TODAY   |  December 06, 2012

Peter Jackson shows off ‘Hobbit’ special effects

The director talks with TODAY’s Ann Curry about his love for New Zealand, where the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films were made, and gives a demonstration of some of the incredible special effects that will be featured in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> as you might expect, fans are anxiously awaiting the release of "the hobbit ," it's the prequel to the " lord of the rings " trilogy. expectations pretty high. that means the pressure's on for the director peter jackson . ann curry traveled to his hometown of wellington, new zealand for a rare and exclusive interview.

>> reporter: you may not recognize his face, but you can't help but know his movies. sir peter jackson . yes, he's a sir, is the creative genius behind blockbusters like " king kong " and " lord of the rings ." now a decade after he directed and co-wrote "the ring's" trilogy, now comes "the hobbit ."

>> why did you fight so hard to keep the filming of this movie, "the hobbit ," in new zealand ?

>> i've always wanted to make my films here. i just regard myself as a new zealand film maker. i don't feel compelled to go somewhere else in order to do what i want to do.

>> reporter: he's been able to build an entire movie-making industry five minutes from his home in wellington complete with high-tech special effect facilities, giant sound stages and a state of the art production house . it's even where "the hobbit " had its world premiere .

>> you were credited with bringing hollywood to new zealand . so much of it wellington is called wellywood. wouldn't it have been easier to go to hollywood than bring hollywood here?

>> not necessarily, it's easier to make your films if you have your own little world. i didn't leave my parents' house until i was 26 years old, and i don't want to leave the country. and if i can make films in new zealand and continue living here, then i think i'm the luckiest guy in the world.

>> the visual power of peter jackson movies have caused some to ask just how did he get that on screen?

>> go.

>> we came to new zealand to get a glimpse at how he does it. and he took us into a studio and into his world of movie magic.

>> i recognize this scene.

>> he showed us advances in performance capture, which he helped pioneer.

>> as he's moving, that's what's happening on screen. how does that work? exactly.

>> all of these guys are covered in these dots. and you can see the spoon he's got has the points on, as well. so each of these -- and if i take it away, you see, i don't have any dots on me so i'm not being recorded, but the spoon still is.

>> it's floating there.

>> it's floating.

>> jackson also showed us how he captured actors playing characters at vastly different heights. to do that, he invited me on screen with him.

>> oh, you want me to be gandolph. all right.

>> and i'm bilbo and i'm standing here. if i look at you directly, it's not going to work. what i have to do is if i look at the screen and point with my hands and i'm looking -- that's where you are there.

>> i see.

>> so i get a mark up on the ceiling up there. the way that it works, we're being shot with two separate cameras. one camera is a lot lower, so you're immediately looking bigger because the camera's at a much lower height. i'm looking up at you at about there.

>> and i'm looking down at you right there.

>> so this is your purpose.

>> reporter: helped make "the hobbit " one of the most technologically advanced films of our time, building on innovation and creativity he began over a decade ago. he has devoted a fourth of his life to bringing to the screen.

>> reporter: you will have spent 14 years making these " lord of the rings " and " hobbit " movies. do you think you'll look back on these films, these six films eventually as your greatest legacy as a director?

>> well, it's an interesting question, because if i said yes, i'm assuming i'm never going to make anything that people regard quite as good as that. but the realistic question that may well be the case.

>> what a beautiful place. you look at the background, looks fake.

>> it is a movie set . unbelievable.

>> and "the hobbit " opens december 14th . you can see much more of the interview tonight