Greetings — Quickbeam here.

I’m so excited and thrilled at what I’ve just seen, I can’t even tell you folks!! The events at the Comic-Con have been totally cool and entertaining so far, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could have prepared me for today. The new LOTR footage was indeed worth waiting for….

The largest Ballroom upstairs is on the 3rd floor of the Convention Center, and had recently been expanded to it’s largest size by removing the temporary walls. The Con organziners told me they had seating capacity for 6,000 people: but when I walked in I got the feeling that the massive crowd before me was much more!

I didn’t walk in until the very last minute, after the previous panel (which was discussing the new film “The Cell”) had stepped down and all the lights went dim.

The familiar music that came to my ears was the same as we’ve heard in the Internet Preview. The voice-over track was also the same:

“It has been called the greatest and most popular book of the 20th Century…”

However, now I was looking at a slew of new clips and behind-the-scenes images that departed from the Internet Preview. Some new things that were
intercut were:

  1. More images of Troll and Orc models, evidently the kind they will render into a 3D CGI environment.
  2. 360 degree shots of Uruk-hai armor.
  3. “Big People” animatronics which will be for the Breelanders, including an amusing moment where Elijah Wood is walking in front of an actor on stilts (and he really does look like a wee hobbit in the foreground).
  4. Close-up and some more distant shots of Hobbiton and Bag-End, which is SO LIFELIKE and unbelievably green you feel like walking into the image!
  5. Close-up shots of each of the cast, with their name announced as credit and the character that they play. Viggo looks very handsome, I must say, for we are given a clearer view of his Aragorn than previously. When the shot of Ian McKellen came up “in the role of Gandalf,” the audience cheered noticeably. Liv looks suitably fey, Orlando Bloom comes off somewhat better as Legolas (must be the blond extensions). Sean Bean is given prominence in that still-shot we see on the Official New Line site (where he holds the Ring before him on the chain)… but here the clip is played and he actually says the dialogue from the book about how much grief and worry comes “from such a small thing.”
  6. Many effects shots of MASSIVE are shown, giving you a good sense of the battle scenes the computer will create. Seems that this program is going to enhance all the thousands of extras in the combat close-ups. Very impressive!
  7. The same clips of Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood are here, straight from the Internet download. However, later during the reel Peter offers some additional comments about the effects team he’s working with.
  8. Alan Lee (or was it John Howe?) is given a moment to describe his contributions and paintings. Some of their most famous pieces are shown briefly, then we cut to an external shot with cameras running around the
  9. John Rhys-Davies is shown in close-up in full Gimli attire, and I have to say WOW! The makeup here is terrific.

There were more bits that I will try and describe later, but right now they’re closing the Exhibition Hall and I have to wrap up….

But I have to tell you the BEST PART!! After the clip was done (and it certainly went by quickly) the audience roared its approval as the lights
came back up. Then the announcer came up to the microphone and said, “I think we have another special guest who wants to say hello to you folks…
Ladies and gentlemen, Sir Ian McKellen, GANDALF HIMSELF!”

With that, all the wind was taken out of me.

Yes, it was true!! Ian McKellen stood before the podium as the lights focused on him and the audience shrieked with delight. There was a standing ovation and a wave of energy from these people that was awesome to behold.

I am still getting the shivers now, thinking back on it. He said the most eloquent things (including, “When I get back to New Zealand tomorrow, I will give them [the cast] all your love.”) but spoke very briefly, and the crowd laughed an applauded richly as he left the stage. Oh, what a moment.

Our very own Ian had made a special, unannounced visit to the Comic-Con just to greet the fans! Evidently, with the success of “X-Men” last weekend, he thought it would be a good idea to come and give a special treat to the fanboys (and girls). He had been downstairs in the Marvel Comics area, and just sauntered upstairs to watch the LOTR reel–which he himself enjoyed immensely.

That’s all that my brain can type out for now, I will try to fill in the blanks tomorrow. They’re closing up and I have to close.

Congratulations should be given to the lovely Wendy Rutherford at New Line and the equally lovely Den Shewman from IGN…. they really put together a spectacle. I acknowledge you both.

Much too hasty,