The final battle sequence
"The finale battle sequence is a really complicated - cutting back and forth between the mountain and the field - and you're trying to make sure that all the actors know where the wolves are coming in," adds Godfrey. "One of the Cullens will throw a newborn and out of midair a wolf will grab him, so we've got the wires to yank the newborn. But that complication is something that you really have to be certain of what the shots are and know exactly who's doing what and when, because it can get pretty messy."
A combination of stunts, practical effects, and visual effects are used to launch vampires and wolves through the frame. "There's lots of tackles and swipes, but mostly we have certain performers that are grabbed and picked up and reefed around left and right on cables that yank their harnesses to and fro. They don't really have to act because we send them where they need to go via wires," explains Stoneham.
"The battle takes place just out in the field so there are no pick points anywhere, so we had to drive sky tracks in, and have movable pick points everywhere. So, it was challenging," adds Stoneham. "A pick point is a reference point. If I need to fling you from A to B, we do a hard pick in the air so we can basically have a ratchet set up and send you flying. So, obviously in a giant field, there's nothing."
"The trickiest shots among the CG takeovers are where you have a say one of our heroes chucking one of the newborns across a field and suddenly a wolf jumps out and Frisbee grabs him out of the air," says Tichner. "We had the stunt guys do a throw of the newborn into the air and then a redirect into pads using a winch. At some point, the wolf and a newborn all become CG. For reference, during shooting we have the stunt actors pose in the DaVinci pose and we also cyberscan all the actors and stunt performers to provide Tippett with all the virtual elements they need for the CG animation work."
Haug elaborates, "Cyberscan is a relatively quick, relatively inexpensive way of getting that information accurately. The actor walks into a booth and these scanners, for all intents and purposes, are the same thing as a photocopier machine. It basically makes a 3D model out of them."
"But the number one thing visual effects can do is support what the actors are doing in the story. We try to give as much information on the day so that they aren't reacting to an empty plate where a werewolf is supposed to be," says Tichner. "We use various tools so they actually can have some sort of connective moment with this invisible creature on the day."
Fight Coordinator Jonathan Eusebio was responsible for designing the fights and training the performers to safely execute the various battles.
"Jonathan, who is a great fight coordinator, worked with E.J. and our stunt coordinator John Stoneham to come up with the visual language to display vampires and wolves fighting. We kept steering them away from martial arts," reveals Godfrey. "The truth is that these are supernatural creatures, so the gags had to be great. We were always pushing for bigger wire gags, bigger throws, and bigger crashes. If I throw you, you go a foot - if Riley throws Edward, he should go across the entire scene."
"David really wanted a heaviness to everything, it was important for everything to feel solid," adds Stoneham. "When we're flinging people in the air, they're hitting the ground very hard. We'd like to not do that over and over and over. Unfortunately, we had to a numerous times, because there are so many elements involved. It's been challenging, but you have to just keep pounding people into the ground over and over for this battle. It's been a little tricky and you hide a mat where ever we can."
"We work together with visual effects and special effects to get everything put together," says Eudebio. "Individual fight beats are designed for each of the Cullen's and choreography for the wolves, who are also dealing with the newborns, so you have to collaborate with visual effects. We also have to get our stunt men, the actors and their doubles physically ready for these fights. "
Eusebio and Stoneham worked closely with visual effects in the planning stages, breaking down which department would be responsible for each element of the gags.
"They tell us roughly what they're looking for and then we'll give them something. We find a little happy medium together. The main thing is with the CG wolves is trying to give visual effects something to begin from - dragging someone around, shaking them to make it look like there's actually something grabbing it, biting them, and flinging them.
It's easy for visual effects to take over at certain points, but we give them whatever we can to start."
Eusebio adds, "Action is action. We just have to be a cohesive group. We talk about what's needed in the scene and how we're going to achieve it."
"I make the fighting styles fit the personality of who's doing it," says Eusebio.
"Carlisle and Esme always fight together. Kellan is a big guy, so his moves are more strength based, Alice is more agility based, Jasper is experienced, and then Rosalie has a little bit more attitude. Edward is the fastest. When I design any fight, I choreograph for two things - the actors' ability and what their character would do."
"The Cullens are obviously a little more in control and the newborns are out of control," adds Stoneham. "They're in a feeding frenzy, so they're more erratic.
Obviously, Riley is the only who's more in control, and he's trying to keep them in control. Hopefully, you can see those subtle differences."
"The newborns are raw and not fully in control of their senses and abilities yet. If they see something, they're very fixed on it. As opposed to the Cullen's, who are strategic," adds Eusebio.
"We are dealing with characters that aren't human, so we have to enhance their abilities in the real world. The only way to do that is either through visual effects or with some type of wire assist," says Eusebio.
"There's so much wire work and there's been the odd time where we had a stunt performer ride an air ram and fly through the air on their own," adds Stoneham. "But most of it has been on cables, so visual effects will have their hands full in post with wire removal work."
"A couple of wire assists can help them look super strong," comments Eusebio.
"We test everything in the gym and then, for added safety, test everything again on location in the real life situation. The biggest challenge is just making it look like its real and not on wires - making it look as organic as possible without looking fake."
"Fight training was a big part of the success of the action segments in Eclipse," says Slade. "This film probably has the most action of the three films, just by necessity of the story. We don't ever do anything dangerous, so we trained our actors to the degree to which they could hardly walk, so as many of them as possible could do their own stunts. We had fantastic stunt coordinators and an amazing cast of stunt doubles, who did some of the things, but a lot of the main characters did many of their own stunts."
The Cullen family players began training in Vancouver five weeks before starting to shoot, plus almost everyday during the shoot as the shooting schedule allowed. Rob Pattinson, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Xavier Samuel also trained extensively before and around time in front of the camera, as did the stunt performers playing the 20 newborns.
The actors alternate days between working out in the regular gym and specialized fight training with Eusebio's stunt team, where they started by working the base movements used in the fight choreography. In addition to basic weight training, strength-training, and conditioning in the gym, the actors also worked with a running coach on form. Squats and back bends helped to prepare for the arching moves in the fights.
"If they're not on camera, they're always in here training," claims Eusebio, "We'd get them pretty much every other day for a couple hours a day. Those guys train hard."
In the fight studio, choreography based work-outs were used to prepare the actors. The moves are a hybrid of MMA (mixed martial arts), dance, gymnastics, and circus movements. Wire work and martial arts tricks were also included in the regimen.
The fight trainers use the term Capoeira, which is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, games, music, and dance. Many twisting body movements were performed for conditioning and the actual fights.
"There's a progression to the training. It's a twofold process - first you have to get them in shape though physical training. Then you start teaching a lot of movement and interactive drills that are going to be applied to the fight choreography they're going to do later," explains Eusebio. "We bring them in, stretch them out, teach them how to punch for camera and get them physically in shape by doing lots of repetitive movements like big wide strikes and low crouching stances. We get them comfortable with throwing a lot of punches. I nitpick performance aspects as we go on. By the time they go to camera, the training should be a lot harder than filming the actual scenes."
"My team shoots a lot of video of conceptual ideas for each character and we show it to the actors before training sessions," adds Eusebio. "It really gets the actors excited, because they want to look like the stunt people on the video. If they have fun it, it just makes it easier."
"They're young and all pretty athletic. Bryce and Xavier were really in tune with it. Xavier also picked up the parkour stuff pretty easily, so I was pretty impressed with Xavier," admits Eusebio.
"We really used the physicality of parkour - the bounding and the jumping techniques and the landings," adds Eusebio. "You want to keep it as raw as possible, without having to rely on editing, camera effects, or visual effects. You can't really disguise human performance."
"I don't know if the actors really enjoyed the training off the top," laughs Stoneham. "But, I think they got into it. During shooting, we were outside a lot, fighting in the rain and mud, so they're toughened up during the whole shoot."
Constructing the Cullen Family residence
In addition to the snowy mountaintop campsite set, filmmakers constructed a second large elaborate set on stage: the Cullen family residence.
"In Twilight, the Cullen house was a practical location near Portland, up in this very nice neighborhood, very unassuming, positioned in the forest. For New Moon and Eclipse, we knew we'd be based in Vancouver, so we'd have to try to find reasonable facsimiles of all the locations that were originally in Portland," explains Bannerman. "The requirements in New Moon for the Cullen house were very simple - a somewhat generic living room and Carlisle's office. So we were able to consolidate those scenes into a real house in West Vancouver that featured an interior that architecturally resembled the inside of the Portland house."
"Now fast forward to Eclipse and there's probably about 15 script pages worth of work inside and outside the Cullen house - including a large graduation party. So we made the decision to build the structure on stage. The house has floor to ceiling glass, so we also had to build the exterior façade plus the landscaping, the driveway, and the surrounding forest," says Bannerman.
"By replicating the original Portland house - and the elements of the West Vancouver house that we actually see on screen in New Moon - on a stage, we were able to give ourselves that latitude and flexibility to believably play out the scenes at the front door, the decks, and looking out from every level. We built the house exactly the same size, right to the detail of the T and G cedar roofing underneath the overhangs, to the detailed teak railings on the decks… right to the nth degree," adds Bannerman. "If the owners of the original Portland house walked into this house, they would be a little astonished by the fact that their house was suddenly inside a building. But it's delivering to us everything that we need to shoot all the sequences so the fans will feel as if they are in the exact same location as in Twilight, without a question of a doubt. It is, in fact, the exact same house, but 300 miles north of the original location."
"This project was very interesting from a design standpoint because of the past history," states production designer Paul Austerberry. "It starts with Stephenie's book--she is quite descriptive about various locations and colors. Then, of course, Catherine Hardwicke's interpretation established the great look of the first movie. When filming moved to Vancouver, production designer David Brisbin and his team had to recreate various things from the first picture for director Chris Weitz. Then David and I came
along and inherited it all. So it's quite a convoluted root, but it's funny enough it was actually an interesting challenge because it was like archeology. You have to dig back from the footage of the first and second movies, and then try to put your own mark on it."
The Cullen house took approximately 8 weeks to build. "We found the biggest stage that was available and really had to study how we could squeeze it in. At 17 feet off the floor, it's probably the highest set I've ever built for a crew to work in. People weren't thrilled about having to hike everything up to the top," laughs Austerberry. "Normally, we wouldn't build it this high, but we had to because of the 3 stories of windows looking out at the forest."
Fans will recognize pieces from the first two movies, like the wall hanging made of graduation caps. Austerberry says. "We had to recreate lots of things that weren't available anymore. Some are quite detailed and expensive tricky pieces to make."
"The Cullens have good taste and unlimited finances," adds Austerberry. "I decided that Esme liked items from Asia, so you see some Japanese prints. They've got modern sculptures. Normally, we can just rent a lot of artwork and furnishings. With Eclipse, knowing that there's going to be most likely be another film coming after it, we had to either could buy it all or have a written guarantee that we could rent it again for future productions. That was quite difficult because it eliminated things that you might have otherwise been able to choose. We also had to buy the art instead of renting it at 10%. We had to pay full ticket."
"I explained to the set decorating team that because of the Cullens' history, there are layers from various different cultures. It's like having old family artifacts from a very long multi-generational family. They've got old mixed with new furnishings. They've got some African pieces, a nice Japanese bonsai tree, and some Chinese chairs. It's quite an eclectic mix. Basically, through the centuries they've brought pieces from various places and assembled them here in the house," says Austerberry.
After being shot, part of the living room was re-dressed as Edward's bedroom and one piece of furniture in particular will be of great interest to the fans. "The bedroom scenes are a pretty big deal. When I looked for inspiration for Edward's bed, I thought Arts & Crafts style," comments Austerberry. "He's from the early 20th century, so I looked at what was a vanguard at that time. But, since it was constructed in presentday, the bed is a slightly modern take on Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau furnishings. I figured that Edward actually created it himself, so there are little sketches of the bed in his room. Edward's got all this time and he's skilled and he made this for his love Bella."
"Often we have a creative decision that we're not sure of, so we bounce it off of Stephenie, because she created this world. We ask her about things like colors, hand props, and jewelry, which is very, very important to Stephenie," says Austerberry. "The bed is definitely a specific item that we passed by her to make sure we're fulfilling her vision."
"The biggest challenge with the Cullen house is that we have to take it apart quite carefully, because it goes into storage until the next movie," explains Austerberry. "The most important things to save are all the architectural details: windows, doors, cabinetry, fireplace, stair treads and handrails, plus set dressing. The stairs they're quite expensive and time consuming. All the specific detailed pieces that aren't massive, we can save them in containers and reassemble them when needed."
The meadow scenes
Two meadow scenes bookend The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Filmmakers brought in 75,000 flowers, taking 15 man-days to install, to once again make the meadow a majestic and magical place for the two young lovers.
"We open the film in the only sanctuary that Edward and Bella have," explains Slade. "The meadow is this symbolic, idyllic space. So we wanted to make it somewhat dreamlike at the beginning. Things are pretty damn perfect now, so perfect that you could just float on air. We shot through flowers so they were part of the composition.
The idea is just that the meadow and the flowers are actually kind of a character and they're interlinked with our two protagonists. This is the place where we feel safe, so that when we return to the meadow, we feel safe again. We're in the same place, but these people have become more complicated through the course of the film. So, at the end, we don't look through these flowers anymore, we just stay above them and they're a slightly different color. The image is more sophisticated. The environment is a character in this instance. The other thing about the meadow scene is that it was very early in the schedule, so we were able to really rehearse and I think it was important, because it was such a powerful and emotional scene. Rob and Kristen really helped really block that out and really worked on the scene. I think it turned out really good."
The meadow is one of the few times the audience will again see the vampire sparkle described so clearly in the books. Once again, visual effects will add the sparkle effect in post-production. "Stephenie says Edward shines like a diamond. When David and I first met, we talked about what we think it is," remembers Haug. "We both agreed very quickly that it's a metaphor for seeing his soul and the sunlight let's us see what he really is. Edward claims that he doesn't have one, but in fact, when the pure light of day hits him, he's even more devastatingly beautiful."
The greater Vancouver area provided many diverse locations playing presentday Florida and Seattle, as well as period back stories: a 1750 Quileute village; 1933 Rochester, New York; and Texas in the 1800s. "E.J. went out of town and shot in some really large areas where they shot Unforgiven in the central part of British Columbia," says Slade.
"With something as huge as Eclipse, which has these massive action sequences and flashbacks to different time periods, you have to break it down into little small pieces and figure each little small piece out in as much detail as you can. Then each piece is manageable," comments Slade.
"We used three different locations to recreate Rosalie's 1933 Rochester sequence," explains production designer Paul Austerberry. "VanDusen Gardens, which is a beautiful botanical gardens, played for her walk in the park with Royce. It's amazing what costumes and a period car can do. We also used the exterior of the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown, as well as the neighboring Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Both buildings are from the right time period - between 1929 and 1939. We had 13 beautiful vintage cars to populate the street. The challenge for us was trying to find a period-looking hotel that hadn't been renovated. The 14th floor in the Hotel Vancouver is pretty much intact from the 1930s. We just had to do some slight changes to accommodate our scene and bring in addition Art Deco furnishings."
"In theory, both films were shot almost back-to-back," explains co-producer Bill Bannerman. "While Chris Weitz was in the editing room with The Twilight Saga: New Moon, David Slade started prepping The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, so we basically kept much of the crew and infrastructure rolling, so the movie-making machine was essentially the same. Two completely different directors, two completely different worlds, and two completely different movies."
"However, the greatest thing that I think benefitted both films was the fact that there was continuity from beginning to end and everybody was looking at both films as a whole," adds Bannerman. "There was a sense of the support in creating that venue where both directors could just concentrate on the creative needs of their respective scripts. It was a great dynamic as well and I think it proved beneficial for the franchise. A lot of people that were involved in the technical positions of the project knew the books and they were excited about being able to follow through on several chapters and bring a great contribution to the table."