The funny thing about making a show about how some magical rings got made is somebody on the production team has to make the actual dang rings. And for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, the production had a whole “Ring Team,” according to producer and VFX veteran Ron Ames.
“We took months to do it,” Ames told Polygon. All that research, testing, and filming was in preparation for Rings of Power’s first season finale, in which Celebrimbor, Elrond, and Galadriel — with some help from a disguised Sauron — forge the three fabled elven rings. It’s a monumental moment in Tolkien lore that demanded a monumental effort.
The forging of the rings themselves was fantastically depicted on screen, with fire, molten metal, and a strange mithril-processing machine. “We really researched that,” Ames said (though we suspect there was not a lot of information out there about mithril processing, exactly). “And we shot for a couple of days, shooting inserts of fluids and things going down there, but clearly not [actual] molten flame.”
Ames added, with a laugh, that he and his team had been able to shoot the flames of actual molten metal poured into grooves for one of the show’s trailers, as if to say that he’d pour hot metal in front of a camera lens at the drop of a hat.
But practical special effects work had to be enhanced for the show’s namesake props. “No ring that we could have built practically would have been special enough,” Ames said. “We had rings that were the shape and had the feel of them, but we also augmented them heavily to make them really unique and special,” he said, with the addition of “glints and flecks of gold and things.”
Viewers can expect to see lots more of the rings in season 2 of The Rings of Power, currently filming in the U.K. and expected to premiere in 2024 — and certainly more of the work of Ames and his Ring Team, as Sauron’s unfolding machinations are met by Middle-earth’s newly minted elven ring bearers.