The Hobbit: There and Back Again, will feature a major battle on an epic scale, contrary to how Tolkien describes it in The Hobbit book. Joe Letteri of Weta Digital*, speaking to Collider.com said:
“The biggest task left is to stage the Battle of the Five Armies. In the book, it’s mostly about the dialogue but they are going to make it a big action scene.”
He also compared the Battle of the Five Armies to the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers. It’s all very exciting stuff and bodes well for the rest of the trilogy.
Letteri had a lot to say on other technical and digital matters, such as the present trend for tweaking digital effects. The LOTR films now use 10-year old digital technology, but he would definitely not want to see them enhanced to ‘bring them up to date’, although he can understand why Lucas “modernizes” the early Star Wars movies because the effects were created in a pre-digital age.
Here’s a short summary of points covered in the interview, taken from Collider.com. Click over to the site to see the whole thing:
Joe Letteri Time Index:
Talks about unveiling The Hobbit for the fans and turning one book into three movies.
1:00 – Likes that performance capture technology has reached a new level in terms of integrating CG characters into live-action filming and creating worlds digitally.
3:15 – Walks us through the process of an effects-heavy scene, from the idea in the script to the finished product. Uses the troll scene as an example, which developed over 18 months.
5:20 – Letteri thinks the movies exist as a part of their time, and doesn’t want to go back in and tweak the effects. But he understands why Lucas “modernizes” the early Star Wars movies because the effects were created in a pre-digital age. The Lord of the Rings movies were created with digital effects, so they should hold up better on Blu-ray.
8:20 – Production was already underway when the third Hobbit movie was announced, so Letteri and his team pushed back some of what they had been working on and should be right on track for the next two movies.
9:20 – So far they have only worked a bit on the dragon Smaug, based on the demands of the movies. Smaug will come into the forefront more over the next two movies.
10:40 – The biggest task left is to stage the Battle of the Five Armies. In the book, it’s mostly about the dialogue. On screen, they are going to make it a big action scene.
12:20 – Compares the Battle of Helm’s Deep to the Battle of the Five Armies.
12:50 – The most difficult scene to design in The Hobbit was the goblin caverns. “There is no traditional floor plane. There’s no horizon line. Everything exists in three dimensional space.”
13:50 – They decided to not use miniatures mostly because of the stereo. Using miniatures locks in the perspective, but creating everything digitally allowed more camera freedom.
* Weta Digital is a world leading visual effects company based in Wellington, New Zealand, responsible for all digital production in the Hobbit and LOTR films.