In the News: The Press On-Line – Special-effects Experts Unveil Tricks

by Nov 24, 1999Lord of the Rings (Movies)

Special-effects experts unveil Tricks

The Press On-Line – November 24, 1999

WELLINGTON — Special effects experts on The Lord of
the Rings movies have built models up to 8m high in
warehouses in the Wellington suburb of Miramar.

The trilogy’s visual effects director, Alex Funke, at the
weekend unveiled some tricks and techniques being used by
Peter Jackson’s Weta special effects teams.

Mr Funke, speaking to the Screen Producers and Directors’
Association conference in Wellington, said The Lord of the
Rings was the holy grail of film-making and required more than
1000 special effects shots.

Mr Funke was the effects cinematographer on blockbusters
The Abyss, Waterworld, Starship Troopers, and Total Recall
— for which he won an Oscar.

He said Weta — the visual effects company based at director
Jackson’s Camperdown Studios — was building and filming
miniature models. The footage would be superimposed onto
live action shots.

It is understood the partial set built in the stone quarry on
Haywards Hill is for the scenes involving the battle at Helm’s
Deep fortress. A complete miniature set has also been

Mr Funke said some of the models were 8m tall.

“We have warehouses full of them. We have a huge space —
about 3000sq m — for our use.” Mr Funke said an almost
constant cloud of smoke would be used in special effects shots
to give viewers the illusion of depth.

Almost every effect shot had been previewed on computers. In
many cases they would be shot using cameras with technology
that was 50 years old, he said.

Data takers made sure the work of different camera crews and
the special effects teams corresponded.

Despite revealing some tricks of the trade, Mr Funke would
not show any clips of the scenes filmed so far.

“I would love to show you some rushes (film clips) of the Lord
of the Rings, but security being what it is, I can’t.”


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