These days we’re so used to fancy, high-tech visual effects reels that break down every little facet of the CG-laden blockbusters of modern Hollywood that they’ve almost started to get a little too clever for their own good. So it’s nice of Weta to remind us just how quaint (and yet still cool) these sizzle reels used to be.
Out of nowhere overnight—not like we all couldn’t use the distraction—the studio behind the groundbreaking VFX work on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy uploaded its old sizzle reels for Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King to the Weta YouTube channel. It’s like revisiting a bizarre, wonderful moment in the early aughts. These are so old school, the max resolution on the videos is 480p. It’s garbage, I love it!
What’s not garbage are the shots themselves, because, well…it’s Lord of the Rings. So it already rules. It’s just a montage of all the shots Weta had a part in bringing to life, set to music from the movies, almost like a throwback to the AMVs of myriad fandom cultures. And those movies still hold up visually, in part thanks to Weta’s incredible work on the franchise.
Check out the vids for The Two Towers and The Return of the King below. Yes, the Mumak-slide is in there.
In an age where we’re so used to these reels being splashy and hyper detailed, full of slow pans and wire-frame models transforming into fully complete FX shots like magic, there’s something refreshingly earnest about something as simple as Weta queuing up a montage set to some kickass Howard Shore compositions. Do you need to see how many polygons the Balrog was? Do you need to watch the Riders of Rohan duplicate beyond the stunt riders on location into a force worthy of Théoden, King? Do you even need to know what, exactly, Weta touched up in some of these shots?
Not really. You know Weta brought them to life, and just need to see them again, decades later, still looking cool as hell.