“Rings of Power”: How filmmakers dealt with differences of scale

“The idea of ​​the scale difference is one that most film crews haven’t encountered often in other things they’ve done,” EP Lindsey Weber tells IndieWire.

Making a Lord of the Rings series means encountering a unique and occasionally frustrating technical challenge: sometimes really tall people and very short people have to be in the same scene at the same time. Take, for example, a series of sequences that appear in the second episode of Prime Videos, “The Rings of Power.” Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot (Markella Kavenaugh) meets a mysterious stranger (Daniel Weyman) who towers over her. Nori, who belongs to a race of Hobbit ancestors called Harfoots, is said to be about 4 feet tall. This unknown figure that fell from the sky – and possibly a Maiar, essentially a wizard – is probably around seven years old.

“The idea of ​​the scale difference is one that most film crews haven’t encountered often in other things they’ve done,” said executive producer Lindsey Weber. “It’s also a Tolkien trait. It is part of the property. So we knew we had to get it right.” Depending on how you look at it, it can be a headache or a “pleasurable challenge.” “It can be slow and tedious to get everything working at times, but hopefully the end product and the magic trick feel really worthwhile and very Tolkien,” Weber said.

So how did they do it? According to the producers, they used pretty much every trick in the book, from very large and very small stand-ins to working with a Technodolly camera crane that was programmed to rotate with mathematical specificity around the actors as they rotated watched a tennis ball against a green screen. “The goal has always been that we’re always changing it and never over-relying on one technique at any time,” explained showrunner JD Payne. That might require complicated CGI; It could mean using oversized props when dealing with smaller characters like harfoots and dwarves, or getting hand doubles.

The Nori and the Stranger scene was an “extremely complex” sequence to shoot, according to co-showrunner Patrick McKay, using a “hodgepodge” of various tricks. The towering man falls from the sky and lands in a steaming crater, where he appears to speak, almost terrifyingly. For one, the production built two differently sized craters in a hangar in Auckland, New Zealand – one that made Kavenaugh look tiny and one that would fit Weyman.

“These sequences require endless meetings to plan everything incredibly carefully,” Weber said. “It’s like a carefully coordinated dance when it’s happening and you’re on set.” (Before COVID, they called the crater “Korona.” They eventually decided to rename it to something else.) But occasionally, it’s as simple as a Double rolling down a slope only to be replaced by the actor at the end. “It’s just old-school Lumière camera tricks,” McKay said, referring to the Lumière brothers’ cinema pioneers. “But even between Nori and the stranger in this scene, there were at times four different actors.”

And of course everything has to be put together in the post, but that doesn’t make the on-set experience any less remarkable. “I was on a different set on a different shoot for a different set of problems. When I got into the crater at the end of the day and there was fire and smoke and wind machines and Markella Kavenaugh was screaming and there was a seven and a half foot actor towering over her from an angle,” McKay said. “I remember standing there and it was a little bit, pinch me, I’m in Middle-earth, but it was also like, ‘Oh my god, are we doing the coolest show on the planet right now?’ Hopefully.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is now streaming on Prime Video.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/09/rings-of-power-shooting-size-difference-middle-earth-1234759032/ “Rings of Power”: How filmmakers dealt with differences of scale

Lindsay Lowe

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