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Lord of the Rings Media Movies

Wired's LOTR III Tech Breakdown 419

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'll-take-2-to-go dept.
rjjm writes "Interesting little logistics piece in Wired about the technology WETA used for for The Return of the King." Ya know, now that the Matrix hype vanished into nowhere, I'm glad the LotR hype is gearing up. I think this one will earn it.
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Wired's LOTR III Tech Breakdown

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  • technoglogy (Score:2, Funny)

    by pbrinich (238041) *
    Hmm...must be one of those LOTR words
  • Vanished? (Score:4, Funny)

    by swordboy (472941) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:09AM (#7557008) Journal
    Ya know, now that the Matrix hype vanished into nowhere,

    I don't think that it just vanished... it turned into something [boxofficereport.com].
  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:10AM (#7557023) Homepage
    Looking at the specs for the rendering cluster... The coolest thing is the fact that power like that will be at anyone's disposal in the forseeable future.

    Then all I need is an AI to make up for my lack of skill...
  • earning it's hype (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lithandie (627181) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:11AM (#7557024)
    probably not. mainly due to the cutting that has happened already. like the loss of the resolution to the sauruman plot.

    Most likely ROTK will not live up to the hype until the extended edition comes out.

    And I speak from the experience of two extended editions of the other two films that are both superior to the theatrical releases

    • by thenextpresident (559469) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:27AM (#7557129) Homepage Journal
      As a LOTR reader of many, many times, I keep hearing the same problems people have with "what they removed" and "what they changed." And frankly, it's getting old.

      From the standpoint of the movies, the Saruman plot is finished, over, and done with. The seven minute scene you refer to is NOT important to the overall plot of the move: getting the ring to Mordor. You can argue all you want, but I remember hearing the same things when people complained about the removal of Tom from the Fellowship. But that hardly ruined the film.

      While I agree that the extended editions are much, much better than the theatrical release, ROTK will still be a really damn good movie.

      As Fran says in the TT extended edition DVD, this is one group of fants interpretation of the LotR. I never expected a blow by blow account of the retelling. Indeed, one of the scenes I missed (the one with Radagast) was never even brought up!

      Put another way, if the books had never been written, and LotR had been simply a movie without a book, would that make a difference. Yes, it would. So rather than judge the movie for what they had to leave out, but rather, for what they put into the movie.
      • by dark404 (714846) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:53AM (#7557303)
        From the standpoint of the movies, the Saruman plot is finished, over, and done with. The seven minute scene you refer to is NOT important to the overall plot of the move: getting the ring to Mordor. You can argue all you want, but I remember hearing the same things when people complained about the removal of Tom from the Fellowship. But that hardly ruined the film.

        Lord of the Rings is not like other books. The greatness of the book cannot be distilled into a simple plot of ring is found, ring journeys, ring is destroyed. The book is an epic tale with multiple plot lines, and MUST be taken in as an overall story. This book is the progenitor of the fantasy genre, and those of us who loved the book long before the movies were even on the drawing board recognize the overall importance of it in its entirety. If you consider getting the ring to Mordor to be the most important part of LotR, you just don't understand it at all.
        • by JPelorat (5320) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @10:00AM (#7557364)
          It's not the most important part of the book, it's the most important part of the movie.

          And no, it doesn't have to be taken in as an overall story. You don't have to have it all in there verbatim. You want that? Go read the book again. It doesn't have to be transcribed scene for scene, word for word, for the *point* of the story to be made.

          The greatness of the book is shown in the craftsmanship of the props and sets and everything else on the screen.
          • by li99sh79 (678891)
            The greatness of the book is shown in the craftsmanship of the props and sets and everything else on the screen.

            Yes, the real power of the books comes from the completeness of the world Tolkien created, and Peter Jackson has brought that world to life perfectly. Sure, i've had some doubts about the parts of the book that have been excised, and I've questioned a few of the character decisions, but throughout it all I've felt the movies have captured the look and feel of the books with deadly accuracy. An

        • That's the problem I have with the books. They meander away from the point so much and so often that they feel totally watered down.

          The movies, IMO gets rid of that water, evaporating it away into the essence.

          The story is much better for it.
        • Lord of the Rings is not like other books. The greatness of the book cannot be distilled into a simple plot of ring is found, ring journeys, ring is destroyed. The book is an epic tale with

          Aw crap. Thanks for the spoiler.

          -schussat

      • by Abreu (173023)
        As much as I want ROTK to be a great movie, I really fear leaving that theater in a worse dissapointment than last year.

        I dont have any problems with the scenes he left out... I have a real problem with the ones he put in that dont have anything to do with the original story.

        We dont want Aragorn doubting if he wants to be king or not.

        We dont want any more Dwarf-tossing jokes

        We dont want Faramir to be cruel and aloof.

        We dont want any 10 minute long dreamy sequences of Liv Tyler... wait a sec. we DO want
        • by JPelorat (5320) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @10:07AM (#7557442)
          They have an excellent reason for Faramir to deviate from his character in the book.

          Look, here you have this Ring, this totally evil, corrupting, terrible power, and you go to great lengths to make sure the audience knows about it and that even hobbits can't resist its effects forever (Bilbo). Then along comes this Man, Faramir, brother of corruptible Boromir, whose weakness led to his own death even. Faramir says "Nah, fuck it, I wouldn't even pick it up if it were lying there on the ground"

          You've just killed the Ring's power. It's impotent now. Here's this guy who can just shrug it off. He's nothing special, was just introduced. Is *everyone else* in Middle Earth so pants-pissing weak then?

          I submit that the Faramir of the book is the flawed character. Surely with all that willpower he would have been greater than he was. Interesting to imagine what might have happened if Faramir *had* been allowed to go to the meeting instead of Boromir, though.

          But as for dwarf-tossing, I agree. Toss it. =)
          • by UberOogie (464002) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @10:33AM (#7557674)
            I agree that Faramir in the books should not so easily shrug off the Ring. However, it is generally accepted that Tolkien was establishing him as the opposite of his brother, a man of pure heart without secret dreams of power. He represents the good and strength of men, which is why it is even more important that he is almost burned alive by his father.

            That said, I agree that even with that, he should have been more tempted by the Ring, except after the changes made in the movies with the breaking of the Fellowship. Within the original context of the books, even Aragorn would have been tempted by the Ring to the point that he would eventually succumb, which is why the Fellowship had to be broken in secret. But in the movies, he established that men of pure heart could resist the Ring (temporarily, at least), so the original characterization of Farmir could have stood as is.

            • by JPelorat (5320)
              I still think Faramir would have to have been toned down somewhat. After all, Aragorn is no simple Man, he is a Dunedain.
              • by japhmi (225606)
                Aragorn is no simple Man, he is a Dunedain.

                So is Faramir. The House of Stewards was one of the noblest families of the South Kingdom of Gondor (which is why they were chosen to be the Stewards of the Kings)
            • by dswensen (252552) *
              He DID resist the Ring. Just not right away. He let Frodo go, presumably at the cost of his own life (though we all know that's not going to happen).

              The main problem, I think, is that in a visual medium you have to be reminded physically of a threat as ephemeral as the Ring. In the book it's perfectly workable to say that the Ring is an evil influence and leave it at that; in a series of three-hour films, a general audience is going to need some kind of reminder that it's there. The Ring itself, the center
          • by dpilot (134227) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @11:21AM (#7558181) Homepage Journal
            There's the old saying, "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

            I once heard an interesting tweak on that, and perhaps more true than the original. "Power attracts the corruptible."

            Perhaps Faramir really IS as pure as all that. Perhaps he never sought any greatness or position, only to do his best for his people. In that case, any station he has would be purely as a result of people under him pushing him up. Perhaps those of higher station yet were either born to it, or sought it, the latter implying that they are likely corruptible.

        • We dont want Aragorn doubting if he wants to be king or not.

          We dont want any more Dwarf-tossing jokes

          We dont want Faramir to be cruel and aloof.


          I could have done without the Tony Hawk shield slide sceen. I personally felt like it was put in the movie for no better reason than an attempt to appeal to the kiddies. Stuff like that is like having a bucket of cold water dumped over your head. If you had been drawn into the movie, a sceen like that is a quick slap in the face - IMHO.
      • From the standpoint of the movies, the Saruman plot is finished, over, and done with. The seven minute scene you refer to is NOT important to the overall plot of the move: getting the ring to Mordor.

        From the standpoint of the movies, this is true, because the movie is told from a different perspective than the book. The movie is told mainly by an anonymous narrator (but appears to switch from time to time to being told by Galadriel, oddly enough). In the book, the story is told by the Hobbits. This is wh

      • well, most people that bitch haven't heard from somewhere that the end story is cripled to begin with(if it was like in the books, with shire messed up and all, then missing saruman would obviously be quite a big thing). though saruman obviously has had some connections to shire in the extended editions versions at least (merri & pippin found pipeweed)

        however saying beforehand that it will be a goddamn good movie is a bit much :), for you have not seen the movie yet..

        so if you haven't heard anything e
      • by meta-monkey (321000) * on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @10:43AM (#7557780) Journal
        Exactly...you hit the nail right on the head.

        I love the books, I love the movies. but they've GOT to be two different stories. It's just not possible to tell the same story in both print and on screen, because the mediums are so completely different. Imagine The Matrix (the first one, the good one...) as a book. How could you possibly convey the slack-jawed wonder you felt the first time you saw the fight scene with Morpheus and Neo in the dojo with the written word? If it had been a book first, there would have been a lot more pontificating about the nature of reality, and a lot less action, and then when they made the movie, we'd all be here on /. bitching about how they cut out all the important metaphysical concepts from the book to make room for "senseless special effects" in the movie.

        That said, the parent poster is right, that the Extended Editions are MUCH better than the theatrical releases. I felt a little disappointed last year after watching The Two Towers in the theatre. Just a few days before, I'd seen the FotR:EE DVD, and TTT just didn't compare. It seemed light on the story and the character development. It was still a good movie, but it didn't seem to hold up to the first one. Flash forward to last week. I bought the Two Towers: EE, and I've already watched it twice. AMAZING. Now, I think it's superior to the first one.

        So, that makes me worry a bit for the third movie. I'm sure I'm going to see it in the theatre, think, "it was pretty good," until I get the EE next year, at which time I'll love it. That is, of course, assuming Peter Jackson doesn't completely destroy the ending of the series. First, I'll say that I'm not bashing PJ. I think he's done an amazing job, and it's awfully easy for people to sit on their asses and criticize, but the labor of love that was the making of these films must have required a level of dedication and sacrifice few would understand. However, PJ, PLEASE don't change the end. I don't want a happy hollywood ending. The ending of the books was absolutely fantastic, and there's no reason to change it. Let the world be changed. The elves, the wizards, the ring-bearers, SHOULD go to the West, and leave everyone else behind. It's supposed to be bittersweet. It's supposed to make you realize that when something that horrific happens, things just can't go back to the way they were, and it's not a "there and back again" adventure like the Hobbit.

        Oh, and Gimli shouldn't be the comic relief.
        • The Grey Havens (Score:3, Informative)

          by MuParadigm (687680)

          The soundtrack titles have already been released and "The Grey Havens" is the last instrumental piece before the credit music. So we can exect the bittersweet sadness of the books ending. I do kind of hope they preserve the last scene of the book though:

          [Sam] drew a deep breath. 'Well, I'm back,' he said.

  • I wonder if Return of the King will truly earn it, as it looks like it will deviate from the book even more than The Two Towers, having cut out Saruman and all. I fear I will be seeing more Hollywood-style action scenes that take away from the severity of the original story.
    • I wonder if Return of the King will truly earn it, as it looks like it will deviate from the book even more than The Two Towers

      Agreed. The Two Towers was probably the most disappointing film I've seen in the last 10 years. After FotR, I had high hopes for TTT, only to see Peter Jackson make an ass of himself, and trash what had the promise to be an excellent trilogy. I'll go and see RotK, but I'm not expecting much. From the trailers at least, it looks like it won't be quite as dire as TTT. But I'm not ex

      • Agreed. The Two Towers was probably the most disappointing film I've seen in the last 10 years,

        So...I take it you didn't see Matrix Revolutions ;)
      • why on middleearth did you so dislike it? while there are a couple of minor sequences that don't feel "right", the movie as a whole is excellent (IMHO). i find it difficult to believe that people who've read LOTR a few times could not be thrilled with what PJ and co have done. i am so excited about ROTK i can hardly restrain myself from assassinating my local distributor and stealing their copy.

        perhaps seeing TTT again might help?
        • while there are a couple of minor sequences that don't feel "right"

          That'd be an understatement[1]. Try wholesale plot rewrites (no Huorns, Elven presence at The Hornburg, Aragorn's cliff/warg farce to get more Liv Tyler screen time). Add in wanton character assassination (Faramir, Gilmi and to an extent, Theoden, to name a few of the more obvious ones), and you have departures from the book that are completely unjustified, and for me, signficantly detract from the overall experience. No, they're not justi

    • Do they have a choice?
    • by 10Ghz (453478) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:26AM (#7557122)
      Saruman is cut from the THEATRICAL release of RoTK. He's right there in the Extended Edition.

      I for one enjoyed TTT ALOT. Sure, there were deviations from the book, but they were necessary to keep the story going. You cannot make the movie 1:1 identical with the book.
    • You need to watch the documentaries and listen to the commentaries for FotR and TTT. They have some very good reasons for doing what they did - the main one, which a whole lot of people seem to be forgetting:

      Book != film. Some things you can do in a book drop flaming turds on screen, and vice versa.
    • Peter Jackson has said that The Two Towers deviated by far the most from the book of the three films. We already knew that the Scouring was out, and given that, the removal of Saruman isn't such a big deal. Leaving out the Scouring is already a pretty big departure from the book, so I anticipate that the rest will be pretty close...
    • What? I am sorry, but Fellowship deviated a LOT from the book, and it was still a damn good movie. Frodo's age and the whole timing, how Merry and Pippin were introduced, the whole escaping from the shire, Tom was missing, etc. And that was just the beginning! But even the Theatrical release was damn good.

      Simply put, Saruman is not important to the plot of the movie: Getting the ring to mount doom. They could easily remove Saruman from the third movie, and it would still be a good theatrical release.

  • Is that like Pascal Length?
  • I'm dissapointed.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clifgriffin (676199) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:15AM (#7557045) Homepage
    I was hoping it was an article on certain effects and how they were accomplished.

    Not a tiny list of vital stats. (that didn't seem to impress me somehow) :(

    Blogzine.net [blogzine.net]
    Fortress of Insanity [homeunix.org]
  • Nitpick (Score:4, Funny)

    by FrostedWheat (172733) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:18AM (#7557064)
    Temperature of equipment rooms: 76 degrees

    Well that's specific ... 76C, 76F or 76K? :)

    If it's farenhite, then that's quite cool. If it's celcius then holy crap that's hot.

    If it's kelvin then I think we've found the new overclocking kings ...
    • Re:Nitpick (Score:5, Informative)

      by Red Pointy Tail (127601) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:21AM (#7557080)
      Look at the next line:

      Temperature of equipment rooms: 76 degrees
      Fahrenheit Weight of air conditioners needed to maintain that temperature: 1/2 ton


      The Fahrenheit went there.

    • Temperature of equipment rooms: 76 degrees

      Well that's specific ... 76C, 76F or 76K? :)

      If it's farenhite, then that's quite cool. If it's celcius then holy crap that's hot.

      If it's kelvin then I think we've found the new overclocking kings ...


      It's already been pointed out that it's F, but Kelvin isn't measured in degrees anyway. It's just Kelvin. [/even more nitpicky]
  • by PSaltyDS (467134) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:18AM (#7557068) Journal
    1,600 Servers............. $640,000

    10GB network.............. $378,000

    35 IT staffers............ $140/hr

    420 Visual f/x staffers... $9,800,000.28

    Seeing Gollum bite Frodo's finger off with "Photorealism"... Priceless!

    Any technology distinguishable from magic is not sufficiently advanced.

    • 1,600 Servers............. $640,000

      10GB network.............. $378,000

      35 IT staffers............ $140/hr

      40 Visual f/x staffers... $9,800,000.28


      Wow, looks like they outsourced the IT to India. :)

  • This movie will be eye candy. Look at the way it's being pitched -- not by the supreme acting ability of it's characters, but by the specs of the render farm used to generate the computer graphics. Even Matrix didn't go that far -- they at least attempted to pass M3 off as a "movie" with a "plot". I definitely enjoyed M3, don't get me wrong, but it was no "usual suspects".
    • by pacsman (629749)
      That's how it's being pitched in Wired, not exactly the publication you'd expect most people to read. This article is aimed at the techno-literate computer crowd that can appreciate what went into the making of the film as far as computers go, not people like my mom who want to see the movie but who could care less about the computing aspect of it's creation.
    • Wired.com is a tech-savvy news website. What did you think they are going to write about? I mean, unless you think Wired is suddenly going to STOP writing tech-savvy articles about movies, and instead, focus on reviewing movies like "She's All That", and talk about the inner struggle between lunacy and sanity.

      Yeah, because an article is written about how something is made == whatever is made will obviously suck.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:28AM (#7557138)

    Tom Bombadil and the Witch-king of Angmar are the same person.

    1. We never hear of Tom at all during the whole of the First Age. The Nine Rings aren't forged until the Second Age. QED.

    2. You never see the two of them together.

    3. In the first part of Fellowship of the Ring, the Nazgul are sent to the Shire to look for the wandering Baggins. Interestingly, Tom says to Frodo at the dinner-table: "...I was waiting for you. We heard news of you, and learned that you were wandering... But Tom had an errand there, that he dared not hinder" (Fellowship p.137 hardback, note the fear Tom has of his master, Sauron!).

    4. In Tom's questioning of the Hobbits, JRRT notes that "there was a glint in his eyes when he heard of the Riders." (Fellowship p. 144) I think he was concerned that his double-life might have been noticed. Interestingly, Tom immediately changes the subject of conversation! Furthermore, the One Ring had no effect on Tom - which seems consistent with Tolkien's observations about how the Nazgul would have handled the same priceless object (Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, #246): "They were... in no way deceived as to the real lordship of the Ring."

    5. It's also interesting to note that Tom could see Frodo clearly while Frodo was wearing the Ring (Fellowship p. 144 hardback) - just as the Witch-king could see Frodo clearly while he was wearing the Ring at Weathertop! (Fellowship p. 208 hardback)

    6. Perhaps most damning, however, is the incident with the Barrow-wights (Fellowship pp. 151-155), where Tom - with nothing more than a few simple words (p. 154) - commands the Barrow-wight to leave. And it does, without argument. Why would the Wight be so completely under Tom's control? Because in his alternate guise as the Witch-king of Angmar, Tom ordered the Wight to inhabit the barrow in the first place! Turning to Return of the King, Appendix A, p. 321, "evil spirits out of Angmar... entered into the deserted mounds and dwelt there." Obviously the Witch-king was reponsible for sending the wights there; just as obviously, the Witch-king (disguised as Tom) would be capable of ordering them to leave! (This is related to another passage, which has since been brought to my attention. On Fellowship page 158 hardback, Tom is guiding the Hobbits back towards the Road when he gazes towards the borders of Cardolan. "Tom said that it had once been the boundary of a kingdom, but a very long time ago. He seemed to remember something sad about it, and would not say much." Since Tom, as the Witch-king, was the one who destroyed the kingdom of Cardolan, it's little wonder that he wouldn't say much about his involvement. Perhaps his remembering "something sad" reveals some remorse at being the instrument of Cardolan's destruction...?)

    ...Yep: I think we have an airtight case here. :)

    ...It's worth noting that, after the Witch-king was dead, Gandalf said he was "going to have a long talk with Bombadil" (Return of the King, p. 275). Curiously, he never tells anyone about the meeting later... and he's right there at the Grey Havens at the end of the book, undelayed it seems by long conversation. I think we can therefore theorize that Gandalf made it to the Old Forest, but that Tom (once the so-called "Witch-king" had died) was nowhere to be found!

    ...Of course, all this brings up the curiosity of motive. What would make the Witch-King of Angmar sport such a double identity? I suppose that the Witch-king, once of proud Numenorean ancestry, felt trapped by the guise of evil which Sauron had tricked him into, and in the fullness of time forged this alternate identity for himself so that he could occasionally feel happy, helpful, noble, and more at one with himself and his lineage. The situation is perhaps analagous to a crossdresser who, feeling trapped in a man's body, would occasionally assume the identity of a woman. It therefore makes sense that the Witch-king's other identity would be so peculiarly enigmatic, and perhaps sheds light on JRRT's observation

    • Tom Bombadil and the Witch-king of Angmar are the same person.


      Actually, well, no. No they're not.

      I suspect this is a clever troll, but I'll bite anyways. IHBT, IHL, IWHAND.

      1. There's a lot of stuff you don't "hear" about in the First Age. Big deal.
      2. You never see Galadriel and the Nazgul together either. So what?
      3. The 'there' in Tom's comment was in reference to the pond from whence he retrieved the water lilies for Goldberry. In furtherance of this, according to the timeline, the Nazgul were not yet aware that Frodo had left the Shire at the time he met Bombadil.
      4. Just because they knew who the real ring owner was intended to be does not mean they would not have been effected by it.
      5. All the Nazgul could see him. Glorfindel could see him. Big deal. Does that make Glorfindel the Witch-King, or Tom Bombadil?
      6. Now this is just getting silly. Any number of denizens of Arda could probably have done the same thing.

      None of your points prove much of anything, except that the Nazgul and Bombadil were not in the same place at the same tim in LOTR.

      A stronger case could be made, I think, that Bombadil was actually a subdued manifestation of Iluvitar (or one of the Valar). In Tolkien's world good and evil are rigidly defined (as they are in all mythologies) and I find it hard to believe that he would intend something this preposterous, when in no other case do you see a being that is both extremely evil and extremely benevolent in LOTR.

      Anyhow.. IHBT. :)
      • I don't remember what I thought Tom Bombadil was before I read the Simarillion and knew the "back story".

        After I read the Simarillion, I always thought he was Illuvutar (sp?): i.e., Eru, the main god. Since he was supposedly there before *everythng*, including the Valar and morgoth.

        Now that I'm older I like the more clever theory that Tom Bombadil is THE READER. I.e., only the reader can have read the Simarillion, and be "present" throughout the whole history of time.

        I don't like the theories that he's
    • and Mr. Coward copied this from here: [flyingmoose.org]
    • by dark-br (473115)
      At least quote the real source [flyingmoose.org] of the things you say.

      Those kids... they think their internet is better then mine :/

  • Lots of Raw film (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kongstad (28720) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:38AM (#7557204) Homepage
    For those people who think that ROTK is only about F/X.

    I can't remember the amounts but around the time #1 came out they talked about the fact that in a normal picture they shoot about twice or three times more material and then cut it down to what you see.

    I LOTR they shot about ten times as much. That is for every minute of finished movie they've shot 10 minutes of film.

    So sure there is a lot of CGI going on, but there is still plenty of old fashioned moviemaking involved.

    But off course with gollum and a giant orc army (what 100.000 orcs?) they have to rely on CGI. /Soren
  • Great so the movie is done, what will they do with all that power? I'm sure they can stomp out some SKG competition.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:39AM (#7557209)
    there was a /. article where weta pledged to open source its maya to renderman gate called "liquid".

    it's been quite a while ago, and i still don't find it anywhere. did they lie?
  • by skywalker107 (220077) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:42AM (#7557233)

    The hype surronding the LOTR: ROTK is a different Hype than that of the Matrix. Everyone has read LOTR many times over and everyone knows that Peter Jackson just has to follow the storyline of the book and people will be generally happy. Your comparison to the Matrix hype was not a good one.

    The Hype surrounding The Matrix was that of unknowing. The story was in a form that this was a first time for everyone. I have to admit I was one of the few that thourghly enjoyed all three episodes and admired them for there story and cinematics. For lord of the rings I already know the story is good, I am just here for the cinematics.

  • Average time to render one frame: 2 hours

    That's quite a bit of time for 1600 separate computers, isn't it? Anyone know what resolution it is all rendered to?

  • When drafting your headlines, please consider that some of the older residents around here have high blood pressure and a low tolerance for extreme panic.

    When I read the headline "Wired's LOTR III Tech Breakdown", my first thought was "Aw, crap! ROTK has been delayed because their servers crashed! ARRRRRRRRGH!"

    Now I have to go to the restroom to clean up.

    A better, LESS INFLAMMATORY headline would have been something like "Wired Breaks Down the Tech Behind ROTK".

    My underwears (and my cardiologist) thank you for your consideration.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:53AM (#7557298)

    Nazgul: Describe Sauron for me.
    Saruman: Well, he's dark...
    Nazgul: And?
    Saruman: ...and he's tall...
    Nazgul: Does he look like a bitch?
    Saruman: What?
    *thud* *scream*
    Nazgul: DOES HE LOOK LIKE A BITCH!?
    Saruman: No!
    Nazgul: Then why'd ya try to fuck him like a bitch?

  • by Illserve (56215) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @09:53AM (#7557299)
    Can you please stop handing out Karma to that unfortunately large body of people who don't yet realize that books and movies are not the same media, and that you can't expect the same story to work equally well on both.

    I don't know how it's possible that they haven't yet learned this basic fact, as it's been discussed to complete death by everyone and their grandmother for the past 10-20 years.

    Tolkein was not a holy saint. His work is not the Bible. In some places his story telling is actually subpar. Peter Jackson has(for the most part) done a truly excellent job of culling the important elements into a theatrical release that the public can enjoy. His idea of releasing a very different version on DVD for the book fans is sheer genius. He recognizes that you can't please everyone with one version. Why can't you? It's not a hard concept to grasp really.

    And if you really have issues with the job Jackson has done, suggest someone else who would have done better. Peter is the perfect choice IMO, as he doesn't have the ego that big producers do, an ego that would have turned LOTR in "Spielberg's LOTR".

    • Tolkein was not a holy saint. His work is not the Bible.

      Thank goodness his work isn't the bible. Can you imagine every sentence or two starting with a little number? All the scenes in the beginning half would need to be more violent and include incest, rape, and mass murder. The second half would have no substance of a story, it would simply be some letters written to all the races of middle earth informing them that they all suck and everyone should love. The book would then end with a written-down

    • by Strange Ranger (454494) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @12:18PM (#7558734)
      > His idea of releasing a very different version on DVD for the book fans is sheer genius. He recognizes that you can't please everyone with one version.

      I'd bet a wagon full of Southfarthing tabac that Peter Jackson sees the DVD releases as the "real" movies.

      It would be a TON of effort and a big financial risk (based on extra revenue generated just from the difference in versions) to make the DVD releases like they are "just to please the book fans". Those extra scenes are not just spliced in. It seems fairly obvious he planned the entire production around the DVDs. I think he WOULD have released those versions to theaters if he hadn't been contractually obligated to give them movies that were under 3 hours each. The theater release versions are to please the pocketbooks of the theaters, because they can show more than 3 showings a day. I don't believe for a second, after reading and listing to interviews and commentary, that the theater releases are what he considers the "real" movies, or that he released shorter cut down versions of his dream production just to please the uninitiated or the attention-span challenged. He did it because that was the only way the theaters where going to show it at all. He had no choice.

      5 years from now, the "extended" DVDs will be all that counts in anyone's book.
  • by Khyron42 (519298) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @10:00AM (#7557366) Journal
    ... I wonder how they came up with the numbers here.

    A blade chassis full of dual PIII's [dell.com] similar to what they showed in the "render wall" photo will, in my experience, pull 300 to 600 watts of power depending on CPU load and configuration - the maximum power use is 850 W. At least a third of that is turned into heat.

    This puts the minimum heat load at around ((1600 servers / 6 servers per chassis) * 150 watts average heat output) = approx. 40,000 watts.

    While I've never heard of "farenheit weight" before, "tons refrigeration" is pretty common in the air conditioning world - 40,000 watts heat load = 136,500 BTU/hr = 10 tons of refrigeration (in UK units, 11 in US) [engnetglobal.com]. It's amazing how well that 1/2 ton air conditioner is operating!
    • At least a third of that is turned into heat.

      Actually, essentially all of it is turned into heat in the room (except for the microscopic amount of power that gets sent out of the room as Ethernet pulses). Yep, technically 1 is "at least 1/3", but the second law of thermodynamics is too oft forgotten.

      When I moved into my dorm room at Stanford, nearly 15 years ago, I was shocked to discover that the university imposed a surcharge per quarter for the power used by certain appliances -- e.g. if you brou

  • Specs? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by StormForge (596170)
    > IT staff: 35 & Visual f/x staff: 420

    Are these people temps or do they have full-time jobs? Must be a real challenge to find that many people with experience in this sort of thing. I imagine they do alot of training? Anyone know?

    > Servers in renderwall: 1,600 Processors (total): 3,200

    Anyone know what these are? Dual Xeons? Do they take advantage of fast graphics hardware to speed up the rendering?

    > Processors added 10 weeks before movie wrapped: 1,000

    Making for a total of 4,200?
  • Does anyone else smell a Wired shill on slashdot? This must be the fourth or fifth "I saw a really neat story in Wired" article in the last two weeks...
  • by kdogg765 (551482) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @11:05AM (#7558013)
    If you look at the print edition of that WIRED tidbit, you can look closely at the picture to see that it's actually shelves of DLT or more likely SuperDLT tapes with bar codes on them, part of their reported .5 petabytes of tape backup.

    The article says "Meet the real star of Lord of the Rings - a 1,600-box server farm." but they dont' have a single picture of the actual boxes. If you want to see a brief glimpse at some of the renderfarm, you can see it at the beginning of the VFX section on disc 4 of the Two Towers extended edition.

    I'm really curious if Wired thinks they actually rendered the movies using shelves of DLT tapes. Do they have 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports on them???

    On that subject the stats seem to imply also that they have 10gigabit ethernet everywhere, which is a retarded waste of money if that were in fact the case. I imagine that interconnects between their core switches would be 10 gigabit ethernet, but anything beyond gig-E to each node would have a hard time being utilized.

    -K
  • WETA Supercomputes! (Score:4, Informative)

    by patheticloser (722639) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @11:29AM (#7558247)
    From The top500.org supercomputer list [top500.org]
    Number 44 - WETA Digital New Zealand/2003 BladeCenter Cluster Xeon 2.8 GHz, Gig-Ethernet / 1176 IBM
  • Here ye, here ye! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Godeke (32895) * on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @11:36AM (#7558318)
    Gather round, for the true reason parts were cut from the book to the movie. You see, I read each book to my son before the movie comes out. At approximately 30 minutes a night, it takes a month plus to read *one* of the three books. That's 15 hours per book. Now I grant that a few pages of "majestic mountain description" can be cut down to a flight over some real ones in the movie, but on the other hand, some of the action takes longer on screen than in text (especially describing the inner state of a character, which in film must be *shown* not spoken).

    Personally, I don't have the bladder control for a fifteen hour movie. Yes, now you know the real reason for cutting the film to three hours (four for those in the comfort on their own homes). Bladder control. Simple really.

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