NewsWire: LOTR's Visual Visionary Goes Mini to Maximize Middle Earth - E!Online
If you can't build 'em, shrink 'em.
That may as well be the unofficial motto behind the scenes these days for Lord of the Rings, where technicians are indeed sweating the small stuff.
"Middle Earth is just so vast," says Alex Funke, LOTR's director of visual effects photography. "Everything is a towering fortress or a bottomless mine. It's just physically impossible to build these sets to scale. There's no studio big enough to hold all of Khazad-dÃ»m or Cirith Ungol."
Unless, of course, you do it in 1:72 scale. Which is where LOTR's Miniatures Department comes in.
The team of painters, photographers and techies are charged with cutting Tolkien down to size for Peter Jackson's ambitious trilogy.
Funke is, in effect, the production's major mini. No stranger to big projects, he won a Special Effects Oscar for Total Recall. He's also the man behind those giant bugs in Starship Troopers and whatever was down there in The Abyss.
He says Tolkien is his biggest challenge yet.
"From the beginning," he explains, "Peter and I wanted as much real photography as we could get. Ultimately, it's a war movie, and we want the camera to be in the thick of the action. We want audiences to think, 'Wow, they really fought to get that shot!' "