While last week’s industry-wide rattling announcement that Warner Bros. Pictures would release its entire 2021 movie roster direct to HBO Max raises questions about the future of the theatrical experience, it also made it clear to movie buffs that there is more to a quality home entertainment setup essential like never before. The publication on Christmas Day of Wonder Woman 1984 will mark the first release of 4K HDR, Dolby Atmos on HBO Max, and it won’t be the last. These experimental advances, which mainstream viewers are increasingly adjusting to, are prompting other filmmakers to ensure their classics meet the standards of the “living room cinema” revolution. That’s why Peter Jackson couldn’t sit around and collect dust on his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Just in time for the holidays, Jackson, his creative team and Warner Bros. have released new trilogy sets for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit remastered for 4K UHD and Dolby Atmos
“It was interesting to revisit those films because I realized how inconsistent they were,” says Jackson in the six-minute video, “and that’s really because of how the Lord of the Rings trilogy was shot.”
In the original trilogy, which took the main photography in 1999 and 2000, Jackson and the team at WETA Workshop pushed the boundaries of available technology every day. That made every single film a unique process, even though they were all produced together. While Community of the ring, The two Towers, and Return of the king When all were shot on 35mm film, Jackson completed the first film with “old-fashioned, mechanical” Color timing, a laborious photochemical process designed to perfect the colors of photography on set. The second and third films dealt with more advanced digital color timing, which allowed Jackson to more precisely tune the specific hues of each frame and sequence – but nothing compared to what he got 10 years later with the Hobbit trilogy.
Jackson captured the story of Bilbo Baggins with 4K digital cameras and processed the images with state-of-the-art color timing. The aesthetic gaps between films prompted the director to return to the studio to “make all films look like they were shot at the same time”. He says 4K HDR remastering has successfully delivered that consistency.
“4K isn’t just about flawless sharpness,” he says. “It’s about preserving the cinematic appearance and at the same time making everything clear.”
The move to 4K HDR required an upgrade to many of the movie’s effects shots, which showed imperfections at the higher resolution. “Visual effects technology has made great strides over the past 20 years. When they got extremely sharp and sharp in the 4K process, we found that some of the footage wasn’t holding up as well, ”says Jackson. “So we had the opportunity to go back and paint in all the imperfections.”
Jackson knows exactly what you’re thinking: Legolas even better shoot first!
The only thing Jackson seems to have in common as Lucas is seeing his saga as one giant story. The Hobbit films are not considered a lark by the director – they are the preamble to the beloved films. Now, for the first time on 4K, they feel like “one big long movie that tells the same story”.
The return to Lord of the Rings also helped Jackson reflect on the ongoing relevance of his films. In the video, he pokes the beehive a little to describe why his attitude towards Tolkien persists.
“It’s not a story of heroes or superheroes,” he says. “It’s a story of normal people who set out to save their world.”
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