November 23, 1999Fortress Rises on
Special effects whizzes on The Lord of the Rings movies have
built models up to 8m high in Warehouses in Miramar. The trilogy's special effects
director, Alex Funke, at the weekend unveiled some tricks and techniques being used by
Peter Jackson's Weta special effects team.
Mr Funke, speaking to the Screen Producers and Director's
Association conference in Wellington, said the Lord of the Rings was the holy grail of
film-making and required more than 1000 special effects shot.
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 on to live action
It is believed that 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 constructed.
Mr Funke, from the United Stated, said some of the models
were 8m tall, "We have warehouses full of them. We have huge space - about 3000sqm -
for our use." Mr Funke said an almost constant cloud of smoke would be used in
special effect shots to give the 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. Data
takers made sure the work of different camera crews and the special effects team
Despite revealing some tricks of the trade, Mr Funke wouldn't
show any film 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
Star Wars creator George Lucas was reported to have said in a
overseas newspaper recently that only his company, Industrial Light and Magic, would be
able to create many of the shots needed. Mr Funke disagreed. "I don't think he's
speaking form an informed point of view. I think it's going to be difficult, but we can do