Jim Rygiel and Randall Cook spoke at a session at the Australian Effects and Animation Festival at the beginning of this month. During this session where they spoke to a (slightly disappointed) audience about the effects they used in FOTR, as they were unable to show any TTT footage before the release of the movie.
They mentioned that they were working on the DVD versions of TTT, and had an extra 120 shots they were working on. (I don’t know if they are going to release the same type of DVDs as in FOTR: first the cinema release, then an extended release later in the year, but I would expect so.) This means devoted fans should be able to again see more of the film that was allowable by New Line in their three hour limit on the theatrical release.
Some extra information that they did have was that since every shot in the TTT movie is digitally manipulated to some extent (compared to 70% or FOTR), they have the whole movie online and will try to use this digital version to create the DVD instead of another conversion process from film.
Other pieces of information: the have about 100 Terabytes of ‘near-line’ (automated data tape archive) with a lot of archived early work saved, instead of just the final masters. Jim (or was it Randall) pulled out their sample shots out of this archive for their talk just before travelling to Australia. It was amazing to see how many old animation versions are stored somewhere in their systems.
Some of the material they talked about used in the official web site Effects pages, but a lot of their talk covered the FOTR Cave Troll and the Bridge scenes. Some of the scenes they were working on for TTT and ROTK were taking up to 2-3 hours per frame, and that is using about 1400 CPUs in their render farm.