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Archive for the ‘Models’ Category

Middle-earth filmmakers set their sights on stop motion ‘Birds’

BirdsCatching up with some of our friends from New Zealand, we learned about a project that involves the efforts of a lot of Kiwis, including Sylvester McCoy of Hobbit fame and Lord of the Rings’ Alex Funke. For good measure New Zealand’s Grammy winner Kimbra (Somebody That I Used To Know) is supporting the project with her voice.

In the age of computer generated effects, the film “Birds” is a throwback. A friend to TORn, Horst Sarubin, who worked on visual effects for the three Hobbit films, is behind the project that uses puppets, shot one frame at a time with incremental movements between frames to create a motion picture. The film, about the struggles of George the bird in the primordial forests of Zealandia (pre-historic New Zealand) to carry on.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEYMcCoy is well known for his bird whistles and humor, which Hobbit director Peter Jackson definitely brought through the former Dr. Who’s Radagast into cinematic Middle-earth. In the film’s kickstarter campaign McCoy presents those whistles and gets a little bird treat in return. In the same video Funke, who is best know for helping make the LOTR bigatures look amazing on screen, explains his role is to make the cinematography great.

The stop-motion technique is being employed to give the filmmakers a hands-on experience and a final project they claim will be alive and organic. Tying closely with the passions of Peter Jackson, these are the same techniques used by Ray Harryhausen and Willis H. O’Brien. The original King Kong movie was made in this fashion, inspiring a generation of filmmakers.

With a team of grass-roots talent with a Middle-earth cinematic legacy efforting the film and a universal appealing story, but set in the ancient human-free land that would eventually become New Zealand, TORn readers may want to know further information is available at The grass-roots effort is seeking fan support via the kickstarter campaign above.

Posted in Alex Funke, Crew News, Lord of the Rings, Models, New Zealand, Peter Jackson, Sylvester McCoy, The Hobbit

Meet the man whose illustrations have helped define Middle‑earth

John Howe. Photo: Fataneh Howe.

John Howe. Photo: Fataneh Howe.

Check out this interview with interview that Ethan Gilsdorf conducted with John Howe over two sessions in January and July last year. It’s a corker.

Howe is, of course, a long-time Tolkien illustrator and is currently working with Alan Lee as Conceptual Designer for The Hobbit movie trilogy.


Posted in Costume Design, Hobbit Movie, John Howe, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, Models, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Production, Props, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Tolkien

Tourism New Zealand’s ‘The Book of New Zealand’ event in LA

entering the book of New ZealandTourism New Zealand, 3 foot 7 productions, Warner Bros., and others bring you ‘The Book of New Zealand’ exhibit. This is an invitation only event being hosted out at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA. It combines set locations, images of real world New Zealand, and a little movie magic to bring to life much of what makes New Zealand the perfect location for all things ‘Middle-earth’. Here are a few images from the event and a video of the opening greeting, please enjoy.



Posted in Chris Hennah, Contests, Dan Hennah, Events, Exhibits, Fans, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Locations Sets, Locations Sets, Meet Ups, Models, Other Events, Peter Jackson, Production, Props, Ra Vincent, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Warner Bros.

Researching The Frodo Franchise: Part 3, Places Full of Magic

Once again it has been a long time since I posted in this series, but what with the run-up to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure and the reaction to it, has been a busy place, and now we’re coming up on The One Expected Party on Oscar night! But I’ll delay no longer.

In the first entry I recalled getting the permission to interview the filmmakers and going down to start my work, back in September-October of 2003. The second one dealt with my first interview and tours of the Three Foot Six office building and the Stone Street Studios. Now, more of the facilities I visited.

The Film Unit

Film Unit Oct 2003My third full day in Wellington was Wednesday, October 1. Melissa Booth called and said I could come to the new Film Unit building to meet Barrie Osborne. He, as I cannot stress often enough, was the one responsible for getting me New Line’s permission to interview the filmmakers for my book. This meeting, though, wouldn’t be for an interview. (I interviewed Barrie twice for the book, first a couple of weeks later and again during my third Wellington visit in December, 2004.) He was driving out to the old Film Unit facility that afternoon to give the people working there, sound mixers, editors, and other post-production crew members, a pep talk.

As most readers know, the race to finish The Return of the King was on by that point, and a lot of people were working long hours. I was told that Barrie often gave these pep talks, and the filmmakers really appreciated them; it was part of what gave the production that feeling of being one big family. I could at least introduce myself to Barrie and ride with him to the Film Unit; the half-hour drives there and back would allow us time to talk about my project. (more…)

Posted in Barrie Osborne, Daniel Falconer, LotR Movies, Models, Other production, Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, WETA Digital, WETA Workshop

Weta Cave big part of movie tourism in Wellington

Our story so far: Peter Jackson made three Middle-earth movies and people loved them. Now he is making two more and people already love them too. MrCere, Senior Staff, Writer and Photographer at (around since 1999) went to NZ to see what he could see. Landed in Queenstown, found lots of LOTR stuff, drove north to see the people of the ring, visited Hobbiton visited Wellington, center of NZ’s cinematic empire, and will soon leave NZ. However, much more content will follow.

I haven’t seen an insect weta before in my travels (until this trip, but not this story) but I have plenty of experience with the folks who run and work at the special effects shop who identify themselves as “wetas”. Several Comic-Cons, (including the 2011 edition in San Diego) lots of emails and various TORn functions have made the crew at Weta Workshop friendly acquaintances if not just plain old friends.

My time in Wellington would need to include a visit of some kind with the very busy people who are working on The Hobbit, but as I have often joked (even though it is at least partially true) Weta’s second best talent is making special effects for movies. What they are really best at is keeping secrets from I had no illusions that anybody was going to tour me around the workshop (I asked anyway, just in case) during the height of The Hobbit production, but they were kind enough to invite me along to a group they were hosting from a cruise ship that included one of our own message board members. (Her identity is her own to reveal.) (more…)

Posted in Collectibles, Crew News, Daniel Falconer, Events, Fans, Hobbit Movie, Locations Sets, LotR Movies, LotR Production, Make Up, Meet Ups, Merchandise, Models, MrCere in New Zealand, Production, Richard Taylor, WETA Cave, Weta Collectibles, WETA Digital, WETA Workshop

Collecting The Precious – Orthanc Pre-Ruin by Weta

During, Comic-Con 2011 Weta released the next amazing environment from their The Lord of the Rings line. The item is noneother than Orthanc the home or Saruman during the battle for The One Ring. This version of Orthanc is before we see Saruman tear apart Isengard to use in his part of making war in Middle-Earth.

The detailing in Orthanc is off the charts! It looks like the statue is made from real obsidian and pulled from what we saw on screen during the trilogy. The addition of the trees add a feel of peace that this location had before Saruman sold himself out to Sauron. For owners who have Orthanc after Saruman destroyed the beauty that you see here the comparisons will make for one of the cooler looks in any The Lord of the Rings collecton.


Posted in Collectibles, ComicCon, Conventions, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, Merchandise, Models, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Weta Collectibles, WETA Digital, WETA Workshop

Collecting the Precious: Interview with Weta’s own Daniel Falconer

For the folks at Weta to be successful they need super talented people to help bring the world of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to life. These folks are responsible for making the award-winning armor, weapons, costumes, and, of course, digital effects that have gained them so much acclaim. I thought for you all it would be great if we could sit down with one of these amazing individuals to find out what it’s like to help bring these worlds to life.

Well, Daniel Falconer one of the key artists at Weta has been kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions for everyone. As many of you may know Daniel been apart of amazing pieces like Bag End, Rivendell, Treebeard’s bust, and books like The Art of District 9. Having had a chance to own or see many of these pieces I was quite eager to sit down with Daniel and get his thoughts on being apart of helping Weta create  these amazing things. After, reading this Q&A I would suggest to all the readers to get one of these great collectibles Daniel and Weta have created. (more…)

Posted in Books Publications, Collectibles, Costume Design, Locations Sets, LotR Production, Make Up, Merchandise, Models, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, New Zealand, Other production, Props, Studios, Weta Collectibles, WETA Digital, WETA Workshop

Rare behind the scenes photos of LOTR. Nostalgia levels rising

3Foot6 (the spy, not the company) sends this in: The popular website has a post today showing a bunch of old behind the scenes photos from the trilogy. I thought fellow fans would enjoy them. More..

Posted in Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, Make Up, Models, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, New Zealand, Other Cast, Other production, Peter Jackson, Viggo Mortensen, WETA Workshop

Exclusive: TORn’s interview with Richard Taylor

With the release this week of the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time on Blu-ray, Warner Bros. offered the chance to speak to with Richard Taylor, head of Weta Workshops. (Be sure to check out our very own Xoanon’s interview with him as well)

Taylor and partner Tania Rodger famously built the New Zealand special effects house first from their Wellington, New Zealand flat in in 1987 and expanded it dramatically in 1994 when bringing in Peter Jackson. Since then it has grown into one of the elite special effects houses in the world, producing the wonders seen in films like the LOTR trilogy, King Kong, and Avatar, just to name a very few, and all of this across the ocean from the U.S. Film Industry, building what director Guillermo del Toro called, “Hollywood the way God intended it.” (more…)

Posted in Blu-Ray, Costume Design, Hobbit Movie, Locations Sets, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, LotR Production, Make Up, Models, New Zealand, WETA Workshop

Tolkien Flashback – August 3rd-9th

Another week, another great FLASHBACK from Ringer Diedye. This week’s flashback details the events that took place in the Tolkien universe between August 3rd and August 9th. This is a weekly feature that Diedye posts in the forum, so if there is ever a time we don’t post it on the homepage of TORn, make sure to check the Main board in our forums. Click on the link below to transported in time!


Posted in Christopher Lee, Christopher Tolkien, Ian McKellen, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lawrence Makoare, Locations Sets, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Models, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Peter Jackson, Rumours Spy News, Today in Middle-earth, Tolkien, Tolkien Family

Massive Helm’s Deep Miniature Exhibition in Malta

James writes: The AME (Association of Model Engineers) is organizing its Annual Exhibition, held between 8th and 16th September, 2007 and this year it is showcasing a massive miniature of Helm’s Deep, the main fortress of Rohan.

The exhibition will be held at the Scouts Headquarters in Floriana, Malta and shall display a wide range of models of all types of genres; including Military, Fantasy and Science Fiction.

This year, the Association has been working hard to construct this highly detailed model has been carefully built to closely match the film version.

The diorama is also filled with various models, including Elves, Uruk-Hai and the Men of Rohan, depicting the battle as portrayed in the film. Other models include, siege ladders, catapults and a group of Uruk-hai with a battering ram attacking the gates.

Apart from this diorama, a collection of highly detailed figures of The Lord of the Rings are displayed separately during the exhibition. Last year’s main centre-piece was a diorama of a Rohan keep being attacked by orcs. This year, the AME has taken a step further into realizing this full 3 feet by 2 feet diorama of the Battle of Helm’s Deep.

No photos of the model are available yet, since it is still under construction. For further information on the Exhibition and the Association itself, please click the following to the AME website:

Posted in Events, Exhibits, LotR Movies, Models, Movie The Two Towers, Old Special Reports