"We want as much time as possible and New Line is happy to support that," he said in an interview with an American website.
"If we start shooting without being totally prepared, we’ll be stuffed. I don’t want to shoot a single frame until we’ve done a complete animatic of all three movies."
Jackson says although the project’s had a dream run to date, "I’m determined to keep it under control in a way that rarely happens with big-budget FX films."
Casting has been under way in London, Dublin and Sydney and will begin shortly in New Zealand. Lesser-known actors are being auditioned for the key roles; "name" actors will be placed within the films. Jackson is keen to use English accents for the Tolkien characters but says New Line fears not having American accents will alienate US audiences. "That debate has yet to be resolved."
One character – Gollum – will be computer-generated. "His performance has to be spectacular," Jackson says, "way beyond anything we have yet seen in CGI land." WETA is developing new modelling, skinning, bone and muscle codes for this so Gollum appears to be real organic tissue.
Among the locations being finalised are the Volcanic Plateau, the Waikato and Canterbury. Jackson says matte paintings will be used to enhance these locations rather then create entire landscapes. He’s also considering digitising the movies in a computer so frames could be tweaked to change everything from the weather to waterfalls.
Hundreds of models and sculptures have been made, along with authentic steel armour and suits that have been traditionally forged – heated red-hot and beaten on anvils.
Chainmail is being made in India while a Wellington knitting club of woman aged over 70 is producing one background suit of mail a day. Jackson also is having weapons cast in strong, rigid rubber to avoid the wobbling axe shot that marred Braveheart.