Listen To 'The Hobbit' Score, And Learn How The Film Blends Practical And Digital Effects Differently Than 'Lord Of The Rings'

Not long ago we pointed you toward Rolling Stone for the premiere of Neil Finn's end credits song for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Now we can point you back to the site for a stream of the full score. If you're ready to experience Howard Shore's music divorced from Peter Jackson's film, head right here and enable the player. I understand wanting to wait, however; I'm going to hold off listening to the score on its own until after I've seen the film.

But there's a bit more, after the break, as Jackson recently had a few good things to say about the differences in effects approaches in this return to Middle-Earth. Advances in CG effects mean that Jackson can turn human actors into even more imposing Orcs and Goblins than was possible a decade ago. He also talks about the process of designing the dragon Smaug, who we might see very briefly in this first film.

Back in July, just before Peter Jackson shocked Comic Con by announcing that The Hobbit would be adapted in three films rather than two, the LA Times sat down with the director to talk about his approach to returning to Middle-Earth. In that conversation, Jackson explained a few key technical differences in making The Hobbit. One is the use of digital doubles:

The one thing we're using a lot more now than we ever did on Lord of the Rings are digital doubles, where you want to do big stunts or big action sequences you don't rely so much on stuntmen any more. I mean, we certainly do for fight scenes, but if you want people leaping off a bridge or something's collapsing, and they're running underneath instead of having to stage a major practical effect, the digital doubles now are so realistic now that you can have these avatars representing you main cast, and they look completely real.

Jackson explains that — as we saw in one of the recent production video blogs — these digital doubles are often used in entirely CG shots. They're scanned in from the actors, and he boasts that you can have side-by-side photos of the actor and his double, and they can't be told apart.

And, in a different piece, Jackson talks about the current intersection between practical makeup and CG work:

Prosthetic makeup is always frustrating. At the end of the day, if you want the character to talk, which a lot of the Orcs and goblins do, you can design the most incredible prosthetics, but you've still got eyes where the eyes have to be and the mouth where the mouth has to be. That human triangle, two eyes and a mouth, is very difficult to disguise, no matter what you do with the ears and heads and chins and noses. One of the things we're doing on 'The Hobbit' — which is definitely technology that we have available now that we didn't have 10 years ago — we often shoot the Orcs as people in suits but they just have a leotard on their head with motion capture dots on it. A lot of the Orcs even though they're played by performers, the makeup is going to be CG makeup, which allows me to put their eyes further apart. They can open their mouths and scream in a much more dynamic way than they ever could.

Finally, there's Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch), who we'll see very briefly in An Unexpected Journey before the worm takes more of a starring role for the second film. When asked about the design of the creature, Jackson admitted that Smaug was still being designed (remember, this interview was done in July) and chuckled over the difficulties in coming up with the best version of the dragon:

The trouble with redesigning dragons, I've found, is if that if you really get fruity, it starts to look like some kind of monster from another planet. You ou very quickly can go into science fiction territory, and I don't want to do that... I want to present the most venal, scary, decrepit, nasty dragon I possibly can.

The two links to LA Times pieces above both feature video, and the clips are worth watching just to get all of Jackson's tone as he's talking about the effects.