Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fear the 48fps? Or Embrace It...?

I'm using it. What ya gonna do 'bout it? NUTHIN'!
When it was announced by Peter Jackson, that The Hobbit, Part I (HA! YOU HAVE TO BUY TWO TICKETS) is going to be shot in 48fps, film elitists went nuts. Normal people said, "Oh, cool, The Hobbit!" Still others said, "What?"

If you fall into the latter category, don't worry, the film jargon 48fps vs. 24fps vs. a ludicrous 60fps all means that one is the industry standard (24fps), one allows smoother movement (48fps), and the other features ridiculous fluidity (60fps). Well, just take a look at this visual comparison of the three. It should be noted that there is not 24fps and instead 30fps because once the film has been converted to video, it pretty much becomes 30fps (or rather... 29.97...). Just don't worry about it.

Their Rider? James Cameron. Obvi.
As Ben explained in his post about The Hobbit, Jackson's move to 48fps was a mixed bag, at best. Some saw it as the best thing since machines that sliced your bread for you, while others saw this as the 7th sign of the apocalypse (the other 6? ...all James Cameron).

Jolly, Giant Jackson's defense of the 48fps was that it gave a smoother look to the film, as 24fps can be less clear especially during fast camera motion. Now, a smoother, clearer, non-blurry motion picture seems awesome, right? So, why is everyone freaking out?
Kids are going to MOVIES? There's Dancing? Golly gee!
 Well, short answer, they shouldn't really.

Does this make me better than you?
Yes. Yes it does.

24fps has been an old industry standard, which will undoubtedly be overtaken by higher frames per second with the growth of digital mediums available and oh yeah, 3D. The arguments for keeping 24fps range from "BECAUSE!" to the more logical: the blemishes and blurs within the film allow our brains to separate film life from reality (aka it's what makes film so... filmy...). However, there are great reasons for directors such as Jackson and James Cameron to use higher resolutions and frame rates.

With the introduction of 3D cinema, shooting in 48fps vs. 24fps is just way easier to look at. Seriously, it's bad enough that we have the images popping up at us, we don't need it to be even harder to look at. 48fps allows a clearer, easier viewing of 3D for our brains. And since 3D ain't going away anytime soon, this is a good thing. I will even set aside my hate for 3D, and welcome 48fps or higher if it makes the picture look BETTER.

While the fear of higher frame rates will always be there, it isn't going away. James Cameron has long been an outspoken pioneer when it comes to chopping away at the old industry standards. Cameron has even said he would want to shoot the sequels to Avatar (yes... the sequels) in 60fps. Oh boy...

Dr. John Watson. Now, where's Sherlock...?
Another concern with The Hobbit being shot in 48fps is that some film projectors at theaters aren't equipped to handle the higher frame rate. No matter, the theaters have more than enough time to upgrade, as The Hobbit hits theaters in December.

However, given Cameron's and Jackson's track record, these guys know their way around the technology they are utilizing. It's the guys who come after these two... the less skilled directors... Uh-oh.

Sherlock? Why are you a dragon?
And Sauron? Oh wait... ummm....... The Necromancer...
Every time there's access to new technology, there's an inevitable debate raging. From telegraphs and telephones to vinyl and digital to color and black-and-white. Love it or hate it, the new technology, no matter how despised or feared, is here to stay.

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