Compiled by: Jack Foley
TROY is undoubtedly the blockbuster of the Summer which, at a
rumoured $200 million to make, has to rate as one of the most
expensive movies ever made.
So where did the money go (apart from on the stars pay
cheques) and how was the look of the film achieved?
l Much of the production teams
research was accomplished through the British
Museum, utilizing its collection of objects excavated from
archaeological digs in Turkey, where the city of Troy is widely
considered to have stood.
l There remains much speculation
about what Troy actually looked like during the period in which
the events of The Iliad take place. Several different ancient
cities have been discovered at the site, each built directly on
top of the next. Troy VI is the level that represents the period
that production designer, Nigel Phelps, and his team were charged
l Exteriors of the city of Troy,
which had to be built from the ground up, were erected on 10 acres
inside a 17th Century military compound called Fort Ricasoli,
on the Mediterranean island of Malta. More than 500 Maltese workers
were hired and nearly 200 UK craftsmen were brought to the island
to begin the construction of the city at the beginning of 2003.
l The islands strong winds,
extreme heat and humidity played havoc with the filming schedule,
putting director, Wolfgang Petersen, in a daily state of uncertainty
about what hed be filming, until hed heard the morning
l The Wooden Horse of Troy was
constructed at Shepperton Studios, in London, but had to be built
in two halves, because there was no space available large enough
to accommodate the enormous equine. It was constructed mostly
of steel and fibreglass fashioned to look like wood, it stood
38 feet high and weighed 11 tonnes.
l In order to move the horse into
position for its entrance through the 42-foot high Trojan gates,
the film-makers referred to a documentary about the Egyptians
building the Pyramids that showed the massive stone blocks being
pulled along on logs. Hence, a path made up of dozens of large
logs was laid through the gate and a system of cable pulleys -
later removed from the film by computer graphics - was set up
to take most of the burden off the men towing the ropes.
l The sacking of Troy was, according
to special effects supervisor, Joss Williams, one of the
biggest outdoor fire jobs thats been done since Gone With
The Wind. "Ours was slightly different from that one
because it was controlled, and we could turn it off - whereas
with them, they just lit it and off it went."
l Thousands of feet of gas piping,
laid by Williams crew, were connected to five liquid propane
tanks set up behind the buildings, along the Trojan streets and
controlled by a system of 350 individually operated valves. Each
tank had a capacity of 5,000 cubic litres of gas, which could
be used as either a vapour or liquid. Into this volatile mix were
thrown Simon Cranes stunt team - along with actors, Brad
Pitt, Brian Cox and Sean Bean.
l In preparation for the final
battle scenes, in Los Cabos, Mexico, an environmental study was
required before permits could be issued, which entailed the preservation
of certain varieties of cactus. Production had to arrange for
botanists to count, categorize and tag each cactus, and then 4,000
cacti had to be removed by hand, transplanted to a nursery and
maintained until filming was complete.
l Due to the coast of Mexico being
an endangered turtle habitat, a turtle protection programme had
to be implemented, with two specialists hired to live on the property
and patrol the beach, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, for the
six months of filming. When turtles were spotted laying eggs,
the team would collect the eggs and put them in a fenced incubation
area. Then, when they hatched 45 days later, they would bring
them to the shore and release them.
l The supposedly unbreachable wall
of Troy proved anything but. Two weeks from the end of filming,
Hurricane Marty hit the southern tip of Baja, on September 21,
2003, and the films sets suffered major damage - including
the collapse of the middle two thirds of the Wall of Troy. It
took a month to rebuild.
Creating a 'virtual army'
Troy features the debut of virtual stuntmen, provided
by leading special effects houses, The Moving Picture Company
and Framestore CFC, employing technology pioneered by NaturalMotion.
The software, called endorphin, was developed from
research into the neurobiology of human motion conducted by Oxford
Universitys Department of Zoology.
The ingenious program creates virtual characters whose bodies
react exactly like real humans to whatever forces are applied
to them - unlike most computerised characters, which depend on
fixed databases containing animated clips, endorphins virtual
actors move independently, sensing and reacting to their environments
in the same way humans do.
The process behind the artificial stuntmens ability to
move and think, called active character technology,
is centred around an artificial intelligence simulation of the
human brain, body and nervous system. The virtual stuntmen learn
how to move and react using artificial evolution, building up
their store of knowledge over time. Muscle models within each
character are identical to properties in actual human muscles,
and information programmed into the AI nervous system sends impulses
to the bodys muscles to achieve a given movement, such as
maintaining balance and jumping.
Once programmed, the characters react on their own, providing
an infinite variety of realistic reactions to action within a
scene. For example, neutral networks responsible for self-preservation
compel the soldiers in Troy to react to blows from their opponent
with movements such as shielding themselves, attempting to maintain
their balance, or breaking their fall.