Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Spiders of ‘The Hobbit

The Spiders of ‘The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug’ - NYTimes.com

Along Came a Computer-Generated ...

The Spiders of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

Clip: 'The Desolation of Smaug': A spider attack scene from the second installment in Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" trilogy.

Enlarge This Image
The latest installment in “The Hobbit” trilogy is likely to make arachnophobes squirm. That’s the hope of the director Peter Jackson, whose own fear of spiders helped infuse some important scenes in“The Desolation of Smaug” with creepy, crawly discomfort.
Warner Bros. Pictures
The armature of a spider from the film with a covered version below it.
Warner Bros. Pictures
A visual effects translucency test for one of the spider's legs.
The spiders lurking in the forest of Mirkwood are among the perils Bilbo Baggins and his traveling companions encounter on their journey to reclaim the dwarf kingdom of Erebor. Unlike some of the more fantastical creatures in the series, the spiders look and feel more familiar, albeit supersize. They were the visual-effects children of Weta Digital, led by Joe Letteri. He and his team tried to make the spiders immediately recognizable as such, but enhanced to amplify their menace.
The biggest change was to their faces: These spiders have jaws and fangs. “We wanted you to get the feeling that they’re biting you with teeth, that they would swallow you whole if they could,” Mr. Letteri said, speaking by phone from Los Angeles. “But the bodies and heads were based on realistic designs.”
The design evolved from several sources, including a reference photo Mr. Jackson found of a particularly creepy spider. Those designs were fine-tuned in the textures department, which defined color patterns for the creatures and added details, including wrinkles. That department’s supervisor, Gino Acevedo, worked alongside the creatures department to add distinct details, like legs that were translucent.
“We wanted what we called a ‘beer bottle effect,’ ” Mr. Acevedo said, speaking by phone from Weta Digital’s base in New Zealand. “If you look at a beer bottle, it has that amber look and color to it, especially when you hold it up to the light. When the legs were backlit, you saw an internal structure inside with veins.”
The research also included discussions with a spider expert, Phil Sirvid from Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. “We took a bit of a field trip, met Phil and looked at his creepy collection of wild-looking spiders,” Mr. Acevedo said. “He gave us amazing reference images taken through an electron microscope of spider parts, things that you never knew spiders had.” For instance, they were surprised to learn that spiders have pores, which were incorporated into the design.
Mr. Jackson wanted the spiders to look ancient, as if they’d been trudging around in the forest for many years, so Weta aged them with flaky skin, calluses and more.
“We wanted it to look like when you get a sunburn and the skin peels away and underneath is a new skin,” Mr. Acevedo explained. The spiders were also given boils to make them look diseased, and soiled with dirt and mud. “Some of this stuff is so subtle that you don’t pick it up,” he added. “But if you didn’t have it there, the creature would look too clean, or as we call it, ‘CG perfect.’  ”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

KODT Live Action Series Kickstater Live

KODT Live Action Series
*** For Immediate Release 12/8/13 ***

Knights of the Dinner Table Live Action Series now being funded on Kickstarter

If you are interested in helping fund this project, visithttp://www.kickstarter.com/projects/d20e/428504285?token=bd558b5aand make your pledge.

HOODY-HOO!!! Introducing a new frontier for fans of Knights of the Dinner Table magazine. D20 Entertainment has been granted the license to produce a Live Action Series/Movie of KODT.

That’s right! With your help, fans of the comic and geeks of all types will be able to watch the antics of their favorite characters brought to life. B.A. Felton, Bob Herzog, Dave Bozwell, Sara Felton and Brian Van Hoose are all chomping at the bit to jump out of the pages of the comic and onto television, computer and hopefully movie screens. Here’s how it went down.
A few months ago, just prior to GenCon, we at Kenzer and Company were approached by an old friend with an interesting proposal. Ken Whitman (D20 Entertainment ) wanted to do a Knights of the Dinner Table webseries.
Now over the years, Jolly, Dave, Steve, and Brian have been approached perhaps a dozen times about doing such a project. From the guy with a video camera and perhaps more ambition than know-how to a few big name animation studios whose names you would immediately recognize.

As tempting as all those offers were, they came to nothing because of one thing: The Development Team wanted to make sure they had creative input/control. They just weren’t willing to take a check and put these beloved characters in the hands of strangers (especially when one studio exec insisted on changing the Knight’s background from ‘losers’ (her words) to teens who were “heroes” in their day to day lives outside the game).
Giving up complete creative control is just something they’ve been unwilling to do. Unfortunately, most studios weren’t willing to negotiate on that point. So, as the years have passed, and offers have come and gone, the likelihood of a KODTfilm project just seemed to diminish, to the D-Team’s disappointment.

Enter D20 Entertainment.

Not only did Ken Whitman agree to the D-Team having creative control on the proposed project, he insisted on it. That got the ball rolling. Now the ball is in your court. If you want to see your beloved Knights (and possibly other KODT characters) come to life for a webseries, or perhaps even a 90-minute movie (depending on funding) then visit D20’s Kickstarter site and contribute to the KODT movie project. There are exciting rewards for contributing and finally, the fans of this long-running (more than 200 issues now) comic will have a chance to help make this dream a reality.

Kickstarter ends February 8, 2014, however many unique items will be sold out in a very short time so make sure you get your pledge in early.


If you are interested in helping fund this project, visithttp://www.kickstarter.com/projects/d20e/428504285?token=bd558b5aand make your pledge.

For more information bout the KODT: LAS, please contact Ken Whitman at sales@D20Entertainment.com

If you would like to schedule an interview with any of the actors, Kenzer & Company, or d20 Entertainment, please contact Barbara Blackburn at barbara@D20Entertainment.com

Thursday, December 5, 2013

JACK & TOLLERS - The True Story of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. TolkIen

First & foremost, THANK YOU for taking the time to read about our campaign!
Many know that C.S. Lewis wrote THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA.  Most know
J.R.R.Tolkien wrote THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Each of these series have sold
more than 100 million copies, translated into dozens of languages and enjoyed
the world over in cinema.
What most do not know is that Lewis and Tolkien were close friends. Their unique friendship, one that was turbulent, supportive, joyous and raucous, helped create two of the most iconic stories of the 20th century.
JACK AND TOLLERS is the true story of the friendship of Lewis and Tolkien.  It will give you a glimpse into the souls of these incredible Men of Letters. Until now, there has never been a major motion picture depicting their unique friendship.  For the global fan base of both authors and indeed the fantasy genre itself, we are excited to
say that the time has come to move forward into production.
We at Third Dart Studios are making a Teaser Trailer, a vehicle to illustrate our
story to the world.  We are using Indiegogo specifically to allow all those who will journey with us to show in concrete terms how important this film truly is for them. 
Our four levels of PERKS for supporting our project are commemorative by
nature.  We want to not only identify our massive fan base but allow the fans to be part of the film.  Whether it be an appreciate nod as Patron of our project listing your name in closing title sequence or a non-speaking cameo in the film, our primary goal is retain the highest level of creative control.

SIMPLY PUT…  You have the chance to help make this feature film the best it can be.  Joining the growing fan base will ensure that Third Dart Studio will be empowered to tell the story as it really unfolded in history.  We believe that the storyline of JACK AND TOLLERS must reflect, as close as creatively possible, the actual story as it happened.
In all honesty, the true story IS FAR TOO COMPELLING to change and we promise it will both entertain and inform.
Both men endured turbulent childhoods. Both men experienced the horrors of trench warfare during World War One; both men excelled in Academia at Oxford University; both men honed their writing skills and became legendary Wordsmiths for the English language.
And BOTH MEN, above all else,valued FRIENDSHIP.
SCENES from the film include Tolkien lost behind enemy lines during the
Battle of the Somme. While being pursued by German infantrymen on horseback galloping full speed to reach the safety of his comrades, Tolkien turns back just in time to see the infantrymen transform into Wraiths through his fertile imagination.
Jack’s imagination is sparked while reading PHANTASTES by George MacDonald
and during one of many imaginative sequences using cutting edge CGI we’ll step
inside the mind of C. S. Lewis. And of course, Jack and Tollers late night stroll with a friend discussing Myth and Christianity will be filmed on location on Addison’s Walk by Magdalen College, Oxford.
Many people know that C. S. Lewis was a champion of Christianity, yet most do not know that he was an Atheist for nearly half his life and that it was in great part the encouragement of his Catholic friend Tolkien that Lewis again found the faith of his youth.

Help us keep our story true.  Help us make the memory of these two men one that will shine throughout history.  Right now, as we write this, there is a Hollywood studio that is hoping to make a movie about Tolkien’s life. Interestingly enough within the press release it was noted that the studio has not decided whether to include Tolkien’s experiences in World War One or his friendship with Lewis; in the opinion of OUR screenwriters, “Two essential elements of understanding Tolkien’s worldview and literary outpouring.”
We at Third Dart Studios promised the writers of the screenplay that we would reach out to the fan base and assess its strength.  There are many Lewis/Tolkien websites with a fan base of 10 million on a single site.  You probably found our campaign on one of them, and for that we’re thankful. 
But it is one thing to be a fan HOPING for a movie to be made and to be a fan SUPPORTING it for production. Besides the obvious financial support which
will be used for the teaser trailer, script consult, script break out and other
pre-production expenses…you can also support us simply by liking our Facebook
page, commenting on Tolkien/Lewis sites (tell THIRD DART what you hope to see
in the film) and press releases and sharing the news of the film with family and friends.  All funds received ABOVE our goal will be placed in a general production fund for the film.
As stated above social media has great power when used properly which is best illustrated by the will of a strong fan base using crowdsourcing as a tool. 
For example, the 2004-2007 series called VERONICA MARS was a good show on television that never achieved much success other than a small devoted fan base and critical reviews.  Although It was canceled after 5 years, the outcry for a feature length movie was so persistant that 91,000 of their fans donated over 5.7 million dollars towards the production.
If you want our movie shown on the Big Screen and desire accuracy to the memory of these men and their accomplishments, please show us BY SUPPORTING OUR ENDEAVOR.

There's an amazing film on the horizon - - You can be part of history.
See you at the movies!
Third Dart Studios

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Wonderful Visual Outlining The 7 Steps of Good Storytelling

A Wonderful Visual Outlining The 7 Steps of Good Storytelling ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

One of the wonderful things about this learning space (I mean this blog) is that it is built collaboratively around a shared interest.   This is what James Paul Gee called  'passionate affinity learning' . "Passionate-affinity learning occurs when people organize themselves in the real world and/or via the Internet (or a virtual world) to learn something connected to a shared endeavour, interest, or passion. The people have an affinity (attraction) to the shared endeavour, interest, or passion first and foremost and then to others because of their shared affinity ( P. 69 from  "Language and Learning in The Digital Age "). And as much as you learn from things I share here with you I also get to learn a great deal from you. I receive tons of emails of edttech resources, app suggestions, related articles...etc and I must admit that hasn't it been for your help, the content of this blog would not have been as rich and diverse as it is now.

Today's post is one example of this collaborative co-construction of the content of this blog. I was sent this wonderful graphic from one of my readers and I found it very relevant to what we have been talking about in the digital storytelling section here in Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. The infographic below has been designed byCMA and features the 7 steps to the perfect story. Check it out and share with us what you think of it. Enjoy

team work

Help this teacher

Twitter / daveixd: Help this teacher make a great ...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

80,000 Piece LEGO Erebor

Cherokee Prayer Blessing

.Cherokee Prayer Blessing

May the Warm Winds of Heaven
Blow softly upon your house.
May the Great Spirit
Bless all who enter there.
May your Mocassins
Make happy tracks
in many snows,
and may the Rainbow
Always touch your shoulder.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

10 Memorable Dr. Seuss Quotes About His Work

10 Memorable Dr. Seuss Quotes About His Work


Here are 10 things Theodor Seuss Geisel said about his life, his work, his inspiration, and bow ties.

1. On how a childless person could write so well for kids: "You make 'em, I amuse 'em."

2. On writing books kids actually want to read: "I have great pride in taking Dick and Jane out of most school libraries. That is my greatest satisfaction."

3. On where he gets his ideas: "I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Forka Pass. There is a little town called Gletch, and two thousand feet up above Gletch there is a smaller hamlet called Über Gletch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock fixed. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideas from them." (He wasn't a fan of this question, apparently.)

4. On what would happen if he were invited to a dinner party with his characters: “I wouldn't show up."

5. On why he always wore bow ties: "You can't dribble on bow ties."

6. On the inspiration for Horton Hatches the Egg: "I was in my New York studio one day, sketching on transparent tracing paper, and I had the window open. The wind simply took a picture of an elephant that I'd drawn and put it on top of another sheet of paper that had a tree on it. All I had to do was to figure out what the elephant was doing in that tree."

7. On whether that trick ever worked again: "I've left my window open for 30 years since that, but nothing's happened."

8. On how long he expected The Cat in the Hat to take to write: "I figured I could knock it off in a week or so."

9. On how long it really took: "A year and a half."

10. On nonsense: “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities."

Sources: Dr. Seuss: American icon (Philip Nel); "Fifty Years of The Cat and the Hat" (NPR, 2007); Your Favorite Seuss; "Children's Author Dr. Seuss, 87, Dies" (Dallas Morning News, 1991); ?The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators (Anita Silvey).

March 1, 2012 - 8:19pm

Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/30121/10-memorable-dr-seuss-quotes-about-his-work#ixzz2lT0gi612 
--brought to you by mental_floss! 

The Hobbit Lego Radagast’s House (by Legopard)

Rhosgobel - Radagast’s House (by Legopard)
Rhosgobel - Radagast’s House (by Legopard)

Rhosgobel - Radagast’s House (by Legopard)


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review and breakdown of editions to "The Hobbit: AUJ"

Review: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Extended Edition among best home video editions — ever

NOVEMBER 19, 2013 at 5:00 AM BY MRCERE  - 

Extended Edition national Blu-ray 3D

Extended Edition national Blu-ray 3D

The home video market is dead or dying — so they say.  The digital age has brought on massive changes on how we view movies and in a relatively short time.  The ways we consumed the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy is vastly different from how we tackle “The Hobbit.”

Many consumers actually jumped to the DVD format from VHS tapes with “Fellowship of the Ring.”  But in the digital revolution, that was ages ago, back when everybody bought movies for home use and there was seemingly ever growing stacks of money to be made from that market.

Studios once had a cash cow in DVDs but the milk has dried up now.  Once, extravagant DVDs and box sets ruled store shelves while today we visit Red Box and Netflix.

So when a Blu-ray like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Extended Edition,” comes to market it is going against the grain, against conventional wisdom and against market trends.  It’s also the best home release of 2013.

The film is still the film.  If you loved it you will love it more.  If you had problems with it, you will still have problems with it.  The added time didn’t fix what people say is broken.  But if you haven’t seen the film, for the home experience, I do recommend the Extended Edition.  The length includes some character moments that make the film more a little more satisfying but not in a major way.  A bathroom break is close to mandatory and while you can’t pause a theater, its easy from your own couch.

But while many think about the movie, make no mistake, the real prize here are The Appendicies content; Those who are only looking at this for the film are missing the point entirely.  In fact, this collection, is itself a tremendous film that would be worth buying even without the cinema release.  The movie itself is essential in the package, but what launches these discs into rare air is everything else that comes with it.

Prone to exercise laudatory caution because I write for TheOneRing, and I realize too much praise causes readers to become dismissive and classify the writer as a fan boy, I still proclaim with no hesitation that this is among the finest home video releases in history.  It sits on a shelf in rarefied air with a very few discs that can even compare.  Among those are the Extended LOTR editions, of which this is a companion piece.

While we are here talking credentials, let me fully disclose that I was on set to witness “The Hobbit,” being filmed for five weeks and I know (and like) many on all sides of the camera.  More than that, I also interned for a couple of weeks with the producers of the behind-the-scenes content.  I am even credited for extra interviews, so take my perceptions as you wish.

Even if you didn’t love the movie, the exploration of the process is a wonder to behold and the whole is a triumph.  And, this triumph comes with WB and MGM financing this content behind-the-scenes content.  This level of excellence doesn’t just happen and it isn’t cheap.  It takes financial commitment, planning and time.  With rumors of late delivery circulating, creating a shortage of discs in some places, I believe I speak for many fans who emphatically say, “So what?  The wait is worth it.”

Despite all the greatness on the discs, there are a few things that are disappointing, so lets start with those.


Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

There is nothing about these covers that are exceptional or especially tasteful to tell consumers that these aren’t just another release on a store shelf.  For some reason, with few exceptions, the marketing at Warner Bros. insists on slapping a bunch of floating character mugshots in a college for these films at every opportunity.  More isn’t better and especially when even the casual audience knows what “The Hobbit,” is.  Nobody is saying, “What? Gandalf is also in this movie?!”

A cover with a central visual idea would be a vast improvement and for these discs, there should be a graceful, classic cover, not a garish collection of floating heads.  Better still would have been a style match with the LOTR EEs. The back of the 3-disc Blu-ray is actually great and would serve as a nice cover.

While we are here, the Bilbo in front of Erebor “Desolation of Smaug,” poster was infinitely more powerful that the nightmare LSD trip of Middle-earth’s usual suspects in the latest one.  Boo.  Very much related, if the Hobbit home video release couldn’t be a stylized match with the LOTR releases, at least we could have had a strong central character instead of a collection of them that says nothing.

Gollum and Bilbo exchanging riddles in the dark might be a place to start.  The film’s strongest sequence, virtually perfect even, highlights a key moment in Middle-earth, sells us a familiar character and gives us an absolute iconic moment from literature.  If things were right in the world, WB would issue an inexpensive replacement slip cover for a couple of dollars that ties this release back to the LOTR EEs.  Seriously.

The art on the discs are quite good.


The commentaries with Philippa Boyens (writer, producer) and Peter Jackson (writer, director, producer) are good, but again, this is meant to be a companion disc and viewers really want more commentary perspectives as they were given in the LOTR discs.  Obviously the filmmaker’s take are essential but including cast or key figures like Dan Hennah or Richard Taylor might be expensive, and not financially viable by the studios, but they are sorely missed.  An unrealistic dream commentary might be to have all 13 main dwarf actors on one track or two tracks with half on each.  Careful sound editing would be needed but Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Graham McTavish, John Callen and William Kircher and all the rest, would be brilliant.  There are two movies left to get this right.

I am sure there are many who will take exception to comparing the discs but for certain, many consumers are doing it. These are intellectually built to go together.

But, lets move on to the good (great) with a look at what is included on most versions of the film.  It is worth noting that there is a Wal-Mart version of the Extended Editions available with minimal extras. (Hate to call them extras because they are main featured content.)  Even if consumers think they want to save a few dollars and get that version, they actually don’t.  There is no circumstance where that option is a wise choice.  Any viewer willing to commit to a three-hour Extended Edition deserves to have the story of the film as well for a few dollars difference.  Friends don’t let friends buy foolishly.

Cate BlanchettDISC 1

Extended Edition of the film with filmmakers’ commentary and
“New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth”

The commentary is mentioned above but the video feature sounds like it might be a commercial for New Zealand.  It is actually, with celebrity endorsements.  Newsflash: New Zealand is amazing.


The Appendices Part 7: A Long-Expected Journey -

This is a timeline of the movie that breaks down into parts how it was made, more or less, following the chronology of the film.  Of course films aren’t made chronologically, but following the organization of the film is helpful.   And the docs aren’t strictly about “how we did this,” as much as they highlight interesting stories from a particular segment of the production.

The beefiest is the first, “The Journey Back to Middle-earth,” which also happens to be excellent.  It follows the almost absurd series of roadblocks that threatened to keep this film from being made.  Viewers who followed TheOneRing will recall those days when it seemed time and again, fate had conspired to kill the film.  This is excellent content that wouldn’t be included on many DVDs of other films.

The studios bravely allowed the team to tackle subjects like the financial problems that almost derailed the films and the hiring and departure of Guillermo del Toro.

It would have been much safer to sanitize these events and it happens on many Hollywood “extras” projects but here they are addressed head on — an impressive inclusion.  That first documentary is a definite highlight but every single one of them holds up high standards of storytelling and visuals that feel as though the essential moments were not only talked about but captured.

Christopher LeeIt is in fact the best big-story view on this topic available in either print or film.  To better understand sitting down and watching “The Hobbit,” in the cinema, this is essential viewing.  It is also great not to start with the first day of pre-production but to have a wider view of the whole works.

One of the best segments, perhaps my favorite, is “A Short Rest: Rivendell and London.”  The fact that the production went to London to film Sir Christopher Lee and Ian Holm is common knowledge.  A lesser documentary might spend its time making just the fact of traveling from New Zealand to London to shoot the focus of the story.  Instead, that is established and then the focus is placed on something far more interesting than it just happening: Lee and Holm.

Jackson and Lee are on camera holding up production so those gathered around can listen to Lee remember parts of his life that are legendary on the silver screen.  He also gives Jackson some good-natured crap and it is respectfully returned.  Graham McTavish and Adam Brown are also on hand, despite not filming, to listen to Lee and help the storytelling by putting his presence in perspective.  It is gold and in fact, it is a pity somebody doesn’t produce an entire film based on the man behind Saruman.

Included in the same section is a pretty incredible give-and-take between Jackson, Cate Blanchette, Fran Walsh on a telephone and Ian McKellen.  They discussed character motivations and all the bigger questions behind the dialog on the script page.  It is pretty incredible.  There are some excellent moments with Hugo Weaving.  It all felt intimate, rare and was fascinating.

There are a lot of bright spots here and in fact they are more or less all bright spots, or will be to somebody.   The producers and director Michael Pellerin seemingly pushed for excellence and achieved it.

HobbitEE_1400x2100_USChapters include:

  • The Journey Back to Middle-earth
  • Riddles in the Dark: Gollum’s Cave
  • An Unexpected Party: Bag End
  • Roast Mutton: Trollshaws Forest
  • Bastion of the Greenwood: Rhosgobel
  • A Short Rest: Rivendell and London
  • Over Hill: The Misty Mountains
  • Under Hill: Goblin Town
  • Out of the Frying Pan: The Forest Ledge
  • Return to Hobbiton: The Shire
  • The Epic of Scene 88: Strath Taieri
  • The Battle of Moria: Azanulbizar
  • Edge of the Wilderland: Pick-ups and the Carrock
  • Home Is Behind, the World Is Ahead

Jackson also appears on an introduction to promise more extended editions with DOS and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again.”


The Appendices Part 8: RePeter Jackson Laketownturn to Middle-Earth -

This disc delivers production details, some conspicuously missing from the film. For example:

The Company of Thorin -

The families of the dwarves are grouped together to give us more details and insights into these characters and actors. These associations are pretty tough to pick out on screen but are well presented here.  Knowing more about these characters will likely enhance view of “The Desolation of Smaug.”  Pity some of this wasn’t woven into the narrative. If you aren’t keeping score the chapters are, by family:

  • Assembling the Dwarves
  • Thorin, Fili & Kili
  • Balin & Dwalin
  • Oin & Gloin
  • Dori, Nori & Ori
  • Bifur, Bofur & Bombur

Martin Freeman enjoys telling the behind-the-scenes cameras they are number one, always with his middle finger or fingers. Here is another case of content many studios would shy away from, but a short collection of Freeman giving the one-fingered salute is part of the reveal of who this Martin Freeman is.

So in the next segment, and perhaps my favorite on this disc, we meet:

Software brought Gollum's skin to life for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," earning it an Oscar for technology and science

Software brought Gollum’s skin to life for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” earning it an Oscar for technology and science

Mr. Baggins: The 14th Member

Next we get more tasty features:

  • Durin’s Folk: Creating the Dwarves
  • The Peoples and Denizens of Middle-earth
  • These are broken into chapters:
  • The Stone Trolls
  • Radagast the Brown
  • Goblins
  • Azog the Defiler

Realms of the Third Age: From Bag End to Goblin Town — We spend an hour with locations, time well spent.

  • Hobbiton
  • Rhosgobel
  • The Misty Mountains
  • Goblin Town

The Songs of The Hobbit – A look at the realization of Tolkien’s songs in An Unexpected Journey.

This last item is another of my favorites.  It demonstrates that despite being last, it isn’t any less interesting that what came before.  There isn’t fat here to pad out the disc but instead highly polished, carefully produced, interesting, quality content.


wideDwarves0712The movie looks and sounds great, showing off how good Andrew Lesnie and his team are at shooting moving pictures.  How great does it look?  If you go to the audio, visual, home theater or electronics stores, bring the Blu-ray version of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” with you to test out the things you might buy.  The picture is lovely with great details in blacks (Riddles in the Dark) excellent color and all the rich details coming to life.  Hate to sound hyperbolic, but when it comes to audio and visual excellence, this disc is leading the industry.

The sound comes in 7.1 surround, meaning it can send seven sounds to seven speakers to create a sound atmosphere, if you home is equipped, showing off the genuine excellence in sound design through out the film.  This is a noisy movie with loud characters, loud animals and orcs, some dragon scenes, deep rumbling stone giants and lots of general chaos.

But, the dialog is always ready and easy to hear, including some pretty subtle Ian McKellen lines that come through just fine.  In fact, if you have the proper system in your home, sitting in the middle of the sound environment, closing your eyes and just listening is a real pleasure.


This movie is worth owning a Blu-ray player for.  The film, no matter how much you like it or don’t, is technically amazing.  The extra scenes improve it slightly but just as importantly, there is a wealth of documentaries that are collectively and individually great and paint an excellent picture of what made “The Hobbit,” happen.  I meant it when I said it above, this is among the finest home video releases in history.  Minor quibbles aside, MGM and Warner Bros. did right by fans and this does stand alongside its LOTR EE predecessors.  While this film doesn’t extended as much or as importantly, its extras are as good and perhaps better.