THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
A Town of Men
The race of Men arrive for the first time in the Trilogy in "The Hobbit: The
Smaug" not in a fortress built by Kings, but in a decaying city of wood
structures build on water by
regular people. "With Lake-town, we are seeing a new world--the world of Men,"
Walsh. "Going into this new environment has that sense of excitement and
adventure of entering
Its designs evolved out of references in the book to the kinds of Celtic
villages occupied by
the lake-dwellers of Switzerland. "We also drew inspiration from the astonishing
architecture you find in Russia," John Howe says. "And underneath the wood you
it's sitting atop the ruins of an ancient stone city."
A favorite among a number of the cast and crew, the Lake-town set was built
locations: a sprawling set on the backlot that spanned over 25,000 square feet
twelve weeks to build; and multiple versions of a multi-level set within Stone
Street's K Stage,
which spanned nearly 13,000 square feet at its apex.
Set decorator Ra Vincent notes, "It was about layering architecture and
objects. We built
really big sets so you could look through a tangle of stuff, and there was so
traveling through shots, people going about their business of fishing and
Each Lake-town set consisted of about 40 different buildings, assembled on
castors so they
could easily be moved. Openings were also strategically placed within each
structure so that they
could be hooked onto a crane and relocated. Because it is winter in Lake-town,
the entire set was
covered in snow made of Epson Salt, with wax sheets of film ice floating on the
circulating below. Supervising art director Simon Bright comments, "Lake-town
because we built it within a wet set, so we had the logistics of 'tanking' an
Shooting on the sets presented numerous obstacles for the camera crew. "We
supposed to use the exterior set at night only, but inevitably we ended up doing
dusks, dawns, days
and nights there, which was challenging," director of photography Andrew Lesnie
notes. But he
relished capturing the unique atmosphere of the town, noting, "It's a bit
twisted, and bent and
buckled, full of canyons, subterranean areas and squares, which is tricky for
cameras but a wonderful
environment in which to compose each shot. When we push the lens down a long,
you can feel the tight spaces around you, especially in 3D."
For Jackson, it was important to infuse the Lake-town sequences with a unique
and sense of its people. "We wanted the set itself to tell you about the
situation these people are
living under, so it has a faded glory and sadness about it," he says. "It feels
a bit like Charles
Dickens's London, but we also wanted to create a mysterious, shadows-in-the-fog,
almost film noir
effect in Lake-town."
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