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The Hobbit and 48 Frames Per Second

Monday 24 December 2012, 12:00

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

The release of The Hobbit has prompted a debate about 48 frames per second. I asked Dave Norris - the UK's leading projectionist - for a definitive answer on whether it solves the problem of light loss in 3D...

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 1.

    If I want 3-D, I'll go to the theatre...

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    Comment number 2.

    Very good, I enjoyed that immensely.

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    Comment number 3.

    Hi Mark, Love your video blogs!, Apologies for being a bit technical but think this might make the subject clearer for some people.

    I think the reason its confusing is because the 48fps on their own wouldn't make much difference. Its the change to the shutter angle or shutter speed (in digital cameras) which effects the final image. If you shoot video at 1000th of a second you see an extreme version of whats going on here. It gives a really clinical Saving Private Ryan look to it which is sometimes suitable for very modern films but really is never going to suit a fantasy film. This is because fantasy films need that dream like look to them. Imagine Bladerunner in fast shutter speed? The suspension of disbelief would be ruined!!!

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    Comment number 4.

    Avatar 2 at 60fps, my god that will be unbearable and no doubt that film will be close to 3 hrs in length. Nice Margin Call quote at the beginning also Mark. Merry Chrismas!

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    Comment number 5.

    If I want 3D, I'll got to a Dodge Brothers concert.

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    Comment number 6.

    At 48 frames per second the Hobbit is still nearly 3 hours long. If only a fast frame rate ment the film went faster !!. Nothing will solve the problems with 3D, do film exe never learn from history.

    P.S. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to Mark and everyone on the forum.

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    Comment number 7.

    Being the huge Tolkien fan that I am, I, too, was skeptical when first hearing that The Hobbit had been split into three separate parts, but having seen the film, I now understand why they did that. I absolutely loved it. I enjoyed it as much as, if not better than, one of the films from the Rings trilogy. I also disagree with your comments, Mark, on its length and opening act. For a three-hour film, I found it immensely entertaining. Had I not known that it was three hours long before seeing it, I probably would have never realized it having watched it. It was definitely my best cinema-going experience of the year. And the first act isn't baggy at all, it's just very true to the novel, but, besides that, it's fantastically enjoyable. I don't see how you could have gotten bored with it.

    On the subject of the 48 frames-per-second business, I was a bit worried about that as well, but I completely forgot about it when I went into it. Perhaps, like the user Tom Kelly said, it actually doesn't make much of a difference. didn't feel like it did. Are you sure your complaints with the film's opening act looking like a set aren't just of the film's general look? Yeah, it's lit a certain way, but all films these days are lit that way (I'm thinking it's because of the newer camera lenses). I share your feelings towards 3D and, I must say, I saw it in IMAX (which looked stunning) with 3D, and the stereoscopy honestly didn't add to it at all. I probably would have enjoyed it much more than I already did had I not been forced to wear those stupid glasses, which not only dim the image for the viewer but place an uncomfortable clamping feeling on their mug.

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    Comment number 8.

    I thought it was dark because I was closing my eyes and going to sleep during most 3D movies, (apart from Life of Pi, which was quite light anyway)

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    Comment number 9.

    haha, great video

    but really, who needs 48 frames (or EVEN 60) and 3D?!

    I've seen The Hobbit at 24 frames and was the happiest man in the world.

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    Comment number 10.

    @ #3. Tom Kelly - That's a great comment and helps me understand this sub-topic a lot better. Thank you.

    I watched The Hobbit review with Simon Mayo at kermodeandmayo on youtube:

    So as above if the higher fps does not reduce the darkness of 3D, makes the "baggy" beginning at Bag End look like a studio set... what DOES it do? Does it make the the film look more like looking through the screen into a 3d object world more than looking at a picture projected on a screen?? Why is avatar going for even higher fps? Do CGI movies work better with higher fps, is that one reason?

    Finally, sounds like The Hobbit is not worth going to see. And it improves when Gollum comes on screen: But imo Gollum is the worse thing about these films. I wish they'd just camo'd Andy Serkis up grey paint, some false teeth and maybe some contacts and he'd have done a better performance, imo with 100% of his performance coming through and preferrably his voice also - not that squeaky voice + cgi (gravity-less 3d cartoon). Very interesting how the tone of the film does not know where to be LOTRs or Hobbit.

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    Comment number 11.

    Well ive seen The Hobbit in 3D 48fps which i thought was ridiculous and 2D 24fps which was fine.i kept lifting my glasses up and down in the 3D showing and the light loss was still huge for me.

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    Comment number 12.

    Avatar at 60fps, really?

    Perhaps Cameron should just paint a bunch of underemployed, stilt wearing actors blue, then have them tour the globe visiting each and every multiplex in order to act out his next 'original' cheese-fest right in front of our collective peepers!

    Hey Jim, heres an idea, don't bother. Instead, my I respectfully suggest that you spent much more of your time, lets say…… at the bottom of the bottom of an ocean somewhere, doing some really important research and running tests on the very latest 6K digital camera thingy from RED. Should keep you busy for a few years... please.

    Merry Christmas Mark and to all the forum contributors!

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    Comment number 13.

    Tremendously entertaining blog from you both. Merry Christmas at whatever frames per second that entails.

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    Comment number 14.

    Mark, very enjoyable blog posting -- loved the reaction shots of you looking confused. While I haven't witnessed Hobbit in 48fps yet, I did see Doug Trumbull's demonstrations of his ShowScan format back in the 1980s. My feeling is that the higher frame rate "ups the game" by requiring a greater degree of realism in set design, makeup, etc. It reveals flaws that may otherwise go unnoticed at the standard 24 fps. That is why audiences have complained that the Hobbit sets and props look fake -- 48 fps is less forgiving. A higher frame rate WILL become standard -- it's only a matter of time.

    And now a beef, Mark, about your opinion that The Hobbit film is overly long. Some of us have spent countless hours in our youth reading the Tolkien books. We've spent hours discussing the books with friends, hours dreaming about fantasy worlds, hours seeing the LOTR films, and hours at bookstores buying Tolkien calendars, posters and biographies. We've spent entire weekends at fan conventions geared around Tolkien and other fantasy authors. Why now, after spending a good chunk of our lives doing these things, should we complain about spending a measly three hours in a comfortable seat, eating Code-of-Conduct-approved snacks, immersed in a world that we long to visit?

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    Comment number 15.

    Slathering an entire film with 48fps is, if you'll pardon me, cinematically lazy. It's like Peter Jackson, for all of his skill and experience, has just forgone discretion and decided to vomit 48fps all over the Hobbit. Like Mark said in his review, the 48fps has the tendency to make sets look like, well, sets, and gives the impression of high definition television. Like digital film making, and 3-d(possibly), film makers just can't seem to understand that these are tools to be used sparingly to assist the story telling, and are not to be just haphazardly applied to an entire film.

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    Comment number 16.

    ha ha ha ,glad thats sorted then

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    Comment number 17.

    You know what, Mark, I'm getting a little fed-up with this tedious obsession over 24fps v 48fps v 3D rubbish. I just watched the entire 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy for the umpteenth time on standard DVD format on a standard 42inch LCD TV. No HD. No frills. No fancy watchamacallits. And you know what? I couldn't have cared less. I don't give a flying monkey's armpit what the sodding format is. All I care about is the story, the script, the characters, the plot. And that is all that should matter to people.

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    Comment number 18.

    Roll on the time when 3D is filmed in '0' frames per second.

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    Comment number 19.

    Having seen the 2D and 3D HFR versions within 24 hours of each other I can say that 48 frames and especially the 3D added nothing to the story - 100% - nothing.

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    Comment number 20.

    Superb

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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