls destroyed everything, squashing people and launching soldiers, and said that some animators liked that ? really sadic!

Then he showed the destruction of Barad-Dur: that was a model, too, and they literally destroyed it. The pieces of the tower were animated using Particles Dinamics in Maya. He showed us their Eye of Sauron Model: it was made of 60 melted layers that formed a 3D texture, so that it was transparent and three-dimensional. We saw how they made the enormous ?hole? in the ground, as the tower explodes, and he said that it was all animation, not a miniature. He added that on the Black Gate we can see the Trolls of The Two Towers fall and die: they animated them, but almost nobody see them!

Showing us the enormous, magnificent miniature of Minas Tirith, he explained how they realized a digital model of it, but used only for pre-visualization and 3D environment to track Gandalf digital double during the raising to the citadel. He said that almost all the scenes with Minas Tirith were made with the miniature, because is more realistic: their motto was to do the most possible with real effects, because are cheaper and more real than digital one!

He showed how they carried out that amazing scene that?s the descent of the Nazguls on Minas Tirith: we saw the clean plate, that was made with motion control (that?s a technique indispensable for this visual effects shots) with the miniature and nothing else, then came the 3D environment, so they could work on the shot adding the ground and the mountains and other elements, then came the backgrounds (amazing 3D matte paintings and mountains totally generated, not with photos), then the animation of the Fell Beasts and the Massive Agents on the citadel terrace, then the clouds? Really a fascinating process.

He said that the catapults are all completely CG, unless in some close-ups where they used miniatures. The Siege Towers were digital, too: full of Massive Agents. He showed us some of the common problems they had with the animation: in a wide shot of the Siege Towers, after rendering it all the night, they came in the morning and saw the Siege Towers literally spinning around, with the Agents flying miles away! He also showed a joke the animators did: they animated a scene with some orcs shouting and bringing on a catapult one drunk orc (he took an X bottle in a hand!!), throwing him and exulting! He-hee, quite mad..

For the Horse Massive Agents they had an enormous database with data of the motion captured horses (we saw one of them: it was quite strange to see it full of sensors, but it wasn?t sad, I guess!). They did some Models and then Massive randomized them and produced thousand of horses.

The sequence with the eagles fighting the nazguls was made by two really skilled animators: they made it in only two weeks.

Thanks to the pre-visualization, Peter Jackson could strictly control all the postproduction process. He knew very well what he wanted, and using the 3D pre-viz (which were largely used in RotK) he could visualize perfectly all the complex scenes. Saying ?I want the final shot completely identical to the pre-viz? he could obtain exactly what he wanted, because after all he compared them?

In the end, he showed us the Mumakil Models and said that they were different each others, with different sizes, tusks, colors and textures. The towers they brought were 3D Models, but they didn?t animate them: they followed the Mumakil dynamics. They filled them of Massive Agents, but also of Live Action actors, as he said to me during the interview. You can see the photos of the event here: let put them on your scrapbook, if you want! ^__^

Andrea F.

More Fun at Mill Again!
Xoanon @ 1:11 pm EST

2004’s Tolkien Weekend at Sarehole Mill is going to be even bigger than last year! This is the fifth such event, and is now an annual item in the Birmingham calendar. Sarehole Mill was the "original" for the Mill at Bywater in the Shire in The Lord of the Rings.

On the green and around the mill there will also be:

Displays from: RSPB, British Woodcarvers Association, Henna Art, woodland craft demonstrations, handcrafted jewellery, Bee-keepers Association, Morris dancing, Guild of Spinners and Weavers, wildlife information, woodcraft tools, textiles and aromatics and Dough Crafts.

Any queries regarding this Press Release should be addressed to:

Ian Collier, Publicity Officer, 45 Caldew Maltings, Bridge Lane, Carlisle, CA2 5SW


4-28-04 Latest News

SHOP: Master Replicas LOTR Items coming soon!
Celeborn @ 12:00 am EST

Ringer staffer Garfiemao reminds us of the latest release from Master Replicas:

Dear Collectible Enthusiast,

Now you can join Frodo, Samwise, Gandalf and the brave Fellowship on their quest to end the reign of Sauron with The Lord of the Rings Collection by Master Replicas.

The legend truly comes to life with our exciting selection of limited edition, electronic collectibles: Sting, Sauron One Ring, Light of Earendil, and the Staff of Gandalf the White. Each replica simulates the special effects seen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy so that you can re-experience the legend in all of its glory.

Available on April 30!

Sting Sword, FX Collectible
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Sauron One Ring
Watch in awe and horror as the Elvish script on The One Ring, still encircling Sauron's armor-clad severed finger, emits its sinister red glow. Limited Edition: Only 2,500 available worldwide - $199

Light of Earendil
You'll never be in the dark again! This replica of the elegant Light of Earendil will shine "when all other lights go out." Limited Edition: Only 2,500 available worldwide - $149

Gandalf the White Staff
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4-28-04 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 8:23 pm EST

Queer Lodgings:

The Company ride on the eagles' backs over the Misty Mountains, and Bilbo is very glad when he is finally deposited back on the ground. When the eagles depart, Gandalf leads them to the house of one of his friends from whom he intends to procure some assistance. This friend is however something of an original and steps must be taken to ensure that the Company will be welcomed to the house of Beorn.

What manner of being is Beorn exactly and how does he treat his visitors? What is Beorns house like? Where is Gandalf off to at the end of the chapter? Where do you think Tolkien got the idea for Beorn and his house from? Join us in #thehalloffire as we take a look at Chapter 7 of 'The Hobbit' - Queer Lodgings.

upcoming topics:

weekend 080504-090504: The Hobbit - Chapter 8
weekend 150504-160504: Mythological Creatures in Tolkien.
weekend 220504-230504: The Hobbit - Chapter 9
weekend 290504-300504: The Hobbit - Chapter 10

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 9:30am Sunday (09:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 5:00am (05:00) Monday morning AET]

ET = Eastern Time, USA's East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe
AET = Australian East Coast

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at

4-27-04 Latest News

Milwaukee Brewers Audio Producer Sends us Playlist
weetanya @ 11:35 pm EST


I saw a report at Theonering.net about Miller Park, the stadium that is home to baseball's Milwaukee Brewers playing music from FOTR.

I wanted to go ahead and clarify the accuracy of the report for you...

My name is Colin Deval, I am the Audio Producer for the Milwaukee Brewers. The music we play is actually a 9:45 mix from multiple selections in the three LOTR scores by Howard Shore. I've put pieces of the following selections into a seemless mix:

Foundations of Stone (Two Towers)
Minas Tirith (Return..."beacons of Gondor" scene)
Bridge of Khazad-dum (Fellowship)
The Uruk-hai (Two Towers)
Treason of Isengard (Fellowship)
Amon Hen (Fellowship)

It was nice to see that report on your site!!

4-25-04 Latest News

2003 Cincinnati Flower Show:
weetanya @ 8:14 pm EST

Ringer Spy Roheryn went to the Cincinnati Flower Show last year. In the spirit of Sam Gamgee, their theme was "Fellowship of the Shire: A Celebration at Bag End." Roheryn's sent a report and some excellent photos of the event.

Click for more photos

It's time once again for the Cincinnati Flower Show, going on now through Sunday! This year, one of the displays is entitled "A Wizard's Garden," though it is geared a bit more toward the Harry Portter crowd.  But last year's show had some great Middle-earth themed displays that I'd love to tell you about!  I didn't submit this report last year because at the time, I didn't have a computer or scanner.  But I do now, so I hope my fellow Ringers still find it of interest! 
At the 2003 Cincinnati Flower Show in mid-April, the largest exibitor in the main Marquee Tent was local landscape/florist Delhi Garden Centers.  Their theme was "Fellowship of the Shire: A Celebration at Bag End."  Their enchanting display had two full scale Hobbit holes, Bag End and #3 Bagshot Row, with lots of special touches that Tolkien fans would recognize.  Bilbo's home was in a state of preparation for the Long Expected Party, with the "No Admittance" sign on the gate, and the "Happy Birthday Bilbo Baggins" banner around back, along with a cart of fireworks.  Gandalf's staff was propped by the big green round door, and Bilbo's pipe and books could be seen on a bench just outside.  It doesn't show up that well in my pictures, but inside, you could make out the fireplace and mantlepiece with the ring case on it, a writing table with scrolls and quills, Sting in a scabbard and a mithril shirt draped over a chair.  Vegetation was themed, too, such as Brandywine Tomatoes and Firecracker Loosestrife.  Across the aisle was Sam & the Gaffer's hobbit hole, surrounded, appropriately, by many different kinds of roses.  Rustic gardening tools were placed by the front entrance, and a sign nearby said #3 Bagshot Row.
My friend, Nancy, a delightful lady of hobbit-like stature, was kind enough to let me commandeer her disposable camera to take some photos of the exhibit.  As we were under a tent, most of these are a bit underexposed, but I think you can get the general idea of how charming this exhibit was.  The event judges must have agreed, as Delhi won the Royal Horticultural Society of England Silver Gilt Flora Medal for Best of Show in the Grand Marquee at the Cincinnati Flower Show for an unprecedented 5th time!  The web site for this year's flower show features a picture of the Hobbit hole exhibit under their "Awards" section, and lists several other awards that it received last year.  [Winners here]
I am including a scan of the handout that they had for the Hobbit holes.  Even novice Tolkien fans will note certain misspellings, such as "Gandolf" and "Mithrail."  Whether these are due to carelessness or a conscious attempt to avoid copyright infringement, one can only speculate.
I should also mention that several new varieties of plants are introduced at this show every year, and last year this included the "Hobbit jade plant," also call the Gollum jade.  It is a succulent cactus that has unusual long skinny green leaves with odd tips that really do look like they could be Gollum's fingers!  Here's a web site I found that has some good pictures of it.
I have also sent along some information about a vendor booth at the flower show that caught my eye.  Aesthetic Metal Studio presented an array of garden art that looked as if it belonged in Lothlorien or Rivendell.  The artist is Chaz Kaiser of Batesville, Indiana.  With a long blonde braid and the well-defined muscles of a blacksmith, Chaz looks as if he would fit in very well with the Riders of Rohan, but he is at heart a true Elven smith.  A huge garden gate in the the graceful form of a beech tree (11' x 5' - stainless steel, copper, & bronze) dominated his modest booth.  Smaller fountains in the shapes of lilies and irises also abounded.  I pulled a few shots from his web site as illustrations of his craft, though they hardly do him justice.  Apparently there is a bit of Hobbit in Mister Kaiser, as his home/workshop is partially underground, built into the side of a hill!  To view a gallery with more samples of his work, check out his site.
And as our friends at West of the Moon remind us:  Your gardener ... don't leave home without him!
(Kathleen Myers, Cincinnati)

4-23-04 Latest News

Info for ROTK in Second-Run Theaters
weetanya @ 9:57 pm EST

Got plans this weekend? Some Loyal Ringers were kind enough to submit local information about the second-run theaters that are currently playing ROTK. We have information for:

Detroit MI
Denver CO
Chicago IL
Fayetteville NC
Annapolis MD and Washington DC
Bakersfield CA
Los Angeles CA
Pensacola FL
Montgomery AL
Providence RI
Dayton OH
Milpitas CA

Contact these theaters for current information and show times!

DETROIT AREA From FantasyFan and Scout B:

Cinemark Warren 16
28600 Dequindre Avenue
Warren, MI 48092
(586) 558-7520
11:50, 3:55, 8
[More Info]

Silver Cinemas - Macomb Mall
32233 Gratiot Avenue - Macomb Mall
Roseville, MI 48066
(586) 285-8200

State-Wayne Theater
35310 Michigan Avenue
Wayne, MI 48184
(734) 326-4600
[More Info]

Village Theatre
375 North Maple Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
(734) 327-1962

DENVER AREA From Altaira:

Buckingham Mall 4 (at least one more week)
1390 South Havana
Aurora, CO

Cinema Saver 6 (at least one more week)
2525 Worthington Circle
Ft. Collins, CO

Tiffany Plaze Cinema Saver Six
(via Movietickets.com)
[More Info]

CHICAGO AREA From Entmaiden:

Buffalo Grove Theater
120 McHenry Road
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089

Bensenville Theater
9 South Center Street
Bensenville, IL 60106

Logan Theater
2646 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647

Ogden Theaters
Ogden Mall
1227 East Ogden Avenue
Naperville, IL 60563

LaGrange Theaters
80 South La Grange Road
La Grange, IL 60525

Value Harlem Corners
7340 West 87th Street
Bridgeview, IL 60455

FAYETTEVILLE, NC From Elf Princess of Lorien:

Omni Cinema, Fayetteville, NC
[More info]

ANNAPOLIS, MD From Auntie Ent:

Annapolis Cinema Grill
81 C Forest Plaza 
Annapolis, MD
[More Info]

WASHINGTON DC from Auntie Ent:

University Mall Theatres
Braddock Road & Rt. 123
Fairfax, VA

BAKERSFIELD, CA From Sevilodorf2:

Brand new dollar theater just opened last weekend in Bakersfield, CA

Interstate Theatres
4200 California Ave
(or that's what it says in the paper)

three shows a day
$1 before 6PM
$1.50 after
50 cents on Tuesdays

LA AREA From Erather

Academy 6 (Ind.)
1003 Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA

AMC Beverly Connection (AMC)
100 N LaCienega,
Beverly Hills, CA

Brookhurst Dollar Movies (Interstate)
2299 Ball Rd,
Anaheim, CA

Captain's Family Theatres (Ind.)
453 S. Associated Rd.,
Brea, CA

La Mirada Movies (Interstate)
15296 Rosecrans Ave.,
La Mirada, CA

Redondo Beach Cinema (Ind.)
1509 Hawthorne Blvd,
Redondo Beach, CA

Silver Cinema (Silver)
13917 Pioneer Blvd.,
Norwalk, CA

Have seen it at Beverly Connection (very good quality) and Redondo Beach (small theatre, mediocre sound but only $3).

PENSACOLA, FL From ShadowfaxRoxMySox:

Silver Screen Theater,
Pensacola FL
[More Info]

MONTGOMERY AL from Carroll:

Nova 8 theater
Montgomery, AL

PROVIDENCE RI from Bolcotook:

Patriot Theater
Providence, RI

DAYTON OH from Frodolovels:

Danbarry Dollar Saver
Dayton, OH
ROTK 2:30, 7 and 11 pm. 
Going into it's second week.  They added the 11pm showing this week.

MILPITAS, CA from Silverlode:

Cinema Saver 10
Milpitas, CA. (near San Jose)
[More Info]

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