Ever marveled at how incredible the Palantir looked when Saruman waved his hand over it in The Fellowship of the Ring? Wondered what material it was made of to achieve that incredible vacuumous black effect? Well judging by an image in the 2002 Cedco day calendar, we have the folks at WETA to thank.
In the two pictures above, the one of the left shows the final shot of the Palantir from The Fellowship of the Ring. However, the picture on the right shows an image that made it into the Cedco 2002 Daily Calendar, the Palant’r looking like a giant pearl and a complete contrast to the one beside it. This suggests that once again WETA have added their magical touch to make The Lord of The Rings and incredible and aesthetically beautiful movie.
Thanks to Calisuri for the Cedco picture!
Brendon sent this follow-up in: I saw the short bit about the Palantír and remembered something from the Cinefex LOTR edition (no. 89). From the magazine (article by Jody Duncan):
“Late in post – with Weta Digital’s workload mounting – the production farmed out twenty shots to Animal Logic, an Australian effects house, among them views of Palantir, the black orb through which Saruman communicates with the spirit of Sauron.
‘Peter’s idea,’ said Animal Logic visual effects supervisor Chris Godfrey, ‘was that it would appear like an old-age Internet device. It was always meant to have a life of its own, even in its noncommunicating state. On the set, they shot a black obsidian ball, with the idea that something would then be tracked over the top of that. We built up layer upon layer of images, with the outside layer being a cloud effect. We built up texture maps of sparks and spires in a whole range of colours – blues, oranges, reds. We also had to pull reflective colors from outside and blend them in so the ball looked as if it was part of the scene. Our art director, Ian Brown, developed the look for that; and the first time we showed it to Peter he was blown away with it. So we got it on our first try, only having to go in and refine it at that point.'”
So, as much as it pains me to admit (being a full blooded kiwi and all) it was an Australian group of talented individuals that were responsible for this piece of wizardry.
Animal Logic can be found at http://www.animallogic.com. Its a bit of an ‘innovative’ website (counter-intuitive to navigate) but it does have a film section with an area on LOTR – FOTR – http://www.animallogic.com/film/lotr/index.html. The Cinefex magazine can be bought as a back issue from http://www.cinefex.com/store/backs3.html.