The Hobbit to be ultra smooth, shot in 48fps


My mother recently got a new Samsung high-def TV, so of course I was the one tapped to set it up right. It came with an option, “auto motion plus,” that was turned on be default. A selling point of the system, it messed with the frame rate to make TV and movies appear so realistic, it was like you were “looking through a window.” In my eyes, it made them look like they were all soap operas. I quickly turned it off.

Now, I might not have that option for future films, as Peter Jackson is reportedly shooting The Hobbit with high speed cameras. Movies are traditionally shot at 24fps (frames per second), but James Cameron has been championing filming at higher speeds, specifically 48fps and 60fps, mainly because the increased smoothness is a major benefit for 3D filmmaking. However, there’s a reason why my mom’s TV got that soap opera effect: we are so used to 24fps that higher, more realistic speeds look less professional. Older TV shows usually end up with 30fps, for a frame of reference. What Cameron is pushing is basically double the smoothness of currently used frame rates.

Cameron brags that “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.” So it’s going to be even worse than my mom’s new TV. Great.

With George Lucas also on board (because he seems to hate non-digital filming so damn much), that’s three major directors all using (or up for using) high speed cameras. The Hobbit has been confirmed to be shooting at 47.96fps with 30 RED Epic cameras, which makes sense since New Line has mentioned it will be in 3D. Of course, it remains to be seen if it will be distributed at 48fps, since that requires some theater upgrades to display, but it means the film would be ready for such technologies in the future. If that technology does become standard, I’ll be complaining about it over here for years to come.

[via /Film]