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 georgethebird.com. The grass-roots effort is seeking fan support via the kickstarter campaign above.

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.

Continue reading “Meet the man whose illustrations have helped define Middle‑earth”

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.

 

Continue reading “Tourism New Zealand’s ‘The Book of New Zealand’ event in LA”

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, TheOneRing.net 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. Continue reading “Researching The Frodo Franchise: Part 3, Places Full of Magic”

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 TheOneRing.net (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 TheOneRing.net. 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.) Continue reading “Weta Cave big part of movie tourism in Wellington”

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.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Orthanc Pre-Ruin by Weta”