‘The Hobbit’ Team Is Getting In ‘The Right Headspace,’ Effects Guru Says

'We're enjoying this early phase as it's ticking along,' says 'Lord of the Rings' effects supervisor Richard Taylor.

He’s the effects supervisor at one of the most beloved movie workshops in the world and one of the key minds behind the massively successful [movie id="208750"]“Lord of the Rings”[/movie] franchise. So, you can excuse Richard Taylor for making off-the-cuff comments like the way he began our conversation this week — and forgive us for geeking out over it.

“I’m sorry, it’s so busy here,” the Weta Workshop bigwig said after coming to the phone following a long wait. “I was in a big meeting about how to make the new designs of armor for the new film. That’s always good fun.”

The “new film” of course is [movie id="376322"]“The Hobbit,”[/movie] just another “LOTR” element to keep fans excited nearly a decade after Peter Jackson’s first film hit theaters and revolutionized the industry. Other causes for celebration include the upcoming fall launch of the “Aragorn’s Quest” video game, the RPG “Lord of the Rings: War in the North” due in 2011, and Tuesday’s release of the multibillion-dollar franchise on Blu-ray.

These days, Taylor is having a sense of déjà vu as he sits alongside Jackson and new series director Guillermo del Toro to once again make plans for Middle-earth. “It is,” he laughed. “But the great thing now is that we have experience, which we didn’t have last time. We were going into it so green. This time, at least, we have the knowledge of what we learned last time, and hopefully we’re wise enough to learn from that.”

“The lovely thing about ‘The Hobbit’ is that the race of the dwarves comes to the forefront in the story, and [we'll depict] the uniqueness of the collection of the dwarves,” Taylor said. “There’s a journey through the story with Bilbo, and that’s something that’s incredibly exciting — that we’re going to have a chance to feed and develop and watch them take on a much greater presence than the one dwarf named Gimli was able to in ‘Lord of the Rings.’

“Gimli had an incredible presence, of course,” Taylor added. “But he was only one character. And it’s fantastic to think that we’re going to be able to develop the dwarves to such a higher degree … the richness of their culture. The fact that through so many different dwarfs, you’ll get to appreciate their cultural differences, where they come from, them as a people.

“There’s so many parts of the story that take you to new and wonderful worlds that ‘Lord of the Rings’ didn’t go, and for anyone working on a film, that makes for a very exciting possibility,” he said of del Toro’s vision. “We haven’t actually started fully on pre-production yet — we’re still in the design phase — but it’s a wonderful opportunity to work with a unique director in Guillermo and continue to work with Peter as the producer, who is so heavily involved.

“It’s been an unrushed period of pre-pre-[production], and that’s been a pleasure as everyone gets back into the right headspace,” Taylor said of recent reports that the film might be delayed. “As far as schedules go, you’d need to talk to someone else about that. But from our own perspective, we’re enjoying this early phase as it’s ticking along.”

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