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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Peter Jackson On Doing Away With Miniature Photography For The Hobbit
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News from Bree

Jul 16 2012, 7:31am

Post #1 of 72 (3840 views)
Peter Jackson On Doing Away With Miniature Photography For The Hobbit Can't Post

Given the awe-inspiring miniatures and "bigatures" used for The Lord of the Rings, many of TORn's members have been questioning (some with a pang of longing!) the decision to do away with miniature photography for The Hobbit, speculating the use of 3D may have had something to do with it.

Whilst poring over the numerous press interviews and Q&As conducted with Peter Jackson over the course of this weekend, we found the answer via Collider.com in PJ's response to the question of what the biggest advances in technology have been since The Lord of the RingsHe says:
The technology that advanced the most, in the last 10 or 12 years, is really the fact that we did a lot of miniature shooting on The Lord of the Rings. All the big architectural structures of Middle Earth were really miniatures, some of them quite large. But, you're limited to what you can do with a miniature because you literally have to have a big camera that has to sweep past it, so you can't get too close to it and the detail doesn't hold up too well, if you do. 

This time around, there are no miniatures. It's all done with CGI.  Everything that we need to build, from a miniature point of view, we build as a CG miniature. I can now swoop in, over rooftops and through doorways. I can do things that I never could have dreamt of doing with the miniatures. For me, that's actually one of the most profound differences. 

(This post was edited by Earl on Jul 16 2012, 1:04pm)


Jul 16 2012, 1:13pm

Post #2 of 72 (2297 views)
While I accept that the technology has advanced in the last 10 years.... [In reply to] Can't Post

It would still be nice to have some miniatures used.

It's all good saying: "the detail doesn't hold up too well, if you do". When in reality, neither does CGI....

Tol Eressea

Jul 16 2012, 1:16pm

Post #3 of 72 (2133 views)
yeah..... we did speculate a lot on this matter, and looks like my fears were realised.... but oh well. As long as it looks fine, I'm fine. [In reply to] Can't Post

Just a bit sad that's all ... had to be done apparently.


oh vell

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Jul 16 2012, 1:20pm

Post #4 of 72 (2193 views)
I am kinda sad and also not much at the same time. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it was nice he did utilise other means of making the sets etc for the trilogy. For me i think you can tell they are miniatures a lot of the time and that might be even more obvious 10 years on.

For me even though i know when things are CGI, my mind can accept it more than it could Miniatures which when noticed my mind just went something like 'this looks wrong!'

I can appreciate the design, artwork and skill that went into them though.

I think i will be in a minority though as to people who are a little sad but think he did the right thing.


Jul 16 2012, 1:25pm

Post #5 of 72 (2186 views)
I agree that miniatures can be obvious [In reply to] Can't Post

But the use of CGI (for me) is just as much (if not more) obvious than miniatures. Poor/obvious CGI is more distracting than a set or miniature.

Of course, 10 years worth of CGI advancement may mean that it is less obvious. Since we've not be shown anything yet (apart from the trailer), I'll have to reserve judgment. I might change my mind and think getting rid of miniatures was a good idea.

Kangi Ska

Jul 16 2012, 1:26pm

Post #6 of 72 (2071 views)
It is really all about the end product. [In reply to] Can't Post

With models and CGI the results are only as good as the skill, time and money spent. We are now at a point where the skill of the model builder can be tied to the rendering power of the supercomputer to produce awesome results.

Kangi Ska Resident Trickster & Wicked White Crebain
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Jul 16 2012, 1:34pm

Post #7 of 72 (2092 views)
Yeah ultimately i cant say one way over the other for sure [In reply to] Can't Post

I think its just a matter of opinion/taste as to if someone prefers a miniature but you can tell its fake or CGI but you can tell its fake.

For me its the latter, even though i cant help feeling there is more skill in creating a miniature which im sure isnt exactly true. I imagine the skills for both are great and take lots of time and effort, but a miniature is something i feel i could have a better go at, or at least imagine how it was made.

Maybe its because miniatures are not so used in film now where as CGI is everywhere so i have got used to it and accept it even when i know its not real, a greater suspension of disbelief perhaps with CGI?

Like Kangi Ska we have got to a point now where the two are either equal or in PJ's view CGI has just crept ahead in last ten years. We shall see!


Jul 16 2012, 1:53pm

Post #8 of 72 (2047 views)
results [In reply to] Can't Post

I am sure they did testing. If they did and found CGI the way to go I am glad they chose it. Just looking at Moore's Law over a decade is quite a leap in computer technology.


Jul 16 2012, 2:23pm

Post #9 of 72 (2061 views)
I thinkI can definitely tell the difference between CGI and real life [In reply to] Can't Post

sculptures/sets/sceneries. PJ and his team are pretty innovative, though, so I'm interested in seeing how he implements the CGI in the films. It's really exciting, but I will miss the miniatures. They were so amazing!


Jul 16 2012, 2:57pm

Post #10 of 72 (2024 views)
I think it's sad.... [In reply to] Can't Post

... because I admire the artistry that went into the LotR miniatures, it was such a big part of the story. But I suppose they have to go with whatever they think will look better in the final film.

I hope all those clever model makers still have work to go to.

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Jul 16 2012, 3:02pm

Post #11 of 72 (2017 views)
Well actually... [In reply to] Can't Post

... the fall of Barad-dur was completely CGI and it blows my mind every single time.

Given how far CGI has advanced in the past decade, and the fact that Weta is behind all of this, I don't have any fears about the quality of the CGI. My only sadness is the loss of models because they were so beautifully done in LOTR and that they were tangible things that could be felt.

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Jul 16 2012, 3:06pm

Post #12 of 72 (1985 views)
Does it really matter? [In reply to] Can't Post

When I saw the Fellowship of the Ring for the first time I thought everything was CGI and I still wasn't distracted or thought it looked wrong. And take what we have seen on the trailer. The shot with Galadriel and Gandalf standing on the edge of a waterfall with a bit of Rivendell in the background looked even better that they did in the original trilogy. That was all CGI right?

And even in ROTK when Sauron's towers collapses and then explodes, did anyone find it disappointing that it was CGI? It still looked grand and detailed to me.

PJ and company are their own hardest critics when it comes to details and visuals. I don't think any of us have to be concerned. And I am looking forward to those new shots he's talking about.

Aragorn the Elfstone
Tol Eressea

Jul 16 2012, 3:14pm

Post #13 of 72 (1977 views)
Tragic [In reply to] Can't Post

Even today, a decade later, I've yet to see CG work that looks better than the miniature work on LotR. It just doesn't have the realism. I'm genuinely disappointed in this news. Hopefully it doesn't all have a plastic fake look, but I'm certainly worried.

"All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds awake to find that it was vanity; But the dreamers of day are dangerous men. That they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible."
- T.E. Lawrence

(This post was edited by Aragorn the Elfstone on Jul 16 2012, 3:15pm)


Jul 16 2012, 3:24pm

Post #14 of 72 (1937 views)
Good point Earl [In reply to] Can't Post

Brilliant CGI for that scene!


Jul 16 2012, 4:01pm

Post #15 of 72 (1909 views)
The models were superb... [In reply to] Can't Post

...and when I first read this I instantly got a "George Lucasy/Star Wars prequels" vibe, but honestly, Peter Jackson brought King Kong to life incredibly convincingly (and that was 7 years ago). The man has a good handle on realistic CGI. Well, he and Weta. I don't think there's much to worry about. I still think even certain shots of the wargs in The Two Towers make them look like actual animals, let alone Gollum and everything else that was CGI in those films.

Old movie tricks and techniques are swell, but if they're unnecessary, then they're unnecessary.

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Black Breathalizer

Jul 16 2012, 4:36pm

Post #16 of 72 (1964 views)
No Minis = Great news [In reply to] Can't Post

Elfstone wrote: Even today, a decade later, I've yet to see CG work that looks better than the miniature work on LotR. It just doesn't have the realism. I'm genuinely disappointed in this news. Hopefully it doesn't all have a plastic fake look, but I'm certainly worried.

I'm a big fan of the LOTR "big-atures" too but they were simply a means to an end.

Fans seem to forget that the reason Jackson used miniatures in the first place back in the 1990s for filming the LOTR films is that he wanted to bring the sense of realism that his miniatures provided that he just couldn't get from CG at that time. So do fans really believe that the same Peter Jackson who was adamant about using miniatures instead of CG would suddenly do a abrupt about-face and take an approach that would result in a plastic or fake look for The Hobbit films?!?!?!?!?! Not in a million years.

Clearly, Jackson's decision to not use miniatures this time around means Weta has advanced their technology to the point where their CG creations look BETTER than the miniatures used for the LOTR. We should be celebrating rather than getting worried----This is fantastic news!!!

Tol Eressea

Jul 16 2012, 4:44pm

Post #17 of 72 (1855 views)
I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

Jackson would not decide to go with CG just for the heck of it. They've clearly done tests with miniatures and it didn't look good enough.

I'm not worried at all. LOTR was made 12 years ago.


Jul 16 2012, 4:46pm

Post #18 of 72 (1909 views)
There seems to be a conversation going on in the background [In reply to] Can't Post

...or beneath the surface. PJ's comments are in stark contrast to GDT's comments about CGI and motion capture at the top of this year's Hall H session.

What with that, and Christopher Tolkien's breaking silence recently (whose remarks were not lost on PJ apparently) I'm guessing Sir Peter is feeling a bit set upon.

It's odd really but only because they made such a big deal about the use of bigatures in the LOTR Extras. On the other hand the flying scene through Minas Tirith looked great as 100% CGI. I suppose the scenes in which Smaug is flying will look better than they might have if he was inserted over practical sets.


Jul 16 2012, 4:52pm

Post #19 of 72 (1838 views)
Agree.. [In reply to] Can't Post

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Jul 16 2012, 4:53pm

Post #20 of 72 (1887 views)
What did GdT say? [In reply to] Can't Post

And are you speculating that their apparently disparate opinions on the subject might have been a subtext behind GdT's leaving the production?

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Jul 16 2012, 5:02pm

Post #21 of 72 (1902 views)
The bigature of Minas Tirith [In reply to] Can't Post

Looked far more realistic than the flying CGI models.

However, I am going to say something uncharacteristic and trust PJ 100% on this. He seems completely convinced that CGI models will look better than the bigatures and miniatures.

My only concern is his comment about CGI letting him fly through doors, etc. If there's one thing that makes CGI look false to me, it's that the camera can go wherever it wants, into every nook and cranny, to the heights and to the deeps. And something about that heightens the sense that this is just a digital cartoon I am watching, not a real movie. That was a real problem with the Star Wars prequels, for example.

Black Breathalizer

Jul 16 2012, 5:06pm

Post #22 of 72 (1834 views)
special effects [In reply to] Can't Post

SirDennisC wrote: It's odd really but only because they made such a big deal about the use of bigatures in the LOTR Extras.

True. But in the world of CGI film technology, 13 years ago is prehistoric.

I have read Peter Jackson's biography and if there is one thing we should all understand about the man, it's that he really cares deeply about the quality of the special effects in his films. I have absolutely no doubt that we are all going to be blown away by the special effects this December.

In all the 'fuss' about the 48 frames per second, the one little factoid that the press seems to have glossed over is that a film's 3D effects are significantly enhanced at 48 frames versus 24 frames per second.

One last thing - I think we should make it a bannable offense to ever mention the Star Wars prequels when talking about special effects for the Hobbit films. Smile Wink

(This post was edited by Black Breathalizer on Jul 16 2012, 5:12pm)

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Tol Eressea

Jul 16 2012, 5:09pm

Post #23 of 72 (1867 views)
I was just saying yesterday [In reply to] Can't Post

how fantasy films have become too reliant on CGI. Over the past hundred years there have been countless fantasy films that have never needed the "benefit" of computers. Look at The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Wizard of Oz, heck, even horror flicks fall into the same equation. While I agree that computers allow to make things a heck of a lot easier, I still think it gets abused. It should make only be used for difficulties, or things that just can't be done practically. Del Toro is someone that I think uses it prominently, just as Jackson did with LotR or King Kong.

Still, I always give the benefit of a doubt, especially seeing as how Pete hasn't failed me so far, and The Hobbit is (as I among many would deem) a much different story than LotR. So maybe having a more crisp look will be good, but still, miniatures and bigatures will always be awesome in my book, especially for someone who grew up watching giant monster movies.

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Jul 16 2012, 5:24pm

Post #24 of 72 (1817 views)
Well, that's an important detail [In reply to] Can't Post

IF you care about 3D cinema.

If you don't care a whit about 3D (and I don't, really), then you won't really care a whit about 48fps enhancing the 3D viewing experience.


Jul 16 2012, 6:11pm

Post #25 of 72 (1824 views)
I can't help but wonder... [In reply to] Can't Post

having met the guy (as you know) and having read just about everything published on the subject of his leaving, he never breaths the slightest wiff of animosity or regret over what might have been. It really is not in his nature to do so.

However I've also noticed, as I am sure you have too, the way certain kinds of conversations play out in public: that is in bits and pieces across seemingly unrelated stories. There is a narrative there. The trick is discerning what is relevant and what is not. Timing and context -- not just the background of remarks mind you, but also the symbolism of the gesture -- all have to be taken into account when piecing the narrative together.

All that aside, when you look at how the two directors have brought their iconic (non-human) characters to life a conversation about motion capture vs practical effects was always pending between them. It may be part of what lead to GDT's departure but I also believe the official story (studio delays etc).

Follows is an excerpt for The Hollywood Reporter's coverage of Hall H. I'll leave you to decide if G's remarks take on a different hue given the timing and the venue in which they were made:

With his Mexican accent, his eloquent profanity, and his ability to speak geek, del Toro talked of the creative process behind the movie, in which he combined his drive to make the film’s destruction as real as possible, while also retaining heart.
“No f---ing motion capture,” he exclaimed of his choice to eschew that technique to convey the Jaegers. “I don’t want the robots moving like human beings. They need to move like a shock absorber and gears move.”He also described how the production had the soundstages rigged so that sidewalks, cars, and streets actually crumbled and shook when filming monsters stalking cities.

Full story.

(The bit at the end addresses the use of practical sets over CG sets. Remarks about CG specifically can be lifted from this video: http://www.youtube.com/...amp;feature=youtu.be.)

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Jul 16 2012, 6:13pm)

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