Director Q&A - Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

November 9, 2003 Peter Weir

James Cameron noted how astoundingly authentic the set had seemed when he walked it himself, and that he had watched the film very closely for the hundreds of visual FX he knew were in it. "But I have to say," he said to resounding audience concurrence, "it's bloody seamless."

"The most important scenes for CG were the ship just turning," Peter Weir said. "I think that's what worried me most. Meetings would concentrate on the big sequences like the battle scenes, and I kept saying, 'let's use half of this meeting to talk about simply sailing, and trying to break down the tradition of these films before this technology,' which was essentially wide shots, and then to cut onboard to somebody in a mid shot. I wanted to get three-quarter shots."

Weir had been impressed with the great dimension Peter Jackson had achieved in The Lord of the Rings FX and consulted with him and Richard Taylor at Jackson's WETA Workshop. "To my surprise, they said, 'Well, it's all miniature.' I love that sort of classical stage work, and that pretty well determined it. The enemy ship was a 30-foot vessel with beautiful detail. We shot those dry and then put the water in, which is not the ideal way to do it, but I decided not to use digital water — we were going to see it under too many conditions." Water shots were collected by Weir's excellent second unit.

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