The team behind Amazon Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time is using magnetic horns to increase the number of Trollocs that appear on screen without CGI.
The team behind Amazon Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time came up with a practical way to help swell the number of Trollocs — the iconic half-man/half-beast creatures from the pages of Robert Jordan’s series — that appear on screen without the need for CGI: detachable horns.
In an article from GQ detailing some of the creative innovations behind the massive project, make-up artist and creature designer Nick Dudman explained one of the big design choices behind making the number of the fearsome beasts needed practical. “If you’re making, say 20, how do you make it look as though you’ve created 40 or 50? And the answer is: They’ve all got horns. One of the things we decided early on is, they all have a variety of horn shapes. So if all those horns attach magnetically, and every single horn can swap with another horn on a different head, and they can also have two or three ways of putting them on, then you actually end up with 30 different silhouettes of creature for no extra money.”
Dudman is an accomplished artist with credits on both the Harry Potter and Star Wars franchises. He had his work cut out for him creating real-life versions of the evil Shadowspawn. “You’re sort of saying, ‘Okay, you can’t have any influences or imagery tying into orcs and Lord of the Rings,'” he said. Apart from the functional horns, the hulking creatures also had to be safe for stunt performers to use in forest settings, where the malformed miscreants are often seen. “I didn’t want to put them on stilts because of the fact that we’re running through woodland, and running downhill on stilts is just really not a good idea.” In another bit of ingenuity, they ended up using Kevlar prosthetics similar to the ones used to replace limbs for patients. “And the stunt guys were up on them and off, straight away,” Dudman explained. “It’s actually been a very good call.”
All these innovations ended up creating such impressive Trollocs that a large part of the VFX budget set aside for making them look more lifelike could be used elsewhere. These massive foes will be seen early on in the streaming series and, if they are as faithful to the books as fans hope them to be, often as well. They operate largely as footsoldiers, and a recent teaser video shows Trollocs at the command of another fearsome opponent the Two Rivers folk will be up against, the horrifying Myrddraal.
The first three episodes of Season 1, where fans are sure to get their first real look at Trollocs in action, will premiere on Amazon on November 19.
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