Daron, Melanie, Stephen, Kassie, and Kenny

Monday, March 25, 2013

NZ: Lord of the Rings!

Day 10 ~

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We had a fun day touring around Wellington today on a small tourbus with 4 other people.  These pics show some of the COOLEST LOTR scene locations that we got to visit in person – and in some cases, as with Daron becoming Legolas, to even re-enact. 8-)  The stone quarry with me in front of it – and a yellow/blue sign behind me.  Totally unremarkable little spot, but 13 years ago – this was where the massive set of Helms Deep was built. After they shot those scenes, they tore that mostly down, then built Minas Tirith on top of the remains for those scenes. Total time to build and shoot was 1.5 years.  The coolest part was that they used the stone in the quarry as much of the background, but then they built up a set using Styrofoam to look like stone for most of the castles.  Next we stopped at a lovely ordinary park with swings and potties, and this was the site of Isengard, the tall tower of the bad White Wizard Sauruman.  Daron and me walking in the exact same spot with our staffs.  Probably my favorite was the main river in Wellington, where the famous shot of Aragorn is floating down the river face-up after he went over the cliff and the horse comes to save him. It was cool hearing the other details that all the New Zealanders know also, like how long it took to train the horse to kneels down by him, and how Viggo loved the horse so much he bought it after the movie was done.  Next, we went to Rivendell, which is in a regional park. This was cool b/c Daron got to don the Legolas outfit and stand in the exact spot where Orlando Bloom took his promo poster pics.  Again, a lush, green, unremarkable park area, that you’d NEVER know housed these famous scenes. But my favorite part of this was how the production crew had to preserve the fauna/flora by taking tons of pre-pics, then digging up the trees and shrubs they wouldn’t need, clear them out and plant them in a nearby greenhouse, then build the set, brought in fake leaves b/c it was autumn and this area stays green year-round so they needed yellow fake leaves, and also created a new river next to the river that’s already there that they couldn’t use – they brought in chlorinated water and couldn’t dump it into the real river when they were done – just cool things like that.  When filming was done they replanted all the flora so it looked exactly like the original. The pole I’m next to shows the different heights of the main characters, and we learned all the tricks they used to digitally force perspective and create illusions of different heights.

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