Sunday, 8 February 2015

Back to ‘The Shire’

Hobbiton is the home of ‘The Shire’, the set for the Lord of the Ring and the Hobbit movies. During the day, whilst the Hobbits are tending to their fields, muggles like us can visit the village and their homes – a real privilege.

We joined the crowds and went for a tour around Hobbiton village. The farmer must have had a real shock when Peter Jackson rang his doorbell and now he’s a millionaire, hosting one of the most popular tourist attractions in New Zealand.

The set had been constructed using temporary materials like Styrofoam and plastic for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but was rebuilt using permanent materials for the Hobbit prequels. It was laid out with minute details that made it look so realistic, down to the moss and lichen on the picket fences and the peeling paintwork on doors and window frames. All the filming inside the Hobbit holes was undertaken in a studio as it would have been too dark to film in the hill.

It was interesting to learn how the sense of perspective was created to make Gandalf seem much taller than the Hobbits. This was achieved by sizing the background in different ratios, i.e. full height or 100% when the Hobbit character was next to a door (making the door look larger than the Hobbit in comparison) and a 60% scale door when Gandalf was standing next to the door (making the door look smaller than Gandalf in comparison). This approach was used throughout the films.

We toured the lanes, the tiny homes, the water mill and even sampled a stout in the Green Dragon Inn – thankfully at a 100% scale!

Bagend is at the top of the hill

One of the 60% scale Hobbit holes

A 90% scale Hobbit hole - ooh look I match the door

The Green Dragon Inn across the bridge

Bagend complete with artificial oak tree. The first tree was cut down from nearby and placed on top of the hill. Artificial leaves were then made (in Taiwan) and stuck on to the tree by hand. It was then decided they were the wrong colour and were each spray painted hours before filming began! For the Hobbit trilogy the tree was starting to fall apart so they made a mould of it and made this replica out of concrete. The end twigs however are from the original tree and the leaves were stuck on all over again!

Wahoo - i can see the pub from here!

A refreshing Hobbiton stout to end the tour at the Green Dragon

My very own Hobbit wife - pesky Hobbitses!