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48p The Hobbit - British and American critics verdict


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#1 EOSHD

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:16 PM

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Above: Cate Blanchett receives some all-too-real makeup on the set of The Hobbit

Peter Jackson shot The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at 48 frames per second (HFR) in 3D. So what is the verdict on HFR technology... More immersive? Helps the story? More beautiful?

#2 Sean Cunningham

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:57 PM

Wow.  

 

My initial response is, "duh," since this is exactly what I expected the end result to be at first reading Jackson's foolish techno-weenie goals for the picture.  It's not like he's really breaking new ground here, just re-discovering, for a fortune more money spent, what other people have known for decades.  

 

Shoot 35mm film at 48fps and you instantly make it look like a teleplay and not cinema.  It looks like well shot TV, not like a movie.  Now combine this effect with the often unforgiving, discrete and clinical look of digital and he figured out how to cheapen the work of every craftsman employed on the film.  

 

News anchors, of all people, were able to recognize this and complained about this after seeing the first demonstrations of HD technology BACK IN THE 1980s!  Just watch an episode of Face-Off on SciFi channel, Pete, prosthetic and set craft have not kept pace with directors that have more money than taste.  

 

My only guess is these guys are just hoping one of these days people just won't be able to tell the difference between something that looks good and something that doesn't (or just not care).  Just like them.

 

 

edit: it's worth noting, you can achieve similar "video-y" looking imagery by shooting 24fps film with a higher than normal shutter speed.  Shoot 48+fps and then decimate (remove frames, no blending, not slo-mo) to play back at 24fps with consistent timing and the "video" look is retained, even at 24fps.  This happens all the time in movies and TV series shot with otherwise cinematic looking 24fps digital cameras when they shutter for practicals.



#3 EOSHD

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:06 AM

The TV comparison comes up a lot.

 

"It looks like TV" not cinema. Is this a learned thing or are people really saying "It looks cheap and not artistic"?

 

If there's an inherent aesthetic flaw here in 48p surely Peter Jackson, with his eye, would have spotted it way before it got on a cinema set.

 

I do wonder that if the costume and prop departments could raise their game even further, and with the right material, that 48p 4K in 3D could be a winner. I just don't think this epic fantasy production is well suited to it.

 

All those silly beards...

 

What about a thriller set in a hyper real-life location where you feel like you are there?

 

The intention of The Hobbit was to make you feel like you're in Middle Earth. If the result is that you feel like you're on a set, than make the set less like a set and more real.


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#4 rishaar

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:49 AM

Since  the costume and prop departments working on The Hobbit are the top of the cream and already did their very best, i guess it is safe to assume that 48fps is just too challenging for Fantasy movies...

 

Remembering some the excellent BTS series online, i couldn't count how many times you hear the make-up/set artists (discretely) complain about 48fps and the need to do everything more in red (somehow because the camera)

 

I agree with Andrew, i think an hyper-real life thriller would be awesome!

"super-realistic" and truely immersive movie could be a new trend, kind of The end of Watch (i haven't seen it , just mentioning the genre)

http://cinescopophil...of-watch-movie/



#5 FRAME-Link

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:05 AM

The TV comparison comes up a lot.

 

"It looks like TV" not cinema. Is this a learned thing or are people really saying "It looks cheap and not artistic"?

 

If there's an inherent aesthetic flaw here in 48p surely Peter Jackson, with his eye, would have spotted it way before it got on a cinema set.

 

I do wonder that if the costume and prop departments could raise their game even further, and with the right material, that 48p 4K in 3D could be a winner. I just don't think this epic fantasy production is well suited to it.

 

All those silly beards...

 

What about a thriller set in a hyper real-life location where you feel like you are there?

 

The intention of The Hobbit was to make you feel like you're in Middle Earth. If the result is that you feel like you're on a set, than make the set less like a set and more real.

Here comes another Judge Dredd!! That has invented the way the wheel spins with his good old 24p from his camcorder/dslr. And that's without watching the film... More money than taste? ... after a trilogy like LOTR? We are lucky that we have a very small bunch of directors doing blockbusters that we can consider cinema, and Jackson is clearly one of them. It's so easy to criticize the work or vision of others, and usually only amateurs have that attitude, cuz they don't know what it is like to be out there in the real. With a bit of humbleness towards others work (any creator) maybe one day you could discover or understand there vision.

PS- I've always loved the 24p look...



#6 hismaster

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:21 AM

I think we shouldn't decide if 48p is better or worse than 24p because we are already biased. Viewing habits are constantly changeing and what we consider "beautiful" or "cinematic" could be "cheap and soft" in the eyes of the next generations. They should show the movie  or parts of the movie, to kids and ask them what they think about the look ;)



#7 EOSHD

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:30 AM

I think we shouldn't decide if 48p is better or worse than 24p because we are already biased. Viewing habits are constantly changeing and what we consider "beautiful" or "cinematic" could be "cheap and soft" in the eyes of the next generations. They should show the movie  or parts of the movie, to kids and ask them what they think about the look ;)

I really hope this is not the case and that beauty has a universal appeal through the generations. I consider the Mona Lisa more beautiful than a TV soap opera for instance.

 

So I don't agree with your point!



#8 Sean Cunningham

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:31 AM

The TV comparison comes up a lot.

 

"It looks like TV" not cinema. Is this a learned thing or are people really saying "It looks cheap and not artistic"?

 

If there's an inherent aesthetic flaw here in 48p surely Peter Jackson, with his eye, would have spotted it way before it got on a cinema set.

 

 

 

The "TV" reaction is a simplified reaction to a complex sum of visual cues and years of experience, for some, with virtually no aesthetic commonality between television and motion picture production.  If a journalist in an even mildly technical publication were to describe the issue as sensitivity to temporal sampling they'd lose 99% of their readers, assuming they had any idea what that meant.  Most journalists, even those working for technical publications, know absolutely nothing about the subjects they routinely write about.  Not even enough to be "dangerous".

 

Whether Peter Jackson has an eye at all or ever did is something debatable.  His first three films in this series were drab and clinical looking.  He's not magic though.  48FPS and higher, for narrative, was proven a failure decades ago by Douglas Trumbull (ShowScan).  He's not the only one, just the most prominent, most disappointing and most well known example to reference.  And he was shooting on film, where you could still count on some magic in the emulsion and glass and printing.  

 

High frame rates were proven a long time ago to be best applied to novelty, not narrative.  Theme parks, not the motion picture theatre.  Current generations of viewers raised on NVIDIA and ATI will provide a more willing audience than before, however.



#9 zephyrnoid

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:40 AM

"plasticine images" ... compels me to run out and see it. After all, plasticine images counjour up 'pastic', which invokes 'Kitch'... a dear favorite art genre of mine.

Bring on the PLASTICINE I say!



#10 catonic

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:41 AM

I'm sorry but film is dead, 24fps is dead, digital is now and the future, 60-120 fps is now and the future. And that opens up so many more opportunities for competent and imaginative film makers.  :)

And whilst 1080p is now, 4k2k is the future, arriving some time around 2014.

And all these changes are going to require certain adjustments and re-learning of some things that have been taken for granted in the past.

No doubt The Hobbit has thrown up some of those issues. Since it was shot using Red Epics the 4k shoot, even when being shown at a conventional cinema, has enabled the artificial nature of some of the props to be much more obvious than is usually the case.

So that has to be adjusted for.

Such is the case for all new technologies.



#11 Sean Cunningham

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:50 AM

I'm sorry but film is dead, 24fps is dead, digital is now and the future, 60-120 fps is now and the future. And that opens up so many more opportunities for competent and imaginative film makers.  :)

 

 

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#12 hismaster

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:52 AM

I really hope this is not the case and that beauty has a universal appeal through the generations. I consider the Mona Lisa more beautiful than a TV soap opera for instance.

 

So I don't agree with your point!

 

So what exactly makes the Mona Lisa more beautiful than a soap opera?



#13 Germy1979

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:51 AM

I don't want to judge why I tend to agree with the critics who are having a hard time with it, because I may see it and change my mind.  I'm sure it's something that everyone will have to get used to...  If for the last 100 years we'd all been watching 48fps and suddenly somebody slows it down to 24, we'd probably have the same reaction...  It's different.  You're messing with a key ingredient in a huge part of our culture.

 

When all of this talk about the Hobbit being shot at double the frame rate started going around, the first thing I saw in my head was a Middle Earth home video that just looked cheesy as hell.  Just another ploy to "change" things...which I'm all for innovation, but part of what I think makes 24fps work in cinema is how slow it is.  Really, go up just 6 frames to 30, and it takes on a new character.  Part of the magic of that slow frame rate is the disconnection it creates for the viewer...  They watch films to get "lost" in the story.  I'm trying to develop this into words but it's hard to explain why it just "works." 

 

I'm not saying a great story can't be enjoyed at a higher frame rate.  If immersion is the goal, then it should be fine.  Just seems like everyone is saying it's all drawing attention to itself.  It's a bold scenario to try though...  In Indiana where I am, only ONE theater in the whole state is showing it at 48fps...the other 1,000 or so the usual 24.  Which begs the question, what's the damn point? 


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#14 Bruno

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:52 AM

Honestly this one smelled from a long distance. 48fps was enough to keep me away, but having a Hobbit book made into three 3 hour movies, that's just too much for me, I can tell you straight away they'll be boring, especially the middle one, but still I hope I'm wrong, or it's such a waste.

I'm not against new technologies for the sake of it, but seriously, did it have to be tested in a film this big? Probably yes, as a smaller production would never have the power to convince theaters to display it in 48fpa and 4k.

But still I can't help but see it as such a waste. These films are VFX heavy, and VFX houses already struggle with the render times required to complete projects of this scale at 2k resolution. These films will require 8x the rendering power, as each frame is 4x bigger and there's twice as many. That's huge! And then you can double that for stereo, we're talking about 16x the rendering times of the VFX work on LOTR, and all the work needs to be more detailed so it holds up well in such detail, that's no easy feat, and apparently such a waste now that the reviews confirm what seemed so obvious all along.

Just turn smoothmotion on on your TVs, it renders any film horrible, and that's what I expect from this. I don't disregard the technology though, as it could be great for video games, etc, but there's one reason film stayed at 24fps.

Many people associate it with digital and the future, but the fact is that we could have had 48fps on film many years ago if it looked any better, I guess in the end blockbusters will always be looking for some kind of gimmick to get people out of their sofas.

#15 Zach

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:58 AM

Honestly this one smelled from a long distance. 48fps was enough to keep me away, but having a Hobbit book made into three 3 hour movies, that's just too much for me, I can tell you straight away they'll be boring, especially the middle one, but still I hope I'm wrong, or it's such a waste.

I'm not against new technologies for the sake of it, but seriously, did it have to be tested in a film this big? Probably yes, as a smaller production would never have the power to convince theaters to display it in 48fpa and 4k.

But still I can't help but see it as such a waste. These films are VFX heavy, and VFX houses already struggle with the render times required to complete projects of this scale at 2k resolution. These films will require 8x the rendering power, as each frame is 4x bigger and there's twice as many. That's huge! And then you can double that for stereo, we're talking about 16x the rendering times of the VFX work on LOTR, and all the work needs to be more detailed so it holds up well in such detail, that's no easy feat, and apparently such a waste now that the reviews confirm what seemed so obvious all along.

Just turn smoothmotion on on your TVs, it renders any film horrible, and that's what I expect from this. I don't disregard the technology though, as it could be great for video games, etc, but there's one reason film stayed at 24fps.

Many people associate it with digital and the future, but the fact is that we could have had 48fps on film many years ago if it looked any better, I guess in the end blockbusters will always be looking for some kind of gimmick to get people out of their sofas.

I agree, however I think it is only being made into 2 movies



#16 Bruno

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:01 AM

It became a trilogy a few weeks ago :)
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#17 Chrad

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:44 AM

Just turn smoothmotion on on your TVs, it renders any film horrible, and that's what I expect from this. I don't disregard the technology though, as it could be great for video games, etc, but there's one reason film stayed at 24fps.

Many people associate it with digital and the future, but the fact is that we could have had 48fps on film many years ago if it looked any better, I guess in the end blockbusters will always be looking for some kind of gimmick to get people out of their sofas.

The reasons films stayed at 24fps were 1)tradition and 2) expense of film stock. 

This is really nothing like smoothmotion, where a processor in the TV is trying to turn footage with the motion blur and visual characteristics of 24p an artificial high frame rate look in real time. Here, the footage will hold very different visual characteristics. 



#18 Sean Cunningham

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 06:04 AM

Actually, no, it's not that different.  In fact the threshold where it stops making much of a difference is in the 48fps-60fps range, at that point the human brain is processing the incoming visual information as if it were watching something that's actually happening, live.  This isn't the case with 24fps cinema at a 1/48th-1/50th shutter speed.

 

This isn't merely an issue of culture or what we're used to or economics.  This involves fundamental ways the human brain and our vision works together, influencing how we interpret what we're seeing.  It's science and the science has already been done (see: Douglas Trumbull).  

 

There are no surprises to be had here.  None.  Not one *.

 

 

 

*-except maybe why Peter Jackson doesn't know more than your average person about his job, the film industry and stuff involving movie cameras that was figured out in the early 1980s.


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#19 stu cameraman

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 06:40 AM

So i guess the image appears to look interlaced?, 50hz,  like Eastenders (still shot interlaced 50hz) But without interlace artifacts.

I also see the same look when i shoot 50fps on my 7D and play it back at normal speed, 50fps on the camera monitor.

hhmmmm?



#20 jeffdeponte

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:45 AM

It's all about the "suspension of disbelief." We have been, through years— generations even— of exposure to 24fps films, that we should suspend our disbelief when we experience the magic of narrative cinema at this frame rate. The phenomenon of persistence of vision takes at least 24fps to occur in a fiction film. (Below that rate, the image is too jumpy to be believable.) If you've ever shot 8mm film at 18fps, you know that you can make an image (and save film!), but the result is not believable as a narrative film; it's just too jumpy. Funny thing, at 24fps with a 180 degree shutter, the audience in a film-projected theater is actually sitting more in darkness than in light! Persistence of vision in the brain joins these images into a stream.

 

So, 48fps approaches 30fps, interlaced television. Think: sporting event! Do you want to see a fictional story that presents an image that looks like interlaced, U.S. television coverage of a football game? This is a question that can only be answered by the individual.

 

Reserve judgement. See it for yourself, then decide. No matter what we, working professionals, think of 48fps projection, whether or not it survives is out of our hands. Audiences will vote with their wallets.


Jeff DePonte
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