December 18, 2014

Film Preview- Peter Jackson there and back again with The Hobbit.

 

PHOTO BY JAMES FISHER

Film Preview- Peter Jackson there and back again with <i>The Hobbit</i>.

(L-r) William Kircher as Bifur, Graham McTavish as Dwalin, Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, James Nesbitt as Bofur and John Callen as Oin in the fantasy adventure The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh make a return trip to the Shire.

At some point this has got to feel like old territory for Peter Jackson

Subbing for Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), Jackson, who helmed the iconicThe Lord of the Rings trilogy, has come back to the land he visually created.

“When we made The Lord of the Rings,” said the director. “I was absolutely sure it was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was an amazing and very special time, but when it was over, none of us believed that we’d ever be venturing into Middle-Earth again. However, the experience of making The Hobbit trilogy became equally special to all of us. So now I have had a once-in-a-lifetime experience twice in a lifetime.”

With The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the filmmaker hoped to bring the story to vibrant, visceral life, with all the magic and majesty, humor and darkness, and intimate human emotion that the author himself provided. As director, Jackson wanted to add a new direction to Middle-Earth.

For the first time, Jackson and his WETA digital studio utilized state-of-the-art digital cameras to record the action not only in 3D, but at an unprecedented 48 frames per second for release in High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D), as well as all the standard formats. “We want The Hobbit films to be a visual experience that goes several steps beyond The Lord of the Rings,” the director said. “3D didn’t really exist in mainstream cinema ten years ago at the level it does now, and we’ve shot the movie at 48 fps, which makes it the first feature film to be shot using today’s High Frame Rate technology.”

Helming this project was Academy Award-winning cinematographer and long time collaborator, Andrew Lesnie. Lesnie sought to honor the look of the Rings trilogy while fully embracing the possibilities inherent in this new technology. “Because the 48 fps picture is so clear and sharp, I lit more gently to create a more ‘filmic’ quality.” He added, “And in the post-production grading process, we took great pains to give the film some softness and body.”

While Lesnie handled the new technology with regard to trial and error, Jackson and partner Fran Walsh had to deal with real-time scheduling. “We wanted to film 3D on a 2D schedule, and day-to-day use educates you in ways that are irreplaceable,” said Jackson. “But I think we lived in a world of perpetual upgrades. Our head of technology, Dion Hartley, and camera supervisor, Gareth Daley, tailored additional hardware and our infrastructure to investigate every new challenge.”

Even though Jackson and Walsh weren’t the first choices to return to the Shire, it still means something to be there.

“We always saw The Hobbit as a slightly more golden-hued fairy tale, but by the time you get to the end of the novel, I think you can see how Tolkien puts himself in the place where he would begin that epic journey of writing The Lord of the Rings.”

According to Jackson, “That, to us, is our natural transition point into that darker time. The nature of honor and leadership and power—those big themes that are quite prevalent in The Lord of the Rings—were being awakened in The Hobbit.”