The 1,000 ships launched by Helen’s flight from Sparta were crafted for the film in a variety of fashions. Two fully functional, 40-yard-long engine-driven ships were built in Malta out of steel and clad in wood, on which the scenes at sea were filmed.
“The practical ships were an amazing technological feat,” Phelps reveals. “If you’re going to have cast and crew onboard the ship it has to meet all sorts of regulations ‘ they have to be certified and life jackets and lifeboats must be concealed on board, so we had to build in all of these hidden compartments. And we had a professional rigger, which gives us that element of reality and extra dressing and detail and which makes the ships look believable. So these were proper, legitimate vessels that we built.”
Since the two seaworthy practical ships had to stand in for several different vessels, Phelps and company had to find a way to give them a new identity with just a couple of hours notice. Their solution was to change the eyes on the front of the ships, and design a distinct graphic for each of the kings’ sails. Achilles’ Myrmidons are easy to pick out, as theirs is the only black sail in the fleet.
For scenes of the Greek encampment shot on the beach in Mexico, four ships were built ‘ three full ships and two half ships. Since they would remain beached throughout shooting, these crafts were able to be built entirely of wood, which contributed to their visual authenticity.
With the exception of two ships that are real, the magnificent shots of the 1,000 ships of the Greek Armada sailing for Troy were digitally rendered by Framestore CFC, the largest visual effects and computer animation company in Europe.