Peter Jackson takes us on a tour of the tech behind The Hobbit

peter jackson Peter Jackson has been giving us glimpses into the production of The Hobbit, including behind the scenes images and interactions with the cast. That’s enough to get even the mildest LOTR fan excited, but cross that insider info with some background on the innovative technology behind the making of, and you’ve hooked us.


In a new video blog (which you can check out below), Peter Jackson says he would have used 3D in the original LOTR films if he’d had the ability – and that he actually took 3D photos on set that will hopefully someday make it to Blu-ray.

“Now the reality is that it’s not that difficult to shoot in 3D. I love it when a film draws you in and you become part of the experience, and 3D helps immerse in the film.”

concept artBefore you get too critical about the over-use of 3D in current films, remember how much the LOTR trilogy relied on CGI—graphics that now border on outdated, but at the time were breathtaking. Given the saga’s determination to top-notch visuals and Jackson’s commitment to the end product, we don’t expect cheesy 3D graphics for the sake of cheesy 3D graphics.

It’s possibly one of the first films in which even the concept art has been drawn in 3D. The artists responsible for these images have been rendering them separately in blue and red tones and viewing them via the classic red-blue 3D glasses. It helps unify the vision and ensure the final product is breathtaking.

48 frames per second

Earlier this year, Jackson announced that The Hobbit would shoot at 48 fps. That’s twice the normal rate of film and nearing how many frames the human eye can consumer in a second (60). “It’s a natural progression toward giving the viewer what they would actually see in the natural world,” says Gareth Daley, 3D camera supervisor on the film.

Earlier this year, Jackson explained this would enhance the overall look of the film. “The result looks like normal speed, but the image has hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness. 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.’” Check out this example to get an idea of the difference we’ll be seeing in The Hobbit.

This means that makeup and lighting artists must engineer everything so that it shows up realistically on camera. It’s a new challenge for the team to keep things looking detailed yet authentic—a serious undertaking considering the LOTR fandom.

red epicThe Red Epic

Bilbo might be the star of the film, but behind-the-scenes, all credit goes to the Red Epic cameras. It has 5K resolution , a 27 layer ASIC processor, and can shoot up to 120 fps at full 14-megapixel resolution—in a relatively discreet package.

Jackson has a special spot in his heart for the Red lineup. “I have always liked the look of Red footage. I’m not a scientist or mathematician, but the image Red produces has a much more filmic feel than most of the other digital formats. I find the picture quality appealing and attractive, and with the Epic, [the team] have gone even further. It is a fantastic tool, the EPIC not only has cutting edge technology, incredible resolution and visual quality, but it is also a very practical tool for film makers.”

He must be a fan: The Hobbit set is using 48 Red Epic cameras, all with their own monikers (ranging from Fergus to Tricky Woo). 

The Hobbit will be one of the first film’s to shoot with the Red Epic, although the Red One has made the rounds: The Social Network and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides are just two such examples. 


Playing ‘Battlefield V’ on an $800 Nvidia card is stunning. And disappointing

‘Battlefield V’ is the first game to use Nvidia’s ray tracing support, now available with the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards. The feature can, in an ideal scenario, make the game look better, but the performance hit may not be…
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Product Review

With outstanding image quality, the ‘basic’ Sony A7 III excels in every way

Replacing the four-year-old A7 II as the new entry-level model in Sony's full-frame line, the A7 III is an impressively capable camera that gives more expensive models a run for their money.
Product Review

DJI has always been the king of drones, and the new Mavics are almost perfect

After flying both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom for over a week, we’re convinced that these are two of the best drones that DJI has ever made.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Emerging Tech

Smarter cities need smarter addresses. And you just need 3 words

To make really smart transportation choices, more precise location data will have to be integrated with citywide transportation data. Here’s how one company is mapping the world by using just three words.
Emerging Tech

Ghostly galaxy discovered lurking on the edge of the Milky Way

A team of astronomers from the University of Cambridge have discovered a strange galaxy next door to the Milky Way. The dwarf galaxy, named Antlia 2, is dark and dim and gives out much less light than expected.
Emerging Tech

Ancient crater the size of NYC discovered under the Greenland ice sheet

A huge crater has been discovered beneath the ice of Greenland, and is thought to be the result of a meteorite impact millions of years ago. The crater is one of the largest ever discovered, measuring 19 miles across.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how the InSight mission to Mars will confirm its landing to NASA

NASA's InSight mission has sent a lander to Mars. NASA researchers have now shared details on how they will monitor the touching down of the lander at the end of its 91 million mile journey.
Emerging Tech

Would you swap your keycard for a microchip implant? For many, the answer is yes

Put down your keycard! More people are turning to implanted RFID chips as their choice of workplace identification. Should we be worried about a world in which employees get microchipped?

‘Super magnesium’ may be the next wonder material for outdoor gear

Super Magnesium is a wonder material that is 30 percent lighter than aluminum, as strong as carbon fiber, cheaper to make, and 100-percent recyclable, making it much better for the environment.