There have been a lot of filmmakers and critic whining about the 48 fps used in the 3d version of The Hobbit. It reminds me of the Whiners when music was first released on CD.
Whiners complained about how brittle and sterile the sound was. It just didn’t have the warm tones they heard on vinyl. The general public loved CDs. They heard accurate sound without the pops and scratches that accumulated with repeated plays. They never had to worry about warped records and replacing worn needles. When no one would listen to them, the Whiners went away.
We had Whiners appear when movies went digital. Digital is no match for film. “Film” is now converted to digital for distribution. Kodak went into bankruptcy. The last motion picture film camera has been manufactured and there will be no more. Even television is abandoning film and shooting digital video. Some Whiners still complain about the demise of film. One notable director said he will retire rather shoot digital video. But digital is inevitable.
Now a new group of Whiners has risen. They are mostly filmmakers and critics, a very small portion of the viewing audience, that cling to 24 fps as the only true way to make movies. They complain that 48 fps looks too real and too much like video. Really? They sound a lot like the CD and digital video Whiners of the past meeting new technology.
From the audience perspective, most of their entertainment looks like video – because it is. Television and movies are digital video displayed on large LCD screens with the default factory settings that make movies look like crap. Audiences are used to bright images with pumped up color. So how are they going to react to 48 fps in the theater? My bet is that it will become the new normal. It will more easily match what they already view at home—video.
The Whiners also have entire industries against them. If we project movies at 48 fps, we’ll have to shoot at 48 fps. That’s a whole new range of video cameras we’ll all have to upgrade to. It’s good for the manufacturers. It will increase the price of equipment and may even kill off cheap HDSLRs for movie making.
Computer manufacturers will love this frame rate. We’ll need more powerful computers instead of trying to edit a movie on a laptop. And don’t forget hard drives, big hard drives. We’ll probably need large raid arrays to handle the footage.
TV manufacturers should love this as well. We’ll need to upgrade our hardware for the movie theater experience. Already, many people prefer watching movies at home. Snacks are cheap. Rest rooms are close. And no annoying strangers to bug us. We’ll buy more hardware and Blu-ray player sales will increase.
The Whiners do have a point. But it has little to do with HFR. Vincent Laforet described it best in his blog:
In the opening hour of The Hobbit shown in 3D HFR – I don’t recall hearing a single sigh, or laugh. Not one. When I went to see the exact same seen with an audience of the same size on a 2D projection – I heard regular chuckles and laughter… why? Again more on that in a bit – but this was palpable and very interesting for me to witness. All of the jokes seems to be falling flat or being missed in the HFR projection.
The problem wasn’t with HFR. It was with 3d. I saw Avatar in 3d when it first came out. It looked beautiful but I also heard complaints about the story. I saw it again in 2d nearly a year later and was amazed at how I was caught up in the story and characters. In 3d, I was constantly reminded that I was watching a movie. In 2d, I forgot I was watching a movie.
I personally loved the HFR in the movie. It was like being there with the characters. Helicopter shots of the landscape remained sharp with no jitter or stobing. Action scenes were amazing. What I didn’t like was 3d continually reminding me that I was watching a movie.
Next time you read a review about HFR, note the times they are talking about HFR and the times they talk about 3d. One blog I read spent 80% of the time talking about the things they didn’t like that resulted from 3d and not HFR.
It’s a shame HFR wasn’t available in 2d. It could easily stand on it’s own. Then it wouldn’t take long to silence the whiners. Audiences would be more open to this new technology. They already accept the video “look” because that’s what they see at home.
– Rich Pulham