For years, James Cameron has been telling everyone who would listen (mostly his army of high-priced whores) that a lot of the early problems people had with 3D – that it required slower cuts and camera movements because of strobing and blurring – could be solved with higher frame rates, which is relatively easy to accomplish (your TV is already capable of doing much higher than film’s 24 frames per second, for instance). Peter Jackson explained last year:
Looking at 24 frames every second may seem ok–and we’ve all seen thousands of films like this over the last 90 years–but there is often quite a lot of blur in each frame, during fast movements, and if the camera is moving around quickly, the image can judder or “strobe.”
Shooting and projecting at 48 fps does a lot to get rid of these issues. It looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3-D.
Jackson put his money where his beardy mouth is, shooting The Hobbit at 48 fps, and today Warner Bros debuted some of the footage at CinemaCon.
Peter Jackson said in a videotaped message that he hopes his movie can be played in 48fps in “as many cinemas as possible” when it opens on Dec. 14.
In his message, Jackson stated that higher frame rates could make cinema “more attractive,” especially in 3D as it is “more gentle on the eyes.” He added that 2D at 48fps also looks “fantastic.”
The clarity Jackson described was visible in the presentation, but since the clips were described as “a work in progress” Warner did not screen footage that was fully color-corrected, or featuring completed VFX work.
And if I could sum up the collective reaction, I’d say it’s something along the lines of “OH MY GOD A WITCH, BURN IT!”
Saw the 10 minutes of raw The Hobbit footage in 48FPS 3D. Intriguing, the footage looks amazing, but the 48FPS experience is an odd change. – Alex Billington, Firstshowing
Oh no. Not a fan of 48fps. Oh no no no. […] Listening to Cinemacon people – theater owners – this 48fps demo sold NOBODY. […] THE HOBBIT, frankly, did not look cinematic. -Devin Faraci, BadassDigest
Saw ten minutes of Hobbit in 48fps 3D. Very exciting, but I’m now very unsure about higher framerates #CinemaCon -Peter Sciretta, SlashFilm
Saw 10 min of THE HOBBIT in 48fps. It’s def a drastic change from 24fps and many are not going to be on board with it. #thehobbit -Steve Weintraub, Collider
I had a feeling this 48fps stuff was gonna just look like amped up 120Hz on an HDTV, which looks awful. Seems to potentially be the case. -Kris Tapley, InContention
The fact is that 48 fps 3D is the most startlingly “real” 3D I’ve ever seen in my life. The downside for older types is that it’s too real. […] In a word, 48 fps 3D looks like high-def video. It doesn’t look “cinematic”, lacking that filtered or gauzy look we’re all accustomed to. -Jeff Wells, HollywoodElsewhere
All of you clever critics there and not one person had the wherewithal to say, “Frame Rate? More like FRAME RAPE!” I mean talk about a missed opportunity.
Anyway, that seemed to be the general consensus from Twitter. Have you ever tried to watch an old movie on Blu-Ray and it looks all weird like a soap opera (yes, you can fiddle with the settings to make it better)? I get the feeling it’s like that. Something to get used to. Meanwhile, Rebecca Murray of About.com writes:
It’s literally like being on the set next to the actors as they’re performing. […] Once audiences get to see The Hobbit screened at the 48 frames per second rate when it’s released in theaters on December 14, 2012, I can guarantee moviegoers are going to demand all films be presented at 48 fps.
So there you have it, 48fps is either doomed to fail or the new standard all films must follow. Isn’t the echo chamber fun?
[picture source: THR]