'Hobbit' Effects Guru Joe Letteri Says Peter Jackson's Prequel Changed Filmmaking: 'There Are Breakthroughs in Every Area' (VIDEO)

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'Hobbit' Review
Celebuzz's take on 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.' Read More »
'Hobbit's' High Frame Rate
Joe Letteri defends the film's innovative techniques. Read More »

Ever since Peter Jackson first announced that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey would be shot in 3D with cameras recording at a speed of 48 frames a second, pundits have analyzed how much his film might impact Hollywood as a whole.

But Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri, who previously worked on groundbreaking films from Star Wars to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, says that the techniques Jackson uses will reverberate in many areas of the industry.

In the past, when someone made a breakthrough like that, it would be because you had this sort of ‘a-ha! Moment,” Letteri told Celebuzz. "[Here,] there are breakthroughs in every area.”

Letteri, who spoke to Celebuzz at the New York press day for The Hobbit, said that the breakthroughs came as a result of numerous challenges the filmmakers faced in bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s source material to life.

“You’re not able to cheat any more when you’re shooting in stereo,” he said. (It just doesn’t work in movies like this, especially when the camera is moving around everywhere.” (By comparison, in the Lord of the Rings films Jackson was able to used forced perspective, where actors would be placed at different distances within the frame to simulate the correct sizes for different species.)

“We had to make two cameras work in synchronization in two different scales on two different stages simultaneously. That was one of the biggest challenges that brought 3D to it that was new.”

Letteri also said that the choice to shoot at 48 fps not just gave them multiple challenges, but produced multiple results, specifically for folks paying to see the film in theaters.

still produce the work without having to change too much of the pipeline downstream, meaning what we would need to do to make other versions of the film for release, like the 24 frame stereo and 24 frame not stereo.

“So now I think you have about four different choices as a viewer about how you want to view the film.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in theaters nationwide December 14, 2012. Watch the film’s theatrical trailer below, and let us know how you watched the film in the comments section!

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  • Mike Phillips
    Mike Phillips

    My wife and I saw the film at a IMAX 3D HFR screening in Dallas. Many times during the movie it seemed like my wife and I was watching 'reality' unfold directly in front of us. We noticed a few times some weird speed effects when Bilbo at the start was running around .. it seemed sped up and not natural. A few other times as well. Watching the movie had a strange effect on my wife, in that it made her seem nauseous. It didnt have that effect on me. The movie seemed a tad long, almost like we went straight to the extended version of the film. We'll see it again, this time in 2D and we'll skip any future HFR films in the future.

  • gray86

    love this. My The hobbit review: http://www.cinefilos.it/v2/?p=39708