Movies: Is 48fps the future of 3D movies? We think so.
So I saw 'The Hobbit' yesterday—twice, in fact. Both times, the screening of the first instalment of director Peter Jackson’s new trilogy was shown in a format that we haven’t seen before in Australia. A high-framerate (HFR) version of the film, running at twice the smoothness of standard projected film, is doing the rounds in selected cinemas.
So what’s the deal, then? Should you care about this new technology – which isn’t actually new at all? In short, yeah, you should.
If you’ve ever found yourself cursing during a 3D movie for all the blurring, headache-inducing camera movement, HFR films are the way to go. Basically, Peter Jackson, by adopting this format for a major motion picture release, has given his vouch of support to an entirely new way of viewing projected film.
Why, though? Why should you, the punter with the $20 to burn, give a fat hoot if the picture is as smooth as a freshly-shaved cheek?
First of all, you’ve never seen clarity like this. By packing in twice as much visual information into every second, you’re seeing a clarity of picture that you’ve likely only seen on TVs running at 100hz. The smooth movement prevents blurring, meaning you see every whisker of facial hair, every pore on the skin, every ripple of cloth.
When it comes to 3D, clarity is essential; you have a better sense of depth now too; the camera doesn’t blur out, spoiling the illusion or cause havoc with your vision.
The effect is dazzling during action sequences – and this truly is the HFR trump-card. Because you’re dealing with incredible details, smooth movement and no blur, action sequences involving cast members become something entirely different. The chaos vanishes; you can keep track of the action even though there are hundreds of characters all independently reacting to each other.
If you recall the muddiness (literally and figuratively) of 'The Two Towers' back in 2003, try comparing it with the stunning battles in The Hobbit 10 years later. This technology improves these sequences utterly.
There are downsides, though. I can tell you right now, you’ll either love this or hate this. For those who feel like ‘video’-style productions somehow cheapen or strip away the cinematic quality of 24 frames-per-second footage, you’ll find no solace here. It does tend to distract during instances of dialogue and acting, when HFR isn’t really required.
It’s also the kind of smoothness and clarity that can potentially highlight flaws (if there are any) in makeup and effects work. In The Hobbit, these are few and far between, but you’ll notice misplaced hairs, strange background actors and things of that nature a lot more.
Take advantage of the option to see The Hobbit as it was intended: at 48 frames-per-second HFR. This is Peter Jackson’s vision—and we can see why. During action sequences, it utterly proves itself. You’ve never seen finer 3D.
Then, go and see it again at standard framerate. Compare. Contrast. Discuss. Dissect. Ultimately, give yourself the basis for comparison. Above all however, at nearly three hours in length, just make sure you pee before you settle in. You can thank us later.
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