The Hobbit: An Unexpected Masterclass In Why 48 FPS Fails

Peter Jackson, a terrifically talented filmmaker and pioneer of new cinema technology, has given the world of cinema a very important and perhaps unintended gift with his latest film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, as we wrap the year 2012.

MORE: The Hobbit Review: An Unexpected Disappointment

Tonight, I went to see his latest film in all three flavours of its release: 3D HFR, Standard 3D and in 2D.

On one end of the spectrum I had one of the most disappointing cinematic experiences in recent memory, and on the other extreme I fell into the film and enjoyed it very much — all watching the EXACT same film mind you. Here's how they compared, and why it matters.

I recommend any filmmaker out there try doing this — as it will reaffirm so many of the things that make film "magical" and ultimately what differentiates the medium from all other forms of entertainment and visual media. For some, HFR will be a potential a new tool in their arsenal for telling certain types of stories in a new and exciting way, while others will be reminded of why the 2D format at 24 fps has stood the test of time for so long.

With his latest film, Jackson shot the film not only in 3D, but also at twice the normal frame rate or "HFR" which stands for High Frame Rate — in an effort to make the film feel more "immersive" in his own words. Ironically — I think this new technology accomplished just the opposite for me, in terms of becoming immersed in the narrative and connecting with the actors on many levels.

In my opinion, film is not necessarily about WHAT you see — but it's almost more an exercise in what you DON'T or CAN'T see. The best directors and DPs show you only what is relevant to the story and never introduce a random shot or character if they can at all avoid it. I've always preached that a director or photographer should INCLUDE elements in a frame or shots that add to the story, and EXCLUDE elements or shots that detract from it.

The reason the standard film projection rate of 24 frames per second works so well, is that it's just a few frames faster than what the brain needs in order to be tricked into seeing what are effectively still images, appear to move on screen — it's called the "Persistence of Vision Theory." In tandem with that important theory, he motion blur you get by shooting at 24 fps and (on a standard 180 degree shutter) at 1/48th of a second, is just as important in making something look "cinematic" as the lack of depth of field we get by using larger sensors, and bright lenses at large apertures. This is precisely why one should shoot at 1/50th of a second on their HDSLRs and use ND or neutral density filters to makes sure they don't have too much depth of field and can also ensure they aren't forced into shooting at higher shutter speeds.

In the past few years we've been pushing the technology envelope pretty hard — trying to get higher frame rates, greater resolution, more dynamic range, more bit depth, more throughput/bit rates and RAW.

Yet for some reason, many top cinematographers and even directors out there still prefer shooting in 2K or 4K/5K…and why is that?

Well I'll try to address that in a bit, but first an anecdote:

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.

First — let me discuss the 3D HFR projection. For those of you who don't know, Peter Jackson shot The Hobbit with dual RED Epic cameras on a 3D rig — and he chose to shoot it at 48 frames per second (twice the normal rate) in an effort to render a sharper, more "realistic" image if you will, notably when motion is involved. With 48fps comes a new shutter of 1/96th of second if shot at the traditional 180 degree shutter — or an image with an image that has half the amount of motion blur relative to shooting at 1/48th at 24 fps and of course twice as many frames projected every second. You can read more about this process here and another great article on FXGuide here. With The Hobbit ,Jackson shot at 1/64th of a second on a 270-degree shutter to split the difference if you will and get a bit more motion blur (and light).

Many of you are likely aware that when a motion picture camera pans or moves too quickly — it can be painful for the audience's eyes. In fact on a 10-15m screen it can be impossible to see a sharp image or for the audience to lock onto something with their eyes if the movement is too fast. This is something filmmakers and experienced DPs keep a very close eye on — in fact there are tables that show how fast a camera can move given any given lens before this blur happens.

Therefore Peter Jackson decided to shoot The Hobbit in 48 fps to try to counter this effect, and to render a more realistic or what he deems "immersive" 3D experience if you will.

And he has indeed accomplished that — but in doing so, he's killed a lot of the magic of what makes a film entrance an audience if you will, at least in my opinion. I did find myself become more "immersed" in the three dimensional environment and all of these details — but to the detriment of the film and the narrative itself.

I should say there are indeed a lot of fans of this out there...I'm just not one of them. The opening numbers for the movies this past weekend are record breaking — but I don't think that speaks to HFR at all. These are fans of one of the most anticipated releases and extremely successful film franchises that would have gone no matter the format it was shot in.

Now before I go ahead and criticise 3D HFR — keep in mind that almost all of these harsh criticisms I'll state below were eliminated when I saw the film in 2D. And if you think I'm harsh — read a series of the harshest reviews from critics that I think I've ever read. This must have been tough for even Jackson to stomach.

And before I criticise the method — I would be remiss if I didn't applaud Peter Jackson for sticking his neck out there, and putting it all on the line to try this new method in filmmaking out. Without people like him pushing the envelope — we would never get anywhere. Although HFR combined with 3D is a failure to my senses — I was a very necessary experiment to carry forth, in an effort to try to cure the above mentioned issue with motion blur and 3D.

3D HFR:

I knew I was in trouble the moment I saw the MGM logo move even before the first frame of the film was ever projected. And then I proceeded to spend the first 30 minutes of the film trying to figure out how to describe the "Monday Night Football" viewing experience that was so clearly not cinematic to me…

I came up with a few:

1. It's like being on a film set in person: all of the magic is lost. You get to see behind the curtain and you're no longer under the spell…

2. It's like being on a Universal Studios "4D" Ride ...where everything is painfully fake, but at least THERE you're moving fast enough on that ride to forget that and you can let yourself be distracted by the thrill of the ride.

3. It was like watching really, really, really atrociously bad state run TV show... a bad Canadian, British or Chinese TV series that just looks plastic (I'm not trying to offend any of those nations — many are shot at high frames rates on small sensor-sized cameras and just look horrific despite the acting, etc).

One of the first things that struck me: the lighting looked awful — almost amateurish (I'll very quickly back away from that statement right now, by saying that it didn't at ALL feel that way in 2D. The lighting, tonality were actually quite gorgeous — I still don't truly comprehend why my mind reacted the way it did and blamed the lighting as much as I did initially. I think it had something to do with the fact that in person and on set, you can look at lighting and see of all it's faults... but when you frame something up, you experience a small section in a completely different way in terms of dimension, compression, angle of view and of course depth of field.) Keep in mind that at 48fps at a 270-degree shutter they lost two-thirds of a stop of light, with the mirrors they used on the 3D rig another stop, so their Epics that they shot at 800 ISO were in effect rated at 250 ISO which is SLOW — a lot slower than the film stock they were shooting on 10 years ago on the last film and that had to be a factor as well. That being said it looked beautiful in 2D to my eye.

Second, every costume, makeup job, set and VFX element was more front and centre — out there naked, for everyone to see that this filmmaking biz was nothing but an elaborate hoax. Kind of like what you feel when you see the models or costumes from your favourite films in a museum or on the walls of ILM... the magic is all gone. But that's the point: they look far too real and artificial. The makeup wasn't as as terrible as some people say, and most of the VFX were stunning but not all. When I saw them in 2D however — it was almost like seeing another film. My attention wasn't drawn to them ...As I was focusing on central action. That challenges the "Suspension of Disbelief" theory that we all need to believe what we are seeing on screen and to get lost in it...

One of my main problems with 3D has always been that the director (with the use of convergence) forces you to look in one specific spot — looking elsewhere in the frame can actually be painful to your eyes. When I see a 2D image I have the choice of where I can let my eye wander — and I find that relaxing and it allows me to get lost in the film much more quickly.

In 3D HFR — I actually found myself having a VERY hard time looking at any ONE thing for any period of time. Looking into someone's eyes was painful at times — and I found my eyes dancing around the frame. Looking at every little detail around the scene, and having my visual cortex overwhelmed with the three-dimensionality of the environment and the movement of the camera. So in effect 3D HFR succeeded in getting my full visual attention — but not allowing me to get immersed in it passively or with free will. I was being taken on a ride and being told "look at the entire screen and all of the details" at all times…

What was the most important thing lost?

I had absolutely NO CONNECTION with the story

I didn't identify with the characters at all. I didn't care about them. I didn't listen as carefully to they were saying or how they felt.

And more importantly I didn't feel ANYTHING.

I was just too visually engaged to worry about that "stuff". And I think that's why people weren't laughing as they watched the dinning scene — not laughing at all. They weren't connecting to the characters or paying attention to the dialogue as much. They weren't being allowed to. Needless to say this was FAR from a controlled study of course (two different audiences of the same size is all I can claim as a fact) - but the difference was palpable.

It also felt like there was far too much depth of field... all "appeared" in focus. The depth was overwhelming. I can honestly say I found it visually repugnant at times (harsh words I know — but you have to realise I almost RAN out of the theatre within the first five minutes).

Yet when I saw the exact same scene in 2D guess what? I loved the lighting. The depth of field wasn't there anymore. The image was cinematic. And this was with the exact same scenes...shot with the exact same lenses, camera moves, lighting and f/stop. These were the IDENTICAL takes shown without the 3D HFR!

And guess what else? I connected with the actors. I was left to let my eyes wander and tunnel vision if you will to the detail or actor that I wanted to "listen" to or see. I caught every joke and chuckled. I became immersed. And I found this absolutely fascinating — even stunning to the point that I had to ask myself (even though I knew the answer) whether the same scene had been re-light and re-shot in 2D (it wasn't — they simply used only one of the two cameras they shot with.) And this is coming from someone who has been studying lighting and the visual medium for 22 years. I had two polar opposite reactions to the lighting and visuals of the EXACT SAME MATERIAL.

AND I FOUND THAT TO BE FASCINATING.

I then saw the same scene towards the end of the film with Gollum in all three formats. In 3D HFR — I couldn't stand the scene — everything felt plastic, overlight and far too sharp.

In 3D — I got into it and I actually liked it just fine. The 3D was so well done that I almost didn't even notice it was in 3D after the assault on the senses that 3D HFR can be.

In 2D — I made the closest connection with the actors even though one was but a CGI character of the pioneering and amazing actor Andy Serkis who's defined motion capture.

The first battle scene was also fascinating and in many ways a death blow to 3D HFR for me. The purpose of HFR is supposedly to make these very fast moving scenes much easier to see. I felt like I was watching a XBOX 360 animation at the start of a video game. Every thing was in focus and semi-sharp — but I didn't know where to look. I found it horrendous.

The same scene in 2D was easy to follow, very dynamic and poignant when the severed king's head rolled by at the end of the battle. Why? Because of the motion blur...the head and left pan were fast enough, and there might have been a little slow motion thrown in there...to make it more dramatic. It worked. The 3D HFR. Not at all.

When Richard Armitage's character Thorin picked up a sword to cut the main opponent's forearm off — I couldn't make out the sword in the 3D HFR at all ironically — and this was confusing as he had been fighting the creature with the trunk of a tree which had been split in two...I didn't know how he'd managed sever an arm with half of a tree trunk. In the 2D version — my eye was able to "punch" in on the wider frame and easily catch him picking up a sword.

So with all of this here's the "Master Class" that I took away, and that Peter Jackson shared with every filmmaker out there that is willing to study these three versions of the same film:

1. Film is just as much about what you DON'T show the audience as with what you DO. Shallow depth of field, motion blur, lack of sharpness and movement all help to create movie magic. If images are too sharp and you see too much detail... that's not always a good thing. The Canon 5D MKII showed us that in many ways — it's large sensor and resulting lack depth of field combined with what was a relatively "soft" image (relative to video cameras) made it what it was when I shot Reverie.

2. High frame rates belong on bad TV shows and perhaps sports. 24 fps is here to stay in my opinion — at least for cinema. That is unless this next generation of video game players change the rules on us of course. I can see this working for animation, sports and nature films though. I'd also like to see it used on only certain moves (fast ones) in a film perhaps and not the entirety of a film.

3. 3D combined with HFR is a total non starter for me. It highlights the weaknesses of both techniques exponentially. It's far too real and it's almost impossible to hide makeup/sets/VFX, etc. In fact just yesterday afternoon a VFX friend of mine said, verbatim: "Motion blur is extremely important to what I do... that's how I hide all of my mistakes and make VFX/CGI look more real."

4. This latest technological "advance' reaffirms one of my key beliefs: We're far too focused on technology these days we are creating a lot distractions to what can make a film truly powerful. So many of these new technologies threaten the magic of film by making the experience a little too "hyper real" if you will. Having only one of 8 characters in focus during an important soliloquy, or another person crossing frame out of focus and motion blurred can be a good thing to make the audience become more immersed in the film... they don't need to see EVERYTHING to become "immersed" in my opinion... Something to think about.

5. I can honestly say I had a harder time hearing some of the dialogue in the 3D HFR version than in the 2D... I wonder if this a combination of not being able to focus my eyes on the lips when things were tough to hear in the 3D version, or if I was just being overwhelmed visually and couldn't refocus my mind on paying attention to the dialogue... I notice this on the scene with Gollum pretty acutely as he was hard to understand at times.

And a few ideas for the future:

1. As we invariable move towards 4K — directors will need to make sure that things looks as "real" on set as possible. I see 4K posing an uphill challenge to all green screen, CGI, and VFX work. It's damn hard to hide your cheats... I'd like to (selfishly) think that this will lead us to shoot things more practically than with effect shots... but I'm probably just dreamin'

2. With 4K+ as well — any camera move that is too fast, is unforgiving as is any slight focus error — there's no hiding it. That can also prove limiting for filmmakers as they may have to chose to limit how fast they move the camera and or how fancy their moves are in terms of speed and degree of focusing difficulty. That being said if the film is projected at 2K — this isn't an issue. Most films shot on the RED Epic at 5K (such as Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) have only been finished in 2K — which is why people aren't really talking about this that much out there yet. I have seen more than a dozen 4K projections: when the production value of the film is high, the makeup and wardrobe good, excellent lighting, and excellent focus pulling skills with attention to not moving the camera too fast: it looks STUNNING. If you fail to do any of the aforementioned: it can be deadly. Absolutely unforgiving.

3. Filters that soften images, or lenses that are not quite as modern and sharp... will likely find a second life with 4K+ cameras. While you can hide a fake looking set with negative lighting and lack of depth of field... you can't hide makeup or facial prosthetics with an extremely sharp lens. So those new Panavision lenses they're touting may be 4K ready, but one my want to go with the ones that were made 15+ years ago that are more "forgiving" which is a polite way to say they're not as sharp and less optically perfect.

4. I found another thing that was very interesting: it was clear that the 3D HFR version of The Hobbit was graded in away that took into account the light loss and colour shift we all experience when we wear 3D glasses. A pet peeve of mine is to see 3D films that are graded mostly for the human eye (without the glasses) — and that gets a noticeable colour tint and is just "dark" when you put on said glasses. In this case they may have overdone that a little bit. I felt like I was watching three different films in terms of grade when I watched the same projection with and without the 3D glasses, and in 2D. The 2D was perfectly graded. The 3D HFR felt blown out at times with the highlights and the colours weren't as warm.

So if anything — I thank Peter Jackson and all of the crew and cast in New Zealand — for helping me re-affirm many of my opinions for myself on what I like and don't like as a filmmaker, and for teaching me quite a few things by going to all three of these projections in one night. I think it's fair to remind you of the obvious: these are but one person's opinions and observations. I have seen a notable difference in opinion already in the Twittersphere and web with people in the under-30 age group. Many of them seem to very much like HFR.

I should mention that I saw these at the Archlight theatres in Los Angeles where they have state of the art projectors.

I would also love to hear some day what Peter Jackson himself TRULY thinks of all of this and if his first (and THE first HFR) film lived up to his expectations or if he saw how much more challenging it is that he might have initially expected…

I know he and his team will keep working on perfecting the process over the next two films for all of our benefit. Obviously we can all choose to go to either the HFR, 3D or 2D versions!

The only loss is that you can still notice the sharper image on the 2D version (given the faster shutter speed used. But there IS software that can add motion blur back in…but it can of course be time consuming and cost prohibitive to run this process on a 2+ hour motion picture of course…)

How much of this is "Legacy Association" some might ask... in other words how much of this is due to our "old way" of seeing films, versus what younger viewers might think...

Well one example came to mind: If you look at the opening scene of the Wizard of Oz and realise that it was all shot on a stage, and that if you look really carefully at the black and white section at the start of the film for example, you can see that every set extends out 5-20 yards and then ends with a large matte painting that perfectly finishes the perspective lines in an ultimate "trompe l'oeil"... it's pretty amazing. And when you stop to think that the film was shot under incredibly hot lights to expose the very low ISO colour film emulsion... and that yes you can more clearly see the matte paintings in colour than you could in the monochromatic opening...you start to think of how things eventually evolved. One important factor is that while matte painting achieved new heights in films such as Star Wars and E.T., just to name two, at the same time smaller cameras allowed filmmakers to step away from the studio lot and to go out on actual location!

That being said — my final argument to this is: I got lost in the story of the Wizard of Oz when I was young and still do today. Only when I started to analyse the film did I notice the above details. For me the techniques never overshadowed the content, the story or the acting. And that is pivotal.

For now, and I think for a while, HFR takes me out of the film and is too much of a show stealer. It grabs your attention at the expense of the sound design, lighting, music and most importantly the acting and the connections we make with the actors/characters. And that is a mortal flaw. If the audience can't identify with characters or story — a film has no chance.

My final answer: if HFR does become more of a standard, then we'll all stop paying attention to the new technique, and perhaps be able to refocus on story. The points I make above about being able to choose where I look, and what I choose to focus on and getting lost in any part of the frame, and becoming more immersed by seeing "less" do ultimately make me doubt this will happen until the 3D process as whole gets much much better.

And lastly I'll leave what has turned out to be a bit of an "epic" (in terms of length) blog post with the New York Time's A.O. Scott's review:

The Hobbit is being released in both standard 3-D and in a new, 48-frames-per-second format, which brings the images to an almost hallucinatory level of clarity. This is most impressive and also most jarring at the beginning, when a jolly dwarf invasion of Bilbo's home turns into a riot of gluttonous garden gnomes.

Over all, though, the shiny hyper-reality robs Middle-earth of some of its misty, archaic atmosphere, turning it into a gaudy high-definition tourist attraction. But of course it will soon be overrun with eager travellers, many of whom are likely to find the journey less of an adventure than they had expected.


Vincent Laforet is a French-American director and photographer based in New York City. He shared the Pulitzer for Feature Photography in 2002. This post originally appeared on his website VincentLaforet.com.


Comments

    dammit I was really looking forward to seeing this in 3D - I have only seen Avatar in 3D and thought that was amazing - didnt get a headache and was totally immersed throughout the 3 hours. I'm kinda hesitant to go and spend $80 (taking my family) to see it in 2D and then wish i'd seen it in 3D and visa versa. Great article btw.

    Good article, but I can't wait to see if you guys are overreacting or if you're telling the truth.. I'll find out in 6 days.

      Of course they're over reacting. People had made their minds up before hand or were too preoccupied with the 48fps then blaming that, not necessarily their attitude. The attitude you have going into a film is a huge part of the enjoyment. Wrong attitude can kill a good film.

        there's still the problem of the strange rate causing people to get motion sickness.

          Total immersion, simple as that. The brain is tricked into thinking it is really there, and the body subject to those movements, thus motion sickness occurs.

          The viewers spatial awareness is tricked, inducing the onset of motion sickness.

      Did you read who the author of the piece was? This isn't a gizmodo article where someone uninformed is overreacting... It's a very informed opinion....

        Nope, I didn't check the author but it doesn't matter to me who wrote it, I've read quite a few critic reviews on the subject. I stated it was a good article, well written, my comment was meant to be taken exactly how it appears, that I can't wait to see it for myself to find out if it looks good or not.

        Last edited 26/12/12 1:30 pm

    Old people will hate the HFR and younger people wont mind it,
    As a film maker having the option to show more and do more with the frames given opens a whole new way of telling/presenting stories, film is a tool not a rule set, if your going to say how film 'should be' then its like telling a painter to only use primary colours, besides people said the similar things when HD cameras where introduced into the film world.
    I do however agree that every image must serve a purpose in some shape and using new techniques as a gimmick or as 'wow factor' never achieves a memorable result. although I am awaiting to see the film in both frame rates to judge it myself.

    This debate reminds me of the film vs megapixels debate in photography. There is a particular 'hyper-real' look to photos printed from high resolution digital capture which can sometimes look very bizarre in comparison to a similar one taken with film. The lack of acutance and sudden contrast differences in a traditionally captured and printed analog photograph seems gentler on the eye. Of course, each aesthetic suits different forms of subject matter. I suspect the whole Instagram / Hipstamatic filter scene is so popular because of people's awareness of the aesthetic differences in analog style capture, even if it is awareness at a subconscious level.

      If we carry that analogy further, the look of this film would be much like the effect of some early digital photography where people accustomed to trying enhance the contrasts/sharpness of film went on to try and do the same thing with digital - only to create a result that was far less engaging to many viewers. I think that if the film had been shot more to the conventions of 24 FPS, with 48 FPS as the additional option (as opposed to the other way around) that the 48 FPS would actually have ended up more engaging.

    It may have something to do with the HFR but in the picture for the article I had a hard time working out which one was the hobbit...

      Agreed.
      Can't see their feet. *rubs chin*

    I'm glad Vincent added "in my opinion", although it could have come earlier in the piece. I'll wait to see it for myself before passing final judgment of course, but I'm accustomed to seeing on-screen motion at around 60Hz so whenever I go to the cinema it takes about 10 minutes for my brain to recalibrate and turn that juttery, blurry mess into motion.

    What is this "magic" he refers to in going to the cinema? Take off those rose-tinted glasses, grandpa - in a world where a 3-year-old sees magazines as faulty iPads, motion pictures are nothing special as a medium.

      " 3-year-old sees magazines as faulty iPads "
      ba ha ha.
      Well, I LOLd at any rate :)

      I've had well over a decade of heavy exposure to interactive media at 60 frames per second (and around a decade of gaming before that). I generally liked lower framerates for narrative sections and HFR for interactive ones. Watching the intro to the film in both 24 FPS 2D and 48 FPS 3D (about 30 minutes apart) I can tell you that it looked better to me in 2D at 24 FPS. It was like the difference between the cinematics in God of War III (HFR-style look) and Heavy Rain (which has more of traditional film aesthetic).

    What a HORRENDOUS article (if you will)!

      What a HORRENDOUS article (if you will)!
      What a HORRENDOUS comment (wish you didn't)!

      You should see it at 48FPS!

      6 damn times in one article, or story if you will...

      I am left to infer that you may disagree with Laforet's opinion? Because he does a good job of clearly explaining it and many of his statements echo my own independent experiences from viewing the film in 2D 24 FPS and 3D 48 FPS before reading this article.

      Or are you especially adverse to some of his mannerisms? That would seem to be an odd reason to condemn an entire article.

    Can someone explain why video at 24fps is sufficient, but games look like rubbish at this framerate? Most gamers can immediately tell the difference between something running at 30fps and 60fps, even with things like frame-blending and motion blur.
    The human brain can detect changes as low as 12ms (sometimes lower in young children). This effectively allows for up to 80fps to be the limit for the human brain (~60 for adults). You could argue that humans experience visual reality at up to 80fps, as this is as fast as the brain can keep up.

    Perhaps the frame paradigm needs to die. A system where each pixel is tracked in a linear timeline would be a better system, but perhaps a more computationally-demanding one.

      In short - motion blur. Look at consoles these days, a lot of them are pretty liberal with motion blur when the camera swings around too fast to hide the fact that the frame rate drops or to disguise pop-in. You can try out the effect yourself by watching an animation at 24 fps with no blur, and then the same rate with motion blur. The latter will look smooth, the former will look absurd. Plus the FPS in a game can fluctuate quite a bit, while a film should stay constant, and you'll notice the fluctuations. Also frame rate doesn't apply well to human physiology, it's not a good yardstick, but frame rate is still a useful tool.

      It has to do with the interactive nature of a game. If you press a button on a controller or move the mouse, you want the action on screen to respond as close to instant as possible. As a result you can almost feel the framerate.

      As mentioned in the article, directors, DPs and camera operators put a lot of effort into making sure that there are no camera moves, compositions of shots etc that exceed the limitations of 24fps. Games which give camera control to the player can't curate the experience in the same way, so a higher fps target is necessary.

    This all reminds me why I didn't like Avatar in 3D (the first and only 3D film I've seen).
    I was hoping HFR 3D would improve the situation, but I couldn't agree more that I like to let my eye wander over the screen to see and "feel" the environment, rather than be forced to look where the focus is.
    Oh, well, at least I can now enter the Cinema (I've already bought and paid for my ticket) expecting to be disappointed!

      lol. Look at all the sheeple letting others tell them what to think and expect.

      Why don't you let the movie make your mind up for you? Too lazy are you? Rather read an article and then go around agreeing with the article regardless of what the truth is?

    It's funny movie purists talking about the magic of cinema complain how it looks fake. They're generally the same people who will talk about how wonderful films were in the past when they had horrible special effects, sets, costumes, lighting and everything else.

    It's just people focusing on this and not the movie. Blaming the HFR not their own distraction.

      @screamface I watched the first 10 minutes first in 2D at 24 FPS and then in 3D at 48 FPS. I've been playing videogames for over two decades and enjoy several HFR games. I could write long posts about the importance of combination of HFR and good motion blur in racing games. I'm not a blind purist.

      I've shot material at all sorts of framerates for music videos, timelapse photography, etc. professionally and I can tell you that I generally choose to output the final content at 24 frames per second, regardless of what I started with. Am I purist? No, I've simply tried just about every framerate you can think of (and mind you I was doing 3D animation back when it required writing scene descriptions in text so I've been at this a while) . I hated it when the framerate was much lower than 24 FPS (and we had a lot of 15 FPS video on computers at that point).

      But in this movie, the HFR does not benefit the film. More than that, the decision to try to film with HFR to break the conventions of working at 24 FPS led to a lot of cinematography that was very distracting. It was distracting at 24 FPS and it was even more distracting at 48 FPS.

      For me, I did not "get used to it", the effect oscillated between more and less distracting depending on how the film was shot throughout the entirety of the movie. Times when it was most distracting included any time that there was flickering light (fire in particular had a rough time, but also the glint of the water against the rocks in the cave with Gollum, etc.) or many of the times where the actors made abrupt motions. Ironically, the effect often worked best when the motion was at its slowest and smoothest.

      Remember how there was a period in computer animation where people would throw the camera around wildly because they could do it in computer animation but not in traditional film production? Eventually people realized that just because you could do that didn't mean that you should, and generally it was quite distracting. After that, they started to find the types of computerized camera moves that really made sense: often inhabiting spaces that a physical camera could not but moving with the fluidity of motion and sense of physical properties that a real camera would have.

    What also needs to be considered is which version did the author watch first? If it was the 3D then the 2D, it could be possible that he was more connected to the story since he's watching it a second time and has more time to digest the story.

      I'm not the author of the article, but my own experience was to watch the first section in 2D 24 FPS and then 3D 48 FPS. My own experience (in many ways) still mirrored the author of the article's.

    Haters gonna hate, 3d 120fps is the future - get over it.

      It is a potential future. It seems to make sense for people to discuss whether it is the one they want.

      Remember how the poor audience attendance for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within resulted in filmmaker's largely avoiding that style of computer animation for animated feature films for years to come in favor of the differing styles employed by Dreamworks and Pixar?

    Personally, I thought it looked great when I saw it with @lukehopewell this week. Personal taste.

      Would @lukehopewell (or yourself) be interested in doing another trip after Boxing Day to compare the 2D variant with your HFR 3D experience? We've only got Vincent's experience to go with so far, so a second opinion could be an interesting read.

        http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/12/the-hobbit-review-an-unexpected-disappointment/

    I'm still looking forward to checking out HFR, there have been plenty of action movies in the past where the action just gets so lost in the blur. Perhaps the Transformers movies are the best (worst?) example, each action scene being just a mess of metal

      I think people should check it out and decide for themselves. I would only offer that action getting lost in the blur is more a problem with the decisions made in making the film than it is a problem with how that film is projected. Those films could have been made to look much less chaotic in the format they were already presented in without having to change framerates.

    So is the Problem the 3D or the HFR.
    AS above I appreciate a game running at 60-100 FPS, because the motion blur/jittery frames (is/are gone (it happens on digital media too.

    I'm thinking that they should use 3D Judiciously, and not make everything 3D.

    We have to remember that stereoscopic vision through our Eyes is truely effective for close distances (some researchers say 6m, others are claiming up to 240-300m, however in landscape scale this is only near field), for long distances we mostly sense 3D through motion, which is why a stop motion sequence of large landscapes looks deliciously 3D, however on a flat screen the image doesn't change when we move our head, which is why our brain immediately flags it as fake it is a locked-in 3D perspective, until they get 3D from the viewers perspective (automatically updated when you change your viewing angle it will always fail for some people.

    Again, it is probably not a fail on the part of 48fps but the management of the 3D, now er have to see a version of the movie in 2D at 48fps to make any real comparison.

      Watching a version with 2D 48 FPS to compare would be helpful, but I can tell you from shooting HFR content professionally (something I now relegate to slow-motion work only) the issues LaForet mentions are related to the framerate, not just the 3D.

      I'm writing a blog for gaming website about the difference between video games and movies in regards to framerate that gets very deeply into some of the framerate issues of both. If you're interested I'll let you know when it goes up.

    This is so not true! I just came back from the 48fps 3D VMAX (huge screen) premiere in Sydney. I read all about how "fake" it was going to look, and entered the cinema with that expectation. I don't know what you are talking about. The movie looked incredible.

    The beautiful sweeping aerial shots, the waterfalls and candles, dust and 3D all stood out, but in a great way. In a beautiful, amazing way. I honestly could not pick one scene where the movie looked like a stage set. I was looking so incredibly hard to find this, and was fully expecting at least some of the movie to look like this. But I promise to God, I could not pick it.

    The 3D sections also looked amazing. Watch a movie like Transformers on Blu-Ray and you can definitely see the disconnect between the 3D & real world. But this movie - nope... It just all looked stunning. If this is the first experiment in the new format, then I can't wait to see the future.

    Sorry... I completely disagree with your opinion on this one.

      I think different people are going to have different reactions. I personally agreed with the author, but the real question is how you felt about each of the different versions you saw.

      So if that was your reaction to the 3D HFR one, what did you feel about any other format you watched it in?

    From this article, it sounds as if HFR in cinema needs to mature. When the first motion picture came out, i doubt it had many of the things Vince claims are lacking in the comparison.

    Also, it sounds as if your pulling yourself out of the immersion Vince. Try watching it again as someone who wants to be there as the average joe, not from Giz trying to fill out a review.

      @Cannonball I don't have the high profile of filmmakers like Vincent LaForet but I can tell you that for anybody that shoots/directs professsionally, there is no "pulling yourself out" that has to gon. You notice these things without trying to, the same way that someone with perfect pitch can't avoid noticing if an instrument is out of tune.

      To continue that analogy, parts of the movie felt like it worked in HFR, but large chunks of it felt "out-of-tune" for me and I kept (literally) wincing and cringing my body whenever such a moment came up. It was not a mental reaction, it was actual discomfort and anxiety.

    Like it or not it's out there and it's going to be standard. Pioneers always have the roughest time of it.

      Actually, as I mentioned in my comment further up, there's nothing inevitable about it.

      "It is a potential future. It seems to make sense for people to discuss whether it is the one they want.

      Remember how the poor audience attendance for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within resulted in filmmaker's largely avoiding that style of computer animation for animated feature films for years to come in favor of the differing styles employed by Dreamworks and Pixar?"

    If anything.. I find that crappy day time televisions shows with high frame rates look and feel more real. It's just we've all been trained to find 24fps to be PROPER. With a 24fps movie or show, it feels like it's a show. Whereas the high frame rates feel like you just looking through a window. If you have that feeling on a crappy set, with crappy costumes and crappy actors then yeah it would be shit. But if you had wonderful actors, makeup, sets etc then it should be an amazing advancement in filmaking. Is the purpose of film-making not to make us believe it's real and immerse us into it?

      To me, being a guest on a set is less immersive than watching the movie. I enjoy it in an entirely different way - I appreciate acting and craft, etc. but there is no sense of connection to the rest of the movie. And for me the greater immersion is in losing myself in the flow of a movie - which means I have to accept a subjective reality where what's missing is as important as what's included.

      Reality is generally unfiltered - I can get it just fine by going around my own life. I go to the movies to get an experience filtered through the vision of the people that made it. One of the biggest things missing in real life is a composed score. Movies would be more "realistic" without them, but do we really want that sort of realism? Or do we want something more?

    Even though a film may be filmed at 24fps, it is projected at 48fps anyway. The frames are doubled - we see each frame twice. Now, each frame is distinct from the other - every frame is different. Can't wait to see it in motion. And 60fps, would be pure bliss :D

    Last edited 20/12/12 2:19 pm

      You're essentially talking about refresh rate. Your television set has always had a higher refresh rate than the framerate of any "feature length films" (as opposed to made for TV movies) that you may have seen on it. Did you prefer the look of live TV to that of feature films on your TV? Sporting events are often projected at 1280x720 at 60 frames per second already. Soap operas tend to be shown at either 60 fields or 60 frames per second.

      In other words, you already know what the difference is like in 2D. Now it's just a question of adding the 3D variable.

      But the main question is what YOU enjoy, so don't let Laforet's negative experience (or my own) keep you from having a good time if floats your boat. Each one of us should decide what resonates most for ourselves. :)

    Thanks for that! That was a great review. One of the first balanced ones I have seen and a true indication of what the 48fps version will be like.

    Please... STOP RUINING IT FOR EVERYONE!!!

    Articles like this don't let people have a chance to make there own opinions and just ruin it for people watching who are looking out for everything that is mentioned. All these articles coming out before the movie is what makes it the worst.

      It has to be said, and it may as well be me.
      Maybe just don't read any articles about movies you intend to see then.
      They're almost always going to contain spoilers of some sort.

        I didn't even read it though. XD

          ???

          You didn't read tho commented?? Sounds standard for Giz comments

          The articles are there so people can read them if they want to. There's nothing wrong with having the choice to be informed. :)

          Personally, I didn't read it until after I watched the movie. It was interesting to find that LaForet had already said many of the things I was thinking.

    MUH IMPERFECTIONS. The movie looked awesome deal with it

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