“The Hobbit” in 48 Frames Per Second


Peter Jackson on the set of The Hobbit

Peter Jackson once again dares to change cinema but doubling frame speed.

This particular  article got my cogs in my brain turning. According to Screen Crave, Peter Jackson’s trilogy The Hobbit, has opted a new technique of shooting and screening the movie in twice the speed. Normal and traditional film movies are reeled at 24 frames per second (FPS) but doubling to 48 FPS reportedly makes it looks ultra realistic.

Now, I don’t want to focus on The Hobbit in this post but the technology, both the past and the future of film making and film screening. To me, the experience of sitting in an air-conditioned movie theater and absorbing anything that the screen throws at me. Anything that distracts me from that experience, if it’s the lady next to me shuffling through her purse or the gum I got stuck to the hind part of my pants (both had happened to me), just distracts from the experience. Now, when the distractions come from the screen I hold in great contempt.

I believe that 3D is the greatest criminal in this distraction. I’ve only seen Avatar and Jackass 3D in the more expensive format and even though the latter enhanced the hilarity of the movie (that’s why they did it) the former did nothing  but detract from the experience. And yes, I did see Avatar in the 2D format and I enjoyed it more; the colors were more vibrant and I didn’t have to worry about those pesky glasses.

When it comes to in home entertainment I’m a full advocate for High-Definition technology. At first, I thought it looked like a soap opera in every frame but I got used to it. It doesn’t deter from the experience any more.

Lastly, theaters are also transitioning from the traditional film strips that go reel to reel to a digital projector. I’m not taking sides on this one because I’ve seen both but haven’t seen any difference. One exception is when I go to a dollar theater and am shown a second-hand reel, there are noticeable scratches on the picture but other than that.

So, let’s go full circle and talk about The Hobbit‘s 48 FPS issue. It’s been said that it looks “too realistic” or “a bad Discover documentary.” Why is it a solid complaint to argue that it looks “too realistic” when we also complain about CGI looking too fake? Not that I want a picture to pop out of the screen to sit by me realism but I want a believe life-like image to be able to draw me in. From the reactions I’ve heard about 48 FPS it seems to be like my first concern about HD technology in home entertainment–  but I got used to it. It will probably take some viewers a while to get used to it but I think they’ll enjoy it over time. Will it bring more viewers to the theaters? Maybe. I don’t think it’s as much of a selling point as 3D is, unfortunately.

As for any changing industry there are purists out there that cling to established ways of film making. In the video that I’ll put below, Quentin Tarantino talks about the magic and illusion of film viewing and he specifically references a 24 FPS rate and wholly condemns any kind of digital projection showing.

As stated before, my main issue for the moving technology of film is the distraction of the experience. I applaud any film maker who takes chances and tries to make an impression on the industry. If upping the speed of frames changes that experience and isn’t well received as HD technology was then the technique won’t catch on and will die.

Is Peter Jackson trying to bring 48 FPS to the forefront of the “next big thing” in cinema like James Cameron did for 3D technology? Would you go to a 48 FPS movie over a 24 FPS? What is your favorite way of viewing a motion picture?


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