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THE RETURN OF THE KING

is the third film in the movie trilogi of the The Lord of the Rings. The official world premiere was on Dec 17 2003 but the actual world premiere was already Dec 1 in Wellington New Zealand. The Lord of the Rings trilogi is instructed by Peter Jackson born in New Zealand and most of its scenes has been filmed at various locations in New Zealand. The premiere in Wellington was celebrated by a giant Parade.

Clayton Tume who made the panorama from this spectacular event writes:

December is the start of summer in New Zealand but it can be cold wet and windy one day, fine and warm the next. The morning of the premiere I woke to a glorious clear sunny day and couldn't have asked for any better. My plan was to catch a train into the city, a 30 minute journey. The organisers were expecting a crowd of 100,000 people and a large part of the city was blocked off to traffic, parking a car would be impossible.

To record a crowd this size on film, and get a real feeling of being a part of that crowd means using specialised camera techniques. The only photo in the newspapers the following day that showed a large portion of the crowd was taken from a helicopter, it clearly showed the scale of the event but failed to capture the mood of the crowd. People were shown as pinhead sized dots, lots of them!

I spent the previous two days building a new pole for my rotation camera, an earlier version was merely a solid 3 metre length of pine that I mounted my camera on top. The new one had to collapse down to a reasonable size so I could carry it on the train and I wanted some extra height. There were also some design improvements for fast set up and better stability when the camera is turning. The finished pole is 3 section, telescoping, with a height range between 3 and 4 metres. It incorporates a stabilising foot, tensioning strap to the foot and a surveyors staff level is used to keep it aligned at all times.

The purpose of using a pole is to stand shoulder to shoulder in the middle of the crowd, mount the camera and elevate it to the desired height (over peoples heads in this case), then trigger the camera by remote control. The camera I had custom built for this use, it uses professional size 120 film which gives phenomenal detail due to it's large size. The major draw back is only getting 2 shots on a roll of film so I have to be very selective about what I shoot. This is the first QTVR MOVIE from the camera as I usually produce large panoramic photographs from the negatives. I have to thank Hans Nyberg here for his work converting the photo to a QTVR MOVIE.

When I got off the train there was still a couple of hours to go before the parade started, plenty of time to walk the route and find some good shooting locations. The train station is close to the start of the route which was fenced off the entire 3 kilometres to the movie theatres at the other end of the city. Two theatres were used to cater for 2500 invited guests. The red carpet started outside Reading Cinema and ran the full length between the theatres, a distance of 470 metres. End of the route and red carpet is the Embassy Theatre, a grand old lady which only days prior had completed a 5 million dollar refurbishment.

Following the route I could see people already staked out in prime positions. Morning radio reports interviewed those who slept out over night, hundreds of them from all over the world. They wanted front row positions to see the stars and maybe get an autograph or two. When I got to the start of the red carpet area there was an hour to go and the crowd was huge. At least 10 rows deep lining either side of the road and perched from every vantage point imaginable.

I slowly manoeuvred through the crowd and worked my way up to the Embassy end looking for the perfect place for my camera. A number of small grandstands had been erected in prime places and effectively blocked the view forward. There was a large screen outside each of the theatres relaying live footage of the parade from TV cameras dotted throughout. Trees obscured parts of the view, I was looking for a clear shot both ways down the street. Just past Reading Cinema the road narrows and bends slightly so that if I moved too far from the bend the view down to the Embassy would cut off. I found two ideal spots, one near each theatre with unobstructed views either way. My camera was already loaded with B&W film and I decided to shoot it outside Reading Cinema as I felt it was perfect to give a timeless look to the days events. I planned from the start to return home with two unique panoramas. One each of b&w and colour that were completely different, as if they were shot at different times and days. It would have been easy to shoot the same scene with both materials but to me this is pointless, better to use each for it's strengths rather than duplication.

The parade started, Maori warriors led the way followed by the stars in open topped cars. Director Peter Jackson was at the front and the cars were interspersed with battalions of Orcs, Uruk-hai, Gondorian rangers, Elves, Rohan soldiers and Hobbits. Everywhere you could see fans dressed as Elves or one of their favourite stars. Cheering and screaming was deafening when stars like Orlando Bloom (Legolas) came through.

When the parade reached the red carpet, cars and horsemen were diverted off to a side street and the stars casually walked through and took time to talk and sign autographs. This is what I'd patiently been waiting for.

For me the best view (for my camera) was near the back of the crowd, surprisingly I couldn't see a thing!

There were 15 to 20 rows of people in front of me, many were sitting on others shoulders. There were also lots of photographers with step ladders of all sizes and they seemed to be crowded around me. Erecting my camera was easy and I lifted it to near the top of it's 4 metre range. Clearly it was shooting over everyone's heads and I knew it would record things I couldn't see.

When to shoot was the dilemma?

The answer was easy.

I triggered the camera remote control when I heard the girls screaming!

The b&w panorama outside Readings shows a number of stars with Orlando Bloom in the front centre of the picture, my timing was perfect! It also shows some Ringwraiths (horsemen) splitting off from the parade and Maori warriors on the big screen. This photo isn't shown here but can be seen on my website www.bigshotz.co.nz

After shooting the b&w panoramas I loaded the camera with colour film and moved to the other end of the red carpet to my next chosen spot. It took so long to get there that I missed capturing the stars a second time on film. What I did get on film was the sheer size of the crowd, the bright red carpet and Wellington looking it's best on a warm, bright summer day. If you look very closely you'll see a couple of the stars plus director Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop, both local heroes for what they've done for the New Zealand film industry. You'll also see the 20 metre model of the winged Fell Beast being ridden by Nazgul in Return of the King on top of the Embassy.

Wellington city has a population of 164,000, final crowd estimate for the premiere was 125,000. I've never seen another day like it!
Clayton Tume

Read more about different technics for panoramas at the HOW TO page

Panoramic Image © Clayton Tume

website: www.bigshotz.co.nz

Clayton Tume is a photographer in Wellington New Zealand who is specializing in large printed panoramas ............... ....... ........




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