'Eclipse': Behind the new and improved wolves

eclipse-wolf-pack-cullensImage Credit: Tippett StudioIf you’ve seen The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, odds are you left raving about the wolves — particularly the scene in which Jacob, in wolf form, saddles up to Bella during the training sequence. It’s one of the moments Phil Tippett — a two-time Oscar winner for Jurassic Park and Return of the Jedi whose visual effects house, Tippett Studio, handled the wolves for both Eclipse and New Moon — is most proud of. “That was an unusual thing for us in that most of the time, we are doing these ‘god awful animals start tearing each other apart,'” Tippett told us recently, phoning from England where he’d just celebrated Ray Harryhausen’s 90th birthday. “So it was great to have a quiet moment. A tender scene that telegraphs a budding and suppressed relationship was tricky. In fact, the entire training sequence was difficult in that the wolves do nothing. A bunch of wolves standing around watching vampires train and trying to portend some kind of anxiety was tricky. It’s tricky for any actor when you have to carry a certain part of the scene where you do nothing, because you have to figure out a way of filling up the nothing with something.”

It was important to Eclipse director David Slade that Taylor Lautner actually film that scene with Kristen Stewart so she was able to establish eye contact with him instead of with a golf ball that could’ve been used as an eyeline and painted out later. The wardrobe department dressed Lautner in a neutral grey leotard and hoodie — primarily so his skin tone wouldn’t bounce back onto Stewart and create lighting issues when Wolf Jacob was added, Tippett says. We, however, like to believe someone was already thinking about the DVD extras. That will be great, won’t it?

The tender moment was made more challenging by the fact that Slade had a different vision of the wolves than New Moon director Chris Weitz. For starters, Weitz wanted the wolves to have their actor’s eyes. “He kind of wanted the performance to feel like the wolf behavior was being filtered through a human brain,” Tippett says. Slade wanted the wolves to have wolf eyes to de-anthropomorphize them. “David wanted the performances to be more feral, twitchy, and agitated. He wanted to see wolves that were more photographically representational, which had to do with things like getting more hair follicles, making the paws smaller.”

The believability of the wolves was equally crucial in the climactic fight sequence with the newborn vampire army. “We had to come up with a rationale for what happens when a 1,300-pound wolf that’s running 35 miles an hour crashes into a newborn vampire [played by an actor that weighs 165 lbs], how we justify that,” Tippett says. “David allowed us the transgression of saying, ‘Well, let’s just say that the newborns, since they’re not made of human material but some kind of a more marble-like material, have an actual mass of something like 500 pounds, so they have a lower center of gravity.’ And that allowed us to begin thinking about how to make all of that palpable, without thinking that they’re existing in two different physical universes.” Watch a clip of how that action gets put together below.

Which wolves did you prefer: New Moon‘s or Eclipse‘s?

More ‘Eclipse’ :
‘Eclipse': Shrewdly retro or just backward? You decide!
‘Eclipse': Forget ‘The Expendables,’ the third ‘Twilight’ is THE old-school action movie of the summer
Poll: Now that you’ve seen ‘Eclipse,’ which ‘Twilight’ movie do you think is the best?
‘Eclipse': Most Improved Vampire Actor — Jackson Rathbone?
‘Eclipse’ audience reaction: Team Jacob seems to have gained momentum


Comments (137 total) Add your comment
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  • Jenny

    Definitely an improvement but I found that they made mistakes with the size. Sometimes they looked like they were 7 feet tall when they were standing on all 4 legs and other times they would look about 4 feet tall.

    • Ambient Lite

      Yup, I noticed the size inconsistencies too (in both NM and Eclipse).

    • Sarah

      Did anyone else notice that they altogether abandoned the idea of making Jacob look larger than the average human in Eclipse? In New Moon, they used camera angles to make him look taller and bigger after his change (“mono”). He really should look bigger than Kristen Stewart, but in their scenes together (like before the end battle) he’s practically the same height!

      • shaleen

        I completely agree, he was supposed to be close to 7 feet, not cose to 6. they were making it work in new moon, and im sure they could have done better in eclipse.

      • Femiluv

        Noticed that about Jacob, and also the wolf size inconsistencies…

      • MissSara

        The camera work in Eclipse was awful!

      • @MissSara

        LOL, “Miss Sara” questioning the great David Slade’s excellent direction. You can dislike the movie, but that aspect was flawless. Dummy.

      • Ucha

        That’s because Eclipse was no more than David Slade’s attempt at jumping on the cash cow for a movie that he denegrated from the start. He didn’t care about detail, that’s why the wolves are 5 ft tall, as is Jacob.

      • Nicole

        I completely agree. I kind of upset me that the books portray him as a real beast of a guy, and in the movie Rob was pretty much towering over him.

    • LOL

      They look horribly fake. Spend some money and make better ones.

      • Nicole

        thanks LOL-i’m glad someone else feels that way-the New Moon wolves looked much better-from size to fur to movement-i wish Chris was directing Breaking Dawn-i think it’s also going to be disappointing:(

      • Erin

        Agreed, the wolves look cheap and cheesy. These movies have made so much money, you would think they could spend a little more on CGI.

        But alas, who cares about quality when people keep paying to see crap.

    • Jess

      I noticed that too! I think overall though, they did a better job with the wolves.

    • avenger

      Another day another twilight article…surprise surprise (yawn). Althought I do have to say that this one was entertaining, what with all the “cool” CGI effects for the wolves–sooo real and suprisingly educational. Oooh these special effects are sooo awesome they put Avatar to shame (oh, excuse me while I go vomit)

      • J

        Another day another idiot who reads twilight articles just to make lame comments about them. Way to go avenger! (excuse me while I go have a life)

      • avenger

        Another day another uptight twi-freak taking complaints about twilight super personally. First, come on J lets not kid ourselves…you don’t really have a life do you?
        And come on, every third article on ew is now a twilight article, someone has to let the degenerate writers at ew know that people are sick of this sh*t.
        Oh, and yeah you can be excused, I know you went to a lot of trouble to have the taxidermist stuff that brown wolf (that you “accidentally” ran over last month) for your room. Go on now, Jacob…er, it…is waiting for you to pet it and sing it Edward’s lullaby ;)

      • @avenger

        The article is merely comparing the wolves from the movies. Why do you have to use it as a soapbox to say how sick you are of reading articles about the Twilight movies? If you are not interested, then why waste your time reading and then posting? Jerk.

      • J

        Ah, avenger. First of all I don’t consider myself an “uptight twi-freak” in the slightest. However I see nothing wrong with people being passionate about something. Yes, even movies about vampires. Thats why they read these articles and its a shame they have to deal with people like you who post negative comments simply for the sake of feeling important behind your computer in your underwear. Secondly, I’m sure the writers at EW don’t give a flying crap about what you think they should write about. Since they are such degenerates in your mind why don’t you do us all a favor and change publications. And lastly, I would never hurt an animal, intentional or otherwise. That was disturbingly imaginative though. Hey, maybe you should be a writer!
        -your biggest supporter J

    • hooiskellie

      the wolves are all different sizes in the books. sam and jacob are supposed to be two of the biggest. seth (the one who killed riley) is supposed to be smaller because he is younger and newer.

    • Lydia

      I think you have a point.I saw that a little bit during the movie too,i am glad that some one else saw that too!

    • Nicole

      I know exactly what you mean. The shot where the wolves are guarding Bella’s house at night they were towering over Emmett. Then, during the training sequence, they went up to his chest.

  • Enough already!

    Considering the ones in the other film looked like teddy bears, I would say it wasn’t too hard to make an improvement. The effects, however, still suck.

  • Joe

    Sorry for this guy, but the wolves in both movies (and others like Chronicles of Narnia) are just not very convincing. Maybe I’m more old school, but animatronics seem so much better. I miss The Howling, etc.

    Has there ever been convincing CGI werewolves?

    • jmo

      What did you think of The Wolfman? It was a good example of old school. The gypsy attack was feral and convincing. Not sure how much CGI they used. But you’re right, I think there’s still problems with hair and lighting IMHO.

  • dorian

    Oh please, I saw the movie (unfortunately) and the wolves still look as bad as before. Watch the scene where Kristen Stewart’s character is having a conversation alongside a wolf. Besides the fact that the scene was horribly written, her eyes don’t match well when she staring at the wolf, it looks as if she’s looking somewhere else, and the creature look more like a caricature rather then existing in the “real world”

    • Xander’s eye

      Don’t forget almost at the end when a wolf is dragging that kid, Riley away. The mouth on his shoulder doesn’t match up, and Riley just looks silly bouncing sideways and up and down.. so seriously EW, I understand that summit wants to make as much money on this garbage and spend as little as they can, but don’t encourage them…

    • Christina

      Believe it or not that was the one and only scene where Taylor actually got to play his wolf. When they were “conversing” it was actually him playing that part. Notice how slow he walks away when Rob comes up? It’s because it wasn’t CGI

  • quagmire

    I wonder if he can invent an effect that would give the illusion of Kristen knowing how to act?

    • B

      I still haven’t seen the movie yet, but I was hoping the acting would improve. It seems like most of the actors in this film don’t really care about what was written in the books. They don’t convey any true feelings on screen! I blame the screen writer.

    • Sara

      seriously? Why do you watch the movies if your just going to complain? Kristen stewart is perfect for the part and a great actress. Don’t be a jealous hater.

      • avenger

        Yeah guys, Kristen really does do justice to the part okay, she should like soooo win an Oscar. I can’t believe that they give away Oscars to horribe actresses like Meryl Streep. I mean look at when Kristen acts sad and bites her lip, then when she acts mad and her voice gets almost loud and stuff, and its not like she has that one stupid look on her face all the time. She’s like soo awesome, and the great thing is that when she’s not in twilight, she does like press and stuff for the movies and gets to act all awkward, dense, and boring, which in turn makes people feel creeped out and change the channel (sooo entertaining). Don’t hate, don’t complain–lets all prance like dumb sheep over to that gigantic vat of Kool-aid and drink.

      • @avenger

        You’re like a one-trick pony, with your failed sarcasm. If you’re going to bother showing up here, try to be a little more creative.

      • Emma

        I dunno, @avenger. I thought it was at least a little creative, what with the references to the Heaven’s Gate guys, and the lip-biting analysis and the comment about people changing the channel during her interviews is pretty spot on (I know I do that)…..

      • Amanda

        Dude, avenger… just because Sara likes Kristin Stewart doesn’t mean she thinks she deserves an Oscar or is better than Meryl Streep. No need to get nasty.

      • avenger

        Yeah I’m sorry, I’ve learned the error of my ways Amanda. I guess when Sara told the guy he was a “jealous hater” for questioning the greatest actress of our (and frankly any) generation, I shouldn’t have created an appropriate response.
        Oh and no-name fool (@avenger) at 10:14, I suppose you will now once again question my creativity because you can’t come up with an appropriate comment–take a few days to brainstorm…I’ll come back to check later ;)

      • twi supporter

        thank you Sara!I love all the twilight movies for what they are, a single vision, a “simplified” visual representation of the books we all love.Everyone who reads the books sees a different world in there head so no that will not translate to the film.Where are all the “Amazing fans” that all the actors keep praising? who are the ones they are trying so hard to get this rite for? who they have fought for the content from “the books” for? because I have not seen many of them on these sites or making comments? But thank you so much to those of you who are here and the up-building comments you leave:) I will always love the books and enjoy the movies. but no I do not and will not waste my time tarring down a good movie when there are so many other glaringly aufle movies out there. And yes there are things i didn’t love in the movies but there is someone out there that what I didn’t love fit perfectly into there personal vision of Twilight…so much love to ya all. Thank you Summit for making the movies and Thank you to all the actors,directors,screen-writers and everyone who helped make these movies a reality for those of us who appreciate them.

  • Ceballos

    I just watched the video…Val Kilmer has REALLY let himself go!

    • Ambient Lite

      LOL

    • StewyFan

      Bahahahahahaha!!

    • Emma

      Actually, if you’ve seen the actual Val Kilmer lately, he really HAS let himself go. lol

      • Annie

        Where’s the VK of Top Secret and Batman Forever? I think the Val Kilmer in MacGruber ate him :P

  • Caroline W

    wow. i’m so irritated with the negative comments. if you see a link on ew for twilight…DON’T READ IT. jeez. no matter what you say..people will still love the franchise. get over it. your negative comments have no substance and fall on deaf ears to the people that matter.

    • tank

      And why don’t you shut up, go to the kitchen and make me a goddamn sandwich, you brainless prune!

      • Just me

        That comment is really pathetic, you are just sexist. you should be ashamed.

      • Eugen

        You can´t be serious, that is NOT a good response man. I agree that is pathetic. And when you use sexist comments like that, is because you really have nothing more interesting to say, you make me sad. Grow up.

      • Constance

        you know tank it is not necessary for you to use God’s name in that way to make a point and exactly what does making a sandwich have to do with anything. I just can NOT figure out why you people who DON’T like Twilight even bother to make comments, Twihards DO NOT CARE WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY, you are just jealous vindictive little creeps that need to grow up and let it alone, you are not proving anything but you are making yoursleves look stupid and childish. Grow up! The wolves are better in Eclipse and even if they are not as good as the books, no movie ever has been, there just isn’t enough time to get the whole book in a movie, so they try to make it as close to it as they can, so lay off and give them credit for what they do. Geez people enough of the bull.

      • @Constance

        If you don’t care what the “haters” have to say, why are you getting so bent out of shape about it? lol

    • LOL

      And no matter what YOU say, people will still click on articles and complain about it. And you may not agree with them, but that doesn’t mean they have no substance.

    • Um

      This is not a Twilight fansite, although given EW’s constant slobbering you could be forgiven for thinking it is. They posted an article praising and speaking highly of an aspect of the third film. There is absolutely nothing wrong with people disagreeing with this thesis.
      And if you REALLY didn’t care what “haters” had to say, you wouldn’t feel the need to post a comment about it. If your love of this series is that strong, it can handle the fact that people find faults with it.
      So, please, get over yourself.

      • Amanda

        It’s one thing to have differing opinions, it’s another thing to leave endless comments of “Twilight sux lol” and the like. I happen to enjoy Twilight, and I’m far from swearing up and down that it’s the “Best movie evar zomg” but it’s annoying to read comment after comment denigrating the intelligence of people who enjoy the movies. It’s a guilty pleasure, okay? No need to hate.

    • Ian

      Tank…bahahahah. Caroline time to wash in from the oceans of dellusion. Most of the negative comments have more substance that all near six hours of Twlight movies

    • twi supporter

      amen to that Caroline W ! and no what the haters say doesn’t matter ! it also doesn’t mean we are not going to speak up for something we LOVE ! And no Hating will never be something of substance at least not ever ever be useful substance! except maybe give us something to laugh at….hahahahaha

  • Kate

    Yeah, they look better than the ones in New Moon. But that’s not saying a whole lot, you know? I find the True Blood wolves much creepier/more realistic (probably because they’re using actual wolves).
    At least this Twilight-article-of-the-day (most of which, I promise, are unnecessary) didn’t compare Eclipse to The Seven freakin’ Samurai.

  • Ambient Lite

    It’s funny that the CGI wolves can’t have genitals because having them anatomically correct would threaten the PG-13 rating.

    • Ceballos

      It’s always cracks me up that stuff like that can be a serious threat to a PG-13 rating…but one character literally ripping off another character’s head is just fine.

    • Ryan

      Or I guess people figured since Meyer already figuratively neutered the vampire, they’d just go one step further and literally neuter the werewolves too. lol

    • StewyFan

      I was kinda let down that I didn’t see the big eggs that Rob said would be there. :(

      • hooiskellie

        lol! i <3 rob.

  • mwinchell

    My vote True Blood. They use really wolves which are scary.

    • dee

      I really like that they use real wolves. I remember that one segment they did at the end of the show, and you could hear them howling to each other. Very cool.

  • bedc01

    Ok, I really try not to post any comments when it comes to Twilight, however, I do like reading most of the comments here, some of them make me laugh (call it morbid entertainment I guess). But, I have notice lately that some people here are getting too worked up and have become very vicious. I am not a fan of this franchise, sorry, but I do think they’re bad movies, however, I won’t trash or threat someone else so bad just because they’re a fan.. I guess what I’m trying to say is, chill the hell out people!

    • StewyFan

      People need to lighten up on both ends.

    • Sailor

      Furrealz? That’s marelvously good to know.

  • StewyFan

    Ummm … am I supposed to be seeing wolves in that picture? All is see is Rob and that tight a$$ gray/blue shirt.

    • hooiskellie

      lol @ you again! it is difficult to pull your eyes away from him, isn’t it?

  • StewyFan

    On a serious note, I did like how the newborns vamps looked, along with Riley. Thought they did a great job on that. The wolves were a definite improvement overall, but I would still like to see better.

    • Hannah

      The newborns actually looked more menacing than I thought they would. Not keen on the wolves though. Like someone else mentioned, saying that they’re better than in New Moon isn’t much of an endorsement.
      With as much as Summit’s raking it in, it wouldn’t kill them to spend a little more money and have decent effects. Hugging rock-bottom on the budget just makes them look stingy and just furthers the stereotype that fans will see the movies no matter how bad they look.

      • StewyFan

        I agree. Don’t get me started on my opinions of Summit Entertainment. I can forgive the ridiculousness of the first film, but not after they raked in the millions. Now they do everything on a shoe string budget. And it SHOWS.

  • Justme

    I thought pretty much all of the effects sucked in this movie. What was the deal with the vampires breaking like glass. They looked like Styrofoam or something.

    • lettergirl

      i thought that was kinda weird myself. i’m not a TWIHARD by any means (i enjoy the books/movies for what they are-entertainment), but i noticed that and thought it was odd and distracting. as for the wolves, i wasn’t analyzing the way they look. no big deal to me either way.

  • Bumblebee

    C’mon people, it’s just a movie based on a book series. The books are so much better. I don’t look for stupid details I just enjoy watching the movie as a whole; it’s about the story line anyways. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch it. No one is dragging you in to watch the movie. Just a bit of a side comment though: they did have real wolves on the set.

    • Alexandra

      OMG THANK YOU. I honestly hate it when people are like “they forgot to do this”, “they did this wrong”, “they’re supposed to be taller”. Like common people lighten up and just enjoy the movie.

    • LMZ

      I find it helps to look at them as two different things- the movies and the books. Stops people getting caught up on the little differences. Great book to movie conversions are rarer than dodos after all.

    • Ma. Cristina Alejandria

      I definitely agree with bumblebee…

      • moo

        yes i agree! i ruined the percy jackson film by compering it to the book the whole time and now i regret it! (if you havent read the percy jackson books DO!) but i must say this film is more like the book than the rest beacause of the backstorys (<- as a side note) however if you want to enjoy them dont look at small details but let the amazing story line consume you :)

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