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Peter Jackson Confirms & Talks Shooting 'The Hobbit' In 3D At 48 Frames Per Second

by Kevin Jagernauth
April 12, 2011 3:07 AM
6 Comments
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We're all for advancing film technology and bettering how movies are produced and displayed, but for this writer, there is nothing more sleep inducing than the chatter surrounding the newly vaunted 48 frames-per-second holy grail of motion picture realism and clarity. With James Cameron and Douglas Trumbull announcing their next films are gonna up the frame rate from the musty dusty old and useless 24 frames-per-second to the new fangled faster format, Peter Jackson has now hit the web to confirm that he too is going with the zippier shooting method and he hit Facebook (via Collider) to talk all about it.

Here's an excerpt of what he had to say about why they choose the format and how it will make the experience of watching "The Hobbit" even better:

We are indeed shooting at the higher frame rate. The key thing to understand is that this process requires both shooting and projecting at 48 fps, rather than the usual 24 fps (films have been shot at 24 frames per second since the late 1920's). So the result looks like normal speed, but the image has hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness. Looking at 24 frames every second may seem ok--and we've all seen thousands of films like this over the last 90 years--but there is often quite a lot of blur in each frame, during fast movements, and if the camera is moving around quickly, the image can judder or "strobe."

Shooting and projecting at 48 fps does a lot to get rid of these issues. It looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3-D. We've been watching HOBBIT tests and dailies at 48 fps now for several months, and we often sit through two hours worth of footage without getting any eye strain from the 3-D. It looks great, and we've actually become used to it now, to the point that other film experiences look a little primitive. I saw a new movie in the cinema on Sunday and I kept getting distracted by the juddery panning and blurring. We're getting spoilt!

So a clearer, more defined picture and less headache inducing 3D? Fine, we're all for it. But the most interesting part about all this tech talk? Not one mention of the story. Peter Jackson, James Cameron and Douglass Trumbull, who all have breathlessly and excitedly expounded on the topic have all failed to mention just how this fancy pants approach will improve their ability to tell a story. That's why we're here right? So before the rest of the industry falls over themselves to make everything at 48 or 60 fps (and then find a way to charge us more to watch it) can we just ask that it's done in favor of films that will be best enhanced by the leap in technology? Probably won't happen, but we thought we'd put it out there.

"The Hobbit" part one will land in December 2012.

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6 Comments

  • Kathy | September 1, 2011 7:20 AMReply

    What about motion sickness? Will this new method fix the problem a lot of people have with motion sickness while watching 3D? I'm heartbroken at the thought of not being able to watch the Hobbit!!

  • Koringe | July 22, 2011 1:53 AMReply

    Peter Jackson is pushing the tech where it needs to go and I thank him for it. Shooting at this new speed is a great idea when planing for a 3D film. The Hobbit should look really nice & crisp with this improved frame rate and also be able to avoid the problems that 3D films currently out now had to deal with.

    I really can't wait for the 3D bluray release. The 3D on my 47" LG Cinema 3D TV is way better than the 3D in the theaters. So I also want to thank Peter Jackson as a 3D TV owner because there still aren't alot of 3D movies out yet (Plenty on the way tho) and now this one should look amazing.

    And as far as people with eye problems go. Not only is film a visual media/art form but you can just watch the 2D version. It's cheaper anyway.

  • LA2000 | April 13, 2011 12:03 PMReply

    Having only seen 2D ShowScan, I am not entirely convinced that this is an appropriate direction for something fantasy oriented like "The Hobbit". It really strips away the soft veil of visual fiction that surrounds a movie and makes everything look real. Like "standing in the middle of a CVS pharmacy" real. Like "flipping on the overhead fluorescents" real. Like watching live actors real. Possibly too real.

    This whole high frame rate 3D idea seems like it would be an asset to a "you are there" project like "Cloverfield", but a movie like "The Hobbit" depends on a certain dreamlike visual fiction to create its fantasy world. Because, while it makes everything look crystal clear, it also allows your brain to perceive the stagey falseness of things like atmospheric lighting and sets, things that wouldn't be so glaringly apparent behind the soft shroud of 24fps.

    If Jackson moves forward with this, he and his team will have to be diligent or the whole thing may just feel like a very elaborate stage production, clearly live and "real" but never a real world.

  • Mark | April 12, 2011 4:50 AMReply

    @Flash-t: The whole point of 48fps is to give a smoother and more natural viewing experience.

    @Bay: You're probably right. Jackson's best films are Braindead and Heavenly Creatures. Lucas' are THX 1138, American Graffiti and Star Wars. These were guys that thrived on low-budget ingenuity that have become complacent due to too much money and lack of need to strive for anything.

  • Flash-t | April 12, 2011 3:36 AMReply

    What about my wifes weaker eye Pete, how's she going to enjoy your 3d at 48 fps???

    In fact what about anyone with an eye issue?

  • Michael Bay | April 12, 2011 3:26 AMReply

    Peter Jacksons career reminds my of Luca's career.....same spiral

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