We’re just about two weeks away from cameras finally rolling on Peter Jackson‘s two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It seems like we’ve been talking about it forever. And while we all wait in anticipation of news coming from the set, those of us who have poured over all the extras on the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions already have a pretty good idea: A lot of work, designing, preparation and planning. Pre-production is a big part of those discs.

One of the major differences with The Hobbit, though, is that these films will be shot in 3D. And while it’ll surely be quite a while before we see any footage in 3D (fingers crossed for Comic-Con, but highly doubtful) Gandalf himself, Ian McKellen, is in New Zealand getting ready for the shoot and has posted on his official blog what it was like to see Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, in three dimensions. “Three Bilbos simultaneously,” he says, hence the photo above. It’s certainly worth a read. Check it out after the jump.

Here’s McKellen from his official site:

I’ve seen Bilbo — in three dimensions. I was visiting old friends in the Stone Street offices and heard Martin Freeman was just round the corner by the permanent greenscreen, done up as Bilbo, testing his costume in front of the 3D cameras. Indeed, there he was in the open air, mostly oblivious to the camera, though turning this way and that as required. Martin improvised a hobbity gait, padding back and forth, testing his big hairy Hobbit feet, pointy ears and little tum. Beneath the shade of a tent, in a sun hat, Andrew Lesnie was remotely controlling the two lenses within the mighty camera which digitally records in 3D. His screen showed the familiar 2D image but next to it, above the director’s chair, was a large colour screen in full magical three dimensions, much as it will appear in the cinema — courtesy of the spy-glasses that transform the blurred outlines onscreen to the high definition exactitude of the 3D effect. Three Bilbos simultaneously, two performances on screen and the actor beyond: which was the real one? Martin Freeman was transmuting into a character whose reality will soon be as authentic as his own. — Ian McKellen, Wellington, March 2011

If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will.

Principal photograph on both parts of The Hobbit begins March 21 aimed at a December 2012-2013 release.

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