Good Evening Rings Fans,
Well, it’s late and I’m beat, but I just got back from the Barrie Osborne and Christian Rivers presentation at Lincoln Center.
I’ll do my best to give you all the details from the event which was a mix of discussion and Q&A, plus a viewing of some great footage.
Let’s begin, Barrie Osborne (the producer) and Christian Rivers (story board artist and production design) took the stage in front of a crowd of anxious LOTR fans around 7:30. The line was around out the door and stretched to the end of the block (which at Lincoln Center is pretty far). The funny thing was there were actually fans outside holding signs asking for tickets.
The two guests were extremely polite starting with an introduction of their past work obviously we know Barrie Osborne’s, but Christian has been with Peter Jackson for about 10 years now, since “Brain Dead.” The intros were typical everything we have heard before from the Australian presentation Barrie gave not long ago. Then they began the LOTR chat by showing the trailer. Some of the crowd were quite in shock being that they hadn’t seen it, it was cool to hear the reactions.
Then they began discussing the day to day work on LOTR, the list was run off of the amount of props, actors, crew etc. that was used on the films. We’ve all heard it before. Christian gave some amazing insight into the beginnings of production design and the crowd really perked up when they showed a video of the story board, while he narrated. The pictures shown were of the Moria sequence which were first posted on the Internet long ago. After these shots were shown they showed us how an actual basic computer graphic storyboard was put together. This was amazing, with shots of the fellowship entering Moria, walking through the mountains…all completely computer generated!! They only showed two small parts of this sequence.
Next, Barrie and Christian told the story on how Peter Jackson was able to make all three LOTR films. Apparently, they had three options: “King Kong”, “Planet of the Apes”, and “LOTR”…so we won out in the end!! The three films were agreed upon and here we are, four years later.
The crowd was next shown the film which Peter gave to the studios as a selling piece for the movies. We have all seen clips of this short film in the original Internet trailer. Peter giving a short talk about launching the movies followed by the statement, “This is the Time.” The film is filled with a lot of artwork from John Howe and Alan Lee who also speak about the films and taking an active role in the production design.
Next came the good stuff….the “Making of” footage! Ok, please bear with me, there was a lot. The first thing that caught my eye was the stunt shots of the four hobbits falling down a small cliff (photo was posted on the net a while back). Then they showed Frodo and Gandalf riding in the cart into Hobbiton. More detail was taken to show the special effects used to make Ian Mckellen look bigger than Elijah Wood. This shot was done on an angle and without computer effect. In this scene we heard a bit of dialogue with Gandalf teaching Frodo how to pronounce something in elvish.
Next came stunt work, computer effects of the giant battle and a long talk on Massive Software. The initial shots we see are of Aragorn taking on about 100 orcs. These were all actors, whom Viggo was fighting all at once, the sequence was amazing! He was leading them up a bunch of stairs to make his stand at the top and keep on swinging! Next they went into the HUGE battle for “Towers and “Return”. The first shots were of how Massive worked. Thousands of simple computer soldiers walking and then running and then fighting each other!! Unreal!!! Then this was added in to the actual fight sequences where Gondorians were hacking apart orcs on the field!! The battle looked enormous!! On shot of CG was so vast it seemed to be eternal, all of just one giant battle! But here is the catch, each CG warrior fought in a different sequence, using moves and tactics to beat their opponents!!! Next they went into a special effects shot of Saruman and Gandalf. This scene is clearly when the two meet and Saruman traps Gandalf, but not until he magicly throws him about the room!! The stunts were wild, with wires and spring boards flipping poor Gandalf about as Saruman cast his spell. These shots were connected with breaks so Barrie and Christian could tell production stories. One that bears telling is during the filming Viggo was taking on three orcs. During the fight Viggo was hit in the mouth and lost a tooth…he looks on the ground, looks up and says “Anyone got some super glue.” Barrie said he wanted keep going!!! You have to dig that!
Next the making of footage went into strict detail about the set and costume design. Okay, here is my best to give you the list: orc armor, elf armor, costumes, Gondorians, Rohan, the cave troll. We saw shots of the wild men and orcs burning down a village. The armor is sooo detailed. Barrie took time to explain the importance to maintain the difference between the races. A special note, the Urak-hai are designed with differences from the Mordor orcs,a cool concept. Weapons, elf swords, human swords, dwarven axes…Christian and Barrie explained them all as they came onto screen. On a note, the elven armor was amazing!! We saw a shot of Elrond leading a charge of elves…he wore gold, while the others were wearing silver. The difference was shown between the CG armor and the real armor…no one could tell the difference. Next the shots of Lothlorien were shown…the entire city is set in the trees. It is filled with amazing detail. Next we saw filming shots of the crew on location all over New Zealand as Barrie and Christian spoke about each location. The one shot which was really cool was Peter walking into Bilbo’s birthday party after leaving the set of Moria…all within about 10 feet of each other! It was too much all at once.
Still with me…good, the last part of the presentation went into the development and design of the cave troll. From basic drawings, to CGI animation. We saw pictures of its skeleton from the Internet trailer, adding on muscle, then skin. Next came the choice of weapons. Finally settling on a giant war hammer and chain. A short film was shown of the cave trill trying to smash a bouncing ball which was pretty funny. This led up to Barrie and Christian allowing us to see the Balin’s Tomb sequence from the movie!!! Ok, we have all read the reviews of this footage, so I will not bore you with my interpretation, which is the same as everyone else…It’s perfect…just too good for words. Small notes I have to mention are: size detail is perfect. Aragorn and Legolas shooting orcs through the holes in the door while they are breaking in…and then the fight in general. All looks great, Gandalf and Gimli fighting off orcs, Sting glowing, it’s all there in full Fellowship goodness. A few questions were asked that were quite good, here are some things Barrie said which may clear up any rumors. He mentioned softly that the group does face the Watcher in the Water, the movies will be 2 hours and 45 minutes long. The DVDs are being worked on right now and will contain a LOT of extra footage. The score is also being worked on right now.
So on that note, thank you all so much for reading this far…I have to say a quick thank you to Xoanon and the gang who have given us the best coverage over almost three years! To Sir Manfred and all the Von Halsterns for being good sports, to Jer, Has and Vin, to Shawnda (the coolest Tolkein fan I know), and most of all to my dearest Padma for dealing with my excitement all day…week…months. We only have a few more months to wait, so relax and enjoy the build-up! Thanks again, see you all on December 19!!!!!