Earlier this week a panel of film critics got to witness 10 minutes of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is one of the first major feature films to employ the new 48 FPS camera technology. Gamers are probably more familiar with the concept of higher frame rates than movie goers, but essentially a higher frame rate equals more images being processed on screen, which should result in a much clearer picture. This is especially evident during action sequences when the camera is panning all over the place with quick and jerky movements. On paper the 48 FPS film technology sounds great, and according to the critics who got to view The Hobbit at this event it did make the environment look ultra realistic and crisp, but then things turned south quickly once the actors appeared on screen.
The best way I can relate to you what these critics experienced with the 48 FPS Hobbit footage is that it looked so real it seemed fake. If you have an HDTV that supports 120hz up-conversion and you’ve turned it on before, then you should have an idea of what these folks were seeing. The images on screen just don’t seem to comply with your brain’s years of training on the lower frame rates. The images look like behind the scenes footage, or as if you were sitting right on set and watching the movie/TV show being filmed live. Essentially, the picture is so clear and realistic that any sort of film magic gets lost on the viewer. Unfortunately, this is also what is happening with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 48 FPS.
Excerpt from article
“But my amazement quickly came to an end as the sizzle reel transitioned from the landscape footage to the character centric. Everything looked so… different. It was jarring.
The change from 24 frames per second to 48 frames per second is HUGE. It completely changes what every image looks like, the movements, the tone, everything is different.
It looked like a made for television BBC movie.
It looked like when you turn your LCD television to the 120 hertz up-conversion setting.
It looked uncompromisingly real — so much so that it looked fake.
More noticeable in the footage was the make-up, the sets, the costumes. Hobbiton and Middle Earth didn’t feel like a different universe, it felt like a special effect, a film set with actors in costumes. It looked like behind the scenes footage.
The movement of the actors looked… strange. Almost as if the performances had been partly sped up. But the dialogue matched the movement of the lips, so it wasn’t an effect of speed-ramping.
It didn’t look cinematic. Not at all, even with a top filmmaker like Peter Jackson at the helm.” – Peter Sciretta
Hopefully Jackson and company will get this thing ironed out before the film’s release this December, because the last thing I want is for this guaranteed epic adventure to be marred by new technology just for the sake of using new technology. I’m all about moving into the future with new gadgets and innovations, but not at the expense of a film’s integrity. For more details on this 48 FPS fail you can head on over to this link. You’ve been hoping this technology doesn’t ruin these movies…
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