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**Appendices Discussion -- Pre-Viz/Animatics: Stairs of Khazad-dum**

weaver
Half-elven

May 11 2009, 7:25pm

Post #1 of 8 (540 views)
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**Appendices Discussion -- Pre-Viz/Animatics: Stairs of Khazad-dum** Can't Post

Happy to be your leader -- with help from Magpie -- for a quick two-day discussion on two of the pre-viz/animatic features in the FOTR EE Appendices -- "The Stairs of Khazad-dum" and "Gandalf Rides to Orthanc."

Since these are both pretty short, and some of this material was also included in the features Elven presented for us, I'm only doing one post on each of them.

After that, Gramma will be stopping by with several posts on her topic, the "Bag End Set Test", to round out this week.

For today, here are screencaps Magpie got for me from the "Stairs" segment, along with her observations on them. I've posted a few questions of my own at the end:

First Shot

Magpie's Observations:
  1. Note the way they are trying to convey lighting effects.
  2. Check out the notations at the bottom of the image.
  3. There are lines at the top and bottom, which may be cropping marks.

Second Shot


Magpie's Observations
  1. Shows how they are indicating a striking camera perspective and how they are not trying to 'illustrate' everything.
  2. Only the stairs and people are shown. Not rocks.
  3. You can also see the shot has been 'framed' with pink lines, differently from #1.

Third Shot

Magpie's Observations:
  1. The previous shots were created on a computer. This is hand drawn. It is probably a storyboard that had a previous use and was reused here.
  2. It shows an arrow that indicates movement. There are other storyboards in this PreViz that has arrows.

Fourth Shot

Magpie's Observations:
Another storyboard. There are no arrows in this one but I think it shows emotion on their faces.


Fifth Shot

Magpie's Observations:
This may be hard to discern but some elements of this image has textures on it (to simulate the rock) and other elements (the stairs and people) are just 'wire' frame. The texture hasn't been added yet.

Sixth Shot

Magpie's Observations:
This shows Boromir picking up Merry and Pippin with their head toward his back and their feet towards his front. I wonder if the movie had it this way as it seems a more disrespectful way of picking someone up. In fact, you can see an indication that their feet are flailing around... a sign of their discomfort.


Seventh Shot

Magpie's Observations:
Hard to tell what's going on here but another example of camera angles being indicated.


Eighth Shot

Magpie's Observations:
  1. I thought the boxy lines around Aragorn were interesting.I think they are probably something that is indicated before the head is finished and is a clue to the person doing the head as to what direction it should face.
  2. You can also see an arrow along his left arm.
  3. Simple textures have been applied to the body but not to the shield... that's still a 'wire' frame.

Weaver's Questions:

1. Is there anything in the book that Jackson based this scene on? Or is this a “wouldn’t it be cool if…” kind of scene?

2. Does seeing this kind of behind the scenes look at how it was created change your feelings or impressions toward it in any way?

3. There are two storyboard images of Aragorn included above -- is this “your” Aragorn? How much do you think the storyboard images of the characters influenced casting choices?

4. In the final screencap -- what do you know, that guy has a shield! And he uses it! Any ideas as to why he didn't get to use it in the film sequence?

5. Any other thoughts or comments on this feature or the screencaps and observations above?

Weaver





Elven
Valinor


May 11 2009, 8:16pm

Post #2 of 8 (168 views)
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Love it! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thankyou weaver and Magpie! Smile
This is a really interesting set of shots you chose ... love the questions too.

OK - lets see ...

Note the way they are trying to convey lighting effects.
I thought the shadows were great - but I still wonder where it comes from seeing that they have no torches, but maybe from the bottom of the chasm, or maybe they are standing up-light of another torch ... Boromirs - before he dropped it Wink

Check out the notations at the bottom of the image.
Some of these were a bit hard to make out - though I did see New Line dispayed over everything - but there's also timing markers and scene and sequence numbers - duration and run time (I think) ..

There are lines at the top and bottom, which may be cropping marks.
Yes, I think these are the camera boundary lines - and possibly they can be adjusted to fit the film, moreso than the other way around.
When Peter was using the lipstick camera and the monitor when devising shots for Orthanc, I noticed the monitor was taped top and bottom with gaff tape which did the same thing - wide screen version maybe Smile


Shows how they are indicating a striking camera perspective and how they are not trying to 'illustrate' everything.
Only the stairs and people are shown. Not rocks.
You can also see the shot has been 'framed' with pink lines, differently from #1.
Maybe this shot wasn't finished or was a template - and then the skins go over the top of it? I dont know - but I do like the perspective and the way they had plaaned this out to get the maximum effect of the length of the stairs, the drop, and where the company were trying to get to.


The previous shots were created on a computer. This is hand drawn. It is probably a storyboard that had a previous use and was reused here.
I got the feeling that this storyboard might be one Christian didnt do - or didnt finish - it seems unrendered and not the usual darker penciling, and the faces are somehow different - maybe the eyes and other bits that he puts in. Just a thought.
and I think once the structure of the 2D sketched storyboards outlined the basics of what they wanted, it was easier to add and to go into Pre-viz to do the extra shots than to draw lots of storyboards.
I think also that Randy Cook was given the stairs sequence and said - go balistic, and we'll cut it back from there - so I think there were a few minds working on this scene to get as much action as they could - and compter previz would have allowed that expression of 'anything goes' as if they were 2D storyboards it might not have worked as well - time may have been a factor too.


Another storyboard. There are no arrows in this one but I think it shows emotion on their faces.
It works for me - I guess they may have just needed that one frame - which says so much about what Aragorn and Frodo are thinking and expressing.

This may be hard to discern but some elements of this image has textures on it (to simulate the rock) and other elements (the stairs and people) are just 'wire' frame. The texture hasn't been added yet.
Love the shot of Gandalf jumping the gap LOL!!
Maybe they didnt add much texture, but I think the lines are indicators of where the stairs are to crumble and fall off?
Maybe it was a skin underneath they were working over.


This shows Boromir picking up Merry and Pippin with their head toward his back and their feet towards his front. I wonder if the movie had it this way as it seems a more disrespectful way of picking someone up. In fact, you can see an indication that their feet are flailing around... a sign of their discomfort.
Very direspectful I must say Laugh .. It even looks odd - like if he did jump, they would go head first out of his grasp down to the depths below ...


Hard to tell what's going on here but another example of camera angles being indicated.
... the stairs are in the background - maybe this is an approach to the stairs shot? and they are being attacked by orcs?


I thought the boxy lines around Aragorn were interesting.I think they are probably something that is indicated before the head is finished and is a clue to the person doing the head as to what direction it should face.
Sounds good to me Wink

You can also see an arrow along his left arm.
Maybe he was going to raise his arm with the sheild to defend himself from arows ... or ...

Simple textures have been applied to the body but not to the shield... that's still a 'wire' frame.
I wonder if that is a sheild, or an unfinished rock which will crash through the stairs ...
I dont think they ended up using the sheilds ...


1. Is there anything in the book that Jackson based this scene on? Or is this a “wouldn’t it be cool if…” kind of scene?
I think this was a compromise - and something which grew and grew out of the want to showcase the beauty of the interior of the stairs and not waste the miniatures and Alan Lees concepts. And also to add some tension.

2. Does seeing this kind of behind the scenes look at how it was created change your feelings or impressions toward it in any way?
Not at all - I think its amazing and it was cutting edge stuff at the time - we really hadn't seen such imagery on film before (now its sort of ho hum Wink everyday viewing) and it was I think in great part to the work they put into previz. I think somebody asked what program they used, and it was Frame Forge (correct me if Im wrong about that) for the previz.


3. There are two storyboard images of Aragorn included above -- is this “your” Aragorn? How much do you think the storyboard images of the characters influenced casting choices?
I do wonder - but that is a generic Aragorn to me - and I think he looks a lot like Alan Lee's Strider/Aragorn ... there's one illustration he did in LOTR where Eowyn hands Aragorn the cup to drink from ... I think this is the Aragorn I associate with the storyboards even though they were drawn by Christopher - and seeing that PJ had a thing for the concept art of AL's, I think they had an idea of who they wanted, but maybe not the actual person. And thinking about it - the Aragorn we see replaced 'whats his name' ... (see what happens when you get fired? No one remembers your name *thwap* Crazy Wink)

4. In the final screencap -- what do you know, that guy has a shield! And he uses it! Any ideas as to why he didn't get to use it in the film sequence?
Looking back at the other screencaps makes me think this may have been Boromir. Boromir uses a shield too - and catches orc arrows just in time before they hit Frodo and Sam on the stairs - but I think realistically, the shields would have been too cumbersome, and maybe blocked some of the action.


Thanks a bunch! Heart Heart
Cheers
Elven x


Swishtail.

Tolkien was a Capricorn!!
Russell Crowe for Beorn!!

Avatar: Liberace - The other Lord of the Rings.

Quote of The Week: The thing is I always write in the morning, and I know that if I go to the Net I won’t write ... you can start in the most scholarly website and end up at Paris Hilton dot com .. GdT


Magpie
Immortal


May 11 2009, 9:22pm

Post #3 of 8 (195 views)
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The box around Aragorn's head [In reply to] Can't Post

I asked my son who happened to be nearby what that box was around Aragorn's head (he changed his major from animation to visual effects).

The answer is, it's a bounding box. For example, if you're in Word and you have a text box, and you select the box lines show up that indicate it's selected? Well, Aragorn's head is 'selected'. I forgot to ask what the arrow meant.


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Elven
Valinor


May 11 2009, 9:41pm

Post #4 of 8 (178 views)
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Ah Ha!! ... [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks Magpie Smile

Is having a box over your head worse than a paper bag? Wink

Cheers
Elven x


Swishtail.

Tolkien was a Capricorn!!
Russell Crowe for Beorn!!

Avatar: Liberace - The other Lord of the Rings.

Quote of The Week: The thing is I always write in the morning, and I know that if I go to the Net I won’t write ... you can start in the most scholarly website and end up at Paris Hilton dot com .. GdT


OhioHobbit
Gondor

May 12 2009, 11:58am

Post #5 of 8 (171 views)
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The Stairs [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Is there anything in the book that Jackson based this scene on? Or is this a “wouldn’t it be cool if…” kind of scene?

Alen Lee was asked to do a conceptual drawing of the stairs. He got a little carried away. He also decided to put some brakes in the stairs just for interest. When Peter Jackson saw the drawing his mind started coming up with all kinds of things he could do on those stairs, especially at the breaks. I guess that the pre-viz people got even more carried away. What we saw was after all of that had been trimmed back. The script just said that they run down the stairs.

2. Does seeing this kind of behind the scenes look at how it was created change your feelings or impressions toward it in any way?

Not really. This is one of those scenes where I don’t really think about anything much because they have me completely mesmerized.

3. There are two storyboard images of Aragorn included above -- is this “your” Aragorn? How much do you think the storyboard images of the characters influenced casting choices?

You know, I am to the point where I can no longer remember if something is how I imagined it AM or PM (After-Movies or Pre-Movies).

4. In the final screencap -- what do you know, that guy has a shield! And he uses it! Any ideas as to why he didn't get to use it in the film sequence?

If that is not Boromir, then the reason no one else got to use a shield is because no one else had a shield.

5. Any other thoughts or comments on this feature or the screencaps and observations above?

Gee, I love this computer graphics stuff! Smile

Thanks, Weaver. And thanks to Magpie.

Movie Technical Discussion -- Index


ringers rock!
Rivendell


May 13 2009, 5:27am

Post #6 of 8 (256 views)
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weeeeeee [In reply to] Can't Post

here it comes...

First Shot

Note the way they are trying to convey lighting effects.

I agree with Elven, it's most likely light reflecting from the chasm.
Check out the notations at the bottom of the image.
In the upper left there seems to be a time code > 00:00:00. At the bottom there are run times which could indicate more scene info. The artist is also noted.
There are lines at the top and bottom, which may be cropping marks.
No doubt about it. It indicates aspect ratio - wide screen is somewhere about 1.33:1 I think.

Second Shot

Shows how they are indicating a striking camera perspective and how they are not trying to 'illustrate' everything.
Only the stairs and people are shown. Not rocks.
Yes, I think the objective of pre-viz is not to illustrate everything, but rather to understand what's physically possible. Or what's physical elements need capturing. It can guide the direction of actors, cinematographers, art direction - anything! Like painters learn from life models, pre-viz offers a visual representation for the folks who can't be inside the directors head. Others can be - Fran for example.

But the rocks....a very common texture (built in to programs) and laid down easily enough, hence less need to troubleshoot through them. Or perhaps this image just hasn't made it to that phase....or Alan hasn't completed an aeriel of the chasm.... such a mystery those rocks...

You can also see the shot has been 'framed' with pink lines, differently from #1.
Perhaps because this was created in a different program, or something so simple as a different view that the user selected.

Third Shot

The previous shots were created on a computer. This is hand drawn. It is probably a storyboard that had a previous use and was reused here.

It probably wasn't necessary to create an environment for this shot. I'm bias, but pencil has yet to be matched by machine as far as conveying emotion.

It shows an arrow that indicates movement. There are other storyboards in this PreViz that has arrows.

Yep, it's archiac, but it's what storyboard artists depend on to convey camera and/or character movements. I've seen the process get quite complicated; color coded, zig zag. But that's probably because the makers were more content with a mucked up comic than actually producing a movie. Crazy

Sixth Shot

This shows Boromir picking up Merry and Pippin with their head toward his back and their feet towards his front.
I love this shot! How funny is that?! Talk about brown-nosing...It's one of those "computers say the darnedest things" moments - completely unnatural. I imagine when Jackson and Co saw it worked out they began to think a little more about how such a rescue would work logistically.

Seventh Shot
I remember that one! It's an orc POV. Remember when the camera pans behind them on an upper cliff as arrows rain down? Ah! Magic.

Eighth Shot
I thought the boxy lines around Aragorn were interesting.
Thanks for getting that answered for us! It reminds me of a sculptor's block, after envisioning the end product, before making the first strike.

You can also see an arrow along his left arm. Simple textures have been applied to the body but not to the shield... that's still a 'wire' frame.

The yellow grid makes it look like a torch. But I'm assuming it's an indication of strong light reflecting on metal. The arrow could be a reminder to highlight his arm?

Weaver's Questions:

2. Does seeing this kind of behind the scenes look at how it was created change your feelings or impressions toward it in any way?
Only a little ..... Tongue I changed my BA from studio art to film study. I graduated 2 years ago, and one of my old profs is *still* on me about grad school. NYU has a devine MBA/MFA designed to put better producers on the market. Quite tempting...

3. There are two storyboard images of Aragorn included above -- is this “your” Aragorn? How much do you think the storyboard images of the characters influenced casting choices?
I'm with Elven on this one - thanks for the mind warp Jackson and Co.

4. In the final screencap -- what do you know, that guy has a shield! And he uses it! Any ideas as to why he didn't get to use it in the film sequence?
He didn't?! Oh how my mind is playing tricks. I recall a shield in a wide shot with a million arrows lodged in it, a very vivid memory in fact.... I'll have to check just to confirm sanity.

5. Any other thoughts or comments on this feature or the screencaps and observations above?

That was fun!



grammaboodawg
Immortal


May 18 2009, 7:28pm

Post #7 of 8 (112 views)
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There are stair references [In reply to] Can't Post

in The Bridge of Khazad-dum that matches the movie quite closely... just not the crumbling part.



Quote

'I am all right,' gasped Frodo. 'I can walk. Put me down!'
Aragorn nearly dropped him in his amazement. 'I thought you were dead!' he cried.
'Not yet!' said Gandalf. 'But there is no time for wonder. Off you go, all of you, down the stairs! Wait a few minutes for me at the bottom, but if I do not come soon, go on! Go quickly and choose paths leading right and downwards.'
'We cannot leave you to hold the door alone!' said Aragorn.
'Do as I say!' said Gandalf fiercely. 'Swords are no more use here. Go!'


and then


Quote

The passage was lit by no shaft and was utterly dark. They groped their way down a long flight of steps, and then looked back; but they could see nothing, except high above them the faint glimmer of the wizard's staff. He seemed to be still standing on guard by the closed door. Frodo breathed heavily and leaned against Sam, who put his arms about him. They stood peering up the stairs into the darkness. Frodo thought he could hear the voice of Gandalf above, muttering words that ran down the sloping roof with a sighing echo. He could not catch what was said. The walls seemed to be trembling. Every now and again the drum-beats throbbed and rolled: doom, doom.

Suddenly at the top of the stairs there was a stab of white light. Then there was a dull rumble and a heavy thud. The drum-beats broke out wildly: Doom-boom, doom-boom, and then stopped. Gandalf came flying down the steps and fell to the ground in the midst of the company.



I just love what they did in the films. The stairs segment is one of my favourites!!!


The picture 5 with the pink lines in it in are outlining where the stairs will crumble away under the Fellowship's feet.

Look at all of those different angles! That 7th shot that shows all of the logistical locations of the Orcs firing down on the Fellowship helps put in perspective that they're catching it from all directions.

I never realized they had so many pre-viz ways of looking at the scenes. Great job on capturing the scenes, Magpie... and a wonderful collection that got me all geeked about watching it again, weaver!!! :D


sample

"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."
~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."

I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.



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Magpie
Immortal


Jun 7 2009, 7:24pm

Post #8 of 8 (139 views)
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MIssing images in the original post [In reply to] Can't Post

They aren't missing as I write this but they will be soon when my geocities account goes dead.

The images can be found at my Picasa Album, however, and they are shown in the same order as they are in the original post.


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