The Hobbit, Part 2: A Really, Really Great Set of Disks

by: Jim Smith
So now, just four months after it hit theaters, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has
been released on home video.  It comes in
three flavors, DVD, Blu-Ray+DVD, and Blu-Ray 3D+Blu Ray+DVD.  All of them come with a redemption code for
an UltraViolet streaming copy as well. 
Lets call them vanilla, fudge ripple and neapolitan, respectively.  My copy is fudge ripple.  The case contains three discs, the movie
itself on a blu-ray and DVD and a separate disc … a blu-ray disc … with the
special features.
The first feature is New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth, which
speaks to the incredible locations they used in filming the movie.  It is actually an extended advertisement for
the New Zealand tourist bureau.  One
revelation is that they completely rebuilt Hobbiton for The Hobbit.  The original Hobbiton set was made primarily
of polystyrene, but when they rebuilt the set, they used brick and wood,
building a permanent set that would serve as a future tourist attraction.
Also included are ten video blogs spanning everything from
preproduction to the world premiere in Wellington.  For the geeky among us, one of the video
blogs is all about the technical aspects of the film, including a discussion of
the decision to shoot The Hobbit in
48 frames per second.  One thing I
learned was the fact that human vision is the equivalent of 60 frames per
second, so this is the first movie filmed as close to natural vision as
possible.
Along with the discussion of the frame rate is a technical primer
on filming in 3D.  The Hobbit broke a lot
of ground in 3D filming, requiring many custom cameras and set designs.  Compact cameras, crane cameras, aerial
cameras all were needed to film and epic movie such as this.
One of the most anachronistic moments of the special features was
seeing a dwarf on a mountaintop with a helicopter passing behind him.  But then again, isn’t that what we want from
a film such as this?  An escape from the
hubbub and hurly-burly of the modern world into a world of wonder?  The special features of The Hobbit: An
Unexpected Journey are a ticket to that world of wonder, and unlike a magician
revealing his secrets, they add to the magic instead of destroying it.

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