Peter Jackson will be shooting his two-part adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit in 3D and with the next generation of RED digital cameras according to a press release from the camera’s manufacturer, RED Digital Cinema.
Previously, there had been some question as to whether Jackson would be shooting The Hobbit for 3D or not. Guillermo del Toro, who had been attached to the project previously but had left over MGM’s continuing financial problems causing delays in getting the film greenlit, had stated that there had been some discussion as to whether or not the films were going to be shot in 3D but no decision had been made. Jackson has been mum on the subject since he took over the directorial reins after Del Toro’s exit.
Although he hasn’t shot an entire feature film on a digital camera yet, Jackson did shoot some of the aerial footage and visual effects plates for his last film, The Lovely Bones, with the RED One digital camera.
Many other directors are starting to make the switch to digital as well. David Fincher reportedly shot The Social Network with an updated RED One camera and will be using it again on his English language adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Steven Soderbergh, in the meantime, is planning on shooting his biotech thriller Contagion with the newer Red EPIC.
Interestingly, according to RED’s press release, below, the company is building 30 of their new EPIC model camera for the production. Given that two cameras are needed for each camera rig in order to shoot in 3D, this gives us a potential 15 camera rigs for the shoot. On Lord Of The Rings, Jackson often had several units shooting simultaneously around New Zealand in order to get the massive trilogy of films completed. Is it possible that he is looking at doing something similar with The Hobbit?
Aesthetically, I’m still not 100 per cent sold on digital cameras. While they present both numerous advantages to filmmakers, both economic and artistic, they still don’t quite capture the look of film for me. I’ll admit that maybe I’m subconsciously rejecting what I’m seeing because I know that it was digitally recorded and not captured on celluloid.
Here is RED Digital Cinema’s press release -
Peter Jackson’s two film adaptation of The Hobbit will be shot in 3D using RED DIGITAL CINEMA’S soon to be released EPIC Digital Cameras.
The successor to RED’s industry changing RED ONE, the EPIC has 5K resolution, can shoot up to 120 frames per second and has a new HDRx™™ mode for the highest dynamic range of any digital cinema camera ever made. Taking everything they had learned from building their first camera, RED designed the EPIC from scratch and have produced a smaller, lighter camera that is an order of magnitude more powerful.
The Hobbit will be amongst the first productions in the world to use the EPIC and at least thirty cameras will be required by the 3-D production. The EPIC’S small size and relatively low weight, makes it perfect for 3-D – where two cameras have to be mounted on each 3D rig.
Jackson has a long history with RED, dating back to when he directed the short film ‘Crossing the Line’ as a very early test of prototype RED ONE cameras. “I have always liked the look of Red footage.” he says, “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, Jim and his 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. Many competing digital systems require the cameras to be tethered to large cumbersome VTR machines. The Epic gives us back the ability to be totally cable free, even when working in stereo.”
Jim Jannard the owner and founder of RED flew to New Zealand earlier this year with members of his team so that Jackson could test the EPIC and assess its suitability. “Everybody at RED is incredibly proud that Peter has chosen the Epic” says Jannard, “The Hobbit is a major production, and could have chosen any camera system that they wanted. The fact that they went with us is extremely gratifying.”
The Hobbit will start shooting in New Zealand early next year.