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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Gollum CGI - same or enhanced and if so, how much?


Sep 25 2012, 6:42pm

Post #1 of 25 (1412 views)
Gollum CGI - same or enhanced and if so, how much? Can't Post

I wonder how much "improvement" in Gollum's CGI is possible over the original? Will they keep them similar for continuity? From the trailers, I have not picked anything up that says..."new and improved"....but in reality, the original was so good that I am not sure how much more can be done other than showing every pore on his skin. Maybe subtle muscle movements around eyes, mouth etc.

The motion capture technology looked similar, but I have no idea what has changed over 10 years in the rendering etc. I assume greater but is it something that will be seen on screen? The 48 fps and 3-d will have a big impact in comparison....not sure about the underlying CGI.

(This post was edited by Eruonen on Sep 25 2012, 6:45pm)


Sep 25 2012, 6:51pm

Post #2 of 25 (724 views)
it will be a million times better [In reply to] Can't Post

but "new and improved" has nothing to do with how it appears to some extent.

I would guess that they rebuilt Gollum from the ground up (new modeling, texturing, rigging, etc. etc.) while obviously maintaining the visual aesthetic of Gollum from the trilogy.

So really they are just changing the "guts" so to speak and how the animators work with the character/Andy's performance, etc. Using the old model would be inefficient.

I get the feeling he was entirely mo-capped as reference this time, and on set too!

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair; and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater."-J.R.R. Tolkien

"Thanks for the money!" -George Lucas


Sep 25 2012, 6:53pm

Post #3 of 25 (682 views)
They're shooting in a new format. [In reply to] Can't Post

The definition in the Hobbit films will be much higher than in TLotR, so the old gollum would not look so good on screen. They have to work the details and the fluidity of animation I guess

Tol Eressea

Sep 25 2012, 7:10pm

Post #4 of 25 (587 views)
There will be subtle improvements [In reply to] Can't Post

You're right, the original was already so good, there won't be big leaps. Personally, i have a hard time discerning what is new and improved with this new Gollum. It's also difficult to make comparisons, because Gollum in Hobbit will be in different situations. Sometimes it's apples and oranges.


Sep 25 2012, 7:18pm

Post #5 of 25 (660 views)
In a couple ScreenCaps he has [In reply to] Can't Post

Redness around his eyes
Also a redness on his Nose like he has a cold.
Fingers are muddy in one shot.
Facial expressions are more vivid.
Speed of movement is much more lifelike.
PJ said his favorite was Wet Gollum at the Forbidden Pool
so here he likely Wet too.
Also since Sting is the sole lightsource you can make out
Sting reflected in his eyes
in Close Up.

We also need to remember this S/G in 3D!

Since this scene was shot First..What a year ago...?
Bound to have improvements that will
Astound us.


Sep 25 2012, 7:21pm

Post #6 of 25 (612 views)
It seems the rendering has improved [In reply to] Can't Post

Though overall, he looks less convincing than he did in LOTR (so far.) this may have to do with digital, high res, and a different cinematographic aesthetic. Not quite sure, but he looks a tad more cartoonish this time around.


Sep 25 2012, 7:27pm

Post #7 of 25 (563 views)
Difficult to compare [In reply to] Can't Post

After all, with LOTR we had full cinematic releases, followed by high quality blue ray releases. With TH, we have largely only had relatively low quality trailers viewed on our computer screens (except for the few lucky ones that have seen the trailer in the theater).

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Sep 25 2012, 7:57pm

Post #8 of 25 (566 views)
he is a lot more cartoony this time around [In reply to] Can't Post

rereading the hobbit I was taken aback by how funny, but devious Gollum is in the Hobbit. Before we got any indication of Peter's Hobbit Gollum, I honestly couldn't imagine the LOTR Gollum of cinema translated into Tolkien's earlier work.

The jury is still out, but I think Andy is a funny guy and will embrace the more exaggerated elements of the Gollum character this time around. for better or worse.

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair; and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater."-J.R.R. Tolkien

"Thanks for the money!" -George Lucas


Sep 25 2012, 8:00pm

Post #9 of 25 (545 views)
The light [In reply to] Can't Post

I think one problem with the LotR Gollum was the shadow and light on his skin, wich didn't always match with the rest of the scene. In the hobbit there will be only the lighting of Gollum's cave, and it will probably ease the work of the technician. I think it will be flawless this time.


Sep 25 2012, 8:22pm

Post #10 of 25 (516 views)
or, on the contrary... [In reply to] Can't Post

What if PJ re-renders Gollum on the trilogy for future edition?
On the commentaries, if I recall correctly, PJ said that they improved Gollum even more for The Return of the King, so if you watch carefully you will notice some subtle changes in Gollum's face structure between TT and ROTK.

Don't know if PJ will fix some of this, but the fact is that ROTK has more scenes with an almost perfect tangible Gollum than TT. Maybe just a re-render will do

"The World is Changed, I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air"

(This post was edited by Oscarilbo on Sep 25 2012, 8:23pm)


Sep 25 2012, 8:28pm

Post #11 of 25 (517 views)
Yes, from what I've seen thats going to go better this time around [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
I think one problem with the LotR Gollum was the shadow and light on his skin, wich didn't always match with the rest of the scene. In the hobbit there will be only the lighting of Gollum's cave, and it will probably ease the work of the technician. I think it will be flawless this time.

There were some scenes with Gollum the first time around in which they had a difficult time matching his 'shade' to the surroundings they were inserting him into. I noticed this in particular in some of the outdoor and better lit scenes, like the marshlands and in Ithilien. There were a couple times where he looked downright phony. I recall one shot in Osgiliath, after Sam gave his speech and Farimir decided to allow them to move on; the camera cut to Frodo, Sam and Gollum in on one frame and it looked horrible. It really looked like whomever had been assigned to do the final grading must have been hung over that day.

From what I've seen so far Gollum looks like he's shaded to a higher level of realism or consistency, whatever you want to call it. It also seems (IMO) that his skin texture is a little more detailed and his movements are just a little smoother, in particular the movements of his facial muscles. Just an impression, pretty hard to tell for sure since we haven't seen much of him so far.

"Alas for Boromir! It was too sore a trial!"



Sep 25 2012, 8:55pm

Post #12 of 25 (502 views)
I think its pretty obvious this Gollum looks better. [In reply to] Can't Post

The real question is, will PJ go back and update the old gollum with this one?

Kangi Ska

Sep 25 2012, 10:21pm

Post #13 of 25 (421 views)
I hope not. [In reply to] Can't Post

Shades of Starwars!

Kangi Ska Resident Trickster & Wicked White Crebain
Life is an adventure, not a contest.

At night you can not tell if crows are black or white.


Sep 25 2012, 10:21pm

Post #14 of 25 (448 views)
IMO, Gollum looked his realest [In reply to] Can't Post

In Ithilien, during the rabbit stew episode.

Tol Eressea

Sep 25 2012, 11:27pm

Post #15 of 25 (381 views)
As long as we get to see every [In reply to] Can't Post

pimple and crease on his greasy skin, since he's so well lit in the scene with Bilbo it will all be good. Maybe he'll even bake Bilbo a cake since he is his new BFF CrazyCrazy


Sep 25 2012, 11:37pm

Post #16 of 25 (402 views)
Personally the part that I liked him best... [In reply to] Can't Post

...was right at the end of "The Two Towers" as he was leading them through the woods toward Shelob and muttering to himself about his little trap. He looked great in that scene.

re: the "cartooniness" factor - one thing I noticed throughout the new trailer was a greater diversity of color in most scenes (except of course The Shire, which was already quite colorful in the original and looks about the same now). Quite a lot of the LOTR trilogy was filmed in different monochrome palettes - e.g. anything dark tended to be a very blue image; Rivendell had a sort of orangey-tan look; even the well-lit outdoor scenes and flashbacks tended to an ashy gray (which was fine since so many of them were around/in Mordor, or the drab exterior of Helm's Deep and Osgiliath). Partly I think this was to give the trilogy a more grim and realistic feel, and monochrome palettes were very in vogue at the time generally (think the battle scenes of "Saving Private Ryan" for instance). But another effect that may have been fully intentional was to make the CGI blend into the environment more convincingly. Lighting and render issues are more easily disguised if there are less colors in play - and also when the effect is more in darkness and shadow. Thus some of the best-remembered effects were in blue and darkness (the cave troll) or were painstakingly presented in washed-out scenes (basically everything involving Gollum). It was smart and it worked for those movies.

Now with "The Hobbit," the tone of the story is more appropriate to a wider array of colors, and WETA/PJ probably feel they have the tech to pull it off this time. In fact, Gollum probably looks "better" from the standpoint that if you put him side-by-side next to a brightly-lit, full-color render of old Gollum, he likely blows him off the screen. But they spent more time covering up old Gollum. They're gonna be showing off the new one.

I'm actually sort of glad to see them swinging for the fences, and I do think Gollum looks great. (I also think the trolls look good, and will probably end up looking even better in a few months.) Some of the other effects were iffy and could benefit from more masking, but that was true at times in LOTR too.


Sep 26 2012, 1:25am

Post #17 of 25 (344 views)
Ah yes, there too [In reply to] Can't Post

Also, that long, continuous shot of Gollum is one of PJ's most inspired. Reminded me of Cuaron's long shot during the car chase in Children of Men.


Sep 26 2012, 2:11am

Post #18 of 25 (340 views)
Just what I was thinking. [In reply to] Can't Post

You begin by improving Gollum's rending and you end up with Sauron screaming "NoOoOoOoooo" while his cut off finger flies in 3D trough the air.

(This post was edited by Ffnir on Sep 26 2012, 2:11am)


Sep 26 2012, 5:23am

Post #19 of 25 (311 views)
well... [In reply to] Can't Post

that fear is understandable. But PJ is not George Lucas, and in that case PJ would not change the dynamics, or alter the context of a scene, or the integrity of a character. If he just want to update old CGI for the matter of visual consistency of the whole saga, I think that's fine, it wouldn't be too much anyway.

I personally don't like the idea of see the whole story in chronological order and seeing a perfect realistic Gollum first and when the story reaches its most serious and interesting chapters seeing a "less realistic Gollum in comparison". But oh well, that's me, I'll accept whatever PJ does or does not, but again, one thing is fact: PJ is not George Lucas.

"The World is Changed, I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air"

(This post was edited by Oscarilbo on Sep 26 2012, 5:24am)

The Preciousss

Sep 26 2012, 8:45am

Post #20 of 25 (319 views)
well the "NOOOooOOO!" could still happen with the Necromancer;) [In reply to] Can't Post

but honestly, I have still a lot of faith in PJ, which I have lost completely with Lucas.
I would really like an updated version, I even think that PJ might use the additional time shooting next year for it.
What I would love to see in that Director's Cut would be a scene with Gandalf and Radagast (I don't believe he will die in TH) and the already filmed additional scenes with Gimli and Legolas in Fangorn/the Sparkling Caves as well as the company getting chased out of Moria and the extended Prologue with Gil Galad.

Welsh hero

Sep 26 2012, 10:15am

Post #21 of 25 (256 views)
Of course he'll be better. [In reply to] Can't Post

Gollum looks brilliant in LOTR, but the Gollum in LOTR will not look brilliant in the hobbit. Weta will use their 10 years experience with Avatar and rise of the planet of the apes helping them to improve gollum.


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Sep 26 2012, 10:28am

Post #22 of 25 (266 views)
I think a key difference is [In reply to] Can't Post

PJ works with a team of people, where as Lucas' ego grew so large that he couldn't listen to other opinions.

A Far Dragon is the best kind...


Sep 26 2012, 3:52pm

Post #23 of 25 (257 views)
Hoefully, all CGI characters will show advances in fluidity of movement [In reply to] Can't Post

making them look real without any "stagger" you sometimes see in CGI. Personally, I am not sure I would notice any major difference between the LOTR Gollum and The Hobbit Gollum if viewed in 2-d, however, I may be wrong and will have to wait to view him in the new film.
One effect that still needs work are rocks...as in the LOTR and other films, rocks still have too much sheen which gives them a fake look. The mountain giant scene tossing boulders and crashing rocks, the Minas Tirith scenes of crumbling walls etc. Good but could be better. I think people take for granted how hard it is to image an inanimate object let alone a living one. Texture, lighting and sense of mass are hard to achieve correclty. I hope the higher film rate and 3-d won't expose more flaws than intended.

The Shire

Sep 26 2012, 9:17pm

Post #24 of 25 (178 views)
lighting [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't notice so much difference - i think it's mostly the lighting in this cave.


Sep 26 2012, 9:43pm

Post #25 of 25 (254 views)
I think that might be it [In reply to] Can't Post

The rendering is, if anything, better than it was a decade ago (which makes sense).

So the lighting (and perhaps, his younger look) may be the culprit. Anyway, since it is supposed to be a deep, dark cave at the roots of the Misty Mountains, I hope PJ darkens it up a bit...Not so much that you can't see anything, but enough to hide some of Gollum's imperfections, and to increase the scene's power.

(This post was edited by Shelob'sAppetite on Sep 26 2012, 9:44pm)


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