Latest video blog highlights the groundbreaking visual effects of The Desolation of Smaug

This video blog has some fantastic peeks at the state-of-the-art technology used to create some of the envelope-shredding stuff you’ll see in Desolation of Smaug. I’m particularly impressed by the sheer volume of complex fluid simulation required for the barrel sequence, and, most of all, the breakthroughs in complex object interaction and physics needed for the Bilbo/Smaug encounter amongst billions of coins and other assorted treasure. There’s also a great bit showing Peter Jackson using the virtual camera. I played with one of these a few years ago, and I’m as thoroughly amazed watching this kind of stuff now as I was back when this kind of tech debuted circa the production of Avatar.

Anyway, check it out below:

My Thoughts on the The Hobbit Fan Event

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Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel) tries to remember the size of the fish she caught…or something.

I was lucky enough to get a last-minute spot at the Hobbit Fan Event at the Grove theatre in LA, where I saw about 20 minutes of scenes (in 2D) from The Desolation of Smaug, along with a new production blog and a music video for Desolation’s end credit’s song - ”I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran. You can check them both out below:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Production Diary 12:

Ed Sheeran — I See Fire — The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug:

As you may have read, this event, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, consisted of 4 satellite-linked theaters (LA, New York, Wellington and London) that had live Q&A’s with cast and Peter Jackson, with many more theaters worldwide linked into the feed to watch the happenings.  Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel) was at my location.

Technically and logistically things went very smoothly.  I have to say that experiencing an impromptu competition over who can cheer the loudest between fans thousands of miles apart while simultaneously reading a scroll of live tweets from the thousands tuning in gave me a bit of future-shock, as it was a potent reminder of the amazingly connected world we live in these days.

As soon as I entered the theater and saw so many wearing obviously painstakingly assembled costumes I knew I was in the presence of some of the most devoted fans of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth. Several women cosplaying Tauriel looked so good clad in their intricately detailed elven garb sewn from expensive-looking materials that at first I thought I was running into paid models wearing wardrobe from the movie itself (they all turned out to be fans).

The event also drew a sizable contingent of people with New Zealand accents whom I’m guessing travelled here to see Lilly / Tauriel in person.  Lilly, by the way, was very funny and easygoing throughout the event, cracking jokes and interacting with the audience.  She also exuded passion for Tauriel and Tolkien’s world in general.  Since reading the Silmarillion she’d loved how badass the elves are, so this role was a dream come true.

As for the extended scenes that were screened: they were all great.  The action – particularly the badass moves pulled off by Tauriel and Legolas – was impressive, and the humorous moments were at least as funny as the best funny parts of An Unexpected Journey.  Lilly went through a ton of movement training in order to attain the fluid fighting style of the elves, and it shows.  I bet she’s going to be a huge crowd-pleaser this December.

Despite Peter Jackson and the WB representatives making a very big deal about the fact that very spoilery plot elements would be shown for the first time, it turned out that the screened scenes were all teased in the latest trailer (maybe they chose not to show the super-secret scenes at the last possible second?).

Here’s what was shown:

1. Bilbo climbing to the top of the forest canopy and then fighting with the spiders (who have great voices by the way).

2. The interrogation of the orc by Thranduil, Legolas and Tauriel.

3. Bilbo and the dwarves escape from the elves’ lair via barrels.

4. Bard, the dwarves and Bilbo have some moments of distrust while approaching Laketown by boat, before settling on a plan to smuggle themselves past the gates.

5. Outside the tunnel to Smaug’s lair, Balin remarks to Bilbo on the courage of Hobbits.

6. Bilbo descending the stairs inside the dragon’s lair, then walking (noisily) upon the seemingly endless pile of gold coins and jewels. (by the way, the treasure looks amazing, and the physics of how all of the small pieces of treasure interact is spot-on, mainly because most of it is practical rather than CG).

7. Finally, they showed the first few minutes of the Smaug reveal sequence.  This is done PERFECTLY – it’s obviously one of the most important sequences in the trilogy, and Jackson nailed it.  I had goosebumps.

The acting and action were uniformly great, and the tone/mood was consistent.  If Jackson manages to keep this tone and level of quality throughout the film we might end up getting one of the greatest adventure movies of all time.  In short, the most recent trailer rekindled my excitement for The Desolation Of Smaug, but this event sent me over the top.

3rd trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the best yet

This new 3-minute 3rd trailer reveals new shots and scenes from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, so keep that in mind when deciding whether to watch it.  One shot in particular seems to be a significant plot spoiler.

But you never know with Peter Jackson: his intention could very well be misdirection, which in recent years has (thankfully) become much more common in trailers.

That said, for me this is the most hype-inducing piece of promotional material we’ve gotten so far.  The posters have been lackluster, and, most importantly, the first two trailers didn’t properly tease Smaug.  This trailer is the first that does – and it has rekindled my hype embers into a fire.

Check it out below:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens on December 13 in the United States.  Click here for a list of worldwide release dates.

Desolation of Smaug trailer #2 at 60 fps

Thanks to Nic727 for creating this interpolated 60 fps version of the new trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and to Joel May for providing fast hosting.

Nick727:

I’ve made this 60fps version of the trailer. Hope you will enjoy.

Desolation of Smaug trailer #2 at 60 fps

PS: It’s in English with french subtitle (because I’m french)

It’ll be interesting to see how much the press (and Warner Bros.) will talk about the HFR 3D this time around. The scuttlebutt is that the Hobbit team treated the HFR aspect of An Unexpected Journey (and the criticisms) as a learning experience, has worked out all the kinks, and is now primed to deliver, with their work on Smaug, the same sense of wonder and dazzlement people got from movies like Jurassic Park, Avatar and the newest addition to that list of classics – Gravity.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug trailer #2 is now online!!

Warner Bros. has just released a brand new trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

This trailer gives us a taste of the conversation between Bilbo and Smaug, so avoid watching past the 1:53 mark it if you want to keep Smaug’s voice a surprise. I will say, though, that Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice is perfect and gave me goosebumps.

From what I see in this trailer the sequence in the dragon’s lair has a solid chance of topping the incredible “Riddles in the Dark” scene from An Unexpected Journey. The Bilbo/Smaug scenes are iconic and, for many fans, they’re the best part of the book. So I expect Peter Jackson to put tremendous care into making them perfect.

Check out the trailer below, or, if you want to watch it in HD, head over to thehobbit.com and choose 720P/1080P.

I hope we get to see an HFR version of this trailer soon!

Official HFR 3D version of the (current?) Desolation of Smaug trailer debuts

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In what appears to be the beginning of the promotion of the high frame rate 3D aspect of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, an official, 48 fps 3D version of the June trailer (there’s some confusion as to whether it contained any new shots) screened last Sunday at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) Awards in Amsterdam.

And the word is that the footage looks much improved over the 48 fps 3D from the first Hobbit movie. 3Dfocus.co.uk writes:

The trailer – which included a first full body shot of the dragon Smaug – looked pristine, and to this viewer had none of the ‘video’ quality which was a common criticism of the first installment.

THR reports:

The preview received enthusiastic applause from the technically savvy audience, which this week is exploring advancements in cinema and TV technology at the conference.

So did this trailer contain a new shot of Smaug that wasn’t in the first trailer, as 3Dfocus.co.uk reports?

Or should we trust The Hollywood Reporter, which writes that it was the “current trailer”?

In any event, we’re almost due for a brand new Desolation Of Smaug trailer – I expect a trailer packed with unrevealed footage to debut within the next 5 weeks.

Peter Jackson spoke via videotape at the IBC event about the importance of pushing the limits of cinema technology:

“Sometimes people don’t regard imagination and technology as being one and the same, supporting each other. In the case of the film industry – and particularly the films I make – I cannot exercise my imagination without the support of technology

This is a great time to be a filmmaker. Just about anything you imagine can be put on screen today. The amount of freedom I have is absolutely incredible. That is due to all the wonderful technology companies and the innovators out there who keep pushing the boundaries. There is going to be innovation in the entertainment business that we cannot even dream about today.”

That last sentence gets me hyped for the future of entertainment (not that I wasn’t hyped already!)  Jackson is right that many radical innovations are past the horizon and beyond our powers of extrapolation from current tech and trends.

Virtual Reality will be huge, as will ever increasing frame rates and resolution.  And I would count on a greater number of 360 degree dome-like theaters for full immersion without a VR headset.

But beyond that it’s almost impossible to predict which direction (or directions) entertainment will take.  Do all roads lead to The Matrix?

Martin Freeman is wrapped on The Hobbit

MartinFreemanWrapsTheHobbitPeter Jackson has posted to his Facebook page that Martin Freeman has completed his work as Bilbo Baggins:

Tonight Martin Freeman finished his last shot as Bilbo Baggins. The end of an incredible two and a half years. I cannot imagine anyone else in this role – a character that Martin has nurtured and crafted with love and great skill.

We have said goodbye to our elves, humans, wizards and now the hobbit. We now enter our final 2 weeks of pick-ups, and it’s wall to wall dwarves. These pick-ups have been gruelling and intense, but I’m so happy with what we’ve been shooting. These next two movies are going to be pretty great!

Bilbo Baggins joins Gandalf, Tauriel and Legolas as having completed the additional scenes that were added to the script when the decision was made to take The Hobbit from a two-parter to a trilogy.

But I doubt this is truly the end of their work since new shots, angles, etc are frequently deemed necessary as the master cut of a movie evolves during postproduction.  And sometimes even lengthy sequences are added at the last minute.

Jackson also just posted this picture of Benedict Cumberbatch admiring Martin Freeman’s hobbit feet – or, perhaps most likely, trying to piece together Bilbo’s history through deductive reasoning.1074788_10151722848426558_1725376922_o

Desolation of Smaug trailer has arrived!

I love a lot of things about this first trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  The music is catchy and exciting, Legolas is back, Tauriel looks like she’ll be a great action heroine, and the whole thing is just beautifully shot.

But I’ve got mixed feelings about the reveal of Smaug’s head at the end.  It’s good that they only showed his head and that it is obscured by shadow, but even that might have been a bit too much for me.  At the same time though I think he looks fantastic (love how huge he is!) and the shot definitely got me amped.

There’s still a ton of Smaug still unrevealed: his voice and personality, the way he moves, the look of his body and wings, his fire breath and, perhaps the most important visual highlight: his jewel and coin-encrusted belly and the way light and the environment play off of that.

Peter Jackson and the cast are currently in the midst of shooting additional footage for Desolation of Smaug and the third installment, There and Back Again.  I wonder how much of that new footage is intended for Desolation, and how much for Part 3?

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug releases in HFR 3D on December 13.

Poster for Desolation of Smaug & Teaser Trailer online Tuesday

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The first poster for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has been posted on The Hobbit’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Also confirmed is that the new teaser trailer will be unveiled this Tuesday, June 11th, at 10am PT / 1pm ET.

I like the poster –it relays the darker tone of the 2nd movie while adding context to the title (we see part of the desolation here) while, of course, teasing the dragon.

Now I wonder what the trailer will show?  All I want to see of Smaug himself is perhaps a reprise of that awesome eye from the end of the first film.  But maybe Peter Jackson will give us an even cooler tease?  In any event, with the impending first look at my most anticipated movie in years, plus all of the E3 hoopla, this coming week is going to be crazy fun.

Trailer for Desolation of Smaug Approved; Will Likely Release with Man of Steel

smaugThe first trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has just been approved by the the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). The trailer is listed on the BBFC’s site as running 2 minutes and 1 second. It received a 12A rating.

TheOneRing.net spotted a story on the Lebanese Cinema Movie Guide claiming the exclusive news that the Desolation trailer will be attached to Man of Steel on June 14, that it will be released online at 10:00 am PDT on June 12, and that it will be 2 minutes 30 seconds. TheOneRing, who think the timing of the trailer certification is a “very strong (although still not absolutely, 100% conclusive) indication that the trailer will be attached to Man of Steel),” has their own source telling them that the trailer will debut on Youtube on June 12, but an exact time was not provided.

So which of the 2 claimed trailer running times is correct? And will it indeed debut online before the launch of Man of Steel? Stay tuned for the official word!

Either way, I hope they take the Jurassic Park approach to revealing Smaug – in other words, build hype by keeping his design / voice / personality as secret as possible until the movie comes out.  Sure, maybe a claw eyeball, or scale can be shown to tease us, but I’d rather not see anything else until I’m viewing his scene with Bilbo in 48 fps 3D.