The Hobbit: First Pictures


Written by James Read
22 Friday 22nd July 2011

There and back again. It certainly feels like this film has been, what with interminable delays in pre-production and financing problems. It's been enough to try the patience of former director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy), whose previous experience in bringing fantasy to life with innovative use of animatronics would have certainly breathed new life into Tolkein's prequel to Lord of the Rings. When Del Toro finally quit the project in May 2010, there were worries that it might be scrapped altogether.

But in June LOTR director Peter Jackson took the reins, and it looked to be back on track. Until September, when the International Federation of Actors ordered its members not to work on the film until union disputes had been resolved. No actors means no hobbits. After much protesting from New Zealanders worried about losing tourism dosh from a filming relocation, the film was back on track again.

Principal photography began late March 2011, whereupon Jackson revealed that he'll be filming at 48 frames per second - twice the usual number - which might prove to be a revolution in film quality. 24 frames have suited the cinema just fine since the 1920s, but the rest of cinematic technology has been rather upgraded since then.

A faster frame rate promises a better looking picture - according to Jackson, "Looking at 24 frames every second may seem ok–and we've all seen thousands of films like this over the last 90 years–but there is often quite a lot of blur in each frame, during fast movements, and if the camera is moving around quickly, the image can judder or "strobe." Shooting and projecting at 48 FPS does a lot to get rid of these issues. It looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3-D". Will it make a difference? You'll have to wait until December 2012 to find out!


Peter Jackson hitting the Hobbiton pipeweed

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