The Hobbit: The Bilbo Edition 3.0 (The Final Cut)

The Hobbit: The Bilbo Edition 3.0

An Unexpected Update – 6/01/2020:

Hello everyone! Due to the ample time provided by COVID-19 quarantines, I finally have had time to address frequently reported issues with audio lag. Not only did I find the source of the problem and have a fix, but I am also working on a new subtitled version and experimenting with different file sizes. Expect more updates in the coming weeks, and thank you to everyone who has supported and recommended this adaptation of The Hobbit over the years! 

I’m happy to declare that a 4.0 patched version is available for download! For best viewing experience on a computer, watch in Quicktime or VLC. The file is 6gb and formatted for widescreen. Patch notes will be posted once I have the full update ready to go, hopefully by the end of June (exporting times have been painful and crash-happy, hence the long delay). If you’re low on hard-drive space, here is a 2gb compressed version. Stay tuned, and thanks again for your continued support of this project! 

4 Hour Fan-Adaptation of the Peter Jackson Hobbit Trilogy

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The Hobbit has always had a special place in my heart. One of my earliest memories is that of my father reading The Hobbit to me before bed. Ever since, I’ve had a passion for reading and immersive storytelling. I voraciously read all of Tolkien’s work in elementary school, soaking in the books and films at any chance I could. In middle school I would watch the behind-the-scene bonus material of The Lord of the Rings films almost as attentively as I did the films themselves. It was my childhood dream to work with Peter Jackson and be part of the team that brought The Hobbit to life on the big screen. By the time I was in high school it had been announced the film was being made. I couldn’t have been more excited, even if I was too young to be part of the production.

I vividly remember sitting in the theatre for the first of the Hobbit films with my family, a huge rush of nostalgia and joy washing over me. I knew the book by heart, I’d seen the animated film dozens of times and seen the LOTR films countless more, and here I expected the same quality. Now, let it be said, I really enjoyed the Hobbit films, and I have a lot of respect for the production team that brought my favorite book to life. A lot has been said about what is wrong with the Hobbit trilogy, and I myself could probably go on at length about what in particular was so disappointing about it, but if I had to explain all of that, you probably wouldn’t be here. From my very first viewing, I knew that the film could have been edited down significantly and I knew I had the knowledge and drive to do it myself. So I did.

Although I was not the first to create a Hobbit fan-edit, I was among the first four, and after three years of wide success, international interest, and a flood of comments, praise and constructive feedback, I have put together a final cut of the popular Bilbo Edition edit, a detailed revision of the three Hobbit films into a single, succinct 4-hour fan adaptation modeled after the original source material.

At the time that I first set out on this project, there were only two other available fan-edits that had beat me to the punch; now there are likely over a dozen (a list of some of the best known ones can be found here). I purposefully did not watch any until I had completed my own for fear of being influenced by others’ creative choices of where to cut down, added to the fear that watching other edits first would dissuade me from forging my own. Back in 2015, I was terrified that upon completion of my own edit, I would watch these other edits and find that almost the exact same cuts had been made, and that all of my care and input had been beaten in the race. Much to my surprise and joy, upon skimming through the other available fan edits then and since, I can confidently say that my film is drastically different than any other available. I think it’s really special that several super-fans can have the same idea, execute it, and end up with wildly different, yet still completely enjoyable adaptations. I was really impressed by the other fan cuts, but watching them also also helped me feel more confident in my own original voice and creative decisions.

Where other cuts focused on specifically getting the film down to its barest bones possible (the original 3 hour cut was especially impressive from an editing standpoint, although it felt rushed in its execution; the 2-Hour cut by Fiona van Dahl has since perfected this strategy), or were sacredly bound to the book canon and nothing more, my edit was always about combining the films into a single, faithful adaptation of my favorite book while retaining my favorite parts of the films. In particular, The Hobbit is about Bilbo Baggins, and the trilogy suffered from an overbalance of characters, many of which are not in the book at all. Although I understand why Jackson’s team added a lot of these additions, I knew that at the heart of this trilogy lied a fantastic film centering around the hobbit himself, perfectly embodied and performed by Martin Freeman. This fan adaptation is about Bilbo while being as faithful to the book as possible. I purposefully did not add any new music or scenes from other material, only cutting and rearranging what was already present in the trilogy and deleted footage. Major edits of The Bilbo Edition include, but are not limited to:

  • Jumping straight into the story – although the flashback sequence involving the dragon’s attack on Erebor is fun, I felt that there was more drama to the dwarves’ plight when they were able to explain their situation in their own words.
  • The removal of many extraneous chase and fight sequences; Azog the Defiler has largely been excised, his role dramatically repurposed.
  • The love triangle between Tauriel, Kili and Legolas is completely removed, with Tauriel and Legolas only appearing in passing as brief cameos. Likewise, the subplot of Kili’s injured leg/separation from the company at Lake Town is also excised
  • The barrel scene has been truncated and no longer involves a flight from orcs
  • Much of The Battle of Five Armies has been cut, as even for Jackson standards the original film was pretty gratuitous
  • The troll encounter, the Stone Giants, the Goblin King, and the escape from the Misty Mountains have been drastically shortened for length, tone and pace
  • Gandalf’s investigation of Dol Guldur is entirely cut, as in the book we never leave Bilbo’s point of view, save for Bard during the dragon attack on Lake Town. The Bilbo Edition features a Gandalf just as mysterious, mischievous and mercurial as he appears in the book. Likewise, the White Council has been cut entirely, as has Radaghast the Brown.
  • Beorn’s classic introduction from the book is happily integrated into the film
  • Story shattering plotholes from the original trilogy have been corrected – for example, Smaug would have no way of knowing who Thorin Oakenshield is (he gets this name after fleeing Erebor), nor his obsession with the Arkenstone. Consequently, much of his dialogue has been streamlined and kept faithful to the book. The lengthy cat-and-mouse chase scene involving the dragon and the dwarves has also been removed.
  • Lastly, my major focus beside trimming fat and keeping Bilbo front and center was to maintain tension and suspense in appropriately tense and suspenseful scenes. Jackson had an unfortunate habit of undermining all suspense in the Hobbit trilogy due to constantly switching from one character scene to another, removing any sense of continuity or tension from these admittedly great scenes, if just left to their own devices. As a result, scenes like Bilbo’s encounter with Smaug and the attack on Lake Town are far more streamlined and continuous than in the original trilogy.

It is with with great pleasure that I announce the final cut of The Hobbit: The Bilbo Edition, a labor of love that has captivated me for the better part of three years. This final version has taken into account years of constructive criticism and comments from the Tolkien community and is, in my humble opinion, the best way to enjoy The Hobbit as adapted to film. It balances the best of Peter Jackson’s contributions and visual sensibilities while staying as true to the source material as possible.

For those new to The Bilbo Edition, the 1.0 version was cut together prior to extended edition footage being available. The 2.0 version released two years ago cut the film down considerably while integrating newly released extended edition footage. The final 3.0 revisions and tweaks are as follows:

  • Both the Stone Giants and troll sequence have been cut down significantly for tone and pace
  • Sound irregularities have been touched up and fixed in many scenes, particularly toward the Battle of Five Armies
  • Bilbo’s introduction to Gollum and the Ring has been modified to be more faithful to the source material, taking a similar approach to other available edits
  • Minor, lingering continuity errors have been fixed
  • The Warg attack has been streamlined
  • Minor revisions to dialogue here and there for better continuity and flow

My original plan for this fan adaptation was to make the film as easy to view as possible, something that proved exceedingly difficult over the years. Initially, I had created a 15-part breakdown of the film to pair with the Book-to-Film essays that I published with the 1.0 version back in 2015. The host for those 15 video chapters was taken down soon after, and since then I could not find a sufficient method of releasing those chapter segments.  With the 3.0 version, I have done my best to execute this original plan with updated material and creative choices.

Consequently, I am pleased to announce that The Hobbit: The Bilbo Edition 3.0 can be streamed as a complete 4+ hour film through Google Drive, or can be downloaded for best quality. Going even further, for those who do not have the time or desire to watch the entire film in one sitting, you can now watch all 15 chapter segments at your leisure through the same means. That means if you are currently reading The Hobbit to yourself or to a loved one, you can now watch a chapter of the film directly adapted from the source material as you read it! Not only is this method ideal for younger children or those without four hours to spare in one sitting, but helps to hone in on the rich themes and arcs of the individual chapters inherent to the source material. Each of these video chapters are paired with complementary commentary and analysis regarding the source material’s transition from book to film, both in the original Jackson films and regarding my adaptation’s creative take.

I have also taken the liberty in reviewing a few competing fan cuts for those unsure which to invest time into. Though the many fan cuts out there have different creative visions, and different folks will prefer different fan adaptations, I argue here which of the films I think are best and what makes them distinctive from alternative options.

The final product is an high definition, widescreen, 6.57 gigabyte film running at approximately 4.3 hours, accounting for extended edition footage and an untouched credit sequence. This was a labor of love and I hope that Tolkien fans will appreciate the passion and attention to detail that went into this endeavor.

I had three broad goals in mind for this fan adaptation:

  • Streamline the bulky 8+ hour trilogy into a single, coherent, narratively rich story that is both faithful to the essence of the source material while still maintaining the best of Peter Jackson’s original contributions and deviations.
  • Maintain suspense and tension in iconic scenes and allow for the remarkable acting of all actors involved to shine, particularly that of Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen. Bilbo is the heart and soul of the story and unlike the original trilogy that dodges around him, here he remains front and center as the audience surrogate and the thematically rich protagonist at the core of the story.
  • Provide the best possible fan-adaptation that can satisfy both lovers of the original films and lovers of the source material. Although there are other fan-edits that excel in different areas, I truly believe my film is narratively the superior choice amongst the “long-form” fan-adaptations.

The Hobbit – The Bilbo Edition 3.0 ~ Google Drive Direct Download!

(04/25/18 Patch: After numerous reports of an audio sync issue in the first quarter of the film, I’ve re-compressed the file and re-uploaded with a quick 3.1 fix. All audio issues have been corrected and the full film is available again 🙂 )

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15-Part Book-to-Film Analysis of The Hobbit 

Click the title of the Chapter for an in-depth analysis of the book-to-film translation. Click the time stamp to be taken directly to a streaming, downloadable excerpt of The Bilbo Edition 3.0. For best quality, download at your convenience (all chapter excerpts are under 1 gigabyte)!

Part I. An Unexpected Adventure / Chapter I. An Unexpected Party  / 00:00:00 — 00:30:35 

Part II. Trouble with Trolls / Chapter II. Roast Mutton / 00:30:36 — 00:55:45

Part III. Rivendell / Chapter III. A Short Rest / 55:46 — 01:08:26

Part IV. The Misty Mountains / Chapter IV. Over Hill and Under Hill / 01:08:27 — 01:21:03

Part V. Rings and Riddles / Chapter V. Riddles in the Dark / 01:21:04 — 01:38:27

Part VI. Wargs and Wind / Chapter VI. Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire / 01:38:28 — 01:47:49

Part VII. The Skinchanger / Chapter VII. Queer Lodgings / 01:47:50 — 01:59:28

Part VIII. Mirkwood / Chapter VIII. Flies and Spider [and] Chapter IX. Barrels out of Bond / 01:59:29 — 02:20:11

Part IX. Lake Town / Chapter X. A Warm Welcome / 02:20:12 — 02:34:11

Part X. The Desolation of Smaug / Chapter XI. On the Doorstep / 02:34:12 — 02:43:45

Part XI. Smaug the Stupendous / Chapter XII. Inside Information [and] Chapter XIV. Fire and Water / 02:43:46 — 03:06:13

Part XII. Dragon Sickness / Chapter XIII. Not at Home [and] Chapter XIV. Fire and Water [and] Chapter XV. The Gathering of the Clouds / 03:06:14 — 03:22:05

Part XIII. The Battle of Five Armies / Chapter XVI. A Thief in the Night [and] XVII. The Clouds Burst 03:22:06 — 03:48:51

Part XIV. The King Under the Mountain / Chapter XVII. The Clouds Burst [and] Chapter XVIII. The Home Journey / 03:48:52 — 04:12:17

Part XV. There and Back Again / Chapter XIX. The Last Stage / 04:12:18 — 04:20:44

Credits / 04:20:45 — 04:33:45

** all page numbers given in the chapter excerpts are from my personal copy of the book, the 1984 illustrated edition featuring the work of Michael Hague. If you experience technical issues while streaming, try refreshing the url or downloading the file directly. 🙂

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All footage is property of Warner Bros. Entertainment

Thank you to everyone who has supported this project and given constructive and positive feedback over the years. This is my gift to the Tolkien community and I seek no financial gain from this project.

That said, if you are friends with/are Jeff Bezos, please hire me on as a writing consultant for the new Tolkien-inspired show at Amazon. I know some things.

Mae g’ovannen!

129 thoughts on “The Hobbit: The Bilbo Edition 3.0 (The Final Cut)

  1. I first learned about your fanedit in November 2019 (I was so done with this trilogy after watching the second film in a theater that I never looked back since 2013 – I knew how it ended thanks to the book), and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by your take! (I have some remarks of my own, but I’m not going to talk about them now)

    In fact, I liked it so much that I started my own subtitling project, what with the radio silence about your progress.

    Now I have somewhat mixed feelings about the recent surge of interest in this fanedit because I was actually close to releasing a first edited draft of an English Closed-Captions subtitle. You see, I decided to start from existing subtitles for the source films, cut them up, sync them and maybe do some editing. So far I have been able to work out which scenes in the fanedit come from which source movie (or so I believe, I’ve actually had to do it over again after realizing the extended edition is nothing like the theatrical edition). Syncing is done up to a point, but that’s where all the audio delay issues bother me. The subtitles for the original films were actually very well done: they were perfectly in sync with audio as well as the frequent change in camera shots. This fanedit though is sadly suffering from varying delays all over the film (and I _have_ measured it – it ranges from 200 ms to a second or more – I’ve got the numbers to prove it). As a result, syncing has been frustrating, and editing has happened only sporadically.

    The result of my effort can be seen in this pre-release subtitle file:

    https://gist.github.com/jberttdw/6497f9a75ce93f37ab96db42a765a39d

    It’s synced and can be used to watch the 3.1 version of the film, but there will be moments where you see a subtitle and *flash* it’s gone, all because the camera shots, sound and subtitle track don’t align just right. And NOTE to anyone who wants to translate or correct it: please don’t do it (just yet!). I have all the bits and pieces of the file in a git repository which allows for easier editing, but I still need to clean it up. It might take another couple of weeks before I take the git repo public, and at that point I would still like to do something with the preparations I’ve made for a plain English, Dutch, German or French subtitle (those are only 10% ready though).

    All of that said: news that the source of the audio sync problem is found is also encouraging. It could mean that a new version of the film could be made without that issue, and subtitling it would be far more straightforward. I hope you can focus on that and give feedback as soon as possible, that way I could start planning what amount of my syncing / editing work can be salvaged and what needs to be done over again.

    Thank you, thank you, and thrice thank you for bringing us this fanedit!

    Like

    • Wow, I am totally blown away by your level of support! Thank you for all the time you’ve put into these subtitles! I’m close to releasing a audio-fix version, and from there I will be working on an English subtitle version for the next few weeks. Once that’s done, I will happily accept any fan-assistance with translated subtitles 🙂

      I’m so glad you like the edit. I’m blown away by the resurgence in popularity lately and I’m doing everything I can to get an update as soon as possible. I’ve run into all kinds of technical issues and long export times, but I’m currently mid-export of what I think will be the copy that get’s uploaded. Fingers crossed!

      Like

      • Hi, me again, this time just wanting to let you know that I’m really excited about your upcoming version and will definitely watch it! Thank you for your contiunous work and the immense effort you put into this. If at some point you need a subtitle translation into German, please feel free to hit me up.

        Like

      • Thank you for your effort in bringing us an updated 4.0 edition, and then you even did it twice! I have watched it and spotted the differences. I like the change(s) you made, as the scenes of the Dwarves entering Bard’s house always felt gross (for example, had the script writers wanted then they could have let the Dwarves enter the house by climbing the little pier beneath the house – Bard is later seen dragging up weapons from there anyway). The cut version seems to move the story along just fine, even if it’s a bit of a sudden jump. Luckily the voyage in a barrel of fish is just as good reason to see the dwarves shiver before the hearth without having them go swimming.

        Now, I am sad to report that the audio sync issue is definitely better but not at all gone. I have measured things again and while the changes you did allowed for smoother subtitles, there are still some very bad bits in the 4.0 edition, e.g. at 3:42:55 where you can see Bilbo’s lips say “The Elves…” and stop before you actually hear what he is saying. I have a few ideas what could be causing it if you happen to be using a software like Sony / Magix Vegas Pro, but then it might not get fixed without recreating the fan edit from scratch. I fully understand that it would be a huge effort, so please don’t feel too bad about it if there is no time for it.

        Then there is one further remark: watching the 3.1 and 4.0 (Standard) edition side by side I notice that the 4.0 standard edition has a smaller frame size and different frame rate. To me it feels like in the 4.0 edition the movement is not as smooth and the picture looks blurrier. Is an HD version still in the works?

        Anyway, back to subtitles. Last time I accidentally broke the comments section by directly linking a subtitle file. This time around I will link to the Releases page of a Github project which I’ve made to host the subtitles:

        https://github.com/jberttdw/hobbit-fanedit-tbe-subtitles/releases

        So far I have got finished English subtitles with Closed-Captions and regular English. German is the first translation. I believe I have now enough scripts and data to almost automatically convert subtitles for the original films into TBE subtitles, so any requests are welcome.

        For more information of how I measured the audio sync issue or requests for subtitles, please contact me at AT gmail DOT com or make a ticket at https://github.com/jberttdw/hobbit-fanedit-tbe-subtitles/.

        Stay safe in these troubling times.

        Like

      • Thank you so much for the hyper specific feedback and all the help you’ve offered, especially with the subtitles!

        Good catch on the 3:42:55 audio glitch… no idea how that happened. If that’s the only spot where audio is off, then that should be a relatively easy fix…

        That being said, I’m just about spent on attempting to fix this thing. I’ve been working with Adobe Premiere for years and I’ve never had as many issues as I’ve had trying to work out a function 4.0 cut. Every single export comes out with a lower frame-rate or smaller frame size. I’ve tried weeks and weeks of troubleshooting and time consuming exports (a full film export can take more than 24 hours with a video of this size), and I’ve been pretty much emotionally broken by the process of trying to figure it out. The video in the timeline is HD and the same as the 3.1.

        All this has eaten up a decent chunk of my summer break, and the school year is fast approaching (I teach high school English in the US… it’s going to be grim), so I don’t know how much more time I can put into this before I completely hit rock bottom with it.

        If you feel confident that you can get a working export right, with or without subtitles, I would happily, happily pay you for your services. You seem to have the knowledge and passion to get the job done. All the editing itself is completed, and I have all the raw files for the cut. I just can’t for the life of me figure out why the export file is coming out different from the settings or native footage in Premiere. If anyone else sees this and would like to have a go at it, again, I’d happily pay for the time and work put into it. Feel free to comment here or send me a private message.

        No pressure to accept, but I’d hope two brains put together on this would be better than one and we can get a final cut with subtitles off the ground and running for everyone to enjoy. Thanks again for all the TBE love!

        Like

      • It seems something went wrong in the comment where I left my contact details, so here’s my email again if somebody wants to contact me about subtitles or the audio sync thing: jberttdw AT gmail DOT com.

        (Too bad I can’t edit or remove my own comments, or I would have edited out that huge subtitle file from last time – now I just deleted it from github gists)

        Like

  2. Hola!
    It might be a silly question and the thread might be dead, but… Does the cut include scene from the extended edition?
    Cheers!

    Like

  3. Really excited about the upcoming update, just wanted to ask one thing, since you are going to be fixing quite alot of things from audio to even adding subs, is there any chance of an update in the quality of the video?

    Like

  4. I apologize if it’s been asked but I just briefly checked out your incredible edit for the first time recently. I gather one of the goals was being faithful to the book, so I was wondering why you kept the extended version of Dain’s arrival where the Elves and Dwarves begin fighting/killing each other (an invention of the film), rather than the theatrical version where they are interrupted before fighting, like in the book?

    Like

    • Two reasons:
      a) In the book, the dwarves and elves do indeed begin to fight before the orcs and goblins arrive, so it is true to the spirit of the source material
      b) I thought it was well executed and set up the character of Dain as someone to take seriously

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Will you be making this available in 1080p? Looks like the uncompressed 6gb is 720p.
    Been searching for “the one” and seems like yours is it for me. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’d like to say ditto on a 1080p version. Would love to see this edit in full HD! My mom’s a long-time Tolkien fan and I want to burn it to disc for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi, I LOVE the sound of this, and I want to download and watch it so badly! Unfortunately, when I go to the dropbox link and click download, it says too many people have downloaded/watched it, so I cannot. Is there somewhere else I can download it? Thanks! This project seems amazing!

    Like

  8. What is it that the 4.0 cut (Both 6GB and 2GB versions) seems to be @ 360p only? At least that is what Google Drive reports.

    Like

  9. I would very much like a torrent for this. I’m on an intranet, and the basterds have set a max size per file, get an error at around 1.5 into the download. Would love to hear if this is possible, or not, for that matter. Thanks for all the effort you put into this edit.

    Like

  10. Hello, the 4.0 version is in very low resolution (‪720 x 480‬). I think this must be a mistake as the old 3.1 version is in much higher quality (‪‪1,918 x 800‬‬).

    Like

    • It was meant as a place-holder until I could get my hands on better editing software. I no longer have access to the original software used to edit the first three version, which has resulted in a great deal of frustration. That combined with teaching in the middle of a pandemic and everything else going on has forced me to put the project on hold. I hope this summer I can update with a higher resolution export!

      Like

      • Thank you! That’s precisely what I was using before but my current version is slightly different, resulting in formatting issues that have been difficult to troubleshoot, plus everything else going on. I’ll keep your offer in mind when I’m ready to come back to this. 🙂

        Like

  11. Thank You – I have seen several Hobbit fanedits but this is my favourite one 🙂 I do adore Your version of “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” and barrel ride without orcs and Bilbo as a central figure. I would prefer Thorin not throwing away the key-his legacy and I do have some issues with giant worms suitable for Arakis not Middle Earth, but I can manage 2 seconds 😉

    Like

  12. You made this movie awesome. I really enjoyed your edit. The Smaug scenes were edited perfectly, and I really felt like he was never covered in gold the way you edited it. Well done! Kind of wish it was all in HD though, but that’s not as important as the fact that you made a terrible trilogy into one pretty darn good movie. I mean, it’s excellent as a single film, thanks for your work!

    Like

  13. Hi,
    I had offered to help with fixing the 4.0 edit in May and July last year but then had to pour all my time into one of my father’s home renovation projects. Since that ended as winter arrived I’ve been able again to work on it.

    I have been trying to reach out to you because I think I’ve got a working, high-quality “4.1” edit done but still need some feedback and discuss ways of getting the finished result to you. I think it has all the transitions from the 4.0 edition while it is also an attempt at thoroughly fixing the sound syncing issues throughout the film.

    This edit still remains my favorite and I would be glad to share more info. Maybe I have been sending emails to the wrong mail address, so could you send me an email from your preferred address to jberttdw AT gmail DOT com? Looking forward to a reply.

    Like

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