“Hey. Just writing to tell you that I was at the Doug Anderson appearance in Seattle, and I thought I’d share with you a bit of a review of the whole event…

“The evening was a chill one, filled with a cold thrill that sent shivers through my coatless spine and shook the leaves from the trees they resided in. The glowering clouds were cast throughout the reaches of the sky, obscuring the luminous points of stars that scantily dotted the heavens. It was a night filled with anticipation, for it was the night I was to see a true Tolkien Scholar in action. Douglas Anderson, the writer of The Annotated Hobbit was speaking at Kane Hall in the University of Washington, and it was a night I would not soon forget.

“As I arrived in the Walker-Ames room of Kane Hall several minutes after the event was slated to begin (I will have you know that, much like a Wizard, a Nazgul is never late) and scoured the crowded room for a vacant seat, I began to wonder just how much this guy knew about the world of Tolkien. Had he read the History of Middle-earth series? Did he delve into Tolkien’s letters? Just how much of a Tolkien Scholar was he? While I have known several people whose knowledge of Tolkien’s mythos borders on the scholarly, I did not quite know what to expect from seeing a reputed expert in the subject.

“But I learned soon enough.

“A shortish, plump, balding man took the stage after a brief announcement by a member of the University Bookstore (the organization that put on the event) and the lights dimmed. He gave us a brief introduction about the process behind both versions of the book, comparing and contrasting the methods of research and annotation between 1988 and the present, before dimming the lights to show us a series of slides.

“Many of the pictures in these slides are reproduced in the actual book, though without the wry commentary of Mr. Anderson. He seemed to be in his element, describing the slides that depicted events in the book as interpreted by various artists for the various translations of The Hobbit. Anderson spoke all about each and every one of the illustrations, interjecting some of Tolkien’s own commentary on the images (emphasizing one-word commentary used by the Professor, such as describing the Swedish illustrations as `Frightful’ and the Portuguese illustrations as just plain `Foul’) along with the images histories.

“Finally, after an hour and a half of showing all manner of slides, there was a brief question and answer session where only a handful questions were asked, followed by the part that everyone was waiting for: the signing. Being the opinionated Tolkien fan that I am, I could not help but ask Anderson the infamous Balrog Question. Certainly, I got his signature and everything (on both my book and my friend Linda’s), but the real moment of the night was our small discussion on whether or not Balrogs had wings. From a scholarly perspective, he reasoned that the evidence was inconclusive and that Tolkien did not paint a good enough picture of that aspect of the Valaraukar for us to determine whether or not they have wings. But as far as opinions go, the was of the opinion that they did not have wings, citing the metaphors that Tolkien used to describe the shadows and the fact that they could not fly.

“But I digress.

“Finally, the evening ended for me. Autographed books in hand and moral vindication for my position of wingless Balrogs giving me strength, I departed the company of Douglas Anderson. The talk was a fun one, filled with all sorts of insights into the Professor’s work that I had never realized, and I left with a sense of fulfillment, having finally met an actual Tolkien Scholar”

LinuxElf writes:

Friday 11th October.

I just came back from the the Hawke’s Bay New Zealand
BookFest (Friday 11th to Sunday 13 October 2002) with
special guest Daniel Falconer Design Artist for the Lord of the Rings!

In case you didn’t know;

A Trained illustrator, Daniel Falconer is a Conceptual
designer at Weta Workshop, one of a team of five full time design specialists based in the facility. Daniel has been with Weta now for six years. Over that time he has been involved in design work for a variety of different projects including creatures for television shows like William Tell, Hercules, Xena and Young Hercules, and most notably, desining creatures, armour, weaponry, props and costumes for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. A long time of J.R.R Tolkien’s writing, the opportuinty to be so intimately involved in bringing Middle-eart to the screen was a fulfillment of a childhood dream for Daniel and continues to be his ‘dream job’.

I arrived early to beat the crowds and to make sure I got a good seat! Which I did front row 🙂 Daniel was busy studying his speech and looked up as I approached him for his autograph and a couple of snap shots of him and me. He seemed like a nice fellow, pretty down to earth and laid back as a typical kiwi!

At about 7:00pm he started his talk on his involvement with the LOTR trilogy and other projects including TV series Xena the warrior princess and Hercules. He had brought along with him his laptop and a projector together with a video / TV set, and a power-point slideshow for good measure.

He Began his talk about the beginnings of Weta Studios (14 years ago) how Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger started “R T Effects” (the name being a combination of Richard’s and Tania’s names) in the backroom of there flat, wanting to make all sorts of creatures and SFX for movies and TV series, Public Eye a puppetry show was an early example, this later on evolved into Weta Studios.

He then showed us a video of examples of the work they did at Weta Workshop & Weta Digital including shots from LOTR and Xena, Hercules, and several other movies like Brain Dead and Meet The Feebles, the Frighteners with Michael J Fox, The Secret Garden and Contact with Jodie Foster.

After that he showed us some sketches which where
conceptual drawings for the cave troll which was used in the Fellowship of the Ring, from its early beginnings as a sketch, to the scale model which was used finally to be scanned into the computer and digitally animated.

And finally he covered the work they do at Sideshow-Weta Collectibles with all the collectibles they make! And boy they looked cool! He showed us a video showing the artists at work making the collectables and painting them, it even had the actors and actresses of LOTR examining them…

With a question and answer session afterwards…

All and all it was a great evening!