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SYDNEY – Walking back through Rivendell is “a very weird experience” 12 years later, Hobbit director Peter Jackson said Thursday in a 10-minute “start of production” video he released on his Facebook page.
Jackson is using social media to connect directly with fans via Facebook and the official Hobbit Blog, documenting production processes and sharing on set images and video. Ian McKellan, (Gandalf) has also been blogging about his Hobbit experiences on his own site.
Jackson says the vlog, shot in HD — which shows props and costumes being made and fitted on the dwarves, Andy Serkis in his Gollum motion capture suit, and Dwarf training, amongst others — will be the first in a series that will keep fans up to date “over the next 2-3 years.”
Jackson takes viewers through Hobbit house Bag End and the elf kingdom of Rivendell, which he says are exactly as they are in the Lord Of The Rings.
Walking though Rivendell he says “is strange … because it was 10 or 11 years ago. I’m used to looking at the set on film and now we’re walking back into it again, its like you’re stepped back into a movie.”
But the video hides almost as much as its shows. Dwarf costumes are blurred out; Mark Hadlow (Dori) is filmed from behind; there are “new cool bits of Rivendell we haven’t seen before” and in the Goblin caves below Mystic Mountain are “the iconic scenes where Bilbo, well you’ll know if you’ve read the book,” Jackson stops before giving too much away.
Fitting 12 dwarves and Gandalf into Bag End is a challenge with Jackson quipping to Ian McKellan that “you’re lucky you’re not in a fat suit”.
The video also shows a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony, a Powhiri, to bless the main sound stage at dawn on the first day of shooting, with Richard Armitage (Thorin) responding in Maori, “for those who have passed into the veil of darkness, travel safe, travel safe, travel safe.”
Jackson told the cast and crew that “for a long time I thought that coming back to the amazing experience of filming the Lord Of The Rings wouldn’t be a good idea, but now I’ve come around, because films are stressful and they’re; hard but ultimately what makes them fun is the people that you work with and the fact that we’re going to be working with a lot of the old gang, a lot of friends and obviously making some new friends is really the point of being here. If somebody told me today we could carry on pre production for another six weeks I’d say hell no, lets just start shooting”.
The release of the video comes just several days after Jackson said in a blog post that he and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie are shooting The Hobbit at 48 frames per second.
He says shooting and viewing at double the standard speed “the image has hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness and likens it to “the moment when vinyl records were supplanted by digital CDs”.
“You get used to this new look very quickly and it becomes a much more lifelike and comfortable viewing experience. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re heading towards movies being shot and projected at higher frame rates,” he says.
It also a way of “future proofing” The Hobbit. Jackson hopes that by the time the first film is released at the end of 2012, there will be more than the current 10,000 screens worldwide capable of projecting The Hobbit at 48 frames per second.
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