In December of 2011, I interviewed Joe Letteri for LivinginCinema and AwardsDaily. The four-time Oscar-winning visual effects artist took me deep into the process of crafting the characters and worlds of the Lord of the Rings films, King Kong, Avatar, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The main thing I took away from talking with Letteri was the extent to which he and the team at Weta Digital have redefined the very nature of visual effects on each of these films, and then incorporated the recent innovations into the next project while continuing to break new ground. After ten years, Letteri and the Weta team went back to Middle Earth with director Peter Jackson for a new trilogy of films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal fantasy novel “The Hobbit.” Much has changed in the world of visual effects since the Lord of the Rings films, and Letteri and the Weta crew reinvented Middle Earth using the all-encompassing nature of designing a world through visual effects a la Avatar while capturing Andy Serkis’ Gollum using performance capture in a manner perfected on Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The new challenges were doing all of that at 48 frames-per-second while also filming in 3D. After the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,I spoke with Letteri again about his latest trip to Middle Earth, for which he has now been recognized with a seventh Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. Here’s what Letteri shared with me about visual effects in a post-Avatar world, making a film in 3D and 48 frames-per-second, and crafting The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.