‘The Hobbit’ Production Update: Cutting-Edge 3D, CGI Dragons & More

Published 3 years ago by , Updated December 3rd, 2010 at 3:41 pm,

the hobbit header The Hobbit Production Update: Cutting Edge 3D, CGI Dragons & More

Charged with the task of realizing mystical beasts and creatures from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit on the big screen, Peter Jackson must be quite relieved that he can now concentrate on actually making the film adaptation – rather than having to wade through yet another series of production delays.

Production on The Hobbit is moving forward at last (we promise!), with Jackson officially in the director’s chair for the new cinematic venture through Middle-Earth, which will be shot in New Zealand once again and feature the return of several Lord of the Rings alumni, including composer Howard Shore.

Jackson will shoot both Hobbit movies in 3D using no less than 30 RED EPIC digital cameras, each of which – according to the RED Studios press release – “has 5K resolution, can shoot up to 120 frames per second and has a new HDRx™ mode for the highest dynamic range of any digital cinema camera ever made… The EPIC’s small size and relatively low weight makes it perfect for 3D – where two cameras have to be mounted on each 3D rig.”

For those less familiar with filmmaking jargon, the short of it is this: Jackson is using cutting-edge technology that will both allow him to avoid some of the burdens that come with shooting in 3D and assure that The Hobbit is as visually impressive (if not more so) than Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy – and that is saying something.

Lord of the Rings movie image The Hobbit Production Update: Cutting Edge 3D, CGI Dragons & More

Still frame from 'Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King'.

The Hobbit‘s narrative is far less sprawling than that of Lord of the Rings, which is also much more grandiose in scope and tone. The former still has its share of fantastical locales in Middle-Earth that were left unexplored in LOTR, and will feature plenty of stunning visuals and CGI monsters – especially that of the treasure-hoarding dragon Smaug, who plays a pivotal role in the quest undertaken by a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). Devoted LOTR fans may even recall that Bilbo’s expedition was (albeit briefly) referenced in the first exchange between Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen) in the film version of Fellowship of the Ring.

Speaking of McKellen’s shaggy old wizard character, the actor has not yet been officially confirmed as returning for The Hobbit movies. McKellen’s official site indicates that he is very much onboard to return as Gandalf – which is excellent news since, frankly, it’s difficult to envision anyone else embodying the 2,000 (or so) year-old wizard with as much charm and charisma as McKellen did.

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  1. 3D. Yawn. Interest wavering.

    It comes down to this, as I have said many times before, 3D in Avatar worked well for 2 reasons, it was never in your face it was subtle, and that it was an almost entirely computer generated environment. This is what film makers just dont get, in a real world setting, whether it be real people or real locations, 3D just looks stupid and fake. Completely takes you out of the film.
    Does the opposite of what it is meant to do.

    • I have to disagree – oddly enough, I found the post-converted (but planned for) 3D in ‘Piranha 3D’ to be effective.

      Also, The Hobbit will have it’s fair share of effects-driven moments and I trust Peter Jackson will deliver.

      So while on average I would agree with you Beckett, I think in this case I will remain (Cautiously) optimistic.

      • Well, I’ll agree there. I want to be cautiously optimistic also, this should be a great film, great cast. 3D just has a bad track record with me.

        • I just want the damn film to be awesome! 3D or not.

    • @”3D in Avatar worked well for 2 reasons, it was never in your face it was subtle”

      There were plenty of those “in your face” shots in Avatar. The opening scene with the massive ship in space, when Neytiri’s banshee first appeared, and when Jake and Neytiri were running from the red Banshee (forget what it’s called) to name a few. ALL films feature those kind of shots, even the ones not in 3D.

      @”This is what film makers just dont get, in a real world setting, whether it be real people or real locations, 3D just looks stupid and fake.”

      Once again I disagree. Watch Resident Evil: Afterlife in 3D, the quality is just fine.

      • Sorry but RE:Afterlife looked completely fake from matrix rip off start to ho hum ending.

  2. With Peter Jackson at the helm, the Hobbit films will be nothing but
    first rate. If it was up to me there would be three movies instead
    of two. I hope the two films are around three hours 15 min each.
    Anything less than three hours per film could seem rushed.
    With the Dol Guldur and White Council backstories being included
    three hours will be needed in each film.

  3. Not so crazy about the 3D but at least it won’t be post conversion..Peter Jackson @ the helm with Sir Ian returning as Gandalf..

    SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTTTTTTTT !!!!

  4. They just have to get Ian McKellen back since he is so interested himself.. So long as they shoot it in 3D, it’s not a problem. Can’t wait for it..

  5. Awesome!That is suppose to be a good camera, he used it or a version of it during the making of King Kong to make a W.W.1 dogfight if I recall correctly…
    My only question on the casting is will David Tenant be in it as rumord and will others from the Trilogy be back, i.e. Aragorn, Leoglas, Sauromon(dont think I spelled that right), Gimili, Elrond, etc..? As they could all come back in part 2.

  6. “Devoted LOTR fans may even recall that Bilbo’s expedition was (albeit briefly) referenced in the first exchange between Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen) in the film version of Fellowship of the Ring.”

    Devoted LOTR fans will also recall in the extended edition of the FOTR that after Frodo gets stabbed by the Witch-King’s blade and Aragorn and the Hobbitts are trying to get Frodo to Rivendale that there is a scene where Sam says to Frodo
    “Look Mr. Frodo, Bilbo’s trolls” and we see the monolithic figures in the background behind Sam..

    • ah that is true, i forgot about that..

  7. I still worry if the broad appeal will be there for the masses. Will people really want to see a movie about a dozen angry dwarves, a hobbit, a wizard and the ocassional dragon etc? At least the LOTR trilogy had the fellowship with many different characters the viewers could enjoy BESIDES dwarves. People like us will love the movie regardless, but I am not sure the Hobbit movies will bring in the receipts like the LOTR movies did. Any thoughts…???

    • “I still worry if the broad appeal will be there for the masses. Will people really want to see a movie about a dozen angry dwarves, a hobbit, a wizard and the ocassional dragon etc?”

      ARE YOU SERIOUS?!! Was that rhetorical? This book has been around since 1937 and has 4 or 5 generations of fan base looking forward to seeing these books brought to life..Just saying the words JRR Tolkien property and Peter Jackson directing will guarentee at least 300 million dollars domestic and well over 800 million worldwide for these films.

      • Sadly I was serious. You make some valid points. But there must have been a reason why Peter Jackson didn’t sign on to direct from the get go. Anyone can tell that he wanted someone (Del Toro) or anyone else to direct the Hobbit Pics. I think deep down Jackson realizes that the LOTR pics and books for that matter are far greater than the Hobbit can be, and he didn’t want to tarnish his credentials as a Hollywood elite director. Anyway… I can’t wait to see them as I am sure jackson will do a fine job. I was just talking about the geberal public.

        • Peter Jackson was working behind the scenes on the Hobbitt with Del Toro before he departed because of the financial woes at MGM. Jackson helped write the screenplay and was heavily involved as an executive producer. I honestly think that after Del Toro departed Jackson saw that if the guy he handpicked to make these films wasn’t available any longer then he himself would have to take up the directing duties to ensure his vision would make it to the big screen. That and I think the deal he was offered to helm these projects must have been huge. Jackson has other projects he is working on as well and I think he was just reluctant to be as hands on as he was for the LOTR trilogy because of the scope and time commitments involved with this project..three years I think is the timeframe for these two films.I don’t think Jackson has even a remote chance of tarnishing what he created with LOTR and that these will be an excellent addition to the Tolkien universe on film. These films will be huge..not to worry..

    • Doesn’t matter. Here in my country (India), almost no one knew about LOTR when it first came out. But everyone loved the movies and the trilogy was a big success here too. I was 15 when the 1st LOTR movie came out, and even I hadn’t heard about it when it first came out, although I did get the books a week later..
      In short, it’ll rake in the moolah it deserves..

  8. I could care less about Avatar, that movie was horrible. LOTR was better but that is beside the point. Looking forward to seeing The Hobbit. Especially since Peter Jackson is directing it.

  9. Chris o’connell obvious;y has no taste in movies if he didn’t like avatar..which one the best films to come along fur quite sometime. its funny some people would be given a bar off gold and complain its too dull lol

  10. I have taste in movies, I don’t like BORING 3 hour snoozefests. Good thing I rented Avatar and not bought it, I would have demanded my money back. Too bad though since I like alot of James Cameron’s work, just NOT Avatar. Anyway, I thought this was about The Hobbit not some movie about giant smurfs.

  11. like i said no taste

    • Agreed.

    • So because he has his own opinion on what movies he likes that means he has no taste? I guess that means I have no taste either sinse I hated Avatar…

      • Actually no, this simply corresponds to a comment he made in a different thread, it doesnt seem to matter what movie it is, he doesnt like it, or has something derogatory to say.

      • I did not “hate” Avatar…but I was the only one in the group we went with that was a little dissapointed. The obvious things that were over looked and could not fathom why Sir James decided to let the camera roll instead of yelling “CUT!!!”, but let the tech work for itself. ( Same principle in relation to TRON….if you over hype something for 2 years…and let the tech to the work so to speak, something else will be lacking.)
        greenknight has made some valid points and I agree with his take on the attention to detail and reference from LOTR.

  12. It is a shame that Hollywood is once aqain going back to prequel storylines.

    Having said that how can we doubt Peter Jackson, and Howrad Shore is back composing the music as well. True all the original creators were there for both the recent Star Wars and Indy installments, but I’m sure the two hobbit films will do a much better service to the set of films they preceded.

    Whilst i do think these will be big box office hits, I do feel that the eventual comparison with the previous three films will create a slight backlash.

    I think that now everyone has got over the 3D, Avatar is looked at with a clearer perspective with general consensus being that it had great special effects, but it wont be revered in years to come as one of the greatest films ever.

    Just to confirm what everyone interested in movies already knows.. That the Lord Of The Rings films is without doubt the greatest cinematic trilogy of all time.

    Something Avatar couldn’t even dream to be compared to..

    • It’s not a prequel though is it? They just chose to film the sequel first :)

  13. Any word on whether Hugo Weaving will be back to reprise his role as Elrond?

  14. 3D ? What a let down. Still hope it turns out good, but just lost a lot of respect for Peter Jackson. There better be a 2D option is all I’m saying other wise I won’t watch it. I’ll never put those horribly uncomfortable glasses on again i’m done with them.

  15. oh god, please dont tell me this is where the RED RAY PLAYER comes in

    • luke you being funny right? About the limitations of the red lasor player? CD….DVD?

  16. I am actually looking forward to these films MORE than the Avengers film..At least Jackson has proven he’s got the biscuits to pull something of this grand a scope off and make it memorable & poignant while at the same time making the action sequences epic..Something I am araid Whedon has yet to prove he is able to accomplish with his own properties let alone the comic book icon Avengers..Can’t wait for the Hobbit!!

    • Agreed. Imagine if Peter Jackson was offered “The Avengers”. That would have been phenomenal. Oh well no use dreaming about it. In the meantime I hope Whedon proves me wrong.

  17. Any chance this will be released in ordinary 2-d? I’m just fine seeing it that way. Looking forward to it, LOTR\Hobbit characters are like family.

    • I think they would be crazy not to release the movie in 2D theatrically and on home video. Luckily there isn’t, as far as I can tell, any problems converting 3D-to-2D as there is the other way around.

  18. So because I have utter disdain for Avatar I have no taste. Yep that is CLASSY. But enough about Avatar. I will never like that movie ever so get over it. All that said I am looking forward to The Hobbit. Loved the Lord of the Rings, but since I have no taste I guess that doesn’t mean anything. lol.

    • Chris, you are not alone. I did not like Avatar much either. I dont hate it, Im just not into the story. Big fan of Hobbit\LOTR though.

  19. in my opinion, The enjoyment of 3D is solely Dependant on the “size” of the screen that you are viewing it on, for example if you have a 50” 3D TV at home and are viewing a 3D movie it seems that you are just looking “into” a box and any in your face effects are again “just coming out of a box” this also holds true for movie theaters, regardless if the movie was shot in 3d or converted, the effect is still as if you are looking in to a box…HOWEVER, the reason that Avatar was so enjoyable for me was due to 6 Charters….”IMAX3D”, on an IMAX screen you are completely engulfed into the picture. Case in point, on a reg screen the scene in Avatar when Jake had just gotten off the transport ship and the huge dump truck drives by, you are just watching the truck in a box drive past Jake, but on an IMAX screen the depth, and scale is unreal it really is like you are next to Jake watching this truck go by…

    This is why i do not watch 3D movies unless they are on IMAX, And why i am not jumping on the “3D TV” bandwagon, but waiting for full HD, 1080p fully 3D compatible projectors (that don’t cost $50,000)….

    For all you nah sayers, i challenge you to go watch the upcoming “Tron Legacy” first in Real3d on a standard theater screen…then go watch it in IMAX3D and tell me that I am wrong…

  20. I’m not sure how technically possible it is ,but it would be so great if/when cinemas are able to project films in full 1080p HD resolution for sure

  21. noo i hate 3d…

    • me to, only when it ruins the movie

      • well dont watch it in 3D then guys, and dont worry, films have got over the whole waving things out of the screen effect, they use it more of a way to look into the screen, which for the most part, doesn’t effect the experience in 2D.

  22. I hate 3D, it gets me dizzy and nauseous… Also, I still don’t understand the reason to split this into 2 parts. There isn’t enough substance to justify it.

    • They are splitting it up into two parts to tell the Hobbit and stories from the Lost tales, i.e. The White Council, etc.. So there is enough substance its just that we dont know all of the stories that will be from the Lost Tales.

  23. I’m not sold on 3D, just doesn’t work on me (even the new glasses!)…guess my brain doesn’t wire the fictional input into a 3D process..*shrug* dunno but hoping, beyond hope, that there’s a 2D version for those of us who just either can’t (aforementioned headaches etc) or it doesn’t “work” for.

  24. I feel bad for Joss the avengers is a no win for him. If it fails he will shoulder all the blame from the hatred and if it succedes he’ll get non of the credit.

    I suspect the avengers will be a major let down and non of the reasons have to do with Joss who is extreamly talented and deserves far more credit than he gets from sone of you.

    Joss Wheadon and RDJ are pretty much the only things Avengers has going for it.

    • Rest assured Daniel if “The Avengers” succeeds I will certainly give Joss Whedon deserved credit. I used to watch “Buffy” but enjoyed “Angel” more and recently purchased “Serenity” on DVD which I thought was a good movie.

      However “The Avengers” needs to be more than just good. We’ve got plenty of super hero flicks that are just good movies.

      “The Avengers” is MARVELS’ premier super hero team and I really thought MARVEL were going to go all out on this film by hiring amongst the most experienced and distinguished Director’s around.

      I think DC hold the trump card with Christopher Nolan at the moment and I hope Joss Whedon puts in as much passion and attention to detail, to present an unprecedented action packed story with the flair of a true cinematic auteur.

      • Joss isn’t fit to carry Nolan’s scripts.

        Sorry, I know he has his fans.

        B

      • I agree Angel Was better than Buffy. I think Wheadon is nothing short of fantastic. Angel and firefly were in my opinion two of the best shows ever on TV. I also think Serenity was amazing one of my fave Sci Fi films ever and makes Joss a pretty good fit for this. Joss is fantastic at large casts he crafts fantastically unique character with distinctive traits and makes sure no one is left out and that’s what Avengers needs.

        However I expect Avengers will be financially successful, but a critical failure. Marvel doesn’t seemed focused on crafting good films just mindless entertainment. Iron Man was fun, but it wasn’t a truly good film it was a fairly shallow story with shallow characters. It was lots of comedy and lots of boom with complexity or depth what so ever. So Joss can only do what the studio allows and if the Studio is screaming Iron Man at him don’t expect a powerful epic story with meaning like TDk expect a shallow fun action flick.

        Also he has to deal with Chris Evans which in my opinion is one of the worst casting choices in comic film history. Looking at him it’s impossible to ever think Captain America and how do you take him and make him the leader of RDJ and Hemsworth. There is no way he will fit in with the cast and he’s simply not talented enough to pull of the character and not fit to be a leader. He will stick out like a sore thumb and bring the film down.

        Jon F did a enjoyable job with IM, but as I said it wasn’t a great film just a mindless fun one. He’s heavily involved in this and I suspect will have more pull than Wheadon possibly getting to involved in the film and undermining him.

        Marvel decided to cram way to much in to this one film and it’s been way to pushed and shoved down our throats and we have only gotten through two lead in films with two more to go. After IM2 I was already a little sick of Avengers I imagine that after Captain America I won’t even really want to see it. With Thor, IM, Cap, Nick Furry, Black Widow, and Hawkeye all being stuffed in not to mention I’m sure Agent Cullson will have a part in it. There is just way to much going on and they will need to develop the rogue for the film as well.

        Rumor is they are already running in to problems behind the scenes with funding and other stuff which is a bad sign this early in development.

        There are other issues, but this is long winded.

        This is all just way to much against it. If anyone can do this I believe if anyone can do it I think Wheadon could, but I don’t think anyone can do it. I think Wheadon will make the film as good as it can possibly be with everything it has against it, but it has no chance of being great. The best it can hope for is being a mindlessly fun action flick.

  25. Could Leonard Nimoy be cast as Saruman???
    Since it doesnt seem like Chris Lee will return who would
    be in line for the role.

  26. You know, I always thought Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart were very similar. They even sound sort of the same. I think he could take over, if he had to.

  27. I have alot of faith in peter jackson, Im sure he’ll deliver a fantastic movie, regardless of whether or not its in 3d… but it does make the hobbit seem more ‘hollywood’ and ‘americanized’ something that the lord of the rings never was, and part of what made them soo good.