2 More Lincoln Center Reports|
Xoanon @ 8:35 am EST
I was lucky enough to have attended the 9:30 presentation of "Behind the Scenes of Middle Earth" at Lincoln Center in New York City. As I was waiting in line I saw the people coming out of the earlier showing and I rushed up to them to ask what it was like. First I found out that the Cannes footage, which I assumed we'd get to see, was not shown, and there were no special guests beyond producer Barrie Osborne and director of visual effects Christian Rivers. Then as they started collecting tickets I saw a group of people talking outside the theater and realized one of them was Elijah Wood! And there was Orlando Bloom next to him and Sean Bean right there as well! I am so glad I went to the later showing and got to see all three of these actors.
I got perfect seats 5 rows from the stage and just happened to be two rows in front of where the actors sat. The presentation was a nice mix of production stories, descriptions of how the film was made, and some really amazing behind the scenes videos, as well as about five minutes of the Moria sequence with the fight against the cave troll.
The presentation began with a description of New Zealand and why it was so perfect a location for the movies. Christian and Barrie briefly descibed their career histories and how they got involved with LotR. Barrie mentioned that during the Vietnam war he was in Korea as an army engineer learning how to make bridges and roads, a skill that came in handy when he was involved with such a huge production like LotR, which involved the creation of over 16 miles of road to get access to remote locations. He told us how scared Sean Bean was of flying and how Sean took a ski lift up half a mountain and hiked the rest so he wouldn't have to fly up in a helicopter.
They showed us the second teaser trailer with the Gandalf voice-over and a really interesting sale pitch film that Peter Jackson showed to Bob Shaye at New Line. It had more footage of Peter (as the two presenters referred to him as) in front of the orc helmets as seen in the first Internet Teaser trailer explaining his vision for the films. It also included a wonderfully detailed model of the BALROG'S HEAD! It is truly original, really fantastic, and did remind me a little bit of a monter bull crossed with the alien from Predator. Barrie mentioned that Weta made over 48,000 items for the three films, including chain mail that was created by hand by linking slices of plastic pvc pipe (12.5 million links from 7 miles of pvc in all!) and then electroplating the finished product so it looks like metal and has some weight when it moves.
Then Christian talked us through the story board and digital "pre viz" process for the Moria sequence. He also mentioned how the Hobbiton set was built one year before it was filmed, so all of the greenery would have a chance to grow and look natural. One un-natural bit of Hobbiton was the over 250,000 fake oak leaves that were individually attached to the live trees to make them greener and fuller. Barrie told some more great stories like filming earthworms crawling out from under the toes of the hobbits as they are hiding from the ringwraiths, illustrating how all living creatures naturally want to avoid the undead kings. And also mentioned how Orlando, Sean, and a few others were trapped in a small town by landslides on the roads leading into and out of the town.
Orlando chimed in at this point to mention they bought lots of chocolate and Sean made tons of pasta because they thought they'd be trapped there for a long time, but the production sent in helicopters to airlift them out, and even Sean had to fly in them this time.
More brilliant behind the scenes footage was show, including how the forced perspective shots were created to shrink the hobbits as well as the use of actors on stilts, which WERE used in the film (sparingly) and were not completely abandoned as has been reported on the web. We saw some breathtaking shots like an elven charge at the Last Alliance, Gandalf's stunt double flying through the air again and again when he is being thrown around by Saruman's magic, and a really really fantastic shot of Arwen and the Black Rdiers during the flight across the ford. There were also some really funny bits like an elf in full make-up and costume saying how Galadriel in her swan boat is "a bit poncy...she had to have a special boat instead of just taking the bus", and what looked like Gandalf intoning "Orcs! Orcs! And so far from Orcland!" (referring to Aukland, the capital of New Zealand) The shots of the digital work is really what blew my mind the most. The digital stunt double of Boromir was SOOOO amazingly realistic. The shots of the different levels in developing MASSIVE, the software for the battle scenes, were just incredible.
Christian explained how the digital combatants are programmed to get dirtier as they fight, each with their own racial fighting style, and how they could be programmed with different levels of agression, he added that they "eventually turned them all up to max".
The final bit before the questions was centered on the creation of the Moria cave troll. Christian showed us about 16 different pre-production designs of the troll, charting his development and zeroing in on the elements Peter liked best like the two-fingered hands and the cloven hoof-like feet. We also saw some fascinating footage of Peter on the Balin's Tomb set wearing VR goggles and controlling a digital camera so he could walk around the real set and compose his shots at the same time he was viewing the "pre viz" computer generated animatics that had been prepared of the troll and the fellowship fighting.
Then we got to see the footage from the entering of Balin's Tomb to the Cave Troll stalking Frodo. Wow. It's already been described many times so I'll just add I was as blown away as everyone else. It was magical. My favorite part was Gandalf drawing Glamdring and then attacking orcs with his blade in one hand and staff in the other.
I'm really tired and need to get to bed, but here's a quick paraphrase of the questions and answers:
Q: How much motion capture was used as opposed to hand animation?
CR: We really married the two and used both. It wasn't all motion capture, for example the cave troll was all 3D animated by hand.
Q: What does "weta" mean and how long has it been around?
CR: Weta is an insect unique to New Zealand which looks like a huge grasshopper covered in nasty spikes. Weta, the special effects company named after the insect, has been around since about 1988 and bought it's first computer for Beautiful Creatures, but became a named company in 1994.
Q: What will be the running time of FotR?
BO: About 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Q: What can you tell us about the scripts and any deviations from Tolkien's books?
BO: They are very faithful to the books, there are no introduced storylines. One of the biggest planned changes was the removal of Bill the Pony due to the cost of transporting animals to so many remote locations, but in the end Peter had to keep him in the film. (Hooray!)
Q: How much of the footage that we saw tonight will be on the DVDs and what special features can we look forward to? (this was the question I asked)
CR: I can pretty much promise you that almost everything we showed tonight will make it on to the DVDs. Peter has set out to make the greatest trilogy of movies ever, and he also has plans to make the greatest set of DVDs ever made with tons of great extras.
Q: Is the scourging of the shire going to be portrayed in the films?
BO: Yes, but you'll have to wait to see how and when.
Q: When are the films coming out? (Duh!)
BO: The next three Decembers.
Q: What is the DVD release plan? One per film or all three together?
BO: I'm pretty sure there will be one released after each film, and then you can also expect a full compilation at some point in the future.
Q: Has there been any talk of making the Hobbit next?
(I guess they just want to finish this project and then take a well deserved rest!)
As the presentation ended and we all drifted back to reality I was thinking how cool it would be to meet the three actors who were there. Unfortunatly we didn't see them as we were heading out of the theater. My wife and friends and I hung out outside for a bit to see if they were coming out but they didn't show. So I decided to poke my head back into the theater and saw a small group of about a dozen people incluing Barrie, Christian, Elijah, Orlando, and Sean! So we rushed back in and waited until a good moment to introduce ourselves. All three were really personable and friendly, though Sean, the oldest of the three, was more quiet and reserved. Each seemed happy to shake my hand and give me an autograph, and I even chatted with Elijah for a few moments thanking him for his involvement with web sites like Ain't-It-Cool and TheOneRing.Net.
And this one from RP
Got back from Lincoln Center tonight; it is now and 2 AM and the threat of work looms tomorrow morning, but for now I just wanted to post you a bit about the evening. You will probably be getting a LOT more of these as the night progresses....