As with the previous "An Unexpected Journey," the 2.40:1 1080p MVC 3D picture is true to Director Peter Jackson and Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie’s magical visualizations in every nuanced detail. For this second release, "The Desolation Of Smaug" is much darker and oppressive. While more visually challenging, both the 2D and 3D encodings are flawless! While every parameter of quality is precisely executed—color fidelity, contrast, and black levels—it is the 3D application that draws the audience completely into the image and storytelling. The 3D was captured with a total of 17 Red Epic digital cameras locked into 3Reality Digital mirror system rigs and other custom rigs, and monitored in 3D as it was being made. The sense of depth, dimensionality, and perspective is astonishingly successful, though, relatively restrained from screen-puncturing gimmicks. Spatial relationships of people and objects against vast landscapes and distant horizons is striking. Characterizations are incredibly realistic, with convincing shapely volume depiction's and spatial interplays. Whether during quieter scenes or rambunctious battle scenes, the sense of depth and scale is absolutely realistic. The feeling conveyed is one of “you are there” as an invisible observer. As was the case in the last release, occasionally, a sword, fluttering bird, or swinging ax extends out of the screen, but still this negative parallax view never is a distraction. Throughout the viewing experience the integrity of the 3D is never compromised. As for the elements comprising the picture, color fidelity is exceptional, with lush Shire greens, glowing browns and oranges, blue skies, blazing flames, lifelike fleshtones, and complexly deep blacks providing the imaginative stylization. Contrast is excellent, with solid blacks and natural shadow detail evidenced throughout. Resolution and clarity is exceptional as well, no doubt due to the original master photography captured at 48 frames per second at 5K resolution. The human eye sees 60 frames per second, so 48 frames gives the viewer more of what they would actually see in the real world. Fine detail is evident in facial features, creatures, hair, costumes, and objects. Such nuanced resolution enhances the sense of realism and transport to the worlds of Middle-earth. The imagery is impressively pristine, without artifacts such as ringing, aliasing, macroblocking, banding, noise, and crosstalk. This is without reservation one of the finest 3D native presentations to be experienced. Jackson has ensured optimum quality of presentation by spreading the storytelling over two Blu-ray Discs™. This is a true reference-quality picture and a MUST HAVE for one's Blu-ray Disc library.