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How Lord of the Rings and VFX relate to marathon training (at least in my head)

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Well, if we’re going to talk about numbers, this week was a massive catastrophe. Good thing we’re not going to talk about numbers then, or else I’d have to admit to you that I didn’t get anywhere close to the goals I had set up for myself. Among the reasons I didn’t run nearly as much as I should have this week I include: work commitments (those bills aren’t gonna pay themselves, apparently), meteorology (can’t control the weather, amirite?) and just overall laziness. You know, the usual. And yes, I am feeling stupidly guilty about it but guilt won’t really get me running any faster or longer so I’ll just harden up and get over it now.

I did put together a bit of a training plan with S. on Monday evening (while not running because of the rain) so that’s gotta count for something. I then flew to Wellington for work on Thursday and, on Friday afternoon, managed to drag myself to the path along the waterfront (part of the route of the half marathon I ran there back in June). It was a lovely, albeit fairly short, run, during which I only stopped a couple of times very briefly for the photos you see here (Instagram is my new excuse to take breaks during runs).

The conference that took me to Wellington ended on Saturday night with a gala dinner at Te Papa Museum (hands down my favourite museum in the country). They had a guest speaker come and give a bit of a speech after the awards ceremony (or was it before? I don’t know, it was in between wine). The speaker was Wayne Stables, a name that didn’t ring any bells to me but must make serious Lord of the Rings fans’ hormones go a little nutty. He’s the big visual effects guru at Weta Digital, Sir Peter Jackson’s film company.

It was during his talk to the conference guests that I realised two things:

1. I need to immediately take a weekend off to re-watch all Lord of the Rings (including the bits during which I fell asleep in my first and, so far only,  attempt)

2. I’m so obsessed with running and marathon training I’ll find a link between that and anything else in life.

All the man did was stand there for a few minutes talking about his amazing work in movies such as Lord of the Rings, Tin Tin and Avatar. My brain related pretty much each one of his sentences to running. One of his key messages was that working with massive visual effects productions means you have a lot of really big overwhelming challenges – like, for example, creating all the vfx for the battle of Helm’s Deep in LOTR or the super long continuous shot that was the chase scene in Tin Tin. There are a million little details that have to come together to create those scenes. If you think of the whole scene as one big thing, you’ll be completely stumped and overwhelmed by all the details that need looking after (stuff we don’t even think of as we watch the movie, such as cloth motion or the most realistic way to get water falling). So the key, he says, is to break those big challenges into tiny little ones and look at each detail at a time, rather than having the whole big picture in mind.

D’ya get it? D’ya? D’ya? Don’t tell me I’m the only one who made an immediate correlation to training for a 42.2km long run (not to mention that the marathon is only part of a much larger goal to run a 75k trail run, but that’s a whole new blog post). It’s all about breaking the massive challenge into little ones. Simple and yet genius. I went back to my hotel room later on having run a grand total of zero kilometers that day but with the distinct sensation that sitting through that talk ¬†represented some sort of progression in my training.

Probably bullshit. I better get my ass on the road and run because, at this rate, special effects really are the only way I’m ever going to be seen crossing that finish line.

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4 thoughts on “How Lord of the Rings and VFX relate to marathon training (at least in my head)

  1. I understand perfectly! I can relate that comment 100% to thesis writing (which is almost over…no, really!)! :D

  2. It totally makes sense, and you can apply to that to so many subjects of your life, really…

    Now go training, make me proud, and make sure that LOTR marathon weekend include the extended versions!

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