There was originally a great deal of speculation about whether or not Peter Jackson‘s adaptation of The Hobbit will be shot in 3D. When Guillermo del Toro was directing the film he seemed resistant to 3D, though he admitted that conversations had taken place about using the tech. Since his departure, remaining producer and new director Peter Jackson has not spoken at length about 3D, though the official press release announcing the green light for the films mentioned that they “will be filmed in Digital 3-D, using the latest camera and stereo technology.”

Now there’s a bit more news about the tech allowing the Hobbit films to be shot in 3D, as RED Digital Cinema has issued a press release saying that the production has bought thirty new RED Epic digital cameras with the intent to shoot The Hobbit in three dimensions.

This information does not come from Mr. Jackson’s camp, or from any of the studios involved in the films. (Warner Bros., New Line and MGM.) But Peter Jackson has a history with RED, having tested cameras with the short Crossing the Line. Some effects plates and aerial shots for The Lovely Bones were shot on the RED One.

I remain more enamored of film than video, but it’s impossible to ignore the capabilities of the RED systems. The list of films using the cameras is expanding rapidly. Quick notes: Antichrist was shot in part on RED, and looked great. The Social Network was shot on an upgraded RED One. Steven Soderbergh will reportedly use this new EPIC series for his upcoming film Contagion. While David Fincher is shooting The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on RED One cameras, I’ve seen suggestions that he’ll use this new system for some later work on that film, too.

Here’s the release:

Peter Jackson’s two film adaptation of The Hobbit will be shot in 3D using RED DIGITAL CINEMA’S soon to be released EPIC Digital Cameras.

The successor to RED’s industry changing RED ONE, the EPIC has 5K resolution, can shoot up to 120 frames per second and has a new HDRx™™ mode for the highest dynamic range of any digital cinema camera ever made. Taking everything they had learned from building their first camera, RED designed the EPIC from scratch and have produced a smaller, lighter camera that is an order of magnitude more powerful.

The Hobbit will be amongst the first productions in the world to use the EPIC and at least thirty cameras will be required by the 3-D production. The EPIC’S small size and relatively low weight, makes it perfect for 3-D – where two cameras have to be mounted on each 3D rig.

Jackson has a long history with RED, dating back to when he directed the short film ‘Crossing the Line’ as a very early test of prototype RED ONE cameras. “I have always liked the look of Red footage.” he says, “I’m not a scientist or mathematician, but the image Red produces has a much more filmic feel than most of the other digital formats. I find the picture quality appealing and attractive, and with the Epic, Jim and his team have gone even further. It is a fantastic tool, the Epic not only has cutting edge technology, incredible resolution and visual quality, but it is also a very practical tool for film makers. Many competing digital systems require the cameras to be tethered to large cumbersome VTR machines. The Epic gives us back the ability to be totally cable free, even when working in stereo.”

Jim Jannard the owner and founder of RED flew to New Zealand earlier this year with members of his team so that Jackson could test the EPIC and assess its suitability. “Everybody at RED is incredibly proud that Peter has chosen the Epic” says Jannard, “The Hobbit is a major production, and could have chosen any camera system that they wanted. The fact that they went with us is extremely gratifying.”

The Hobbit will start shooting in New Zealand early next year.

[RED Forums via Engadget]

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