401 Cinefex*

  • Introduction to Cinefex
  • Cinefex and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • Cinefex #89 – April 2002 – The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Index for LOTR in Cinefex #89
  • Cinefex #92 – January 2003 – The Two Towers
  • Index for LOTR in Cinefex #92
  • Cinefex #96 – January 2004 – The Return of the King
  • Index for LOTR in Cinefex #96

Cinefex Magazine ~ The Lord of the Rings Issues

Introduction to Cinefex


Cinefex magazine contains photo essays that describe and illustrate the numerous kinds of special effects that go into a particular film.  In an ongoing film series, Cinefex generally produces a major photo essay on each film within a few months of that installment’s theatrical release. The piece often turns into the cover article when it is a major series, like The Lord of the Rings, Alien, and Harry Potter. The photo essay content typically focuses on the special effects and behind-the-scenes production. Also note that special effects companies that partnered in producing the film often place “congratulatory” advertisements in the issue that features a film they worked on. Sometimes the film producers even place ads thanking their FX/digital partners.

Each Cinefex issue contains a wealth of visual and print information about special effects. Photo layouts typically give a one-paragraph description of the process each photo or series demonstrates. These descriptions offer an excellent summary of special effects processes shown in creating multiple elements used to composite a particular character, site, or scene. This makes Cinefex a one-of-a-kind resource for beginners at understanding both practical and digital special effects, while also giving technical information for pros, and fascinating behind-the-scenes detail that everyone can enjoy.

Official Website

The Cinefex issue links below go to the official website’s individual back-issue page that covers one of The Lord of the Rings trilogy films. Back issue webpages show the magazine’s cover, and give summaries of the main articles. The summaries typically give the film title, article title, and a one-paragraph summary of the film’s intriguing features and/or unique contributions to the field of special effects.

Sources and Pricing

In most cases, copies of back issues are available at the Cinefex site, and sometimes can be found on eBay US, eBay UK, abebooks, or other sites where used books and magazines are sold. The original list price of issues 89, 92, and 96 was $9.50 (US Dollars). Back issues from the Cinefex site were $17.50 each plus shipping (as of May 2010). Prices on eBay vary over time, ranging as low as $5 per issue (rarely below that) and sometimes as high as $20-$25 each, depending on condition.

Cinefex and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

There are three issues of Cinefex for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, each issue with at least 50 pages of articles on LOTR, several related ads, and 55 or more photos.

  • Cinefex #89 – April 2002 – The Fellowship of the Ring, with 1 article of 56 pages, 7 ads, and 58 photos.
  • Cinefex #92 – January 2003 – The Two Towers,with 1 article of 51 pages, 9 ads, and 55 photos.
  • Cinefex #96 – January 2004 – The Return of the King, with 2 articles totaling 57 pages, 11 ads, and 61 photos.

So, altogether, these three issues give you a hefty FX resource with 164 pages of photo essays that include 174 photos, 120+ process descriptions (in addition to other text), and 27 directly related ads for FX companies that worked on LOTR.

Given the huge range of effects used in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, its Cinefex photo essays may includes any of the following topics – whatever relates directly to a particular film’s special effects and compositing processes.

  • Conceptual art, set designs, models, miniatures, and “big-atures.”
  • Middle-earth cultures and design of costumes, make-up, and prosthetics.
  • Visual effects, previsualization, CGI, mechanical effects, motion control, post-production, and digital grading.

Additional Resources on Special Effects

If you prefer video over print, check out the Appendices (special features discs) in the Special Extended Edition DVDs for the LOTR trilogy. There are numerous video features, interviews, and photo galleries that explore similar territory to the Cinefex series.

There are also a few featurettes on the Theatrical Edition DVDs.

I will eventually post a comprehensive listing of DVD special features in the DVD Chapters and Features List page.

Cinefex #89 – April 2002 – The Fellowship of the Ring

Cinefex #89 ~ April 2002 ~ The Fellowship of the Ring

Cinefex #89 cover and summary of key articles on the Cinefex website.

The April 2002 Cinefex shows a scene from the fight against the Cave Troll in the Mines of Moria. This issue features:

  • The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring)
  • Black Hawk Down
  • The Time Machine

The lead article on FOTR is “Ring Masters” by Jody Duncan (pages 64-131).


Cinefex #89 Article Related to FOTR

“Ring Masters” by Jody Duncan. Pages 64-131.

Cinefex #89 Ads Related to FOTR

Page number(s) followed by name of company.

  • 41 – Wescam.
  • 62 – Games Workshop – FOTR Tabletop Battle Game.
  • 73 – New Line Cinema thanks Weta.
  • 74-75 – Weta Digital and Weta Workshop.
  • 76 – Gentle Giant Studios.
  • 87 – 5D.
  • 119 – oktobor.

Photographs in FOTR Article (pages 64-131)

Page number(s) followed by short description of subject matter in the photo(s).

  • 64-65 – The Fellowship leaves Rivendell.
  • 67 – Gandalf arrives in Hobbiton.
  • 68 – Prologue battle, Elfs vs. orcs – bluescreen and film versions.
  • 70 – Prologue battle, the defeated Sauron implodes.
  • 71 – Scaled sets at Bag End.
  • 72 – Minas Tirith.
  • 77 – “Twilight” Frodo wears The One Ring; attacked by Wraiths on Weathertop.
  • 78 – Weta Workshop design of the Twilight Ringwraith.
  • 79 – Five Ringwraiths on Weathertop; Black Riders on horseback, seeking to escape the rushing waters at the Ford.
  • 80 – Composited establishing shot of Rivendell; Frodo on balcony at Rivendell.
  • 83 – The miniature model of Rivendell.
  • 84 – John Rhys-Davies in process of make-up; final look of Gimli.
  • 85 – Prosthetics application to turn John Rhys-Davies into Gimli.
  • 89 – The Watcher holds on to Frodo.
  • 90 – The Fellowship (with Hobbit scale doubles) travel through Mines of Moria.
  • 92 – Scaling of actors in Dwarrowdelf set.
  • 93 – Digital doubles of The Fellowship used in Dwarrowdelf.
  • 95 – Digital doubles of Sam and Gimli to show level of CG detail.
  • 96 – Cave troll attacks Frodo in Moria.
  • 97 – Compositing digital doubles of Merry, Pippin, and Cave Troll with live Legolas.
  • 98 – Compositing CG, live action, and motion capture for escape from Dwarrowdelf.
  • 102 – Bigature of caverns at Khazad- dûm.
  • 103 – Digital set of stairways in Khazad-dûm.
  • 105 – Six-photo series detailing escape over the bridge at Khazad-dûm.
  • 106 – Design features in creating the Balrog.
  • 107 – More design features of the Balrog.
  • 111 – Partial set of Celeborn’s and Galadriel’s platform at Lothlórien.
  • 112 – Partial set of multiple Mallorn trees and staircases at Lothlórien.
  • 113 – Creating ambience at Lothlórien.
  • 115 – Miniatures set of the deforested Isengard.
  • 116 – Six-photo series for sets of the forges at Isengard and use of Massive for Orcs.
  • 118 – Miniature set for the tower of Orthanc at Isengard.
  • 121 – Models and motion control for the caverns at Isengard.
  • 122 – Make-up and prosthetics for Saruman and Uruk-hai.
  • 123 – Make-up for Orcs.
  • 125 – Composited shot of canoeing through the Argonath; canoeing at base of Argonath.
  • 126 – Argonath bigature model.
  • 127 – Close-up of Argonath statue head.
  • 129 – Development of the design for Eye of Sauron.
  • 130 – Miniature of Mount Doom.
  • 131 – Frodo and Sam at the end of Fellowship look over Mordor toward Mount Doom.

Cinefex #92 – January 2003 – The Two Towers

Cinefex #92 ~ January 2003 ~ The Two Towers

Cinefex #92 cover and summary of key articles on the Cinefex website.

The January 2003 issue of Cinefex shows Gollum in The Dead Marshes. This issue features:

  • The Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers)
  • XXX
  • Spy Kids

The lead article on TTT is “Middle-earth Strikes Back” by Joe Fordham (pages 70-142 ).


Cinefex #92 Article Related to TTT

“Middle-earth Strikes Back” by Joe Fordham. Pages 70-142.

Cinefex #92 Ads Related to TTT

Page number(s) followed by name of company.

  • 10 – Gentle Giant Studios.
  • 69 – New Line Cinema congratulates Weta Workshops.
  • 81 – Thank you to Weta Workshop from Fran, Barrie, and Peter.
  • 82-83 – Thank you to Weta Digital from Peter, Jamie, Richard, Tania, Eileen and Joe.
  • 84 – The Posthouse Ltd. Digital Color Grading.
  • 118 – oktobor.
  • 128 – Fastscan 3D Scanner.
  • 138 – Massive.
  • 146 – Cinefex ad for back issue for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Photographs in TTT Article (pages 70-142)

Page number(s) followed by short description of subject matter.

  • 73 – Peter Jackson.
  • 74 – Opening sequence of Gandalf battling the Balrog.
  • 75 – CGI Gollum in the “What’s ’tators, Precious?” scene.
  • 76 – Weta Workshop design of Gollum’s head and face.
  • 77 – Weta Workshop design of full-size Gollum maquette.
  • 78 – Andy Serkis in motion capture suit.
  • 79 – Two photos showing before/after of Sam and Frodo battling Andy Serkis/Gollum.
  • 80 – Bigature of the Tower of Barad’dûr; filming the Tower.
  • 85 – Digital effects used to composite the Eye of Sauron into the Palantír.
  • 86 – Reestablishing scale of Hobbits as Merry and Pippin escape the orcs and Uruk-hai when the Rohan soldiers attack the encampment.
  • 87 – Preliminary design for Treebeard.
  • 88 – Sculpting studies of Treebeard; creating full-size Treebeard.
  • 89 – Drawings for five different genuses of Ents.
  • 91 – Use of matte paintings and digital effects to create the Dead Marshes; Frodo in the waters of the Dead Marshes.
  • 92 – Practical and digital pieces to create Edoras.
  • 97 – Latex stipple make-up used to create King Théoden under Saruman’s influence.
  • 98 – Compositing the backgrounds and miniatures for the Black Gates of Mordor.
  • 99 – Mountain trolls open the Black Gates; setting up cameras on the Black Gates.
  • 100 – Elements composited into the scene of Saruman addressing the army of Uruk-hai.
  • 101 – Set-up to shoot the bigature of the Tower of Orthanc.
  • 102 – Compositing elements in the evacuation of Edoras.
  • 108 – Prepping costume on Warg Rider; using teeter-totters for Warg Rider close-ups.
  • 109 – The Warg Rider Sharku; compositing the fight between Sharku and Aragorn.
  • 110 – CG production of Wargs.
  • 111 – Gollum catches a fish in the stream; Gollum and the brace of conies.
  • 113 – Compositing elements for two Mûmakil shots.
  • 114 – Compositing elements for the Elves evacuating Rivendell.
  • 119 – Compositing elements for the ramp, Keep, and wall at Helm’s Deep.
  • 120 – Detailing the miniature of Helm’s Deep.
  • 121 – Compositing elements in the gunpowder explosion in the wall at Helm’s Deep.
  • 123 – Frodo, and Gollum with a fish, at the Secret Pool; motion capture and Gollum.
  • 124 – Merry and Pippin with Treebeard fight at Isengard; other CG Ents at Isengard.
  • 125 – Compositing elements in shot of Ent set aflame by Orcs.
  • 129 – Creating the dam burst above Isengard.
  • 130 – Filming the flooding of Isengard.
  • 131 – Compositing the Isengard flood shot.
  • 132 – Compositing Sam and Frodo being taken into Osgiliath.
  • 133 – Creating bigatures for Osgiliath and setting up that city.
  • 134 – Prepping and filming elements of Osgiliath.
  • 135 – Creating and compositing the Nazgûl.

Cinefex #96 – January 2004 – The Return of the King

Cinefex #96 ~ January 2004 ~ The Return of the King

Cinefex #96 cover and summary of key articles on the Cinefex website.

The January 2004 issue of Cinefex shows a scene of the Mumakil in action at the Battle of Pelennor Field. This issue features:

  • The Lord of the Rings (The Return of the King)
  • Peter Pan
  • Master and Commander

The lead article on ROTK is “Journey’s End” by Joe Fordham (pages 66-142 ). Joe Fordham also conducted a question-and-answer interview with Peter Jackson, and that article appears on pages 55-61.


Cinefex #96 Articles Related to ROTK

“Q&A Peter Jackson” by Joe Fordham. Pages 55-61.

“Journey’s End” by Joe Fordham. Pages 66-142.

Cinefex #96 Ads Related to ROTK

Page number(s) followed by name of company.

  • 10 – Gentle Giant Studios.
  • 54 – Thank you to Weta Workshop from Fran, Peter, Barrie.
  • 64-65 – Thank you to Weta from Peter, Jamie, Richard, Tania, Eileen and Joe.
  • 75 – For Your Consideration: Best Visual Effects.
  • 78 – Thank you to Weta Workshop.
  • 85 – Next Limit.
  • 97 – Rising Sun Pictures.
  • 100 – XYZRGB.
  • 112 – Natural Motion.
  • 119 – Massive.
  • 138 – Giant Studios; oktobor.

Photographs in Q&A Article (pages 55-61)

Page number(s) followed by short description of subject matter.

  • 55 – Peter Jackson.
  • 57 – Gandalf, Sarumon, and Peter Jackson rehearse dialogue in the groves of Orthanc.
  • 58 – Principal photography on the trilogy took 15 months; Peter Jackson, Ian McKellen, and Orlando Bloom share off-screen moment.
  • 59 – Jackson’s relationship with Weta Workshop; Jackson and Orcs in Mordor.
  • 60 – Jackson sits on a tusk in front of a full-scale Mûmakil prop.

Photographs in “Journey’s End” Article (pages 66-142)

Page number(s) followed by short description of subject matter.

  • 66-67 – Gollum.
  • 69 – Special effects shots in ROTK were more than in FOTR and TTT combined; establishing shot of the siege at Minas Tirith.
  • 70 – Listing of companies and key individuals involved in three categories: Makeup & Animatronics (Weta Workshop), Special Effects, and Visual Effects (Weta Digital, Weta Workshop, Miniatures Unites, Sandbox Pictures, Rhythm & Hues, Oktobor Films, and Rising Sun Pictures).
  • 71 – Gollum, and subtle changes made to his characterization between completion of TTT and completion of digital work on ROTK.
  • 72 – Minas Tirith, and overview of its creation, from conceptual art to bigature.
  • 73 – Bigature of Minas Tirith.
  • 74 – Detailing the walls of Minas Tirith; setting a miniature catapult in place.
  • 79 – Motion control to film shots at Minas Tirith.
  • 80 – Layers used to composite shots of Frodo, Sam, and Gollum at Minas Morgul.
  • 81 – Models and bigatures of Minas Morgul.
  • 83 – Elements composited into Orc invasion of Osgiliath by the River Anduin; elements composited for mountain trolls pushing siege towers into Osgiliath.
  • 84 – Miniature of Osgiliath and other elements used for ambience in compositing.
  • 89 – Use of reflective panels in Osgiliath miniature to prep for water effects.
  • 90 – Creating the ominous cloud and ash effect over the Pelennor Fields; elements composited into Gandalf chasing the Nazgul with light from his staff.
  • 93 – Improved digital characterization of the Witch King between the completion of TTT and digital work on ROTK; elements composited into battle of Minas Tirith.
  • 94 – Improved digital characterization of the trolls; elements composited into scenes with catapults.
  • 95 – Weta creates five new kinds of trolls for scenes in ROTK.
  • 96 – Elements composited for the battering ram Grond to break through the gates at Minas Tirith.
  • 101 – Miniature model of Grond; scale model breakaway sections of Minas Tirith.
  • 102 – Elements composited for the city in Paths of the Dead, and for King of the Dead.
  • 103 – Miniature and motion control for City of the Dead.
  • 104 – Large scale maquette of Shelob being painted; final digital version of Shelob.
  • 105 – Elements composited for Frodo being caught in Shelob’s webs.
  • 106 – Series of three photos showing process to create Sam’s battle with Shelob, from previsualization to compositing.
  • 107 – Final composited shot of Sam fighting Shelob.
  • 108 – Elements composited to create the Rohan army’s charge at battle of Pelennor.
  • 113 – Elements composited to create Éowyn’s fight against Nazgul and Witch King.
  • 114 – Creation of a Mûmak; elements composited for the onslaught of 21 Mûmakil at The battle of Pelennor Fields.
  • 115 – Close-up of Rohan cavalry attacking a Mûmakil.
  • 116 – Elements composited for the towers and soldiers atop each Mûmak.
  • 117 – Peter Jackson directs Miranda Otto in front of a full-sized Mûmak model.
  • 118 – Elements composited for long shots and close ups of Corsairs of Umbar ships.
  • 123 – Elements composited for Aragorn and the Army of the Dead arriving at docks of Minas Tirith.
  • 125 – Elements composited for Aragorn leading his army out of Minas Tirith to the final battle at the Black Gates of Mordor.
  • 126 – Elements composited for the Black Gates and the vista of Mordor visible when the Gates are open
  • 129 – Miniature of Mount Doom and how it was used.
  • 130 – Gollum regains The One Ring in Mount Doom; creating the lava flows and fields.
  • 131 – Elements composited for Gwahir’s rescue of Frodo and Sam after the Ring is destroyed.
  • 132 – Translating the bigature of the Tower of Barad-dûr into computer model.
  • 133 – Elements composited for the destruction of the Tower of Barad-dûr.
  • 134 – Elements composited for creating the Grey Havens site.
  • 135 – Elements composited for creating the farewell scene at the Grey Havens.