*ooof*: A Flirt with the Fierce

Are we ready yet for the last round of Hobbit promo? I must confess, I am on cold turkey here – where the hell is the promo? This time last year the machine was already running. Is PJ still in the cutting room – or the computer lab? Nothing to show yet? *sighs* Well, then we must turn back to prehistoric imagery. But well, nothing gets old when it comes to our majestic king. Here we have him and his heirs.


Three men dwarves and a grey wall: Richard Armitage, Dean O’Gorman and Aidan Turner as Thorin, Fili and Kili in a Promo Still for The Hobbit, 2012 (?)

The Durins walk. Determination in their step and unwavering confidence in their stares, the three dwarven princes are shown in their journey get-up. Dressed to their teeth in heavy overcoats, thick boots, their weapons on them. This studio image in front of a grey backdrop puts the three dwarves into the context of their family relationship. Thorin and his two nephews. As the elder and rightful heir to the vacant dwarven throne, Thorin is given pole position – in between his young heirs, slightly ahead of them. This makes for an interesting composition: With Armitage’s height an added bonus, Thorin appears taller and bigger in the image due to the perspective – as befits his status as the rightful heir of the Erebor kingdom. His status is also represented by his clothes. He has by far the most elaborate coat and the biggest… eh… buckle. He appears bulkier than both his nephews, which is probably not only a reference to his age but also his strength as a warrior dwarf – as opposed to the younger dwarves who are still being schooled in the ways of dwarven warfare and customs.

Images like this one are a strange hybrid. While we are supposed to see the characters (and not the actors) in a shot like this (evident in the styling of the characters and the obvious acting rather than just posing), the fact that there is a neutral and therefore artificial background makes it a strange scene. After all, in our imagination (or on film, for that matter) this scene does not exist. Or if it did, we’d fill the nebulous grey with greenery, trees, maybe a mountain panorama, a path that they are marching on. The make-believe of the film is half suspended by ripping the characters out of their locations and transplanting them into a life-less, neutral, unrealistic setting. There is a point to this, of course. By eliminating the distracting realistic background the viewers can concentrate on the detailed representation of the characters. We can peruse their costumes, their weapons, their distinctive looks, their facial expression, body language and context with each other. (cf. *ooof*: Thorin Onslaught) And we are allowed to connect with the characters because they break the fourth wall and lock gaze with us.

This is a strategy that was also visible in the previously *ooof*ed image of Thorin, where I wrote “By looking directly into the camera, a connection is established between character and viewer. In a way, the characters are here breaking what is known as “the fourth wall” – the imaginary (glass) wall through which we, the viewers, watch the action in a play or movie – or perceive a character/person in a photograph. However, as opposed to drama theory, the act of looking at the camera in this instance does not mean that the character is acknowledging his fictionality – he is merely reaching across the invisible boundary between himself and the viewer, using the locked gaze as a means of communication and connection while remaining the character. At the same time he is acknowledging the presence of a viewer, searching for a pair of eyes behind the fourth wall. This is effectively a parasocial relationship – or is it parafictional? – between Thorin and you. A delicious thought?”

Delicious indeed, especially those Oakenshield locks, carelessly tossed over the shoulder, or the fierce stare of Thorin, his clenched right hand, his left ready at the grip of his sword. One wonders why PJ was emphasizing all this so much. He has built up Thorin as a right hero. No, not complaining. Anything to make the majestic one even more majestic. There have been plenty of hero shots – both in the movie as well as in promo stills – with Thorin elevated, photographed from below, in full battle garb, in distinguished dark red, with jewels, dirty and dishevelled. PJ certainly has gotten his money’s worth out of the assets of Mr A. Well, or his talents – the acting with the eyes only, the physicality of the actor, his athletic and acrobatic skills, even his creativity, with input into the characterisation of the character as well as costuming (the wide shoulders and chest of the bison) and prop-ping (the oaken shield). Rumour has it, that there are some major changes afoot in the third instalment of TH. Helen alerted me of an online-article that contains surprising developments. Alert: SPOILERS! So don’t click if you don’t want to know. (I find it very hard to suppress my commentary on this, but for the sake of  internet etiquette I keep my mouth shut.)

The reason I picked this image for today, however, was neither the pant-droppingly gorgeous Oakenshield power, nor the triple-ovary-assault via three Durin boys, but the fact that two images surfaced last week (at least on my radar) that I had not seen before and that delighted the photographer in me. They are nothing to write home about – except that we get yet another glance into the workings of a photo shoot such as this one. Have a look:

Promo 1

Bigger is better! Richard Armitage posing as Thorin Oakenshield, Aidan Turner and Dean O’Gorman in b’ground BTS still from a promo shoot for TH, 2012 (?)

Hooray, that’s how we like it. Focus on “the Oakenshield”. It’s a funny image, this – Thorin all poseur and Kili and Fili looking on, a little bit like the little boys that much fan art makes them out to be, admiring their uncle from behind. And who wouldn’t??? Majesticity works from any perspective. I take it that this was nothing but a practice shot. One where the photographer mumbled “let me quickly get the settings right on this one, Richard”, and good old consummate pro Richard assumed his pose and strutted his stuff clenched his teeth.

What is interesting about this clearly unfinished, un-edited BTS image apart from Mr A and his acolytes? Well, you can use it to compare it with the glossed-up, finished version of the shoot. Never mind the different pose, just pay attention to the equipment on view in the shot. So, the grey background is real. A massive piece of paper, attached to a high backdrop rigging (*tuttuttut* those tripod feet have not been properly extended, though… slack studio safety?), very slightly limp. A little bit of patchwork is going on on the left hand side where the backdrop has been extended with narrow strip of cut-off paper placed at an angle. Maybe it also serves as a flag against light-spill? But where the background was endlessly grey, with no visible skirting line (the “infinity wall effect”), we here see that it is *all make-believe*! Where the grey backdrop meets the floor, the edge has been taped to the ground (also the same colour thick paper, I presume). Ladies and Gentlemen behold – the photographer’s best friend: Duck tape. All hail to this wonderful piece of equipment that should not be missing in any photo bag or photo studio. Durable, yet rip-able by hand. Sticks to everything like a fangirl to Richard Armitage, yet can be removed from the premises much like a fangirl, too *um*. Holds up shitty rigs, sticks obstinate cables into submission, even holds clothes together if push comes to squeeze on a fashion shoot. It actually comes in all kinds of shades, not just in metallic grey. I always carry a roll with me. If they came in smaller rolls, I’d advise you to put one into your handbags, ladies. Could come in handy in many scenarios, including broken car windows, fixing notes, and spontaneous bondage.

I am intrigued by the way the duck tape has been used here to mark a box on the floor. As far as I can make out, it does not stick rolls of paper together to make a durable and trip-safe groundsheet. No evidence of joints, you see. I suspect that it has been used here to mark an area. This could be the focal plane that the photographer has designated for shooting his sitters in, i.e. he has marked the spot on the ground for the actors so that they know where to walk to and where to put on their acting face. This would be the range of distance of sitters to camera that the photographer has identified for releasing the shutter in.

The second BTS image might confirm my theory:

Promo 2

We walk. The fearsome trio is approaching. BTS still for TH promo, 2012 (?)

Are they still in the box? We can’t see the end of it, but they are certainly sticking to the path as marked by the photographer. They really are on a roll here – looks as if they are in full stomp, ready to waltz over the camera. Probably shot with a nice mid-length lens, so the photographer stood back a good bit to give them room to walk.

A note on the posing. Or rather: acting. Most of the time, photographers avoid fast motion in their images. Unless they are covering a sports event, of course. Capturing motion on stills photography can be tricky because it will either result in awkward suspended-in-mid-air shots, or in blur, depending on the shutter speed that has been set. A slow shutter speed and a fast movement will result in blur and vice versa. That is why photographers often ask their models to fake it – to pretend they are walking, by bending one knee as if in mid-walk. The most famous mid-walk image is probably this one by Helmut Newton. And it is no coincidence that I am throwing this in here, because I was reminded of this set of two massive, life-size photos, entitled “They are coming” and shot by Newton in 1981. The staggered arrangement of the sitters, the walking pose, the assertive feel. All that’s missing is the companion piece in the nude… Ok, a bit far-fetched, the photographer probably didn’t set out to copy Newton. And the parallel ends where the Durin trio walks – because they *are* most probably *really* walking, hence the markings on the ground. Their steps are not quite in sync, either, and you can even see a tiny bit of movement blur, for instance on Thorin’s coat flap bottom left.

By the way, in terms of the editing, I understand that the full-length version was chosen over the second of the BTS images. It cuts off their shins – unfortunately, because in terms of facial expressions I find pic three much more effective: All three Durins look similarly fierce, particularly Kili has a stronger look on his face than in the published version of the image. Mind you, in picture three Fili is caught slightly sideways and appears to be in Thorin’s shadow.

The final version is, of course, sleek and entirely sufficient. The background has been given the Photoshop make-over, smoothing out the lines and gaps, creating one seamless backdrop. And focussing on the Line of Durin in all its splendour. I wonder what new delicacies we will be gifted once the madness starts again.

In lieu of an *ooof*let, I point you to this press coverage of an event you probably didn’t imagine Thorin to grace with his presence, never mind participation.

Erebor fashion week

As a post-scriptum a little house-keeping note at the end: Changes afoot galore. Not only my gracious host, Servetus, is moving, but so might I. Not physically, mind you, but I will gradually be moving the *ooof* series of posts to my own blog. For no other reasons than selfish ones – I’d like to have my drivel on my own platform. For posterity, for access, for growing up and taking responsibility myself. I hope the change will not put you off – I hope to read you there, too.   

~ by Guylty on May 28, 2014.

68 Responses to “*ooof*: A Flirt with the Fierce”

  1. walk, walk fashion baby


  2. Strut, pout, put it out . . . 😀


  3. About the spoiler, there’s a’ 30 Seconds to Mars’ song that comes to my mind. ‘A beautiful lie’


  4. I’ve been so grateful for the last year and a bit of ooofs delivered right straight to my blog! It will be hard to let go of you, but I know you’re only a mouse click away and I’m glad you’ll have your stuff in your own home. Big hugs.


  5. Yes, the equipment! Great Ooof. I hadn’t seen those BTS shots. That, ahem, buckle, must be pretty low down to make his legs look so short. I’m looking forward to the underwear collection – Oakenshield’s Undies? Durin’s Devils?


    • LOL. Durin’s Devils. Or even “divils”? Just imagine all the possibilities. The Thorin Thong. I can hardly contain my excitement 😉 If PJ markets this right, he could have a winner on his hands.


  6. Happy ooofday Tuesday! I would to have Thorin grace the fashion mags any day.


  7. I think the underwear collection, called Erebor’s Secret, will feature a lot of fur. The fur, in addition to being soft and pliable, keeps dwarven family jewels comfortably warm while they toil tirelessly under the mountain, surrounded by cold, hard stone.


    • Still dreaming about “petting fur pelts”? g


      • I can’t help myself. Sorry. Maybe I could focus on something else. Naaaa, all alternatives are just as naughty.


      • I can’t help myself. I will try to focus on something else. Hmmmm. It’s no use, Wait, furry underwear might do the trick. I will let you know in a couple of days.


        • Think about you and Thorin, with you wearing a blindfold, so you cannot see anything furry.


          • You mean I can’t look OR touch? Yikes, the cure seems to be worse than the disease. It will send me into fur withdrawal shock. I don’t think I can risk it. Perhaps a pelt intervention can be arranged.


            • Ode to Pelts (Poetry Intervention)

              There once was a man with a pelt,
              Who sported a big shiny belt,
              Though wearing much fur,
              He was far from demure,
              For his hotness resembled a smelt.


              • Thorin in seinem Berge saß
                und Kathy Jonesens Oden las.
                Er wollte seinem Aug’ kaum trauen:
                “Was mach’ ich nur mit diesen Frauen?!”

                Doch die Idee kam ihm geschwind:
                “Am besten ist’s, wenn ich sie bind’!”
                Er ließ ein Lager vorbereiten,
                mit starken Pfosten an den Seiten.

                Dann griff er Kathy blitzeschnelle,
                warf sie auf die weichen Felle,
                band sie fest an den Pfosten an
                – und stellte klar: Er ist ein Mann!

                So. And who is going to translate this now?


                • OMGGGGGGGGGGG – Hedgehogess, this is brilliant!!! Poor Kathy is missing out on this. If I were more poetically inclined, I’d try to translate, but I don’t think I could ever get across how well this flows… still laughing


                  • Die vorletzte Zeile holpert, aber das habe ich zu spät registriert. Pech.

                    LOL, ich glaube, eine unpoetische Zusammenfassung täte es auch. Aber vielleicht findet sich ja auch noch jemand, der’s versucht.

                    PS: Als echter Mann setzt er sich natürlich mit einem Bier vor den Fernseher. Nichts anderes sollte hier gesagt werden! Unschuldsmiene aufsetz


                    • Yeah, right…
                      I have given it a very amateurish try. Here it goes. Hope Kathy reads this:

                      Thorin in his mountain sat
                      Kathy Jones’s odes he read
                      He hardly dared believe his eyes,
                      “What to do with these wives?”

                      Quickly a thought entered his brain
                      “How about if they are restrained?”
                      He had a bed quickly set-up
                      strong posts at the sides held it up

                      He put Kathy under duress,
                      in the furs she was pressed
                      and he tied her to the frame,
                      to show her that he is a man.


                    • Thanks guylty!


              • This is getting better and better. I am speechless.


                • Thank your for the translation. It sounds like I am to be restrained by fur-lined handcuffs. They will complement the blindfold quite nicely, don’t you think? Thorin better hurry up, I am becoming quite nervous with anticipation. He told me Hedgehogess gave him the idea, and he decided to run with it.


              • a smelt? Where I come from that’s a tiny little pickled fish … ???


                • I was high on Nyquil at the time. I meant smelter, but went with smelt. Sorry for the sloppy rhyming. I blame my cold. 🙂


            • Whether you can touch or not is between you and him. I’m not mad enough (cough) to stand in the way of a fur addict.


    • LOL – “Erebor’s Secret” Love it. “Dwarven family jewels”… rofl I see there is a definite demand here. PJ, hark up.


  8. Thanks for the latest fashion news, guylty. (Not sure I like the designer’s name … 😀 )

    About the spoiler … Hm. Remember Samm the Make a wish girl?
    I think that spoiler is just a rumour.


    • Yeah, the designer is a bit sissy… I’m surprised he was able to procure those models, at all. He probably had to offer them a large amount of jewels and gold…


  9. In Germany we have a TV-Show: Germanys next Top-Model by Heidi Klum. This pictures look like Middleearth’ next top-Models by P.J. 😀


    • Middle-earth’ Next Top Model – LOL. It totally looks like that, the way they are strutting, manes flying. I’d probably tune in to watch that show…


      • Leider hat P.J. heute “keinen Umschlag” für die Jungs, sondern -wie zu erwarten- für unsern (Achtung neuer Begriff) : “Schatze-Bobbes” (um mal im hessischen zu bleiben).


  10. Für angeblich ach-so-amateurhafte Übersetzungsdienste, dafür, dass ich an keinem Rapsfeld mehr vorbeikommen kann, ohne zu schmunzeln, und überhaupt einfach so:

    Als Künstler und als Fotografin
    käm’s Guylty niemals in den Sinn,
    ein Bild einfach nur anzusehen,
    nein, sie muss es auch verstehen.

    Pose, Blende, Schärfe, Tiefe –
    nicht zu vergessen Perspektive –
    reichlich wird’s analysiert
    und gleich genauestens notiert.

    Mit Adleraugen wird betracht’,
    was sich ein Fotograf gedacht,
    der Mr. A hat abgelichtet
    – und dann ein Ficletchen gedichtet.

    So ist denn Guylty ungerührt,
    wenn sie uns in die Bildwelt führt.
    Richard, Lucas, Thorin, Guy …
    Ooof! thud Oh wei, oh wei.


    @ Servetus, sorry für den schändlichen Missbrauch deines Blogs. Dich beehre ich auch noch, wenn die Inspiration im richtigen Moment kommt.


    • Ist ja der Hammer: was für ein Talent!!!! Ganz große feuilletonistische Glanzleistung von Dir. Müssen wir jetzt alle den Reim-Button suchen? 😀


    • squeeeeeeeeeeeeee (sorry, I will now have to break into my native tongue – as emotional situations always make me do, and a poem on me more than demands that…)
      OMG, Hedgehogess, du Dichterkönigin. Wie cool ist das denn????????? Ich bin gerührt, geehrt, gebauchpinselt und amüsiert! Mann – ich glaub, über mich hat noch nie jemand gedichtet. Und so nett und treffend. Darf ich das ganz unbescheiden auf meinem Guylty Blog zeigen?
      chuffed chuffed chuffed
      hugs hugs hugs!!!


    • Weiter so!


  11. This shot definitely shows the actors’ ability to convey a sense of their characters. But the more practical part of me thinks, “Man, wearing all of that must get hot outdoors.”


    • 😀 – I think that was one of the remaining memories of the whole shoot for the actors. Richard has more than once mentioned the resulting stench of the dwarves 😉 I hope PJ paid them a bonus for working in hazardous, hot conditions…


  12. Fascinating, as always! RE: duct tape…it has become a material for fashion accessories amongst the elementary school set. It comes in all sorts of colors and prints, AND…I recent saw smaller than industrial size rolls. Watch your mail 😉


  13. Being away for a couple of days, after extremely busy working weeks with hardly no time for “oggling” (geschweige denn “ooofing”!! – let alone), and then finally looking closer, what’s going on in RA-land, one gets the feeling, besides other things, heck, where are all those German poetry artists coming from so suddenly?? 😀
    Guylty, my initial reaction to this pics was: none of them pretty Durins will survive “Middle-Earth” (as I put it, in my blissful ignorance of the whole Tolkien world/stories… Ahemm!!), so why the hell are they trying to make this lucious fellas all so dear and near to us ?? Only to snatch them away shortly before we can grab them???? Ok, to be correctly here, it’s The One in the middle that I’m rapturously focussing on…. But then… you mention some spoilers…. and my heart beats faster….. (wow, that would be something…)
    As for your catwalk-report. It’s always the same. (lamenting) Us regular womenfolk is never invited or informed beforehand to such an event.
    Bloody hell, I would sit in the front row! Especially after your detailed description, of course: bewaffnet mit “duct tape” whatever that is…. 😛
    (see that man STRUTTING – and die!!…. sehen und sterben…)
    PS: marvellous read!!


    • Aw, thanks for the long comment, Linda!
      I do think that the building up of heroes serves a good purpose – whether they perish or not. If they don’t, the loss is even more painful, so it does make sense to put them on a pedestal.
      And: You may be lucky and see some strutting this summer… maybe in a circle, but you never know…
      PS – all that poetry was great, I agree. Praise the creativity of the authors!


  14. What ever happened to duct tape being the handy man’s tool? To much Red Green at our house in past years. Even watched the Red Green movie Duct Tape Forever.

    Mustaches are big with the third, fourth and fifth grade girls at the school I work at. They seem to be on everything these days.


  15. […] we were going about our business on the comment thread of one of my ooofs over on me+r when inspiration struck and Kathy Jones started waxing lyrical. The context was an […]


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