Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Hobbit in 48fps

Hello gorgeous.
There have been 27 posts since April 16, when YAMB was half-rebooted. Of those 27, 23 have been either superhero (mostly Avengers) or Hunger Games-related. Of the remaining 4, 2 were housekeeping, 1 was Oscar-related, and 1 was about Django Unchained. It's time for at least a little bit of a change.

Over the course of the past couple weeks, there's been some controversy regarding a private 10-minute screening of The Hobbit, part one of which is due out on December 14. Director Peter Jackson made a bold move in the filming process, deciding to shoot the film at 48fps (frames per second) as opposed to the standard 24fps. There have been strong reactions among those who were present at the screening in both directions - some think it's the best thing since sliced bread, and others think it's the worst innovation in cinematic history.

Jackson isn't alone in his desire to take cinematic picture quality to the next level; James Cameron (of Titanic and Avatar fame) intends to shoot his Avatar sequel at a staggering 60fps. But that might not be as good an idea as it sounds.

There were, of course, those who thought it was "mind-blowing" and want nothing less than for every upcoming film in existence to be shot at this higher frame rate. But there were just as many, if not more, who were, shall we say, less than impressed:
Here's what The Hobbit looked like to me: a hi-def version of the 1970s I, Claudius. It is drenched in a TV-like — specifically 70s era BBC — video look. People on Twitter have asked if it has that soap opera look you get from badly calibrated TVs at Best Buy, and the answer is an emphatic YES. The 48fps footage I saw looked terrible. It looked completely non-cinematic. The sets looked like sets. I've been on sets of movies on the scale of The Hobbit, and sets don't even look like sets when you're on them live ... but these looked like sets. The other comparison I kept coming to, as I was watching the footage, was that it all looked like behind the scenes video. The magical illusion of cinema is stripped away completely.
That was Badass Digest's Devin Faraci, in a withering review of the new technology. And he doesn't seem to be alone in his opinion. Many of the reviewers praised the quality of sweeping landscape shots, but couldn't stand anything shot on a set or inside a building.

Unfortunately, I know exactly what Faraci is talking about when he references soap operas. I've seen ultra-HD movies on ultra-HD televisions that looked atrocious. If The Hobbit is anything like what I saw, I'll be extraordinarily disappointed. It really did have that "soap opera" feel.

Don't you do this to me, Peter.
All hope is not lost, however. For one thing, there's a large difference between a movie forcibly made to look "more HD" and a movie that's actually shot at a higher frame rate. Also, whatever clip he showed them, along with the rest of the film, still has to go through post-production. But more importantly, I trust Peter Jackson. The Lord of the Rings was his baby, and I can't imagine he would do anything to hurt The Hobbit. He's a phenomenal director, he couldn't have done Lord of the Rings any better (well, alright, there were a couple things that bothered me), and I trust his judgment on The Hobbit.



  1. Ah. The double-edged sword of digital... 

  2. Big question. Was the 10-min preview in 3D? I think Pete is going with an option of 48fps 3D or standard 24 no 3D when released in theaters. I have full faith in the guy although I do know where you're coming from.

  3. I trust Peter Jackson (Can we call him Pajamas?) as well Ben.  I'm not that worried.


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