Sir Peter Jackson is fulfilling his promise to keep fans up with behind-the-scenes action of The Hobbit - currently being shot in New Zealand - by releasing a revealing video diary on his Facebook page.
The video has sent a buzz of excitement across the internet and gives viewers a rare glimpse of what is involved in producing the NZ$630 million Hobbit movies.
Fans are taken onto the set of Jackson’s Stone Street Studios in Wellington and into the realm of costume makers and designers.
The video diary shows cameras in situ in the goblin caves under Misty Mountain and shares day one of filming where Jackson addresses the cast and crew and they are seen receiving a traditional Māori welcome.
As soon as Jackson loaded the video onto his Facebook page, fans around the world responded immediately, saying they were ecstatic at the rare sneak preview.
Some said they were in tears, speechless and screaming with joy at the taste of what is to come in the much-awaited Hobbit movies.
First video diary
Speaking on set in his first video diary since filming began last month, Jackson talked about his apprehension over directing the movies.
"For a long time I thought going back to the amazing experience of Lord of the Rings wouldn't be a good idea."
But he had now come around to directing the movies, he said, because of the people he was working with, and made reference to how he felt about being back on part of the former Lord of the Rings set.
"It's strange walking around here ... it was 10 or 11 years ago and I'm used to looking at a set like this on film," says Jackson.
The video gives viewers a peek inside the goblin caves under Misty Mountain where Bilbo meets Gollum and comes into possession of the ring that goes on to become the crux of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
It also shows Jackson joking with the dwarfs and Sir Ian McKellen, and takes viewers behind the scenes in the award-winning Weta Workshops’ costume and make-up departments.
Fans also see stick-fighting exercises, horse-riding and swords being made, giving them a taste of the extent of work involved in the massive production.
In one of his recent blogs, Jackson has also revealed that he is shooting The Hobbit using extremely lifelike film technology, never seen before in mainstream theatres.
He says the movies are being shot at twice the normal frame rate - 48 frames per second (fps) instead of the normal 24.
The faster rate was chosen to make the films "more lifelike" and easier to watch in 3D, said Jackson.
When projected at the higher frame rate, Jackson said the result looked like normal speed, but the image had hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness.
"It looks great, and we've actually become used to it now, to the point that other film experiences look a little primitive," he said.
Jackson said Warner Bros was supporting the move to shoot in 48 fps, despite there never being a wide release feature film made at the rate before, and the lack of cinemas capable of projecting the material.
"We are hopeful that there will be enough theatres capable of projecting 48 fps by the time The Hobbit comes out," he said.
The Hobbit movies, thought to be titled ‘An Unexpected Journey’ and ‘There and Back Again', are due for release in 2012 and 2013.
Auckland is the largest city of the country. Sky-scrapers and noisy streets of downtown, peace and quiet of one-storey residential districts; fine beaches, scenic bays, great shopping
Rotorua - famous thermal resort in New Zealand, cultural centre of Maori aborigines; Valley of Geysers; mineral baths; shear show.
Matamata - tiny town, that became world famous as Hobbiton - hobbits habitat (in Lord of the Rings film trilogy); green meadows, fields, dense forests.