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Tim Launder of Weta, TORn friend, passes away

Tim LaunderWeta Workshop just announced that TORn friend and former General Manager of Weta Limited has passed away.

Tim was given a nice tribute from Weta that you can find here. There, Richard Taylor and his wife Tania explained who Tim was and that cancer took him.

Tim headed up Weta’s consumer products company, which handled the tourism and fans that visit the workshop from around the world and started the company’s collectibles line.

Tim was a friend to TheOneRing, setting up several party events surrounding conventions and events in the U.S. and in New Zealand. He arranged receptions and tour events with TORn staff and TORnadoes around the world.

Tim was a terrifically positive influence. It was impossible not to get swept up in his absolute enthusiasm and love for everything ‘geek’. It was a wonderful thing to see. His passing is deeply saddening, especially considering the courageous fight and victory over cancer the first time around. – Richard Taylor, CEO and Co-founder, Weta Workshop

On a personal note, Tim was a friend that I looked forward to seeing at events, meals, in emails and in offices. I know I am not the only staffer to feel that way.

I remember conversations with him about work and life and how much he enjoyed the film and fantasy environment. I also recall conversations about his family and his wife and children. Tim was willing to do hard things to achieve success and was honest and open, often explaining what he couldn’t be honest and open about. His loss is felt across the oceans and he will be remembered. Thank you Tim Launder for your kindness, courtesy and friendship.

Josh of Collecting The Precious adds:

It’s not very often as a collector that you truly feel your opinion is valued. Those of us collectors who knew Tim never felt that way. We always knew if we made a comment in person at a convention or on a message board Tim truly valued those comments. He let us know they played a part in the pecking order of what wonderful Middle-earth pieces were made.

As a collector I can’t put into words how awesome that is. For me personally he made doing the Collecting the Precious columns easier. At events like Comic-Con he would allow me to have special access cases being lifted to take pictures or video. Tim would allow me to pick his brain about what might be coming, and allow little teases I could pass on. When he left Weta it made me sad because a friendship had developed and I knew that would wain with him not being there.

Tonight, I find out that he has passed away. Sailing into the West and hopefully pain free. The collecting world lost a good friend tonight but the world lost a great guy. Thanks Tim for all the kindness you showed me and all the Middle-earth collectors.

Posted in Fans, Hobbit Movie, WETA Cave, WETA Workshop

Hobbit EE fellowship in Utah, for one of the last times

Hobbit Unexpected Journey Movie PosterSalt Lake City – Many years ago when TheOneRing.net was in its infancy, the concept of Line Party events were a big part of TORn. For one of the last times, this opportunity for fans to get together and enjoy the films together is upon us. This applies everywhere, but Salt Lake City had gigantic turn out for those early days line party events. The times we get to experience fellowship in theaters is now rare.

In Salt Lake City tonight, and twice after, we have the chance to gather again and watch Peter Jackson’s translation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth on the big screen. THere are several places to watch, but TORn in Utah has long had a semi-formal engagement with a small (but much bigger now) chain of independent theaters called the Megaplex Theaters.

TORn will unofficially be watching at these theaters, depending on work schedules and such. If you want to join us we would love to see you! Many of you are friends to come say hello to staff and remember the good old days of line party fun.

Megaplex Theaters Hobbit details can be found right here.

That still leaves a lot of theaters around Utah, so we recommend Jordan Commons or The District.

If not for work schedules, we would be running a trivia contest and such at these showings, but Jordan Commons has served as geek central for Salt Lake City since it was built and The District is a great destination as well. Again, if you can, say hello and wherever you go ENJOY!

Note: TheOneRing and its staffers are NOT being compensated in any way for this and are not affiliated with Megaplex.

Posted in Events, Fans, Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit

George R.R. Martin says he wants his epic series to have a LOTR ending

George-RR-Martin-thumbGeorge R.R. Martin, writer with a series of #1 bestellers, a hit HBO show and a measure of celebrity few writers ever achieve, has given a pretty substantial signal about the how the tone of his series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” will end and he credits J.R.R. Tolkien. Martin has long praised Tolkien and credited him with influencing him and most every other fantasy writer.

But this time Martin got pretty specific.

He spoke in an exclusive interview with The Observer, where he didn’t give anything away, but did reveal the kind of tone he hopes to have at the end.

“I’ve said before that the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet. I mean, it’s no secret that Tolkien has been a huge influence on me, and I love the way he ended Lord of the Rings. It ends with victory, but it’s a bittersweet victory.”

Tolkien_2692769bMartin also talked about the golden age of television and mentioned some great shows that not everybody is watching, but he wasn’t done with praising Tolkien.

“Frodo is never whole again,” he said.

Martin is of course known for writing giant volumes and killing favorite characters. The joke goes that Martin isn’t on Twitter because he already killed 140 characters and the fear is that by the end of the final book, Martin may write something of an apocalypse, which is why his Tolkien comparisons are so welcome for fans.

But he also praised a portion of Tolkien’s writings that filmmaker Peter Jackson left out of his movies, save for a brief glimpse as part of another scene. Martin loves the Scouring of the Shire chapter.

“And the scouring of the Shire—brilliant piece of work, which I didn’t understand when I was 13 years old: “Why is this here? The story’s over?” But every time I read it I understand the brilliance of that segment more and more. All I can say is that’s the kind of tone I will be aiming for.

Martin is writing the sixth book in his series, “The Winds of Winter.”

Read the full story right here.

Posted in Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Return of the King, The Two Towers, Tolkien

Crowd funded Minas Tirith pricetag: £1.8 billion

Minas TirithA group, that displays one man with 500+ Facebook friends, has started a GoFundMe page to build a 1 to 1 scale replica “of Peter Jackson’s depiction of Minas Tirith, as seen in his Lord of the Rings films.”

For American readers, if my pounds to dollars calculator is working right, that is about $2.8 billion, an ambitious amount to raise on IndieGoGo, or really any crowd funding site, or really, by any method. Still, the project would be a dream to visit and would create an economy all its own and would provide years of good media material as the world watched its progress.

“We aim to create both residential and commercial properties, allowing for sustainable growth and a high quality of life,” Jonathan Wilson says on his intro page. He also breaks down the cost, a little bit, to say, “The vast majority of this expense will cover building costs – £15m for land, £188m for labour and £1.4bn for material.”

He hopes to raise £1.8 billion. (more…)

Posted in Fans, J.R.R. Tolkien, Locations Sets, Locations Sets, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, New Zealand, Studios, Tolkien, Tolkien Estate, WETA Workshop

Tolkien artist Jef Murray: March 17, 1960 – August 3, 2015

Jef MurrayA member of the Tolkien community is gone. Jeffrey “Jef” Patrick Murray died Monday, Aug. 3 unexpectedly, at the age of 55.

Jef, living in Decauter, Georgia, was best known to many as a Tolkien artist, and was a selected artist at the upcoming Dragon Con in Atlanta. He leaves behind family and friends who know him as more than his work and will miss him dearly.

Jef was scheduled to help the Tolkien track of programming at Dragon Con this year, as he has many others, and will be missed and remembered. He was active year round in a Facebook group dedicated to the convention, where he posted his art weekly. He put his effort where his passion was and it will be hard not to notice that he hasn’t posted each Tolkien Tuesday.

Jef had a deep spiritual connection with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and credited the professor and his writings with his conversion to Catholicism. Besides leaving his mark in Tolkien fandom, he was involved as a writer and artist in religious publications and websites. He also wrote his own stories and poems.

Murray received a note of tribute from fellow artist and friend Ted Naismith, noting his passing and explaining that the pair kept in contact via email despite different viewpoints of the world. He said in part:

“I’m proud to call Jef a friend, fellow artist, scholar and colleague, and deeply mourn his loss. My deepest condolences to Lorraine and Jef’s family and close friends. He was a very lively and dedicated voice and talent in our community, and he leaves an impressive legacy. I’m truly saddened that he has left us, it’s simply too soon! I’d like to think he is now free to roam the width and breadth of Middle-earth and Valinor with his canvases and songs.”

Tolkien scholar Constance Wagner, who got to know Jeff at Dragon Con also spoke of her sadness at his passing:

“He has gone Into the West to paint forever with starlight. I will miss his wit and kindness and sense of fun. I will miss his talent. But mostly, I will miss him. Namarie, Jef. Elen sila lumenn’ omentielvo.”

The Tolkien Society knew Jef and his works well. He often contributed to its publications Amon Hen and Mallorn. It published a notice of his death, expressing sadness at his passing.

It is interesting to note, that he graduated from Georgia Tech with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering according to this obituary.

TheOneRing.net wishes our deepest condolences to those hurt by the loss of Jef, yet we honor his works and his passion and his life.

Some of Jef’s creations are posted below but to see a full compliment of his works, visit his official website.

He also left behind his own words about himself:

“Although it’s thought good form to speak about oneself in a “Biography” section, I’m always embarrassed that I’ll either say too much and sound pompous or too little and sound elusive. I intend neither, so beg your pardon in advance if I strike the wrong balance.

I’ve sketched and painted natural and mythological wildlife and landscapes since my childhood years in the north Georgia hills. I suspect I’m best known for my illustrations from Inklings-themed publications, although I’m very grateful that my work has also been published in many other books and journals.

I love the writings of G. K. Chesterton (see my artist’s statement), and a good deal of my work explores the connection between myth/fairy tales and Christian thought. I am Artist-in-Residence for the St. Austin Review (StAR).

My illustrations of whimsical tales and poems and my stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications worldwide, including Amon Hen, Mallorn, Silver Leaves, the St. Austin Review (StAR), the Georgia Bulletin, and Integrated Catholic Life. My most recent book illustrations appear in Seer: A Wizard’s Journal.

Lorraine and I reside in Decatur, Georgia with hamster-in-residence Ignatius, and up to 60,000 honeybees.”

Posted in Creations, DragonCon, Fans

‘Hobbit’ Extended Edition release date Nov. 16 for UK?

02_thb_334p5_129_212_BOur friends at Tolkien Italia have info that the release date of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” Extended Edition, for the folks in the United Kingdom, is November 16. They don’t cite a source but the good people there don’t make these things up. There are no further details available but it gives us all a target date and it sounds about right. We do know the Extended Edition team is working hard to put the finished product together and like all the excellent home video extras, they will deliver top-notch quality, completing the six-part documentary of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth films.

Incidentally, TheOneRing.net will be talking about this very thing at some event people call the San Diego Comic-Con, happening in San Diego. (Apparently a bunch of stars go there and it is like, the biggest popular culture celebration in the world or something.) Also, ice cream.

Posted in Fans, Hobbit Movie, LotR Movies, The Hobbit

Martin Freeman signs on for Marvel’s ‘Civil War’

Martin FreemanAfter hitting so many different parts of popular culture, Martin Freeman, forever known around these parts as Bilbo Baggins, will now invade the Marvel Universe, which also means Disney. Just in case he wasn’t popular enough for works in Middle-earth and in the world of Sherlock Holmes, he will jump into Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War.”

Marvel made the announcement on its website. (more…)

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman

Tolkien community loses Melissa Petrey Kern

Mel is gone.

Chris Mel KernIt has been weeks now and this isn’t news. I have felt the loss personally and thought about the loss for so many.

Melissa Theresa Petrey Kern, 42, is gone. In her real traditional obituary, it says she was of Lawrenceville, Georgia. Respectfully, I disagree, or I want to state on the record, that while that may be true, it isn’t the whole truth.

More of the truth would say that Melissa Theresa Petrey Kern, 42, a notable figure in the Tolkien Community, died March 8, 2015, after a long battle with ALS. She lived among us, the fan community, and was our neighbor and shared her life with us and is missed by us, as she is missed in Lawrenceville. You could write about more places she lived and is missed too.

I remember, fortunately a few conversations we shared that didn’t seem especially significant at the time, but feel pretty lucky now. We talked about an artist that visited Georgia. We talked about the Tolkien Community in Atlanta. We even talked about specific people she wanted good things for. We talked about fandom, that included her own early love for the books of J.R.R. Tolkien. We shared some moments and I value them, as part of the beautiful experience of our community and they are just a tiny sample of many such moments she shared with many people.

More memorable than the things she said were the people she influenced. The Georgia costuming community, I think it is fair to say, wouldn’t have been so organized or so unified if not for Mel. The Arms of Middle-earth might not have existed at all without Mel, but I don’t pretend to know the reality of that claim. We can safely and accurately say, she was at the heart of the community.

There is a photo, I am sure dozens of people have it, where a significant number of Tolkien costumers were all gathered together in an impressive array of characters from “The Lord of the Rings.” It was during Dragon Con in Atlanta, before the convention had matured to quite the level it has now. Groups of costumers were less frequent and large numbers of themed costumes were rare. There, in that spot, was organized and gathered an outstanding display of fans, living their passions and forming a genuine fellowship. It was a very fine cosplay effort but it was a transcendent community effort. (more…)

Posted in Billy Boyd, DragonCon, Fans, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Rhys-Davies, Martin Freeman, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit, Tolkien

‘Shadow of Mordor’ wins big at DICE awards, gets BAFTA nominations

ShadowofMordor_LordoftheHunt_StealthCaragorA bit like the Oscars for video games, “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor,” won big at the 18th annual DICE Awards, emerging on top in eight categories. Another fantasy game, “Dragon Age: Inquisition,” won the Game of the Year honors but SoM had an outstanding night despite not taking that prize. It won:

Outstanding Achievement in Story
Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction
Outstanding Achievement in Game Design
Adventure Game of the Year
Outstanding Innovation in Gaming
Outstanding Achievement in Animation
Outstanding Achievement in Character
Outstanding Technical Achievement
(more…)

Posted in Tolkien, Video games, Warner Bros.

Going deep with Weta Digital

JoeLetteriThere is a lot to write about and our staff is spread pretty thin these days, but this article about Weta Digital and what some of the processes were for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” is just too good to miss.

Here is a taste:

The new tools implemented for the film included the real-time lighting software Gazebo, technology in development two years ago (see “Shaping Middle-earth,” January/February 2013), new rendering software called Manuka, and a new virtual production pipeline. The scale of shots with the armies made their implementation necessary. (more…)

Posted in Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, WETA Digital

Astounding Tolkien-themed art collection now open in Milan

Hey all, MrCere here. We have a friend in Italy who has been great at promoting some J.R.R. Tolkien related stuff and has been also providing TheOneRing content and ways to reach readers and Tolkienites in Europe.

Gabriele Marconi sent in the following info, I think, with the idea that I could shape a post for TORn from it. Instead, I love his energy and style so and am presenting the info as he provided. It is long compared to many posts, but there is a lot of useful info. And, if this doesn’t want to make you go to Milan, you might not be a Tolkien fan. This is an astounding collection of art with all the names you hope might be included. Anyway, go read!:

Marconi said: (more…)

Posted in Alan Lee, Events, Exhibits, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Howe, The Hobbit, Tolkien

Father says his 4th grader was suspended for talking about using One Ring magic at school

The finding of The Ring - monochrome variationKids telling other kids about how they plan to use rings is making terroristic threats. This seems to have taken place in Texas in the Kermit Independent School District.

The Odessa American reported that the principal said threats against a student – magical or not – are not tolerated.

The boy’s father, Jason Steward, said the family had been to see “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” last weekend. His son brought a ring to his class at Kermit Elementary School and told another boy his magic ring could make the boy disappear. The story is starting to get traction in bigger media arenas but it seems this smallish Texas website started it.

(It is clear to TheOneRing.net that the lad was only trying to be a good Steward — like his father and the whole family needs shirts that say, “I am of Gondor.”)

Posted in Hobbit Movie, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies