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Interview: Discussing the Elaborate Visual Effects and Lavish Costumes of ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ With VFX Supervisor Ron Ames and Costume Designer Kate Hawley

From a technical standpoint, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is an absolute marvel. The visual effects are a true feast for the eyes, and the incredible costumes on display not only celebrate but expand the world of J.R.R. Tolkien to new horizons. During a virtual press day, Awards Radar spoke to VFX Supervisor Ron Ames and Costume Designer Kate Hawley on the craft behind the show.

In terms of designing the visual effects for the series, Ames explained that they created “over 9000 visual effects, which is the equivalent of four feature-length films. Regarding the load of work, we built systems that were shared with a fabulous team of visual effects vendors and craftspeople worldwide. We had Academy Award-winning and nominated supervisors working with us on every round. The way we created them, it was like asking ourselves the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time.

Every effect and storytelling moment was made possible through a collaboration with Kate, the visual effects department, filmmakers, and showrunners It was really specific. I have to tell you: there wasn’t one effect that wasn’t tested or planned, and some were uniquely complex. When you put it all together, you should not get into the performance of the actors, which is what sells a visual effect. It is truly the actor’s belief that they are in that world.”

In crafting costumes for each world and creating different cultures, Kate Hawley explained that she went back “through all the texts. I was very familiar with the books already. But when you go back through that world and the original source material, you can create rules from that. There are so many thematic elements in Tolkien’s work, and they’ve also done the same process in the film. Once you know that each culture is embedded in its natural elements, then that defines materiality. That’s how you start building these worlds. We had a room where we created these mood tables with all these elements so that we could distill, take away, and see how they set together. However, the common link was that each culture was held in its elements and with its own arc that goes through all of the ages.”

During our video interview, you will also be able to find out how costumes marry the visual effects work (and vice-versa), while also discussing the challenges of working on a show that is so massive in scale, but that consistently keeps its focus on the multiple character arcs.

You can check out the full conversation below and see all episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Prime Video.

[Some of the quotes in this article have been edited for length and clarity]


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Written by Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent is a freelance film and TV critic, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the Université de Montréal. He is currently finishing a specialization in Video Game Studies, focusing on the psychological effects regarding the critical discourse on violent video games.

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