18 December 2011

Joe Letteri on the Evolution of Gollum

In a recent interview with MovieWeb.com, senior visual effects supervisor Joe Latteri  talked about his collaborations with actor Andy Serkis, who recently brought to life the ape Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and who is reprising his role as Gollum for The Hobbit: There and Back Again.  

“Without getting into what he is going to look like on screen, and everything, because we are saving that...Technically, what has been good about this, is that we did Gollum the first time around, and it was the first time that we were doing performance capture in a film,” Letteri said. “But we couldn't record on the stage. Andy was performing with all of the other actors. But then he would have to come out, and do his performance again on a motion capture stage. We would fit the two together. He would mimic his first performance, and we would put it in with the other actors.”

“When we did Avatar, we created this whole virtual world. It was completely immersive, and everything was in this virtual world. What we did with Rise of the Planet of the Apes was come full circle with it. We took all of the technology we created for Avatar, and we figured out a way to make that on set. How to make it work within exterior sets. That way, Andy could be in the scene with all of the other actors. So you're not getting a second performance from him, trying to duplicate the first. You are getting the performance that he did with James Franco and Freida Pinto, and everyone else.”

“It closed the gap for us, to have Andy be right there in the movie, and have that be his performance. That's the thing we finally got to do with Gollum. Just as a way of nicely closing the circle.”

The Hobbit: There and Back Again will be in theatres on December 13, 2013, and Serkis and Letteri will collaborate yet again to work on Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2, which is scheduled to hit theatres in 2015.

17 December 2011

Hobbit Trailer to Stream December 20

There has been a lot of hype surrounding the release of the first trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, to be released on December 13, 2012. If you’ve been keeping track of all of this Hobbit news, you know, of course, that the trailer for the first installment will be shown in theatres before The Adventures of Tintin on Wednesday the 21st; however, the studio announced today that a fifteen-minute satellite feed of the trailer will stream at 10 P.M. ET/PT on Tuesday, December 20, and again at 9 A.M. ET/PT on Wednesday, December 21.

So for those of you who, like me, cannot wait to see it, here’s your chance to catch it a day early!

15 December 2011

More Hobbit Trailer Details Emerge

The Internet is abuzz again as new details emerge on the trailer for The Hobbit, which was recently shown at the Butt-Numb-A-Thon (BNAT) Film Festival. For those of you hoping to keep the trailer a surprise, this story contains many spoilers – so stop reading now if you want to be surprised when the trailer hits theatres.

The trailer, according to one viewer, opens with Ian Holm’s Bilbo conversing with Frodo about his adventures. The scene then shifts to Gandalf introducing young Bilbo (Martin Freeman) to the thirteen Dwarves as he enlists the Hobbit’s help.

As we all know, Bilbo refuses at first, as Hobbits and adventure do not go hand-in-hand. 

The trailer then cuts to the Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, singing “a long slow song.” This is followed by a montage of traveling and fighting scenes. We are able to catch a glimpse of Rivendell, the shards of Narsil, and perhaps even Lord Elrond. The trailer does not, however, show any signs of the dragon Smaug or of Beorn the Shape-shifter.

While the plot itself is not revealed, Thorin does tell Gandalf that he cannot guarantee a safe return; “Nor will I be responsible for his fate,” he adds. And this is where the trailer ends: Gandalf warns Bilbo that if he does return, he may be changed (here we get a sneak peak of Gollum and the One Ring).  

If you’re like me and cannot contain your excitement, just remember that there are only a few more days – six more, in fact – until the release of The Adventures of Tintin and the preview for The Hobbit!  

Only 29 Days Left to Register for Mythgard's Spring 2012 Semester!

There are only 29 days left to register for Mythgard’s spring 2012 courses.

What is Mythgard, you ask?

Mythgard Institute was founded in 2011 by Corey Olsen (the Tolkien Professor) and designed for those students with a love of fantasy and literature. For the serious scholar and the serious fan alike, Mythgard offers “challenging, engaging classes, taught by world-class teachers and leading scholars,” which can be taken at either the MA level, or audited just for fun.  

How do courses at Mythgard work?

Students enrolled in Mythgard courses meet for three instructional hours each week and will participate in a 90-minute weekly Primary Lecture (given by the instructor and special guest lecturers). Additionally, students will take part in 60-minute Discussion Sessions and end the week with a 30-minute Closing Session, led by the instructor, who will address any questions submitted by students during the Discussion Session. As these are MA-level courses, students can also expect to write essays (a total of 30-35 pages, or about 8,000-10,000 words per semester).

Available Courses at Mythgard:

This fall, Mythgard got off to a great start with “Tolkien and the Epic,” a course featuring guest lecturers Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger, and Michael Drout. Watch the video below to hear one Mythgard student, Carl Buonadonna, talk about his experience: 

This spring, Mythgard resumes with “The Making of Myth: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien,” taught by Professor Corey Olsen, and “Taking Harry Seriously: The Artistry and Meanings of the Harry Potter Saga,” taught by Professors Amy H. Sturgis and Travis Prinzi. These courses are a must for any fantasy lover!

Enroll Today!

Does Mythgard sound like something you’d be interested in? Do you have a friend or loved one who might enjoy a course on Lewis and Tolkien or Harry Potter? Why not give the gift of Mythgard this holiday season with a “Ticket to Learning”? These pre-paid gift certificates are available online as a printable PDF.

Applications for enrollment will be open through January 13th.

For more information on Mythgard, course schedules, and gift certificates, visit their website, follow them on Twitter, ‘Like’ their Facebook page, and check out more of their videos on YouTube!

12 December 2011

Fans' Reactions to Hobbit Trailer

Two days ago, audiences at the Butt-Numb-A-Thon geek film festival in Texas were shown the teaser trailer for The Hobbit, and Twitter has been buzzing with fan reactions ever since.

The trailer, originally set to hit U.S. theaters this Christmas with the release of The Adventures of Tintin, was presented by Elijah Wood and Eric Vespe (“Quint” from Ain’t It Cool News), who has been reporting from the set of The Hobbit for the past few months.

While Vespe could not physically attend the film festival, he did send along a video of messages from the set of The Hobbit. Jordan Hoffman of IFC News wrote that, “Sir Ian McKellan appeared in costume as Gandalf the Grey and, through the magic of cinema (and some pyrotechnics in the theater) Vespe appeared in the flesh,” and that, “As a gag, he handed the hard drive containing the trailer to frequent BNAT attendee Elijah Wood to bring to the projection room, adding, "keep it secret, keep it safe."”

Hoffman also added that, “Hearing the music and seeing The Shire I was surprised at the flood of emotions that hit me. It was like seeing old friends. (And something to look out for: a band of Dwarves sing. It's a thing of beauty.)”

TheOneRing.net described the trailer as, “pretty much the Holy Grail for HOBBIT fans who have waited a decade to see a first glimpse of Peter Jackson’s return to Middle-earth.”

Those who had seen the trailer were asked not to go into specific detail about what they had seen. One staff member from AICN, Nordling, commented on the nature of the trailer, stating that “it’s more character-based than epic, but it’s like slipping into a warm embrace from a very old friend that you haven’t seen in many years.”

Many fans are speculating that the teaser for The Hobbit may also be attached to the upcoming Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, another Warner Bros. production. Thankfully, with Christmas fast approaching, the wait for the unveiling of The Hobbit teaser is also drawing to a close.

06 December 2011

Hobbit Cast ‘Like Family,’ says Abbington

Martin Freeman’s partner, actress Amanda Abbington, has taken the couple's two children, Joe and Grace, to New Zealand to watch their father portray Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit.

Before the cast and crew could begin filming, they had to be welcomed onto Maori soil.

 “It was sacred ground,” Abbington said, “so before they could start filming we had this thing called a ‘powhiri’ where the Maoris accept you into their family.”

Sir Ian McKellen gave a speech at the foot of the mountain “about how actors are a tribe of people as well, who don't recognise colour, creed or religion. They're just thrown together.

 “That's what it's like over here. You've got loads of people from all over the world coming in and it's like a lovely family. We came back a few weeks ago and it's just like coming home.”