How did they get the Hobbits to look so small in LOTR?

Watching this movie for the 4th time, I still can’t figure out how they made the Hobbits so small compared to Gandolf and the men. Does anyone know how? Was it just a trick of the camera?

They used multiple techniques. Some of the shots were done with forced perspective - the actor playing the Hobbit was actually much further away from the camera than the one playing the man, and the set was constructed to make the perspective look normal to the camera. Some scenes used midget stand-ins - where you couldn’t see the actor’s face, they just used someone who was really that height. I hear some scenes used stilts or other means to make some of the actors taller. I suspect some of it was done with computer editing as well, to digitally shrink people or composit a scene together from multiple takes.

In most of the long shots, midgets were used (dressed exactly like the characters complete with carefully scaled-down masks in some cases). They also used image compositing for scenes such as Gandalf entering Bag End and Bilbo taking his hat and stake. But the most impressive (in my opinion) of all the camera tricks in the movies was the forced perspective shots that involved moving cameras, independently mobile sets, scale representations of props to fit each character (e.g. Frodo’s goblet=huge scale, Gandalf’s goblet=tiny scale).

Hope that helps…

AndrewL and ceyjen are correct. If you ever get a chance to rent or buy the Extended Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, it’s all explained during the part after the credits that roll after the movie. Should warn you though, those rolling credits last at least twenty minutes. But if you enjoy the soundtrack (which I do) then just sit back, listen to the music, then see how they made the Hobbit actors look small.

Also, take a look at the clothes they’re wearing. The proportions are deceiving.

For example, the crotches of the pants on various hobbits is rather lower than the actor’s crotch; likewise, the waists of their clothes seem to be lower. This gives the illusion of more “hobbit-like” proportions.

Thanks, Dragonblink. I understood many of the tricks used to make them look relatively smaller compared to “humans”, yet they also gave the impression of being small even in shots that only contain hobbits. I couldn’t figure that out.

In addition to the above, they made 2 sets of props - big ones for the humans and little ones for the hobbits for scale issues. Also, in scenes w/ hobbit actors, they used a few really really tall people so it would seem the hobbit actors only came up to their waist or something. In those scenes, you’ll perhaps notice that you don’t see all of the say, human actor, just from his head on down. The Extended Edition discs reveal all and it’s really impressive and ingenious. It also kinda kills the illusion but since you’re asking, my guess is you’re more into the technical aspects anyway.

Of course, there’s always the answer Sean Astin gave in an interview. Something along the lines of “Every day, they gave us this pill…”

The actors themselves are also small as actors go, so they don’t look as silly as (for example) Orlando Bloom or Viggo Mortensen would look as hobbits. I think it’s something to do with having slightly stockier builds.

(Actually, it’s the opposite – big ones for the hobbits and little ones for the humans.)

I saw a parody on the French & Saunders show on the BBC that was surprisingly funny. One scene had Saunders (as Gandalf) and French (as Bilbo) talking to each other, but one was clearly at the other end of the room. They got halfway through a line of dialogue when they realized they were using the wrong-sized cups; they cut, switched mugs, and started the scene over.

(Even funnier was the shot of one of the Teletubbies dancing in the background in Hobbiton.)

They hired real hobbits. Duh.