When they say 'intense' you can expect Freeman, Hadlow, and Burphy playing serious table tennis! It's not everyday that you see Bilbo confronting a fire drake and playing table tennis during breaks!
Production video 13 gives you glimpses of the sensational Smaug - the hottest dragon the world has ever seen! Let's see if he gives good competition to Harry Potter's Norwegian Horntail. The set of Dale City is being demolished and folks are wrapping up officially - some are already seeking new jobs! I bet the chances of landing a good one after being employed at the biggest blockbuster of two consecutive years would be super big!
This video is particularly my favorite because it shows the incredible coordination of real-time shooting, pickup photography, robotics/mechanics, and digital simulation by the amazing Weta Workshop to present one outstanding movie shot. The scene under construction is that of Bilbo confronting the freshly awakened Smaug.
To put this scene together, Martin Freeman gave a shot standing amidst a pile of treasure, facing nothing but a jib camera that moves down towards him, and delivering plain, brilliant acting. Done separately are floor mechanics used to churn the mountain of treasure. The movements of the treasure sliding and slipping around are recorded for Weta to work on.
My favorite bit was the mountain of real treasure - gold coins and goblets - that was put together for Smaug's nesting place in Arabor, the kingdom of dwarves. It's classic how the dragon's awakening creates waves and tides of gold coins. They actually did that for real using floor mechanics. I could really use some of those humongous gold coins. What are they going to do with them? Sell as movie merchandise?
To sum everything up, Weta uses the footage to create a full simulation of the scene. Smaug is put into the scene emerging from under this treasure movement. The background, originally shot with green screens, comes alive as Arabor when the virtual world is projected on it. These projections have also been shot using real sets and then digitally enhancing them at Weta.
Sound and vocals is another genius part of this movie. PJ listens to dragon sounds, sword and axe impact effects, water squishing and barrels hitting each other, and Orc vocals and approves them. After this, the recording room comes alive and technicians work to record the sound over the film footage - one scene at a time.