New Characters, Creatures and Civilizations

New Characters, Creatures and Civilizations

This page was created on Decembr 1, 2002
This page was last updated on May 29, 2005

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New Characters, Creatures and Civilizations

New Characters, Creatures and Civilizations

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers introduces several new characters, creatures and civilizations.


The Two Towers introduces the country of Rohan, which is inhabited by human beings. The Rohirrim are a race of plainsmen with a culture centered around the horse. Peter Jackson describes the fair-haired race as "Very Viking-like. And Norse in ways." Soldiers of Rohan are highly skilled riders who maintain vigilant patrols in the lands north of their ally, Gondor.

From their breathtaking hilltop capital of Edoras, the Rohan people are led by King Theoden (Bernard Hill). Eowyn (Miranda Otto), her brother Eomer (Karl Urban) and their cousin Theodred are also members of the Rohan culture. The Rohirrim are a culture of the land and not war-faring by nature, but are able to fight bravely and effectively from the back of a horse.

Gondorians are the first line of defense against the darkness of Sauron in the shadowy lands of Mordor to the East. They take pride in their monarchs, their powerful army, and in the antiquity of their culture.

Gondorians have a highly developed code of honor and ethics. They are willing to take commands and die in battle. Unlike Boromir (Sean Bean), who died in battle with the Uruk-hai, his brother, Faramir (David Wenham), is not loved by their father and has spent many years scouting and defending the wild borderlands of Gondor to earn his acceptance.

Gondorian culture, and their capital city of Minas Tirith, will play a prominent role in the third film in the series, The Return of the King.

Veteran actor Brad Dourif joins The Two Towers as Grima Wormtongue, a man of Rohan who became an agent to the evil Saruman and serves as advisor and confidant to King Theoden of Rohan. Using his insidious influence on the weakened king, Wormtongue does grave damage to the Rohan Kingdom as he secretly aids the wizard in his plot to kill its king. Conniving and duplicitous, Wormtongue is a key villain in The Two Towers.

Treebeard is an Ent. Ancient as the Elves, Ents are forest shepherds that originated as trees inhabited by spirits to protect all trees and flora. When Hobbits Merry and Pippin find them, the Ents are in their usual ponderous state but become agitated as rumors of war and the encroachment of industry reach them. They know that their former ally, Saruman, has betrayed them and decimated half their forests. Merry and Pippin beseech Treebeard and the other Ents to join in the fight to save Middle-earth from evil.

An Uruk-hai chief, Ugluk takes command of a troop of scouts dispatched to capture the Hobbits. Saruman's army of Uruk-hai, bred by the fallen Wizard beneath his fortress, come into the fore in The Two Towers. Another terrifying strain of Uruks have also been developed called Berzerker Uruk-hai. these massive warriors wear no armor; their sole purpose is to strike terror into enemy lines.

In The Two Towers, a number of Orcs are brought into the action, including Grishn?kh, a scheming Orc who joins the troop of Uruk-hai who have kidnapped Hobbits Merry and Pippin. Sharku, an old and horrifically scarred Orc, leads the vicious tribe of Warg-riding Orcs who throw their support behind the banner of the fallen wizard Saruman against the people of Rohan.

Saruman's Orcs ride massive, malformed creatures called Wargs, which resemble a mix of bear, wolf and hyena. With low-slung heads, sharp teeth and evil hearts, the Wargs contribute to the battle by snapping at the legs of Rohan horses.

Many races of men are represented in Sauron's armies of the Third Age, including the savage and violent Easterlings. Having marched from their lands in the distant east, a great host of these richly garbed warriors assemble before the Black Gates.

Gandalf's white horse is of the stunning breed of Andalusion. Once Gandalf the White makes his appearance in The Two Towers, he summons this magical horse.

Huge, elephant-like beasts of war, Oliphaunts carry war-towers into battle and frighten horses. Also called the Mumakil by the Rangers, they have a tendency to run amok and can only be killed by being shot in the eye.


From the earliest preproduction sketches to the final mix, Peter Jackson and his team's dedication to depicting Tolkien's world as realistically as possible bled into every aspect of the massive production of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In the earliest months of preproduction, Jackson brought on conceptual artist Alan Lee, who created the seminal illustrations of Middle-earth for Harper Collins' award-winning illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings, to work with production designer Grant Major in bringing Tolkien's world to vivid life. Likewise, John Howe, who is regarded as one of the most successful Tolkien illustrators in the world, has also been working with the design team since the beginning.

Lee and Howe's works of art formed the backbone for design throughout production and heavily influenced the overall look of Middle-earth in Jackson's trilogy. "Middle-earth has to be a very real place," comments Lee. "It's definitely not a fantasy. It should feel as real as possible, and I try to achieve that as much as possible and concentrated very heavily on the landscapes as I was illustrating the books."

Lee remained on set throughout production, giving input and picking up a paintbrush to add an authentic finishing touch to a set.

Academy Award nominated production designer Major oversaw the creation of such life-sized exterior sets as the breathtaking Edoras, the Rohan capital poised at the top of a hill surrounded by vast plains and backed by a spectacular row of mountains. Realism and exquisite detail was a consistent priority, from the insignia of the Rohan riders to the fall of bark on the living trees of Fangorn Forest.

Having worked with Jackson on earlier films from Meet the Feebles to Heavenly Creatures, WETA's two-time Oscar winner Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger continue to oversee several aspects of The Lord of the Rings production - Creatures, Miniatures, Armour and Special Make-up Effects.

With huge castles, towering fortresses and entire civilizations to be realized, all three films were storyboarded before production began by storyboard artist Christian Rivers. The combined illustrations and storyboards were ultimately assembled into an animatic previsualization of The Two Towers which rigorously informed the work of every department - from the production design to cinematography to the groundbreaking physical and visual effects work performed by WETA Limited.

Before a single 35mm frame was shot, WETA created the major structures and landscapes of Middle-earth entirely in miniature, through which Jackson maneuvered using a miniature "lipstick" camera, in order to conceptualize what would eventually be shot in live action on full-size sets. Once the sets were completed and shooting was to begin, it was as if he had already been there.

In their 65,000 square foot WETA Workshop, Taylor and his team created over 48,000 separate items - from prosthetic limbs to hand-forged swords; 2,000 stunt weapons; 1,600 pair of Hobbit feet; and 200 handcrafted Orc masks. WETA was also responsible for the design, manufacture and operation of the creature animatronics.

The crew numbered 148 at the height of production, with another 45 technicians on set dressing 500 actors in WETA product with over 200 background players in full body prosthetics.

One of the biggest challenges of WETA Workshop was to create functional armor that had the appearance of having gone through battle, but was also comfortable and safe for actors. "WETA went to great lengths to hand-make everything in Middle-earth," explains Taylor. "Hand-beating the armor out of plate steel exactly as it had been done in the Medieval era; the swords being hand-ground out of plate steel; the hilts and crossbars cast out of the lost wax casting. In the process, we were trying to make sure the physics of the manufacturing complemented very closely that which was available 500 years ago."

WETA set up a foundry with two full-time armor smiths, Stu Johnson and Warren Green, to hand-beat and hand-make the armor from steel. From these original suits, molds were made and 48,000 separate pieces of armor were made for all of Tolkien's Middle-earth civilizations, including Elves, Orcs, Uruk-hai, Rohans and Gondorians.

Taylor, with the aid of designs by John Howe, wanted to create armor that had a different look and felt authentic. To make them functional, WETA designed mock chain maille from rubber tubing painted to look like metal. A department of four full-time chain maille technicians assembled more than 12 million circular links to make up the hero suits featured in the trilogy.

As each pair of feet only lasted two shooting days, 1600 pair of Hobbit feet were made to be used throughout production. The prosthetic feet took one hour to apply to actors Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd. "Honestly, they feel like the most comfortable tennis shoe you could wear," says Astin. The Swords that WETA Workshop created for LOTR are all inscribed with messages in one of Tolkien's invented languages.

Since Tolkien's world of Middle-earth has never been seen before on screen, every prop item was created from scratch. The One Ring was made by Jens Hansen, a renowned jewelry designer whose studio is in the art community of Nelson, New Zealand. Though Hansen passed away prior to the start of principal photography, his son, Thorkild Hansen, took over during production.

For costumes, Oscar-nominated Ngila Dickson and her team needed to create new wardrobes for the Rohan people, as well as the sinister Wormtongue (Brad Dourif), Faramir and his group of Rangers. "From a wardrobe point of view, it's almost an entirely new film," comments Dickson. "Suddenly we are developing a totally new world and new looks. We are always trying to define these civilizations completely, so that you never forget where someone comes from, and how they fit into this traveling tale across Middle-earth."

For Eowyn (Miranda Otto), Dickson designed and hand-made several wardrobe changes to reflect the changes taking place in her culture. "There is always this dichotomy in her character," says Dickson. "Her natural bent is to be fiery and passionate about her people, but caught by the strictures of the society which demand that you wear woman's clothes and behave like a lady."

Dickson took great care in creating wardrobe for the four lead Hobbits that would reflect the challenges they face as they travel through Middle-earth. Frodo wears maroon/brown, suggesting a princely quality as he is the Ringbearer. Sam wears earth tones to reflect his dependable nature.

Hobbit clothes were also designed to accentuate their small stature, with shorter hemlines, high waistlines and pockets high on their hips. Dickson used all organic fabrics that appeared lived in and realistic when aged and made two sets of everything to accommodate the scale doubles of many of the different characters in The Two Towers, particularly the Hobbits. All in all, the wardrobe department managed between 30 and 40 costumes per actor.

Elves wore flowing, luminescent gowns like the one worn by Galadriel. They are dressed in delicate fabrics and designs using layers and intricate stitching.

Arwen has several wardrobe changes in The Two Towers. Each gown is unique and built from velvets and silks. "It seems to be in my nature to persecute all the girls with very heavy frocks," she jokes. "And a lot of the colors are part of the palette of Arwen, soft dark blues, shades of purple and lilac." Wellington, New Zealand-based Jasmine Watson provided the jewelry to compliment the wardrobe.


The Academy Award for Best Visual Effects received by the effects team from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring has proved both an encouragement and a challenge to WETA Digital to raise the bar for the second film. On top of the greater effects demands envisioned by Jackson for digital characters and massive battles was an increased familiarity with Tolkien's world and the continuing evolution of WETA's proprietary software.

Because of such creatures as Treebeard and Gollum, The Two Towers features 800 visual effects shots, compared to the 560 shots in The Fellowship of the Ring.

Visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel notes that with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, there is no real post production. "The making of the effects is not treated as post production," he says. "It's actually part of the process itself, which is a very interesting way to work. We're all playing off each other."

To create the creatures that populate and, in many cases, stage massive battles in The Two Towers, WETA Workshop provided maquettes of each creature to be created digitally. The device that is used for scanning the maquettes in 3D was created in New Zealand and was initially used for measuring size and space of meat carcasses for the New Zealand butcher industry.

While the dimensions and proportions would be scanned for the digital artists to use for reference, "motion trees" were created on the motion capture stage to provide a library of movements, techniques, attacks, etc. for the characters to portray in battle. "Each of these characters has its own selection of military moves, its own repertoire of military performances to undertake, and all these elements have to be woven into the characters with great subtlety and the appearance of complete determination on the part of the digital character to closely complement the live action actor such that there is no opportunity to see the difference," comments Taylor.

The revolutionary Massive software written by WETA Digital's Stephen Regelous animated the groundbreaking Prologue from The Fellowship of the Ring and steps into the fore with The Two Towers. Regelous created the program in the spirit of the continuing push into artificial intelligence technology. "I wanted to create it using artificial life-inspired approaches rather than what would typically be done for a crowd system," he explains. Massive works in creating "agents," with their own randomized characteristics and the ability to make their own decisions in a crowd situation. "For these agents to respond naturally to their environment, it's important that they have senses the same as we have. They have vision, sound, a sense of touch through collisions. They can see their environment."

Each agent also has its own personality traits, i.e. boldness, aggressiveness, cowardliness, etc. "Then there are parameters that affect how dirty they are, how tall they are, how weary they are - so there are many ways that each of these agents can behave and be unique entities," Regelous says.

Jackson sees the Massive agents as not animated creatures at all. "They simply mass in armies and then we press a button and they just go fight themselves," he says. "They'd make up their own decisions about how they would want to fight."

"Each of these guys has an AI brain," explains Massive technical director Geoff Tobin. "One part of the brain decides which action to do based on what he's currently doing, what he's allowed to do, and the other brain modules feed into that, giving him information about what kind of terrain he's on, the enemies that are around him, the allies that are around him, navigation. In a way," Tobin jokes, "they're not so different from real extras."

"Some of the scenes we will see in Helm's Deep will defy belief because these Massive epic battles have tens of thousands of soldiers coming together in a huge milieu of anger and death, and all of it is digitally created," adds Taylor.

The final step following Massive's simulation is the rendering of the image, which is done by another device invented in New Zealand, affectionately called a Grunt. Massive supervisor John Alitt created the Grunt to render CG images faster than any commercially available software. "Out of the Massive simulation engine we get motion data for each individual agent, which is just a description of joint angles that belong to the skeleton of the agent," explains Alitt. "What Grunt does is take the motion data and file describing what the agent should look like, what possibilities of armor and clothing he has on, what possibilities of shading he's got and actually construct that as it's rendering from the motion data."

The process of maquette, to digital creature, to final action was repeated with two new species to enter the Lord of the Rings universe - Wargs and Oliphaunts, and two distinct characters which play important roles in the quest to destroy the One Ring?


Because of Gollum's crucial role in the journey of Frodo and Sam toward their destination where the Ring must be destroyed, Jackson was determined that the character must be entirely authentic, a presence that would carry as much reality and emotional weight as a live actor. "The character of Gollum is a completely digital creature, but I was determined that I wanted an actor to actually create the character, which in this case is Andy Serkis," says Jackson.

The collaboration between creative teams and Serkis has resulted in the first character of his kind -- an entirely performance-based digital creation that "acts" as much as any actor in the film.

As Jackson and Oscar-winning director of photographer Andrew Lesnie supervised actor Andy Serkis's performance on set, the animators at WETA Digital studied the resulting performance to remake it digitally, using his movements and facial expressions to animate the Gollum that would ultimately "act" in the scene. "I am so in awe of the skill, effort and technical wizardry of the rotoartists," says Serkis. "The skill of the animators to bring this off, and have such passion for it, is quite staggering."

His body and voice design was then taken further into an animated world through motion capture photography, computer generated imagery and digital sound mixing. The resulting synthesis is a totally new visual effect. "Obviously, Andy creates the character through the voice," explains Jackson. "But also, we're doing a lot of Gollum as motion capture, which is when Andy wears a suit covered in these little dots, and he performs Gollum. He says the dialog, he plays the scenes out just as he would, and the computer is able to capture his movement, and translate that to the digital version of Gollum."

Starting with sketches by conceptual artists Howe and Lee along with the art, Jackson's vision for Gollum was ultimately sculpted into a plasticene maquette which was then scanned into the computer. "There are around 300 different muscles or more on Gollum," says creature supervisor Eric Sainden. "He has a full skeleton and a full muscle system that's all driving what you see on his skin. One of Gollum's greatest challenges is his face. He has to act with the other actors. The facial system we're doing has about 250 different face shapes that we're working in between."

Gollum's famous voice, one of the most memorable elements of both Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, became Serkis's touchstone and key to the character. "I had an emotional root to that sound," he says. "For me, it is where his pain is trapped. That emotional memory is trapped in that part of his body, his throat. In just doing the voice, I immediately got into the physicality of Gollum, and embodied the part as I would if I were playing it for real."

His performance was so strong as Gollum that the initial digital character has evolved throughout the production to be more like the actor. "Gollum is probably the most actor-driven digital creature that has ever been used in a film before," Jackson adds.

Tolkien created an ancient culture of trees, called Ents, in The Lord of the Rings. To bring these "living trees" to life, Jackson called on WETA workshop. The greatest challenge of the Ents was the notion that trees are not creatures of the imagination - their characteristics are known and recognized the world over. "Ents are a challenge because there is so much interaction with branches and leaves and roots that grow into the ground as they walk," says creature supervisor Eric Sainden. "There is also a lot of interaction with the live action characters. So, we have a lot of moving barks and bark colliding with itself on the cheeks and the eyes. Essentially, the tree must come to life."

Working with Alan Lee and Grant Major, WETA Digital's Daniel Falconer designed Treebeard, the oldest of the Ents. "I believe that Treebeard will bring a really beautiful and sensitive character to the screen," says Richard Taylor, "a very different creature from anything we've seen in cinema before. He is a character of immense history and a wealth of knowledge."

WETA Workshop built maquettes of Treebeard until Jackson was satisfied with the design. The next step was to build an actual 15-foot tall animatronic model of Treebeard that interacted with Merry and Pippin on set. Using this model as a guide, the CGI version was created digitally to hone the articulation, particularly in Treebeard's face.

"Treebeard is a fantastic creature," comments visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri. "One of the greatest challenges has been to piece the character together digitally using the live action model so that you can't tell which is which."

Providing the voice is John Rhys-Davies, who also plays Gimli in the film. An avid reader of Tolkien's text, Davies trusted director Jackson that giving voice to a tree was a risk worth taking. "You are only one small part of an enormously technical process that is needed to bring a character to life," comments Rhys-Davies. "If you do your job right, when people read the book, they will hear your voice. They will see your Gimli or hear your Treebeard. And if you don't do it right, they still have their own voice to fall back on."

After some experimentation with various blends of sound, Jackson decided he wanted Treebeard's voice to be Rhys-Davies's own voice, but using different techniques for different parts of the ancient Ent's speech. "We used every conceivable sound that the voice can produce," the actor describes. "At one point, I found that I was able to split the voice, which you can do when the voice gets tired. We also slowed it down immensely. We made deep, bellowing noises when communicating with other trees. It is like whales song."


The Fellowship travels through a number of new locations throughout Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, including:

Emyn Muil
Rohan Plains
Edoras (Capital city of Rohan)
Fangorn Forest
Barad-d?r (Sauron fortress)
Dead Marshes
Isengard/Orthanc Chamber/Isengard Gate
Black Gates of Mordor
Lothlorien/Galadriel's Glade/Caras Galadhon
White Mountains
Ithilien Countryside
Henneth Annun Waterfall/Cave/Room
Anduin River Banks
Helm's Deep/Hornburg Gate and Tower/Cloisters/Deeping Wall/Great Hall/Causeway

The strikingly diverse New Zealand landscapes provided Jackson and his team with every type of location Tolkien's text described.

Negotiations were done with Maori Iwi, the indigenous people and tribes of New Zealand, where certain landscape backgrounds were forbidden to be shot on film. Other delicate plant life was protected from the inevitable film crew foot traffic by laying down huge pieces of carpet.


The capital city of Rohan, Edoras, was one of the largest sets erected for The Two Towers and perhaps the most spectacular. Edoras was only accessible by a remote gravel road deep in the plains, at least an hour from any signs of civilization, and mirrors the Alan Lee illustration in The Lord of the Rings illustrated book edition.

In the middle of a beautiful snow-capped valley a 600 meter high hill named Mount Sunday stands alone. Part of the Mount Potts station, at the turn of the century this mountain was a meeting spot for sheep herders and horse wranglers (usually on Sundays, hence the name).

A five kilometer road was built with two temporary bridges and a cast and crew of 200 as well as background players were shuttled up the hill at the beginning of each shooting day. Only the exterior of Edoras was shot at this location, with the inside of the Golden Hall, Stables, and other surrounding structures used for catering, actor green rooms and the production offices.

As in the entire detail of The Lord of the Rings, Grant Major and his team created every aspect of Edoras and its culture in painstaking detail. From the horse carvings on the sides of the buildings to the raw Nordic influenced architecture, it felt as if the Rohans had truly lived and died in the center of this kingdom.

This stunning set took six months to build after a lengthy one-year-long consent process. Because of the remote location and extreme exposure to the natural elements, the sets were reinforced with steel to withstand 130 kilometer high winds. After filming ended it took another six months to return the site to its original condition. Even the tussock plants have now grown back over the man-made road.


One of the largest action sequences in The Lord of the Rings takes place at Helm's Deep. The Uruk-hai raid, fended off by the remnants of the Fellowship and the Rohan people, was shot over a grueling 14-week second unit night shoot at a transformed quarry just outside of Wellington. A huge rock wall with natural rock formations was incorporated into the design of the Helm's Deep set.

When the massive set demands could not be met with practical locations, WETA workshop constructed 68 miniatures that were sculpted and molded with excruciating detail. Barad-d?r was built in 1/166th scale. For reference, miniatures as small as a 1/3000 scale Orthanc Chamber were also built. Shooting for the miniatures took place in a 24,000 square foot warehouse.

A ? scale miniature was built at this location for foreground shots in which Helm's Deep was to appear in the distance, which took over four months to construct. Another 1/35th scale miniature was built by WETA Workshop. These models were so detailed and artistically rendered that the slightly larger ones became known as "bigatures." "The use of miniatures in this film is, I think, pretty extraordinary," says Barrie Osborne. "People have gone towards more CG work and less towards miniatures. But the extent that we use them in The Lord of the Rings is pretty unique."

Alex Funke, director of photography on the miniature unit, won an Academy Award for special effects for his work on Total Recall and played a significant role in the visual effects for such films as Starship Troopers and The Abyss. "Middle-earth is so vast that everything is a towerless fortress or a bottomless mine," comments Funke. "It was impossible to build these sets to scale. There is no studio stage big enough to hold it all. In many cases, Peter prefers to use a tangible miniature compared to a digital model because textured nooks and crannies exist that are hard to spontaneously create digitally."

The miniature cameras shoot much slower than standard ware. The cameras used on The Two Towers, called Mitchells, were originally developed for aerial photography during World War Two. This, combined with new technology from German-based Arri, were mounted on cherry pickers to twist and turn through tiny model corridors. Actors are added last to the scene.

A motion control camera rig was built, which the production dubbed "Frankenstein Two," which miniatures director of photography Alex Funke used in the air-tight WETA miniatures facility. In some cases, Funke used toy plastic soldiers to line up the shots that would eventually be rendered in the computer. "This is not about effects," says Funke. "This is about telling this very beloved, moving story. If we see the effects then we did the job wrong. This is about doing whatever you have to do to tell the story in such a way that the audience is completely involved with the movie."

With live action and CG elements shot and created, the final step is to composite everything together. "Massive is a key component of the Helm's Deep sequence," says Joe Letteri. "On Helm's Deep, we might have a bit of live action with a bit of miniature to extend it. We might have some pieces of matte painting or CG environments to extend that even further. We may take blue screen elements that were shot for some of the hero action and combine it with Massive armies. We may extend that with motion captured hero actors that we want for specific performances. It all comes together in any number of ways, and usually in any one particular shot you're seeing some combination of all those elements."

Orthanc Chamber, the seat of power for Saruman (Christopher Lee), was built as a massive interior set carved with chainsaws out of polystyrene. To decorate this jet black chamber, prop master Nick Weir found bones from local museums and created grotesque Uruk-hai embryos in jars. As conceptual artist Alan Lee remarks, "Orthanc would be a great place to throw a cocktail party."


The increased action element of The Two Towers required a stepping up of the stunt demands. Armies of horses and footsoldiers had to be coordinated for major attack sequences. In The Two Towers, live action soldiers would clash with digital ones, but all had to work in concert to mount these intense battles.

Swordmaster Bob Anderson, who in his long and illustrious career worked with Errol Flynn and performed as Darth Vader under the black costume in the original Star Wars films, was impressed with the swords and fight tools created by WETA Workshop. WETA technician and sword smith Peter Lyons created a shock absorbent, steel-sprung blade that remained intact during fight sequences.

Anderson created a distinct fighting style for each civilization of Middle-earth, from Elves to Orcs, and calls Viggo Mortensen, the film's Aragorn, a better swordsman than Erroll Flynn. "He has a natural ability that I have never seen in any performer," comments Anderson.

New Zealand-based archer Jan Kozler trained actor Orlando Bloom in archery for his role as Elf Legolas over six extensive archery sessions.


To create the army of horses used by the Rohan people, horse coordinator Steve Old held "auditions" all across the country of New Zealand. His search yielded breeds of all types, with owners traveling for hours with their horse and trailer to the audition.

The two horses chosen to play Shadowfax, the majestic white horse on whose back Gandalf the White makes his first appearance, were of the Andalusian breed.

A stable was set up outside Wellington with 75 core horses being housed and trained there. The open-door policy for actors to come and ride any time of day or night paid off. Cast members such as Mortensen, Tyler and Bloom rode for leisure, even on their days off. Mortensen developed such a close bond with his horse that he purchased it from its owner.

In some scenes, the production used as many as 250 horses at once- side by side riding on New Zealand terrain. The resulting image possesses a realism that can't be duplicated digitally.

Horse technical advisors Lyle Edge and John Scott, whose work includes such films as Unforgiven and Legends of the Fall, were on location to help orchestrate and choreograph the complicated riding and battle sequences.

Tim Abbot and his team made 70 saddles by hand especially for the production. Each of these saddles are embossed and carved with Middle-earth history and were also aged and painted for authenticity.


Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Gethin Creagh and Hammond Peek were nominated for an Oscar for their sound in The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. The sound elements for The Two Towers provided equal challenges based on the new locations, characters and action in the second film.

"Our approach has been that this is an imaginary place, but it's a place that has existed in the real world," comments supervising sound editor/co-designer Ethan Van Der Ryn, "as if this place actually existed somewhere deep in history and we're rediscovering it."

Tolkien had numerous very specific sound descriptions in his Lord of the Rings books, which the screenwriters incorporated into the script prior to any sound work being done to capture how Middle-earth would sound. Like other departments, the sound team was able to use the complete animatic of the second film to begin designing the sound.

The sound team traveled all around New Zealand to capture the unique mix of elements that make up the sound landscape of Middle-earth. At one point Jackson and the sound team turned to a crowd of 25,000 cricket fans at Wellington Stadium to help create the sounds for the epic battle at Helm's Deep. Using eight microphones, Jackson directed the audience to create a series of mass sounds - from chanting, stomping feet and slapping their chests (for Helm's Deep) to whispering (for Fangorn Forest).

For intensive battle sequences, sounds had to be broken down into elements such as foreground sword hits; swishes for swords; and hits on bodies and shields. In the mix, director Jackson would join the sound team in their 5.1 editing rooms and experiment with moving sounds around in a three dimensional space.

For the new creatures in the second film, the sound team turned to nature. "A Warg is based on a wolf," comments Van Der Ryn. "We start with a wolf and sweeten it with other animals' grunts, groans and attacks."

Fangorn Forest had to be a alive, so the sound team captured wind and tree noises, and coupled that with whispering from the Stadium session.

Composer Howard Shore won an Academy Award for the music of The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and music continues to be the one element of the trilogy's production created outside New Zealand. Once again working with the 96-piece London Philharmonic Orchestra, Shore created the score in London, with Jackson traveling back and forth to consult with the composer.

As with the first film, the soundtrack for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers features songs by acclaimed artists -- "Isengard Unleashed," featuring Elizabeth Fraser & Ben Del Maestro, and "Gollum's Song," featuring Emiliana Torrini.


Andre Jack and Roisin Carty coached the principal cast in Elvish, one of Tolkien's 14 invented languages. The challenge of bringing a language to life that until now has existed only in the imagination of readers proved a challenge for the consultants and actors alike.

Jack and Carty trained the actors in the Elvish language skills so they would be able to adapt their speech as scene changes often demanded.

Tolkien experts David Salo and Bill Welden consulted with the production in correct pronunciation and usage of Elvish, as well as providing background on Tolkien's sources in inventing Elvish.

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