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    The Hobbit Higher Framerate Reactions

    James Cameron last year put on a speech about how higher frames in motion pictures would be the future, and now we have our first reactions. Whose excited?

    Last year at CinemaCon, James Cameron began his push for the next evolution of cinema — higher framerates. Peter Jackson was the first filmmaker to hear the call to action and shoot a feature film using 48fps. That film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, will be released in the holiday season at the end of this yea. It could very well determine the future of how movies look and how films are shot, projected and viewed both theatrically and at home.

    A brief primer: Modern films are shot and projected at 24 frames per second. That has been the industry standard for feature films since the mid-1920s after sound motion pictures were introduced. The low frame rate results in a strobing effect when there is moderate camera movement. You have probably accepted this technological artifacting, but it looks artificial and your brain interprets it as such. Raising the framerate makes movement look a lot smoother, and gives the impression of an enhanced resolution. The low framerate is also one of the major factors of why some people experience discomfort while watching 3D movies.

    Lets go back in time to last year’s convention. Cameron gave a presentation to a auditorium full of skeptical theater owners/managers (and a few press). And by the end of the presentation, which compared footage shot at 24fps up against the same sequences shot at 48fps and 60fps, most walked away believing they had seen the future of cinema. I was a believer. I wrote:

    The footage shot at 48 frames a second looked incredible. The best way to describe it, is to quote Cameron: “If watching a 3D movie is like looking through a window, then [with this] we’ve taken the glass out of the window and we’re staring at reality.”

    Cut to one year later: Warner Bros held a presentation which previewed their entire 2012 line-up (you can see my reaction to all the footage in a separate posting). That presentation included over ten minutes of footage from Peter Jackson‘s Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit. Buzz was at an all time high to see this footage, which says something when you’re sharing a panel with Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Rises. Many people I had talked with were expecting to be blown away by the footage, and especially the new, higher, frame rates. Most of us were not.

    Please note:
    I won’t go into the content of the Hobbit footage in this post, as this is not the point of this article. If you want to read scene descriptions, go elsewhere. If you want to hear some of our reactions to some of the footage, watch our video blog elsewhere on the site. This article is about frame rates and the future of cinema technology.

    Jackson recorded a video introducing the footage, being very clear that it was unfinished, featured green screens, and early effects. He said that he chose ten minutes of footage because audiences need time to get use to the new frame rate, time to adjust and see it for what it is. He praised the step to 48 frames per second by saying it gave a new clarity to the footage he shot, comparing it to shooting on 65mm film.

    The footage opened up with wide expansive shots of people walking on mountains and over rich green landscapes — those awesome shots that became synonymous with the Lord of the Rings series when it began a decade ago. Thee shots looked incredible — almost like something you would see in an IMAX 3D nature documentary — so extremely vivid and breathtaking, and more real than we’ve ever seen these shots before.

    This is the future of Cinema… I thought…

    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.

    “This is the future of cinema,” I wondered?

    But it wasn’t just me — almost everyone I talked to, almost every conversation I overheard while leaving the presentation, all centered around how it didn’t look good.

    I think it might be too early to completely write off this jump to higher frame rates. I’m trying my best to be as non-sensationalistic as I possibly can.

    Could it be that the footage is so unfinished that it just didn’t look right? Miracles can be accomplished in color time and post processing, so who knows?

    Could it be that we’ve grown up looking at 24 frames per second and that this newer, presumably better, higher frame rate looks bad only because its something we’re not use to? Possibly? I don’t know. Maybe in 30 years we’ll be looking back at the choppiness of 24fps films and wonder how we could watch something so unrealistic. I really believed this would be possible leaving Cameron’s presentation last year, but this year I’m a lot more doubtful.

    I’m a very enthusiastic person, wanting to embrace change. I’m an early adopter of new technology, I welcome improvements whenever I can. 48 frames per second made sense to me, but after seeing real movie footage shot and projected, I couldn’t be more unsure about it.

    Vendors claim that a large amount of the digital projectors already in theaters will be easily upgradable to 48fps through a software update (of course, those tech vendors will probably charge for the patch). Warner Bros and Peter Jackson are hoping that most theaters will upgrade before the film comes out in December. Judging from the reaction from theater owners and managers, I’m not sure if that will happen or not. If it does, I do for see that the change to a higher frame rate could be more polarizing than the jump to 3D. If it looks anything like what was presented today at CinemaCon, I think a lot of people will be angry about this change (when they finally see it for themselves).

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    Here's an impression that's a bit more positive:

    http://www.aintitcool.com/node/55212

    In the opening minutes, I thought to myself "this looks like the TV department when they turn on 120Hz or TruMotion or whatever they call it". At once, it really doesn’t look like that. The smooth motion clarity is similar, but the 120Hz TV setting is the TV inventing visual information to fill in loads of completely nonexistent frames, creating the bull$#@! garbage you see walking through most TV departments in stores. Again, there is an element that 48fps and TruMotion share (which is where the comparison comes from), but 48 fps does not simply “look like Korean soap operas” or TruMotion-enhanced TV images. That’s a reductive, sensationalist, utterly bull$#@! equivocation.
    To be honest, it kind of terrified me at first. In his pre-recorded intro, Peter Jackson said that the reason we were seeing 10 minutes of content was that "it takes your eyes a little bit to adjust", and that is absolutely the case. The immersive experience was not immediate, but gradual. I felt much more comfortable toward the end of the presentation, but still disconcerted and outside a comfort zone.
    I have major reservations, but at the same time am beyond awed at many elements of what hit my visual cortex. Recalling the sweeping landscape shots they opened with now, I almost feel tears welling, and I can’t explain why. It was overwhelming in the most literal sense. It directly assaults your synapses with twice as much information through your retinas as you have become conditioned to expect. I did not see the digital seams around creatures like Gollum and the trolls, a major benefit over 24fps. The creatures had a sense of mass in the environment, which was disconcerting in a good way.

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    Not everyone will reject this change just as some people actually enjoy the 120hz option with TVs, and I mean for movies. The problem is this is gonna be a tough sell as it's clearly a mixed bag to say the least. I mean individually is one thing but pulling in an audience is going to be a whole other story.

    They can't advertise this in 48 fps if they're smart. Trailers will only make things worse. if the studio wants/needs to sell this, the best bet is to advertise it just as they would with 3D (back when they actually mentioned being natively shot). Put a tag on the trailer and/or tv spots.

    At that point, they'll have to hope for the best after the initial showings come release. And critics reactions steering the public in the direction they want.

    If reactions begin to grow positively I would like to experience it for myself, but I'll be pissed if I have to pay good money and an hour in I just can't do it anymore. Thankfully, I think 48fps can be played at home easier than 3D meaning most homes should be capable... they mentioned that theaters just need a simple upgrade so perhaps home units will work similarly.
    Last edited by RedDragon7; 04-25-2012 at 06:52.

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    I freaking hate 120 Hz TVs, but I'm glad it was clarified it's not quite like that visually. That would just ruin the experience for me.


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    Quote Originally Posted by PeanutButterMunky View Post
    I freaking hate 120 Hz TVs, but I'm glad it was clarified it's not quite like that visually. That would just ruin the experience for me.
    You do realize that the one I posted said it did. All I'm saying is, it's possible it does. Like 3D, I think people are going to react differently. Although 3D may have been a walk in the park compared to this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedDragon7 View Post
    You do realize that the one I posted said it did. All I'm saying is, it's possible it does. Like 3D, I think people are going to react differently. Although 3D may have been a walk in the park compared to this.
    I'm drunk, sorry. If it does, that's a serious step backward in cinema. :/


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    I believe daytime soap operas have followed a similar trend because they look smoother than the average television show and movie. It really shouldn't affect the production value of your work though. PC gamers enjoy playing games at a higher framerate. I'm sure we can say the same thing for movies if we take the time to adjust to such a change.
    Thanks to Kwes for the avatar and Sylar for the signature!



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    I'm not trying to be the one here that condemns this before giving it a fair shot (although I'm on the fence), BUT....

    Games do not equal movies. Games always strive for higher framerate, smoother action. You see movies do that? Nope. Games are putting you directly into the shoes of a character and wrapping a complete world around you with much as backstory and side stories and so on and so forth, much like a novel.

    Movies tell specific narratives, stripping information to what is needed. i.e. deleted scenes. Games adopted camera angles and depth of field after movies... to give a cinematic look as of course various games to try to imitate movies. But things don't always go both ways, hence why 3D is prospering more for games than it does movies. With the exception of technical limitations.

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    Nothing will stop me from seeing this first day.

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    I'd imagine if it really was a significant issue with the finished product they might be able to play it back at 24fps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedDragon7 View Post
    I'm not trying to be the one here that condemns this before giving it a fair shot (although I'm on the fence), BUT....

    Games do not equal movies. Games always strive for higher framerate, smoother action. You see movies do that? Nope. Games are putting you directly into the shoes of a character and wrapping a complete world around you with much as backstory and side stories and so on and so forth, much like a novel.

    Movies tell specific narratives, stripping information to what is needed. i.e. deleted scenes. Games adopted camera angles and depth of field after movies... to give a cinematic look as of course various games to try to imitate movies. But things don't always go both ways, hence why 3D is prospering more for games than it does movies. With the exception of technical limitations.
    Yep... comparing game frame rates to movie frame rates is... well... wrong. =\


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    Quote Originally Posted by PeanutButterMunky View Post
    Yep... comparing game frame rates to movie frame rates is... well... wrong. =\
    I saw it. Thanks.
    Thanks to Kwes for the avatar and Sylar for the signature!



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    I don't know, I'm used to 24p being the cinema/film experience. Good lack making 48p not to look like a documentary.
    ~Corporate Media Propaganda - Welcome to your Daily Matrix~

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    Quote Originally Posted by MATRIX 2 View Post
    I'd imagine if it really was a significant issue with the finished product they might be able to play it back at 24fps.
    Oh, of course they can do that. Hence the first trailer is running at 24p. I doubt they're going to pull the plug though, and I wouldn't either if I were them.

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    Just keep in mind that much of the aspects were unfinished, such as the film being ungraded. Some viewers also said the framerate would have been easier to get into if they showed full scenes, instead of constantly cutting to something different. All I know is that I'm interested to see this now. lol

    Anyway, here's an in-depth description of what happened in those 10 minutes...

    Last edited by Ixion; 04-25-2012 at 20:12.

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    Does it get rid of the panning judder? I hate that when in a cinema does my eyes in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by keefy View Post
    Does it get rid of the panning judder? I hate that when in a cinema does my eyes in.
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Jackson
    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!

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    I'm actually very interested in seeing a movie shot in a 48-frame capture, especially if it's a Lord of the Rings movie. I think I'll enjoy the extra detail in the movie.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedDragon7 View Post
    Games do not equal movies. Games always strive for higher framerate, smoother action. You see movies do that? Nope. Games are putting you directly into the shoes of a character and wrapping a complete world around you with much as backstory and side stories and so on and so forth, much like a novel.
    I don't understand this comparison or the reasons behind it.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedDragon7 View Post
    Movies tell specific narratives, stripping information to what is needed. i.e. deleted scenes. Games adopted camera angles and depth of field after movies... to give a cinematic look as of course various games to try to imitate movies. But things don't always go both ways, hence why 3D is prospering more for games than it does movies. With the exception of technical limitations.
    That's because 3D looks shoddy and blurry in most movies, and the movie-going crowd just doesn't care for it as much as the more tech-savvy gamers.

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    Well it gets my vote without experiencing it.

    the luddites will not like this Fox are aparently ditching film altogether

    http://www.techradar.com/news/world-...-years-1077615
    Last edited by keefy; 04-25-2012 at 21:05.

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    Well that is a wall of text, can someone summarise what the problem is?
    Trophy-licious!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave-The-Rave View Post
    Well that is a wall of text, can someone summarise what the problem is?
    Some people think it makes movies look too real and takes away the cinematic look of a film. It's as if there used to a wall between the actors and the audience, and now that wall is gone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ixion View Post
    Some people think it makes movies look too real and takes away the cinematic look of a film. It's as if there used to a wall between the actors and the audience, and now that wall is gone.
    Just the thing that 3D was meant to do and now with higher framerate, it finally is closer to being true.
    -------
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    The Truth on OpenGL Driver Quality
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    I've had similar feelings about the higher framerate aspect of cinema\games (sped up TV's) for awhile. It does look fake, it looks cheap.

    I've never liked it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulgotha View Post
    I've had similar feelings about the higher framerate aspect of cinema\games (sped up TV's) for awhile. It does look fake, it looks cheap.

    I've never liked it.
    Are you referring to the 120hz feature? Because this is completely different, as that feature just makes things up, while 48 FPS adds actual frames of footage.

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    Eh my point is the appearance is similar (much like this guy mentioned in his preview). It looks like a crappy Soap Opera from Oxygen\Hallmark or something.


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