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UNDERWORLD RISE OF THE LYCANS

Costumes, Creatures, Crypts And Castles
From the start, the Underworld films have been defined by their edgy, stylish visuals, reflected in every aspect of the film from wardrobe and sets to cinematography. In Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, the filmmakers have reinvented the franchise's signature look with small and large innovations that reflect the film's epic scope.

After initially considering Romania, the traditional home of the vampire, as the location, the filmmakers decided to shoot in New Zealand, a country with an internationally renowned filmmaking infrastructure thanks to films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. New Zealand's breathtaking landscapes and lush green forests provided the perfect backdrop. "My first reaction was that New Zealand would be too beautiful,” says Tatopoulos. "It's too gorgeous, too green. We could never do anything evil there. But on our first scouting trip, we saw Woodhill Forest, which looks like a dead forest. When I saw that, I knew it would be great.”

Instead of simply recreating the de-saturated blues and dark, brooding interiors of the first two Underworld films, director of photography Ross Emery brought new depth to the visuals. Because the story is set in the distant past, the mysterious cyan blue hues have been overlaid with a brassy burnished look that gives the third film a period feel. "The first films had very modern fittings, such as fluorescent lighting, but our world here is one of candles, braziers and moonlight,” says Emery. "That gives a much warmer light. We really went for yellows and brasses and mixed in some green to complement the moss and lichen in the external locations.”

And for the first time, the story moves out into daylight. That is a pivotal narrative point, as producer Wright explains. "Lucian's character develops in big ways in this film, and one of those is finally getting out of the castle, finally getting away from the dominance of nighttime. When he gets out into the world, into greenery and blue skies, it's a big moment. Suddenly color enters the world.” 

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is the first of the series to be shot in high definition. "For this kind of picture, HD worked perfectly,” says Emery. "It's a very dark film because Vampires only come out at night. We only had a couple of weeks of exterior scenes in the entire movie. In that kind of environment, HD works beautifully.”

HD also allowed Emery to manipulate the speed of the action for the fight sequences and to enhance the werewolves' appearance slightly. "We found that the werewolves looked much more menacing and violent when they were shot with a 45° shutter. All their movements look sharper and more aggressive,” he says.  "I love HD because you can see what the film is going to look like on set,” says Emery. "You don't have to imagine what it will be after grading and everything. For a visual person like Patrick, it's fantastic because he could see on the monitors how the final film will look onscreen. That was a tremendous tool for everyone on the crew because they were able to make adjustments accordingly.”

Emery credits the film's art department for making his job easier. "All I had to do with these sets was show up and turn on the lights. They were so beautifully detailed and the scenic artists, the construction guys, the finishers and dressers all did fantastic work. It makes my job so much easier when I walk onto a set and literally everywhere I put a camera, it looks fantastic.”

Production designer Dan Hennah is the Academy Award®-winning art director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. "One of the bonuses of this job was working with a really visual director,” he says. "Coming from the background of production design and creature design, Patrick could see what he wanted, and that's always helpful.”

Tatopoulos insisted that the film's design avoid the Gothic conventions of the vampire<

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