Here’s How They Created The Lord Of The Rings Title Sequence
Earlier today, Prime Video shared the title treatment for its upcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series. Centered on the Second Age scenario from JRR Tolkien’s books, the show is meant to explore major players like Sauron, Galadriel, Elrond, and more so during their formative years at a time when Middle-earth was at peace. (You can read the official synopsis of Rings of Power here.)
There’s plenty to theorize about all the adventures we might see in the first in-depth look at the Second Age – something that occupies the appendices of Tolkien’s saga – but for now we want to take an exclusive look. on achieving this impressive treatment of the title.
At the end of 2021, we had the opportunity to witness part of the filming of the title sequence right here in sunny Los Angeles (under strict COVID protocols, of course). Looking at the video, it’s easy to assume this is your standard CGI opening credits sequence. But you don’t just digitally create an opening for a Lord of the Rings property.,
Special effects consultant Douglas Trumbull made sure of that, in fact. Trumbull has always had a practical mindset above all else, which he broke for IGN. “I always try to find an organic – or analog – solution instead of the knee-jerk reaction of using infographics,” he said. “The reason is this: every time I try this, I get a delicious result that, in some ways, unexpected. There are magical things that happen in nature – gravity, fluids, lighting – that you can’t really design using infographics.
Watch this exclusive behind-the-scenes video of the creation of the title sequence of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
A bunch of little details came together to create what can only be described as literal cinematic magic. For starters, the hills and valleys you see throughout the title treatment are actually a massive (sustainably sourced) piece of reclaimed redwood. And this water? It’s actually molten metal.
“There was a desire in the filming of this reveal title to run a water wash, which I thought was a really nice idea,” Trumbull explained. “The question was ‘well, would it be water, or would it be something else?’ to give the ‘buzz’ effect. This is a very difficult thing to do with computer graphics because it is in the field of fluid dynamics which is very difficult to calculate. They are part of computer graphics elements the hardest ones to run and you can wait days and days for some frames to render. Whereas, if you’re on a set and you have REAL hot and molten metals and super cold water interacting with this, you’ll almost CERTAINLY get a startling visual effect that – on camera – will look really good, especially if it’s shot at 5000fps.
Of course, you can’t repeatedly pour molten metal into a piece of wood and expect it to survive the experience. But the production team was ready! The additional plates needed for the project were made from compressed sand.
This allowed the production to film multiple installments with the Phantom Flex 4K camera until they achieved the exact effect they were looking for, as well as giving the crew the ability to film the treatment in a multitude of languages.
A Phantom Flex 4K isn’t the kind of camera you sneeze at. Director Klaus Obermeyer explained what made him choose this specific platform. “We wanted to capture something that was not visible to the human eye,” he explained. “The molten metal and its characteristics are made exceptionally fascinating when you shoot in ultra-slow motion, allowing you to see the swelling, cooling, rippling and energy of molten metal in a way you never could. could ever feel with normal human perception.. The only camera capable of shooting at a high enough frame rate to achieve this result was the Phantom Flex 4k.
The Lord of the Rings: The Power of the Rings Title Sequence Creation
How were the effects achieved, you wonder? This is where the magic comes in. In order to accomplish the mystical shimmers that spring from the river of metal, the team used a whole host of different mix-ins that resulted in different types of effects.
In addition to playing around with different types of metals (aluminum and bronze) for the castings themselves, the crew also experimented with things like sparkler dust, argon castings, liquid hydrogen and more.
Foundryman Landon Ryan – the owner of the filming location and metal fabrication expert – gave us a taste of what it was like to collaborate on a project like this.
“It’s my first time working on a production,” Ryan explained. “I have never seen molten metal like this. I’ve always been very aware of how metal works. But that’s another level. It is a deeper understanding. I’ve never been able to slow down physics. At this point, it was a way of seeing a world impossible to see with the naked eye.
Fans of Peter Jackson’s films may note the shift from gold to silver in the title’s treatment, but everything you see in these few moments is part of a larger plan by the team behind the project. . You can expect money to play an interesting role in the upcoming series…
In the meantime, what do you think of the title “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” and all the hands-on work that went into creating the effects in the video? Sound off in the comments!