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LOTR - screen-used miniatures

Discussion in 'Production Made Costumes and Props' started by JD1, May 4, 2012.

  1. JD1

    JD1 Well-Known Member

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    This is a balsa tower made for the 'crow shot' in 'Fellowship of the Ring', when Saruman's crows return to Isengard and fly into the underground caverns to report to their master!

    It was made and painted by Alasdair Mahar, and as a joke it incorporates a small Soviet-style 'space pod' built by fellow studio modeller Alan Pilkington from a plastic Air New Zealand drinking cup! There are also two resin fuel-tank castings; leftovers from a model I was making at the studio in my spare time.

    I know it was dressed into the set and shot, but I haven't been able to spot it on-screen myself. Maybe someone can spot it on the BluRay. Or maybe it was covered up by digital crows! :lol
     
  2. Madeye

    Madeye Active Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    Very jealous! I'll try to spot it on my Blu-ray.
     
  3. JD1

    JD1 Well-Known Member

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    Appreciate it! I think it's in the section of cavern just before the camera swings to the right and reveals Saruman.
     
  4. Neoproks

    Neoproks Active Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    Haha, awesome! I've always loved miniatures in general, but especially all of the ones built for LOTR. The special edition DVDs have great sections on them.
     
  5. haldir

    haldir New Member

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    very nice props !! and original .Congratulations:thumbsup
     
  6. DocBlizzy

    DocBlizzy New Member

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    Very cool piece. Congrats.
     
  7. Mrkipling

    Mrkipling New Member

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    Looks amazing!
     
  8. Prop Archives

    Prop Archives Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    Ya nice piece congrats, good luck spoting it.
     
  9. MrNixon

    MrNixon New Member

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    It's always cool to find out what props/miniatures are actually made of. :) Thanks for sharing!
     
  10. Propmasters

    Propmasters Member

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    nice piece, so little from LOTR 'out there' as Jackson kept track of the vast majority of it

    - David
     
  11. postmanpat

    postmanpat Well-Known Member

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    Awesome prop!!! Looks amazing.
     
  12. JD1

    JD1 Well-Known Member

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    Very true, especially where the props and costumes are concerned. Everything numbered and catalogued, so I'm told. Things were a little looser at the miniatures unit - we were continually adding to the models, chopping and changing under the direction of the DoP's Alex Funke and Chuck Schuman.

    Most of the larger, more iconic miniatures were slated to be kept in storage after shooting, but a lot of stuff was ear-marked to be skipped. The 1/4 scale Helms Deep actually went 'walkies' on the way to the dump (according to the stories that got back to us at the time, anyway), but was tracked down and eventually destroyed. The entrance to the Mines of Moria was left outside under a loose tarpaulin whipped by the Wellington winds, and was abraded away to bare foam! A lot of the models were made of that stuff, a coarse yellow urethane insulation foam, and were surprisingly insubstantial. The Moria staircase ("Nobody tosses a dwarf!") and surrounding environment were over a year old by the time they were brought on stage, and were just about disintegrating as they were shot! :lol
     
  13. Davard74

    Davard74 Member

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    If this is hijacking the thread I can start a new one.

    So you worked on the miniatures? There any chance you know of any better pic than what's out in the "art of", and "making of" books?

    I make miniature terrain for the GW LOTR and am always looking for reference material.

    I'm especially interested in any Minas Morgul pics. Mine is 3' x 5'. It's about as big as I could go, and keep it inside my house, where the airconditioning is. :)
     
  14. G17RDY

    G17RDY Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    it always dumfounds and upsets me when i hear about props and miniatures making their way to a skip or left out to rot away. To me everything should be preserved especially from such iconic movies as LOTR - Glad you managed to save a little bit of history, display it with pride!
     
  15. JD1

    JD1 Well-Known Member

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    Re: LOTR - screen-used miniature

    They're just tools, at the end of the day. The actual product being turned out is images on film, and if the resources aren't available to preserve and store miniatures they very quickly become liabilities. LOTR was/is probably the exception in just how much was saved and packed away, but they couldn't keep everything.


    I know that better pics exist, but I'm afraid I have no access to them. Athough it wasn't in our job descriptions, Rob Townshend and I took it upon ourselves to document the work at the miniatures unit. We used our own cameras, but were supplied with film by our office staff, and handed the rolls back for developing (pre-digital!). There was an entire shelf full of albums of our shots by the end of 2001, and I've seen them turn up in the making-of books, Cinefex, etc., ever since. We were promised copies for our portfolios, but guess what?!!

    "Why is the movie industry like being on honeymoon?"

    "Lots of uncertainty, and you're always getting screwed!"
    :lol

    BTW, if you check out 'TLOTR: the Making of the Movie Trilogy' by Brian Sibley, p.58 - that's Rob, with the trees he made for the Moria entrance miniature I mentioned above.

    So, sorry, no secret stash of Minas Morgul pics here! Pity, as it was one of my favourites. One of the few miniatures where I worked on the construction at Weta and also supported the shooting at the miniatures unit. The model seen in down-shots as the hobbits climb the stairs was 1/250th scale, made from John Howe's designs and a rough foam-core maquette from the art department. It was more solid than the huge foam models, being made from large sheets of urethane resin cast in a big shallow 'brick wall' mold. John Baster did most of the actual construction, and I applied most of the armoured 'spike' detail around the ramparts. This was cast in a wax mold which John sculpted in negative in a big arc - a big half-ellipse 'smile' - so we had pieces to match any curvature and angle on the supposedly broken brickwork.

    The larger MM model was made at Weta after I'd moved to the mini unit. It was based directly on the smaller model, and was made 'three-up', industry slang for 3x bigger, so it was about 1/83rd scale. It was funny to see some details I'd 'invented', doorways and such, faithfully copied at the larger scale! This model had the motion-controlled doors for the scene where the Nazgul army sweeps out of the city. On stage it had UV lights at the base of the walls, so the 'sickly green glow' you have on your model could be added in a separate camera pass.

    As the larger model was complimentary to the 1/72nd Minas Tirith miniature on the next stage, Rob and I planned on building up a 1/72nd Spitfire kit with Gondor markings and an ME-109 with the Eye of Sauron, and hiding them on the models somewhere! We didn't have time in the end, but it gave us a laugh! :lol
     

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