Making Eclipse


The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse began shooting on August 17, 2009 in Vancouver and continued for 11 weeks in numerous locations around British Columbia. Many of the forested locations in the movie were remote with limited accessibility.

The huge production featured a large main shooting unit and a full 2nd unit which shared responsibility for the three main action sequences: the opening ravine chase between the Cullens, the wolves, and Victoria; the training sequence where Jasper coaches the rest of the family and the wolves to prepare for; third, the dual location finale battle sequence between the Cullen/werewolf alliance and the newborn vampires in the wilderness clearing, as well as Victoria/Riley vs. Edward/Bella/Seth on the snowy mountaintop. The fight team, stunt team, practical effects team, and visual effects team worked diligently to put the hard-hitting scenes on screen safely and aid the actors working with the virtual wolves. Plus, much of the film’s action takes place outdoors in character-specific weather.

All of the actors involved in the complicated action sequences undertook many weeks of specialized physical fight training. The actors and stunt performers worked tirelessly to perform specifically designed beats up to the point where the realm of possibility and physics forced the visual effects department to take over.

In addition to telling a love story in a contemporary setting about supernatural vampires and werewolves, filmmakers had the added constricts of honoring the elements established by author Stephenie Meyer in the novel, plus taking in to account the creative decisions made by the filmmakers of the previous two films, while still keeping the storytelling fresh and exciting. Sets like the Cullen House, Bella’s house, Jacob’s house, Forks High School, and the meadow featuring vampire sparkle -are pre-established elements. In addition, filmmakers had to contend with costuming a very large cast of over three dozen main or featured characters and dozens of stunt players, plus the added production challenges of multiple back stories from several eras and fans eager to find out every detail.

“Towards the very beginning of the film we see that Victoria’s back and she’s coming for revenge. A chase starts and Victoria’s going back from Cullen territory to wolf territory. We can’t go onto each other’s side, explains Taylor Lautner. “But Emmett gets a little carried away and goes onto the wolf side, and Paul, the hothead, gets into this little fight with him. It is the perfect way to start the movie off, because Victoria’s in the middle of it. She’s causing this chaos and the Cullens and wolves are going straight for the throats.

This first act adrenalin moment gives the audience a really good sense of how explosively powerful the mythical creatures in the story really are. “Ultimately, we realize they’re are chasing her along this ravine. When they’re about to catch Victoria, she jumps across to the other side and they stop. Why aren’t they following her? You realize that that’s the demarcation between the vampire territory and the wolf territory. So just when we think she’s escaped, boom the wolves are on her tail. You have this double action of the Cullens chasing her on one side and wolves chasing her on the other, and she’s hopping back and forth over the ravine. It’s going to be a pretty fantastic sequence, comments producer Wyck Godfrey.

“The ravine chase was alluded to in the book, but I felt we really need to see that ravine chase, comments director David Slade. “I did some story boards to block out what it would be like if the Cullens and the wolves actually chase Victoria on screen. Melissa embraced my drawings and wrote the sequences. So it’s something which is quite small in the book, that I felt would be a really fun thing to see. On screen, I want to see vampires and wolves running at extreme speeds, jumping from one territory to another territory. It’s a great way of setting up the rules of the resident territory boundary.

Main unit typically began the dialogue and simpler stunt work on the action sequences “but then we’ll hand off all of the big action beats with the crane rigs and the wire gags to 2nd unit director E.J. Foerster, explains Godfrey. The work weeks of each unit were staggered to allow Slade to attend 2nd unit shooting on his days off.

“E.J. Foerster is one of the things you want -he’s like a Swiss Army knife that does everything, laughs Slade. “He was wonderful. E.J. has done so much stunt work that he has this brain that just knows exactly what he needs. He was tasked with doing some of the bigger stunts that take like seven hours to set up for one shot. All of our shots meshed, all of our cinematic vocabulary held. E.J. was completely and utterly on the same plane mentally and would always be asking, what more can I do? What else can we do to help? 2nd unit just went for it like soldiers and it was a pleasure to work alongside them.

“One of the biggest challenges of the movies has always been to capture vampire speed, adds producer Wyck Godfrey. “One of the things that David and E.J. came up with was we want to do this in-camera. We really want to show these vampires flying through the woods at the phenomenal speed that Stephenie Meyer describes in her books.

“We thought a lot about vampire speed -really brainstormed how can we approach this issue of the physics of showing something that has legs that can move so fast, you can’t see them. We thought the fact that an insect beats its wings a thousand times in a second and how that looks, relates Slade. “So we figured how out how we can get people running at 40 miles an hour and interacting and doing it for real. I wanted it to be super human, not supernatural. The idea that it’s total fantasy was something I wanted to avoid. I kept the camera at human eye level because I wanted to ground the film in a personable believable space.

Director David Slade worked with his 2nd unit director, stunt coordinator, fight coordinator, special practical effects supervisor, visual effects supervisors, and production designer to make a “magic carpet concept work to achieve the extreme speed.

“We figured we could get people running at least 40 miles an hour using this magic carpet we made. We also called it the rag, and later, it became the death sled, laughs Slade. “It was essentially a very long, very, very, very tough belt, attached to the back of a truck, which would go flying down a pathway through the woods with stunt guys and actors on it, and the camera vehicle would go blasting through the woods parallel. When everything was going at top speed, the actors would start running, and what you got on camera was a person running 40 miles an hour, which looks really fast. It is real, so it’ll look real.

Stunt coordinator John Stoneham, Jr. adds, “It’s a four foot wide piece that we tow on a computerized winch that just hauls people along through the woods. The ride needs to be fairly smooth, because they are running flat out.

“It’s like at an airport and someone’s on the walkway alongside of you. They’re walking, but they’re going faster than you… it’s that same concept, explains visual effects supervisor Kevin Tod Haug. “You see the wind on them with arms and legs pumping. So long as you’re not seeing their feet, it feels like they’re actually going very fast. But in fact, they’re going as fast as humans can run plus the 30 or 40 miles per hour the truck is adding. So, we established that vampires run about 45 to 50 mph, they never get tired, and they can always run at top speed.

“The actors trained on this treadmill and then we drove them through woods with foreground trees and you’ve got your actors literally running at full speed, but everything in the background is whizzing by, adds Godfrey. “So for the first time in these movies, we’re really seeing vampires running through the woods at an impossible speed, using the real performers.

“Generally speaking, the best effects are the ones that are taken as far as they can be practically, says Haug. “So you start with what can an actor or a stunt person actually do? Do it as much as you can practically in front of camera, because that’s probably the better way to go. Then visual effects steps in where you can’t go any further. There has to be some tension, some difficulty. David really wanted us to make sure that you could feel the gravity, the weight, and all the cues of speed that you would normally get out of somebody going that fast.

“The scale of what we’re doing in the chase sequence is unlike anything I’ve seen done before for a running chase. Vampires live in the real world, but they can do more, but they do it only when they need to or when it’s appropriate. I’ve seen this scale of work done for car chases and airplane chases, but for a foot chase, it’s pretty exceptional, comments Haug. “Every cut has to be in a different location essentially, because they’re moving too fast. A foot chase tends to be across a roof and down the street, so you can do a lot of it in the same location. You can’t do that when your vampires are moving at almost 50 miles an hour. So, you have to treat it like a car chase through the woods.

James Tichenor served as visual effects supervisor for 2nd unit. “Victoria is teasing and testing both sides of the wolf zone and the vampire zone on her infiltration run. Our 2nd unit director E.J. Foerster, his mandate for this sequence was fast fast fast! This is a car chase. We’re going to shoot fast and furious… we’re going to get numerous set-ups. We believe that we have the most set-ups in a scene ever in the history of Vancouver film. I think we did almost 200 set-ups in that chase sequence.

“We have broken the sequence into three parts: the beginning is where we’re racing through the woods and we establish a lot of parkour action. We shot plates that pull us through the woods on various locations, says Tichenor.

“Let’s say the plate shot in the forest is 200 yards long and Victoria is supposed to run through it in two seconds, adds Haug. “What you do is squeeze the size of it down on the green screen stage and create a giant green block Tinker Toy set up. Then a stunt woman parkours through that environment on wires in two seconds. You figure out what all the corresponding heights and variations of the elements in the shot are – like the trees and boulders and elevation changes. So, using the computer, when you put her in the real environment, she hits all the marks that she’s supposed to hit and it looks like she ran 200 yards in two seconds instead of 50 feet.

Parkour – also know as free-running, bouldering, or buildering – is a mixture of gymnastics and street acrobatics in which a person moves through an environment with efficiency and speed. The sport was featured in a human chase scene in the Bond film Casino Royale.

“Victoria leaps and bounds through the woods like a deer or an antelope would and the human equivalent of that is parkour. In Eclipse, it’s more like bouldering, which is a mountaineering version of parkour, adds Haug.

Tichenor continues, “In the second part of the sequence, Victoria spans a ravine, which is actually a plate shot filmed on Vancouver Island. So in post, elements from the location and the green screen are composited and animated in 3D space using a fairly complicated CG process.

“Our parkour people are amazing. We’ve got these great gymnasts, who either on their own or with a little bit of help from trampolines and air rams, are able to do some pretty amazing action. It really looks like Victoria is leaping across this 75-foot wide gorge and it looks normal, like she should have really been able to do it. The stunt woman actually leaps across what a human can leap across, and you can feel the wind on her and see her muscles doing it. All of that’s correct, it’s just her leap was actually nowhere near as long, laughs Haug.

“Victoria’s a leaper, agrees Stoneham. “So we had to build three different rigs in three different remote locations. All the backwoods locations are very challenging for the rigging aspect. To fly people around we use wire winches, ratchets, air rams, descenders, and decelerators and it all has to be prepped before the shooting crew arrives, says Stoneham.

Tichenor concludes, “The third part of the chase is when Victoria does her final jump back over the ravine after the wolves almost got her. She ends up out in Cypress Falls over in West Vancouver, where the big standoff takes place between Paul wolf and Emmett.

“It’s this huge gorge with a waterfall, but you can’t even see it coming in the woods, adds Haug.

“We had the actors do as much of the action physically as they could, so the audience is not pulled away from the story by noticing effects. Towards the end of the ravine chase, Emmett is knocked down by Paul wolf and dunked into the water. Kellan Lutz actually had to run like hell towards a ravine with a harness that stopped him from going off the edge from behind. That was scary for him, but totally safe. It was really fun for us to watch because of his wide eyes at the last second, laughs Slade. “Kellan was actually really tough and really mean. Anyway, we dumped him in the river nine times, and he did do that like a man. Every time, he was just up for more and he was a total hero about it. It’s great because it wasn’t a stunt guy, it was Kellan.

“Once we did a test, it became really clear that the magic carpet was working really well and that we needed to do more of it, from more kinds of angles. This show is my first time working with E.J., but it’s an experience I’ll long remember. He’s an Energizer bunny, laughs Haug. “E.J. was relentless finding places that were the right scale for a foot chase.

The location for Victoria’s second and biggest leap across the ravine was the hardest to find of the whole show. “In order to sell the idea that they could run flat out, you had to find a ravine that doesn’t have trees growing right up to the edge of it and the two sides are clearly delineated. It also has to be open enough on both sides so you can actually see the chase happening on both sides. Finding a place that would photograph and really show that action was really a challenge. Scouting ate up most of 2nd unit’s prep time. It went right up into the first days of production and E.J. was still looking. I think he looked at almost every mountain ravine in British Columbia, laughs Haug.

Filmmakers finally located a ravine that fit the bill, but it did come with some added accessibility challenges. “We found a beautiful gorge over near Nanaimo to shoot the visual effects plates needed to give us the background canvas to paint this chase scene on, says coproducer Bill Bannerman. “But Nanaimo is on Vancouver Island, a two-hour ferry ride from the mainland. Plus, the only way to get everything into this river was to use a helicopter. Crew, infrastructure, and equipment, plus a boat to work from – all had to be airlifted to the remote river gorge. No roads.

“We were this close to just using a matte painting, right up until he found the beautiful gorge on the island, adds Haug. “It’s clearly real and the perfect location for the storytelling, but not an easy location logistically.

“Many locations in this franchise are very difficult to get to -locations have to reflect the integrity of the literary material, comments Bannerman. “When the script reads Exterior Forest, we actually would go as deep as we could into a forest that would sell the environment.

“One thing about the Twilight franchise is that everything is based in a real environment. Viewers can identify with it because everything’s believable, adds Bannerman. “We had to sell the beats that we had to sell. That’s why we go into the real forest. That’s why we go into real gorges, if we can find them. That’s why we go to real cliffs. That’s why we go to real rivers. That’s why we go to real mountain peaks.

The script describes the vast range of wilderness settings with location directions such as Exterior Forest, Exterior Spooky Forest, and Exterior Mossy Forest.

“It was a challenge to make the various wooded scenarios look quite different. A forest can be a forest can be a forest, says production designer Paul Denham Austerberry. “So, for example, Ext. Spooky Forest had these crazy trees with moss on them. Even the local crew hadn’t seen a location like that. We also found interesting rocks, uneven terrain, and of course, water features like rivers help break it up visually. I was worried all the locations would all become the same if they weren’t quite strikingly different. So, the location scouts were scoured every wooded area in the greater Vancouver area. Every weekend, both E.J. and I went hiking in all different kinds of places, trying to find the appropriate and different kinds of forest. It didn’t read like much in the script, but it was a big part of this picture.

The second big action scene involves Jasper teaching his family, and the wolves, how to fight the newborns. “I think that the training clearing sequence is this movie’s baseball sequence. It’s a full display of vampire abilities. There’s serious stuff coming, but it’s not there yet, so there’s a bit of swagger to the Cullens as they’re trying to show off to the wolves, says Godfrey. “The way we designed it was we wanted that to be the mini preview of what we are going to see later in the final battle sequence.

“Since his old life was training newborns, Jasper is now teaching his vampire family to vampire combat, while some big old wolves watch in the background, explains Jackson Rathbone. “It’s the art of dodging and using someone else’s energy against them. We’re trying to stay away from a lot of the martial arts elements and make them look a little more street brawler. It’s just basically a whole bunch of family getting together and tossing each other around

– a good time. I get in a nice little fight with Alice. Fun.

Robert Pattinson also enjoyed filming the sequence where the family members spar with each other. “It was funny because Peter and I had learned all the choreography and it’s very, very intense and we were serious when doing it in rehearsals. Then on the day, I realized that this would look very bizarre for us as father and son to actually be trying to kill each other. So in this fight with Peter, I thought it was very funny doing it and realized that works. So, I ended up laughing in the scene, admits Pattinson. “In the same way that me having a fight with Peter in reality, I’d be laughing quite a lot. That was a fun scene to do.

Facinelli adds, “I always made fun of Rob on Twilight because he wasn’t the most athletic guy when we were doing the baseball stuff, because he had never played before. Although he looked great in the final product, it was very awkward for him. But we got into the fight training and Rob blew me away! He’s gotten so much more athletic and I had a great time shooting the bit with him.

Tippett Studios, founded by visual effects pioneer Phil Tippett, created the on-screen wolves for The Twilight Saga: New Moon and refined them for their return in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Haug says, “Tippett Studios is certainly the best boutique size animation house that you could possibly hire. They have fabulous animators. The main issue with the wolves is all this interaction they have to do on this show. On the last one, they pretty much interacted a little bit with themselves, a little bit with the environment, and not very much with people. Now there’s many more of them, they’re fighting, and tearing vampires apart.

“The Tippett guys are amazing, agrees Tichenor. “They’ve got a really nice work-flow set up. We have pre-vised the majority of the wolf shots, so we already know going in basically what the camera needs to do. Working with Phil Tippett is just amazing. He’s just a legend, so working on the werewolves has been fabulous.

Since the wolves are created in the computer during post-production, filmmakers use several techniques to help the actors and crew “see the wolves, who are essentially invisible on set. “Cows -or large cardboard standees -are set up in the camera frame on set for scale, blocking, and eye-line. “It takes a lot of the guess work out of what it is you’re doing… it’s a clever idea for solving a real basic problem, explains Haug.

“We’re also using what we call the potato, which is this big stand-in object that’s about the same size as a wolf and the actors can fight with it, wrestle with it and be hit by it, adds Tichenor. “In post, Phil and the guys will basically replace the potato and put in their CG wolf.

“Also, we often will have a wolf actor off-camera. If it’s Jacob wolf, Taylor will act opposite Kristen so that she can still connect to him as an individual, explains Godfrey. “The hardest part is really just making sure that you’ve got a beat on what it’s going to look like at the end.

“Kristen seems to like having Taylor be there in the gray suit, so that they can actually play out a scene together as opposed to her just acting to a stick or a laser pointer dot, adds Haug.

“Eclipse has its own very unique challenges because of the fighting and because of the sheer scale. What they had to accomplish with wolves on the last movie, it pales by comparison to what they need to do on this one. It changes the rules, comments Haug. “The level of interaction is two orders of magnitude greater than the last one, where basically you had to get an eye line. Now the wolves actually jump on each other, bite, roll over and kill vampires. It’s much more difficult to figure out how to do that.

“I wanted the wolves to be as real as the trees, says Slade. “I always say look at the number of leaves on the trees, and look at the number of hairs on the wolves’ body -you need to feel like they belong in the same world. To me, reading the book, there were these great things about how Bella would be really comfortable with Jacob in wolf form -the way she would lay against him. I wanted to capture that great tactile nature to him, so if she’s going to pat him on the head, he’s got to be as real as she is.

“We tried to make the wolves much more realistic looking. They were already going be heroic by nature of the story, adds Slade. “I wanted her to be able to touch him so that people go ‘oh, that’s really nice.’ I think we achieved that with Phil Tippett and his crew -we worked them really very hard, but I think they did some amazing work. Also Image Engine did some great work on the flashback wolves. It was a directorial decision that I didn’t want the wolves to stand out with a big spotlight on them. I wanted to let the emotion tell the story.

The finale action sequence takes place simultaneously on a mountaintop and in a distant field. For the mountaintop campsite, filmmakers used a combination of the top of the real Mt. Seymour and a re-creation of that peak built on stage.

“In the third act of the story, we have two extremely diverse action beats happening at these very unique venues -one being on top of a mountain peak where Edward is fending off Victoria and Riley, of which you have to have a snow element involved, which geographically forces you to think a certain way; and two, the main newborn battle happening in a remote field, which we found at a local gun range in view of the mountains, explains Bannerman.

“You’re also dealing with the concept of a marriage between main unit and 2nd unit, who are doing the predominant amount of action work. The tough challenge is to somehow synchronize and do all the work with the same signature weather, over the course of potentially three weeks time. So how do you get consistent weather? In the case of the Twilight franchise, ‘Cullen weather’ is dismal, foggy, overcast, rainy days. If you’re shooting high in the clouds on a real mountain, you’re in a snow blizzard when it’s cold and during the warmer time of the year, you’re potentially in a rainstorm. So how do you find the balance? That was a challenge. So, for the mountaintop work, we found ourselves split between on location and on a stage, with the challenge of blending the two to create continuity.

Just getting to the actual mountain location proved to be a big challenge for the cast and crew.

In the story, Jacob carries Bella to the mountaintop campsite to mask her scent from the enemy vampires. “We had an amazing guy in our special effect supervisor Alex Burdett, who set up practical rigs for us that worked 99.999 of the time. We needed this cowering rig to support Kristen’s weight, so that Taylor could just concentrate on his performance and not have to hold somebody and keep his balance while going through the woods. But, this rig just didn’t work out. It wasn’t anybody’s fault, it worked perfectly, but it just didn’t feel right. When Taylor started to walk it just doesn’t have the natural bounce and rhythm and swing that you would have if you were carrying somebody. So Taylor just actually carried her. But it wasn’t just for one shot, it was for every shot.

Stewart was appreciative of her co-star’s dedication. “Taylor’s really able to carry me through the woods for long hours. I literally went and got my rear end molded to make this day easier on Taylor, but the rig just didn’t look as real as when he did it. The entire scene is a good four pages -a long dialogue scene and he carried me the entire time. Very impressive.

“Taylor’s very strong, but if you’ve got to carry somebody all day long, even someone who is as light as Kristen, your arms start to ache, adds Slade. “We had to shoot over and over again, even though we didn’t really even do that many takes, because he knew the lines and performed beautifully. It was just a really long scene. So, after about four takes, he’s exhausted and, of course it’s raining too. Taylor couldn’t even sign his name the next day, his arms were just like jello.

In reality, the shooting crew used a combination of 4X4s, Humvees, an old ski lift, and plain old-fashioned foot power on hiking trails to maneuver to the remote location.

“You could compare it to troop movements, getting the crew from a urban environment to that rural location. Mt. Seymour is a local ski resort, so there was a chairlift to help enable the crew, the infrastructure, and the equipment to get up to a certain point on the hill. Then we had to deal with the old Sherpa approach, which is everybody grab a case and start hiking. A few people were out of breath when they got to the top, but they got to it and you realize that it wasn’t that bad. The vista from up there is amazing and you can see why we went to all the effort, comments Bannerman.

“We were able to get there reasonably quickly because of the chairlift, so we executed a plan to utilize that. Of course, this is during the off-season, and most of the lifts are disassembled for summer maintenance. So, we had to reactivate that element to accommodate getting 200 people up on that mountain. We were able to get the entire company up to the top of the mountain and then back down again with a turnaround of only about an hour and a half both directions, considering it takes about 4 hours if you were to just hike it all. We know because 4 hours after the cast arrived, security spotted a lot of paparazzi snooping around in the bushes above us, getting up there as generic hikers or ‘bird watchers,’ as they called themselves, laughs Bannerman.

Stephenie Meyer also made the journey to the mountaintop, where her favorite scene takes place inside the tent. “As we were driving to the ski resort, there’s part of the cliff face that curved along the side of the road and you could just imagine Jacob Black running past that, shares Meyer. “There’s one line in the book that fit it perfectly and you really do feel like you’re ‘just above everything.’ It’s not exactly what you would have seen from that cliff, although the view is great because you can see actually Vancouver below. It’s so beautiful up here and you just feel like you’re just away from everything. It’s really surreal and very cool.

“You get to go to amazing places on movies, places nobody else gets to go, and some of these places are just incredibly beautiful, and somehow they can mess up the filmmaking plan. On one of those crystal blue, gorgeous days, we spent the whole day complaining about the sun, because we couldn’t shoot. This is the only show I’ve ever been sunned-out twice, laughs Haug. “Making the continuity of the weather work in the final film is going to be one of the big visual effects challenges, because the weather doesn’t stand still for you on these sets.

“The Twilight books take place in the Pacific Northwest rain forest, so it’s a very different experience making a movie like this. Normally you go inside to a cover set for rainy days. We go to cover for sunny days, laughs Godfrey “If it’s sunny and beautiful and a perfect time to be outside, we go shoot on stage and wait for torrential down pours so we can all go shoot outside in the misery of the wet outdoors. But the fun thing about it is that you do get to see the stuff that most people don’t get to see. We were shooting near the mountains and walked over to a bridge and the salmon were spawning up the river and there was a bear eating the salmon. Just beautiful. What a great job to be able to work and get to see that beauty in nature.

“When we did the original scout to the real mountain location, we had to find a place that would enable us to cheat a section of it on a stage, explains Bannerman. “You want to avoid putting yourself basically at the top of a hypothetically pyramid, because you would see the real world for 360 degrees around. Now, if we cut the top of the pyramid off and bore out a little hole and put ourselves in the middle, we could see off the top of the peak and still be surrounded by the infrastructure of the location. This is how we came up with the concept of the tent pitched in the bowl of a mountain peak where it is sheltered, which is naturally where human instinct would drive you to place a tent in order to avoid the winds and the extreme climate changes that would happen overnight at that altitude.

“We did an intricate digital scan of that real area and then rebuild that to a scale representation of the contours of the rock faces and the topography, so that it matched, says Bannerman. “Then, of course, we brought in trees, grass, moss, and all the indigenous plants that are unique to that area to try and sell the match. Then it snows.

Bannerman adds, “We’re at the practical location, pre-storm. We go into the tent and we play out the scenes. When we come out of the tent, and we are actually post-storm, and that is actually the entire stage set, where we can control the snow, the light, and the weather. We could then spend three weeks shooting the final conflict between Victoria and Edward, which required extensive amount of stunt and wire work and enabled that to be done efficiently in an environment where we could give the biggest bang for the buck. Otherwise you would not be able to pull off the exciting sequence shooting only on the top of a real mountain.

“This is the biggest set that I’ve seen on these films so far and really shows the scope of this film, comments Godfrey. “The issue is we wanted the scale of shooting on this amazing real mountain top, but we’re shooting in the fall, there’s obviously no snow up there. It’s also a national park so you can’t put fake snow up there. So the scene in which Jacob arrives with Bella is before the storm has hit. So we could shoot that real and show the scale. Then we needed to have the entire sequence where she comes out in the morning and the snow has fallen and we couldn’t possibly accomplish that up there.

“Our production designer Paul Austerberry, who was David’s designer on 30 Days of Night, has in his career already made several huge exterior sets on stage working with a lot of fake snow. So we built the entire mountain top on stage and dressed it with the snow, explains Godfrey.

Filmmakers only had five weeks to strike the Bella’s house interior sets that occupied the stage, and then build and dress the massive mountaintop. “The limited time frame was a difficult scenario, admits Austerberry. “We had probably 50 people working on construction, painters and greens men during that time. The snow effects guys had to come in and snow everything over in the last three days. So it was quite a challenge, we were really pressed for time. But actually everyone pulled together and managed to get it done. I think it’s a pretty impressive set in the end.

Austerberry adds, “The most challenging thing was getting the right trees. If you get nursery trees, they look like Christmas trees. The high alpine trees are all scraggly and scrawny and bent and wind blown. They are quite specific looking and people don’t really think about it, but it’s really hard to get a hold of those.

In addition to using storyboards, filmmakers used computer pre-vis on several of the action sequences, including the mountaintop campsite fight, where everyone could see character avatars running around inside the virtual set to scale.

“We completely pre-vised the campsite and used it to evolve the fight beats, but basically that taught us how to move around in that space and make sense out of it, and to not constantly run off the set. The fight beats have been modified within the confines of the space, explains Haug. “Seth wolf is in that scene and you have to be able to tell how many times you’re going to deal with him because he’s an expensive item. Pre-vis takes a long time to get it set up in the computer, but once you get it running, you can make changes very quickly and very accurately, but it takes a while to get there.

“The hard part is making sure that the actors in the scenes understand what the action is going to be and pre-vis helps with that, so that they get a sense of where the wolves are going go and what’s happening in the scene so they know what to react to, adds Godfrey.

The tool helps everyone understand what they are trying to accomplish on any given day. “I’m a big believer that the production designer and costume designer and myself are all in the same exact position of trying to interpret the space in which the movie takes place, and we have to be correct about that together, says Haug. “That integration to me is part of what the story telling aspect of digital effects is -to be sure that we’re all working on the same movie together, we’re all getting the same type of direction from the director, and we’re all working together in the same way to get what he wants to see on screen.

“The finale battle sequence is a really complicated – cutting back and forth between the mountain and the field -and you’re trying to make sure that all the actors know where the wolves are coming in, adds Godfrey. “One of the Cullens will throw a newborn and out of midair a wolf will grab him, so we’ve got the wires to yank the newborn. But that complication is something that you really have to be certain of what the shots are and know exactly who’s doing what and when, because it can get pretty messy.

A combination of stunts, practical effects, and visual effects are used to launch vampires and wolves through the frame. “There’s lots of tackles and swipes, but mostly we have certain performers that are grabbed and picked up and reefed around left and right on cables that yank their harnesses to and fro. They don’t really have to act because we send them where they need to go via wires, explains Stoneham.

“The battle takes place just out in the field so there are no pick points anywhere, so we had to drive sky tracks in, and have movable pick points everywhere. So, it was challenging, adds Stoneham. “A pick point is a reference point. If I need to fling you from A to B, we do a hard pick in the air so we can basically have a ratchet set up and send you flying. So, obviously in a giant field, there’s nothing.

“The trickiest shots among the CG takeovers are where you have a say one of our heroes chucking one of the newborns across a field and suddenly a wolf jumps out and Frisbee grabs him out of the air, says Tichenor. “We had the stunt guys do a throw of the newborn into the air and then a redirect into pads using a winch. At some point, the wolf and a newborn all become CG. For reference, during shooting we have the stunt actors pose in the DaVinci pose and we also cyberscan all the actors and stunt performers to provide Tippett with all the virtual elements they need for the CG animation work.

Haug elaborates, “Cyberscan is a relatively quick, relatively inexpensive way of getting that information accurately. The actor walks into a booth and these scanners, for all intents and purposes, are the same thing as a photocopier machine. It basically makes a 3D model out of them.

“But the number one thing visual effects can do is support what the actors are doing in the story. We try to give as much information on the day so that they aren’t reacting to an empty plate where a werewolf is supposed to be, says Tichenor. “We use various tools so they actually can have some sort of connective moment with this invisible creature on the day.

Fight Coordinator Jonathan Eusebio was responsible for designing the fights and training the performers to safely execute the various battles.

“Jonathan, who is a great fight coordinator, worked with E.J. and our stunt coordinator John Stoneham to come up with the visual language to display vampires and wolves fighting. We kept steering them away from martial arts, reveals Godfrey. “The truth is that these are supernatural creatures, so the gags had to be great. We were always pushing for bigger wire gags, bigger throws, and bigger crashes. If I throw you, you go a foot -if Riley throws Edward, he should go across the entire scene.

“David really wanted a heaviness to everything, it was important for everything to feel solid, adds Stoneham. “When we’re flinging people in the air, they’re hitting the ground very hard. We’d like to not do that over and over and over. Unfortunately, we had to a numerous times, because there are so many elements involved. It’s been challenging, but you have to just keep pounding people into the ground over and over for this battle. It’s been a little tricky and you hide a mat where ever we can.

“We work together with visual effects and special effects to get everything put together, says Eusebio. “Individual fight beats are designed for each of the Cullen’s and choreography for the wolves, who are also dealing with the newborns, so you have to collaborate with visual effects. We also have to get our stunt men, the actors and their doubles physically ready for these fights.“

Eusebio and Stoneham worked closely with visual effects in the planning stages, breaking down which department would be responsible for each element of the gags. “They tell us roughly what they’re looking for and then we’ll give them something. We find a little happy medium together. The main thing is with the CG wolves is trying to give visual effects something to begin from -dragging someone around, shaking them to make it look like there’s actually something grabbing it, biting them, and flinging them. It’s easy for visual effects to take over at certain points, but we give them whatever we can to start.

Eusebio adds, “Action is action. We just have to be a cohesive group. We talk about what’s needed in the scene and how we’re going to achieve it.

“I make the fighting styles fit the personality of who’s doing it, says Eusebio. “Carlisle and Esme always fight together. Kellan is a big guy, so his moves are more strength based, Alice is more agility based, Jasper is experienced, and then Rosalie has a little bit more attitude. Edward is the fastest. When I design any fight, I choreograph for two things -the actors’ ability and what their character would do.

“The Cullens are obviously a little more in control and the newborns are out of control, adds Stoneham. “They’re in a feeding frenzy, so they’re more erratic. Obviously, Riley is the only who’s more in control, and he’s trying to keep them in control. Hopefully, you can see those subtle differences.

“The newborns are raw and not fully in control of their senses and abilities yet. If they see something, they’re very fixed on it. As opposed to the Cullens, who are strategic, adds Eusebio.

“We are dealing with characters that aren’t human, so we have to enhance their abilities in the real world. The only way to do that is either through visual effects or with some type of wire assist, says Eusebio.

“There’s so much wire work and there’s been the odd time where we had a stunt performer ride an air ram and fly through the air on their own, adds Stoneham. “But most of it has been on cables, so visual effects will have their hands full in post with wire removal work.

“A couple of wire assists can help them look super strong, comments Eusebio. “We test everything in the gym and then, for added safety, test everything again on location in the real life situation. The biggest challenge is just making it look like its real and not on wires -making it look as organic as possible without looking fake.

“Fight training was a big part of the success of the action segments in Eclipse, says Slade. “This film probably has the most action of the three films, just by necessity of the story. We don’t ever do anything dangerous, so we trained our actors to the degree to which they could hardly walk, so as many of them as possible could do their own stunts. We had fantastic stunt coordinators and an amazing cast of stunt doubles, who did some of the things, but a lot of the main characters did many of their own stunts.

The Cullen family players began training in Vancouver five weeks before starting to shoot, plus almost everyday during the shoot as the shooting schedule allowed. Robert Pattinson, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Xavier Samuel also trained extensively before and around time in front of the camera, as did the stunt performers playing the 20 newborns.

The actors alternate days between working out in the regular gym and specialized fight training with Eusebio’s stunt team, where they started by working the base movements used in the fight choreography. In addition to basic weight training, strength-training, and conditioning in the gym, the actors also worked with a running coach on form. Squats and back bends helped to prepare for the arching moves in the fights.

“If they’re not on camera, they’re always in here training, claims Eusebio, “We’d get them pretty much every other day for a couple hours a day. Those guys train hard.

In the fight studio, choreography based work-outs were used to prepare the actors. The moves are a hybrid of MMA (mixed martial arts), dance, gymnastics, and circus movements. Wire work and martial arts tricks were also included in the regimen. The fight trainers use the term Capoeira, which is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, games, music, and dance. Many twisting body movements were performed for conditioning and the actual fights.

“There’s a progression to the training. It’s a twofold process -first you have to get them in shape though physical training. Then you start teaching a lot of movement and interactive drills that are going to be applied to the fight choreography they’re going to do later, explains Eusebio. “We bring them in, stretch them out, teach them how to punch for camera and get them physically in shape by doing lots of repetitive movements like big wide strikes and low crouching stances. We get them comfortable with throwing a lot of punches. I nitpick performance aspects as we go on. By the time they go to camera, the training should be a lot harder than filming the actual scenes.

“My team shoots a lot of video of conceptual ideas for each character and we show it to the actors before training sessions, adds Eusebio. “It really gets the actors excited, because they want to look like the stunt people on the video. If they have fun it, it just makes it easier.

“They’re young and all pretty athletic. Bryce and Xavier were really in tune with it. Xavier also picked up the parkour stuff pretty easily, so I was pretty impressed with Xavier, admits Eusebio.

“We really used the physicality of parkour -the bounding and the jumping techniques and the landings, adds Eusebio. “You want to keep it as raw as possible, without having to rely on editing, camera effects, or visual effects. You can’t really disguise human performance.

“I don’t know if the actors really enjoyed the training off the top, laughs Stoneham. “But, I think they got into it. During shooting, we were outside a lot, fighting in the rain and mud, so they’re toughened up during the whole shoot.

In addition to the snowy mountaintop campsite set, filmmakers constructed a second large elaborate set on stage: the Cullen family residence.

“In Twilight, the Cullen house was a practical location near Portland, up in this very nice neighborhood, very unassuming, positioned in the forest. For New Moon and Eclipse, we knew we’d be based in Vancouver, so we’d have to try to find reasonable facsimiles of all the locations that were originally in Portland, explains Bannerman. “The requirements in New Moon for the Cullen house were very simple -a somewhat generic living room and Carlisle’s office. So we were able to consolidate those scenes into a real house in West Vancouver that featured an interior that architecturally resembled the inside of the Portland house.

“Now fast forward to Eclipse and there’s probably about 15 script pages worth of work inside and outside the Cullen house -including a large graduation party. So we made the decision to build the structure on stage. The house has floor to ceiling glass, so we also had to build the exterior façade plus the landscaping, the driveway, and the surrounding forest, says Bannerman.

“By replicating the original Portland house – and the elements of the West Vancouver house that we actually see on screen in New Moon -on a stage, we were able to give ourselves that latitude and flexibility to believably play out the scenes at the front door, the decks, and looking out from every level. We built the house exactly the same size, right to the detail of the T and G cedar roofing underneath the overhangs, to the detailed teak railings on the decks… right to the nth degree, adds Bannerman. “If the owners of the original Portland house walked into this house, they would be a little astonished by the fact that their house was suddenly inside a building. But it’s delivering to us everything that we need to shoot all the sequences so the fans will feel as if they are in the exact same location as in Twilight, without a question of a doubt. It is, in fact, the exact same house, but 300 miles north of the original location.

“This project was very interesting from a design standpoint because of the past history, states production designer Paul Denham Austerberry. “It starts with Stephenie’s book -she is quite descriptive about various locations and colors. Then, of course, Catherine Hardwicke’s interpretation established the great look of the first movie. When filming moved to Vancouver, production designer David Brisbin and his team had to recreate various things from the first picture for director Chris Weitz. Then David and I came along and inherited it all. So it’s quite a convoluted root, but it’s funny enough it was actually an interesting challenge because it was like archeology. You have to dig back from the footage of the first and second movies, and then try to put your own mark on it.

The Cullen house took approximately 8 weeks to build. “We found the biggest stage that was available and really had to study how we could squeeze it in. At 17 feet off the floor, it’s probably the highest set I’ve ever built for a crew to work in. People weren’t thrilled about having to hike everything up to the top, laughs Austerberry. “Normally, we wouldn’t build it this high, but we had to because of the 3 stories of windows looking out at the forest.

“The Cullens have good taste and unlimited finances, adds Austerberry. “I decided that Esme liked items from Asia, so you see some Japanese prints. They’ve got modern sculptures. Normally, we can just rent a lot of artwork and furnishings. With Eclipse, knowing that there’s going to be most likely be another film coming after it, we had to either could buy it all or have a written guarantee that we could rent it again for future productions. That was quite difficult because it eliminated things that you might have otherwise been able to choose. We also had to buy the art instead of renting it at 10. We had to pay full ticket.

“I explained to the set decorating team that because of the Cullens’ history, there are layers from various different cultures. It’s like having old family artifacts from a very long multigenerational family. They’ve got old mixed with new furnishings. They’ve got some African pieces, a nice Japanese bonsai tree, and some Chinese chairs. It’s quite an eclectic mix. Basically, through the centuries they’ve brought pieces from various places and assembled them here in the house, says Austerberry.

After being shot, part of the living room was re-dressed as Edward’s bedroom and one piece of furniture in particular will be of great interest to the fans. “The bedroom scenes are a pretty big deal. When I looked for inspiration for Edward’s bed, I thought Arts & Crafts style, comments Austerberry. “He’s from the early 20th century, so I looked at what was a vanguard at that time. But, since it was constructed in present-day, the bed is a slightly modern take on Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau furnishings. I figured that Edward actually created it himself, so there are little sketches of the bed in his room. Edward’s got all this time and he’s skilled and he made this for his love Bella.

“Often we have a creative decision that we’re not sure of, so we bounce it off of Stephenie, because she created this world. We ask her about things like colors, hand props, and jewelry, which is very, very important to Stephenie, says Austerberry. “The bed is definitely a specific item that we passed by her to make sure we’re fulfilling her vision.

“The biggest challenge with the Cullen house is that we have to take it apart quite carefully, because it goes into storage until the next movie, explains Austerberry. “The most important things to save are all the architectural details: windows, doors, cabinetry, fireplace, stair treads and handrails, plus set dressing. The stairs they’re quite expensive and time consuming. All the specific detailed pieces that aren’t massive, we can save them in containers and reassemble them when needed.

For Bella’s home, Jacob’s house, the high school, as well as Edward and Bella’s meadow, filmmaker’s returned to the same locations utilized in The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Two meadow scenes bookend The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Filmmakers brought in 75,000 flowers, taking 15 man-days to install, to once again make the meadow a majestic and magical place for the two young lovers.

“We open the film in the only sanctuary that Edward and Bella have, explains Slade. “The meadow is this symbolic, idyllic space. So we wanted to make it somewhat dreamlike at the beginning. Things are pretty damn perfect now, so perfect that you could just float on air. We shot through flowers so they were part of the composition. The idea is just that the meadow and the flowers are actually kind of a character and they’re interlinked with our two protagonists. This is the place where we feel safe, so that when we return to the meadow, we feel safe again. We’re in the same place, but these people have become more complicated through the course of the film. So, at the end, we don’t look through these flowers anymore, we just stay above them and they’re a slightly different color. The image is more sophisticated. The environment is a character in this instance. The other thing about the meadow scene is that it was very early in the schedule, so we were able to really rehearse and I think it was important, because it was such a powerful and emotional scene. Rob and Kristen really helped really block that out and really worked on the scene. I think it turned out really good.

The meadow is one of the few times the audience will again see the vampire sparkle described so clearly in the books. Once again, visual effects will add the sparkle effect in postproduction. “Stephenie says Edward shines like a diamond. When David and I first met, we talked about what we think it is, remembers Haug. “We both agreed very quickly that it’s a metaphor for seeing his soul and the sunlight let’s us see what he really is. Edward claims that he doesn’t have one, but in fact, when the pure light of day hits him, he’s even more devastatingly beautiful.

The greater Vancouver area provided many diverse locations playing present-day Florida and Seattle, as well as period back stories: a 1750 Quileute village; 1933 Rochester, New York; and Texas in the 1800s. “E.J. went out of town and shot in some really large areas where they shot Unforgiven in the central part of British Columbia, says Slade.

“With something as huge as Eclipse, which has these massive action sequences and flashbacks to different time periods, you have to break it down into little small pieces and figure each little small piece out in as much detail as you can. Then each piece is manageable, comments Slade.

“We used three different locations to recreate Rosalie’s 1933 Rochester sequence, explains production designer Paul Austerberry. “VanDusen Gardens, which is a beautiful botanical gardens, played for her walk in the park with Royce. It’s amazing what costumes and a period car can do. We also used the exterior of the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown, as well as the neighboring Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Both buildings are from the right time period between 1929 and 1939. We had 13 beautiful vintage cars to populate the street. The challenge for us was trying to find a period-looking hotel that hadn’t been renovated. The 14th floor in the Hotel Vancouver is pretty much intact from the 1930s. We just had to do some slight changes to accommodate our scene and bring in addition Art Deco furnishings.

“In theory, both films were shot almost back-to-back, explains co-producer Bill Bannerman. “While Chris Weitz was in the editing room with The Twilight Saga: New Moon, David Slade started prepping The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, so we basically kept much of the crew and infrastructure rolling, so the movie-making machine was essentially the same. Two completely different directors, two completely different worlds, and two completely different movies.

“However, the greatest thing that I think benefitted both films was the fact that there was continuity from beginning to end and everybody was looking at both films as a whole, adds Bannerman. “There was a sense of the support in creating that venue where both directors could just concentrate on the creative needs of their respective scripts. It was a great dynamic as well and I think it proved beneficial for the franchise. A lot of people that were involved in the technical positions of the project knew the books and they were excited about being able to follow through on several chapters and bring a great contribution to the table.

Director of photography Javier Aguirresarobe and costume designer Tish Monaghan were two of the department heads that worked on both films.

“Javier Aguirresarobe is the loveliest man in the world, states Slade. “He was voted by the entire crew for being man most likely to have a smile on his face in any given circumstances. Even on Black Friday when everybody was grouchy, Javier was very happy. It’s a great honor to work with him because he is an incredibly decorated and well established cinematographer, and I love to watch a master like him work.

“Eclipse doesn’t look at all like New Moon, because they were different stories, so Javier and I decided to use a different aesthetic with the lighting and with the camera, reveals Slade. “It’s wonderful when you work with somebody who is just able to accommodate the way you want to work. He recognizes that you’ve got a clear picture of what you’re trying to do and help you and improve upon that picture for you. Javier’s one of those people -just a delightful human being who’s so technically accomplished and so emotionally invested in his work that just having him around is good for you. He actually gets everybody in a good mood. One of the many reasons I wanted to retain him from New Moon was not to keep the aesthetic, but to work with somebody of such great experience. I’m grateful that I got to learn so much from Javier and I thank him for that.

Costume designer Tish Monaghan enjoyed working with the new director. “When I met with David Slade originally, we had a good discussion about the characters and the direction of the Cullens and Bella in particular. I introduced him to the existing pallet, but also tried to accommodate any requests that he had. I think it’s a little bit difficult for a director to come in on the third one and try and put a stamp on things because we’re revisiting a lot of the same characters.

“David’s biggest input for me was the newborn army and Riley, reveals Monaghan. “He definitely wanted to separate the two worlds of the Cullens and the newborns, so in the final encounter, the Cullens are primarily in black and dark grays and charcoals; the newborns are all in earth tones with pops of color. We also had a discussion of the types of people that would become newborns -strong, healthy, youthful people that could be plucked from the streets of Seattle.

Monaghan and her crew made several new key pieces of wardrobe including Victoria’s coat. “All of Victoria’s clothes are done in earth tone colors to emphasize not only her feral and animalistic nature, but also again, to separate her from the Cullens. We used some leather hides in her clothes. It was a happy thing for me to utilize something that I made, rather than something that was store bought. She is a very sexy, fashionable vampire and I wanted to keep that look.

But we also have a lot of wire work with wrestling and rolling on the ground, so I always have to keep in mind the padding and harnesses for stunts.

“Also, it’s so wonderful to be able to delve into different eras. I got to do vampires in the Civil War era, plus a Spanish explorer and a Spanish vampiress from the 1700s, reveals Monaghan. “We spent 6 to 7 weeks building about 50 costumes for Pacific Northwest Coast Indians from the 1750s. We used ground cover and fashioned it into various cloaks and shapes that were evident in all of the research that we did. We had to try and imitate cedar bark clothing. We had access to a lot of museum pieces that had been unearthed and I had discussions with anthropologists and archaeologists.

All details were thought out. “I had three people that were making jewelry, adds Monaghan. “We drove I don’t know how far away and bought large abalone shells. They smashed the shells into little tiny, rectangular bits and drilled holes, so that we could reproduce some of the necklaces that we’d seen in our museum reference books.

“For me, it was really good to have the development of Rosalie’s character because then I could bring something from that to the contemporary world to reflect her character, adds Monaghan. “Rosalie had always been a little bit of a mystery to me. But seeing how she developed in the 1930s, all of a sudden gave me a better idea of how to portray her in contemporary times and link her world to the past. “

All the filmmakers felt a responsibility to the fans in making The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. “The Twilight universe is completely unique. I cannot think of anything like this really, says Slade. “The phenomenon is so huge and so disarmingly unlike what you’d expect, there really isn’t a parallel. I came into this film not really understanding that. To a degree, it hadn’t yet reached critical mass at that point. I don’t think anybody could be prepared really for it as a filmmaker. When I was in talks to direct Eclipse and New Moon hadn’t come out, we knew it was a huge big thing. But when New Moon came out, it just exploded in ways that I couldn’t have possibly have imagined.

“My experience with the fans has been anywhere between absolutely terrifying and actually rewarding. Meeting fans has been really, really nice, except for the time when I was really scared.. and that was my fault cause I didn’t know not to run, laughs Slade.

“During production Vancouver was besieged by teenagers from America and all part of the world. The places where the actors were staying, shockingly were at 100 capacity with fans, laughs Godfrey. “From a personal standpoint, I think the actors had to be careful walking outside. From a shooting standpoint, we would be driving to work, turn on the radio and hear that we’d be shooting in Coquitlam. So we would get to our location and people are all holding signs saying things like ‘I’ll be sullen if I don’t get to see a Cullen.’ Whatever they could come up with to get Taylor, Rob, Kristen, and the Cullens to stop and sign autographs. I think what’s really good about it is that it’s a constant reminder that you have this duty to do your best, because they’re all going to be waiting for the movie.

“There were times when we would do a last-minute location shift because of weather and sure enough, there’d be fans standing at the new location when we got there, adds Bannerman. “They’re dedicated fans and they deserve to be first in line at the theater because they stuck it out. It’s unlike any other film I’ve ever worked on -to get this non-stop attention from the fans, 24/7, from beginning to end. It’s still going and will continue to until the franchise is finished.

“Because there’s such an avid fan base for the Twilight book series, we have to take into account all the little details that are written in the novels when we’re designing the sets, adds Austerberry. “Stephenie often writes about certain colors. For instance, there are red and purple twinkle-y lights decorating the graduation party at the Cullen house. We’ve kept all that in our design. I’m sure the fans would be very vocal if we didn’t try to include those types of things.

“I hope the fans feel we’ve remained true to the book, comments Rosenberg. “There are a lot of things that were reconfigured and condensed and re-jiggered, but I think in some ways it’s the most authentic -the truest to the books in its emotional journey. I think fans will enjoy how the movie has gotten further into the mythology, even beyond the books. Plus, Eclipse has the most action of all three of the films and I think guys will find the life and death stakes intriguing. The epic grand battles feature some really great stunts and special effects. It’s just continues to get better and better.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse wrapped principal photography in the wee hours of the morning on October 29, 2009.

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