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The Hobbit HFR Review - my verdict on 48 frames per second

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Posted

i really like all your postings Andrew, but this one i have to disagree with vehemently.  

 

Thanks for posting, I am hearing you out but reserve the right to disagree :) That I disagree doesn't mean anything outside of normal debate. No hard feelings (etc.)

 

As far as the definition of what makes "cinema", i don't believe you can divorce the visual/audio experience from the audience.   no matter how superior your home theater may be, it is simply not the same thing as watching it with an audience.    aside from all the gimmicks of 3D, 48fps, or whatever new concoction hollywood tries, the audience is the one thing they will always have going for them that cannot be replicated.

 

I am all for the communal experience....

 

 

With the right people.

 

there are plenty of people who don't like audiences  and home theaters are a God send for them, but for those who have grown up in sharing in the true cinema experience of an audience the desire to see it any other way will not vanish.   there is nothing that can replace a room full of people laughing, crying, or being attentively silent during a quiet moment of the film.

 

I absolutely love that. It is how cinema should be and sadly how it mostly isn't today.

 

 

we can all bash popcorn films but the reality is if you truly want theaters to even continue to exist at all, you'd better get used to more popcorn films because they are the only profitable ones.  you really cant expect "The Master", despite the brilliant writing and visuals, to bring in mass audiences that are going to support funding for future films.   yes popcorn films are about consumerism, but then again, to hope that theaters are meant for amazing art is not realistic.   

 

The industry is so inflated and spends so much on films that sadly, yes the hyper-commercial realities and need for ever greater profits and marketing spends mean that we need more crowd pleasing bullshit.

 

However I constantly believe that the industry underestimates people. I want entertainment, sometimes I want it to be simply that. Fun. I don't always want to have to think about what I've seen, and not every film is going to be a masterpiece. But where has the personality and enjoyment gone from these kinds of films? It is all so po-faced at the moment. Even the Bond films are an example of that now. Too serious.

 

Everything is either too dumb and offensive, or too clever for its own good. Polarised, in other words.

 

 


and in the end it really is up to the audience.  although The Hobbit did terribly with film critics, yet it has done very well with audience reviews on all film review websites.    
 
i watched it in Los Angeles, on a rainy night (which keeps most people away in LA), at an IMAX 3D theater (24fps) at 11:00pm and it was a full house.   the audience seemed very much into it.  compare that what i would consider an amazing piece of writing and visuals, "The Master", which i saw during a nice summer night and there were about 8 people in the theater.    

 

This is truly a shame.

 

 

the ironic thing is The Master was by Paul Thomas Anderson who's famous for talking about why he left film school, because one of his teachers remarked "if any of you are here to make Terminator 2, you can leave" to which PTA says, "if someone wants to make Terminator 2, so be it, and it happened to be a great film."
 
all i'm saying is everyone these days seems to want to gripe about popcorn films, trailers, food prices etc. but fail to understand this is still a business and without all those things there wouldn't be many theaters to begin with.   ask any theater manager, what brings in the most profit margin, the ticket sales?   they'll all tell you no, its the popcorn.  thats the truth.

 

You're right it is a business, a failing one. They've got it all wrong.

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Posted


No matter what the author or filmmaker says, this story is open to interpretation and therefore is allegory.

In the end it is not up to the writer how people interpret their story, not up to the artist how people see their painting, not up to the filmmaker what hidden meanings the audience might read into their film.

 

I guess we're kind of just down to semantics now, but really, any fictional story is open to interpretation. Not all fictional stories are allegory though. It would be a WWII allegory if the author meant for it to be interpreted that way, but he didn't. Of course that's not to say his views and life experiences didn't influence his storytelling.

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Posted

Kudos for the use of, "Such folly!" in your post.

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Posted

The 'popcorn' discussion above:

If you exchanged the giant Hollywood-letters with E=mc², people weren't getting smarter. The masses are dumb, it's the individuals who count. Many of the arthouse cinemas survived the digital revolution. They are still there to show The Master and other, er, masterpieces. Go there, support them, it's for your own health of mind. It's a parallel culture. Nobody keeps you from publishing your own anti-popcorn films, even if they never can gross enough money to break even. Artists and art lovers meet in smaller circles, unbeknownst to the mainstream. Cinema is bigger than all of us, and ars gratia artis. Enough of the platitudes, you got the picture. Just stop to compare yourself to Jackson, Cameron or Spielberg.

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Posted

You're right it is a business, a failing one. They've got it all wrong.

 

 

aside from indie studios like the weinstein's who do the best job at not only putting out art but making it profitable, i doubt this is going to change.  case in point Relativity Media which puts any project through some computer model (Monte Carlo method) taking in all sorts of variables from script plot points, actors, genre, etc. before greenlighting a project.   it sounds crazy to any filmmaker that their project would be determined by an algorithm, but this is the sad reality of how it works now.

 

also, i do think in some way the superiority of home theaters is keeping people away from the theaters for certain genres.  my 12 year old nephew for the life of him doesn't get why we'd pay so much to watch a movie in the theater that doesnt utilize the big screen for 3D or the speakers for the blasting explosions ... and in some way he has a point but it does then support the industries theory of needing 3D, HFR, and whatever gimmicks they need to get people in the theaters.  

 

btw, all hope is not lost.   i was actually amazed at how many people were in a mid day showing of Lincoln, a 2D non IMAX film with a higher dialog to effects ratio.     when the film ended the audience actually took the effort to applaud, something i find that actually doesn't happen for a lot of popcorn movies.   of course it took a spielberg and day lewis and the topic of the most famous president, but it was still a positive sign.

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Posted

Regardless of the content discussion which I also found to be weak, and I disliked the dwarfs which I all found uninteresting and simplistic as characters as well.

 

HFR makes a big difference in 3d.

Especially in the action scenes.

You don't have the muddy unreadable motion that you get from action scene in 24fps 3d.

The other scenes were also more readable and had more depth in 3d to me.

So it definitively improves the 3d experience.

There still is a lot of work to be done on those 3d projections to make them more convincing and more enjoyable to watch but definitively an improvement.

 

Now the hd television look is very present and distracting at the beginning of the film but I did get used to it with time.

I also found that the cheap glowing effects and over saturated colors in a couple of shots made it look like next gen video games.

But the photography and post is to blame here not the frame rate.

 

I have to see more films shot in this fashion but it could be the right direction to take for certain films in 3d.

Definitively not worth loosing the visual appeal of conventional filming though, especially for drama which will lose a lot of emotion and immersion with this technique I believe.

But I do think it will have its place on 3D action films.

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Posted

I'm just gonna post my opinion here too:

 

I thought it was horrible. I mean it was so good, that it was bad. EVERYTHING was completely unnatural, especially the lighting. You could see how everything was lit, done on a soundstage somewhere with a bunch of greenscreen. The caves looked plastic. Weapons were horribly weightless and plastic. The wooden planks that fell on everyone were not wood. Daytime scenes were color corrected to look like Emmerdale. Everyone had fake beards and I thought I could see the glue on them. It was...theater. Theater with cgi.

The night scenes...oh my god. A huge ball of blue light is supposed to be the moon? And another huge yellow non-moving blob is light that comes from the small bonfire? Everyone was backlit the whole time. And when you can see it so clearly, it really pulled me out of the film on occasions. Normally these things don't matter. These guys are lighting these sets like we couldn't see that they are sets. I'd rather take a C300 and film stuff for real under moonlighting than look at this. Grain and warts and all. Where's the atmosphere? Not in this cgi-land. Only the Gollum scene really worked and brought back memories from the original LotR.

Now after that rant... I can see the technology having great potential. But Jackson didn't do it any justice. Maybe Cameron will. Atleast he won't be doing those stupid 3d-camera moves all over the place that Jackson loves. "Oooh, look at that camera move itself around!". Hey, I'm not the camera! I don't want to be the camera. I want to be one of the characters. On a journey. Not a fucking camera going across the walls.

 

Now the movie itself? Completely pointless. There was no story. No drama. Nothing for me to latch on to except the visuals. Which were bad. Only in the Gollum scene was I immersed for awhile and in some other scenes where there was a modicum of an idea. I really liked the first LotR and semi-liked the rest (too many battles and deus ex machinas), but this was just... pointless.

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Posted

As far as the definition of what makes "cinema", i don't believe you can divorce the visual/audio experience from the audience.   no matter how superior your home theater may be, it is simply not the same thing as watching it with an audience.

we can all bash popcorn films but the reality is if you truly want theaters to even continue to exist at all, you'd better get used to more popcorn films because they are the only profitable ones.  you really cant expect "The Master", despite the brilliant writing and visuals, to bring in mass audiences that are going to support funding for future films.

 

The "audience" argument is very relative, as it can be great but it can also completely ruin the experience.

 

As for bashing popcorn movies, speaking for myself, even though I'd rather have 10 Moonrise Kingdoms a year than a Battleship as I said before, my problem is not with the popcorn movies, my problem is with BAD popcorn movies.

 

There's something people seem to have forgotten when defending popcorn movies, which is the fact that POCORN MOVIES DON'T HAVE TO BE BAD MOVIES.

 

In order to enjoy a blockbuster movie these days you need to check your brain at the door and not ever question or even think about anything you've seen. You're just expected to drool and go "wow" multiple times and then forget all about it. And repeat. Every single big movie I've watched lately has had massive plot holes, ridiculous characters and silly repetitive stories, and most people act like that's ok "it's just a popcorn movie". Well it's not ok!

 

The first Indiana Jones movies were great, so was Big Trouble in Little China, or Back To The Future...

These were all popcorn movies, good ones too. Back To The Future is extremely clever, I don't see anything like it in present day blockbusters, instead I see the same ideas from the highest grossing films being recycled over and over again, that's what producers want in their movies, the same exact sequences they saw in movies that made a lot of money.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean was a great popcorn movie, a huge surprise to me, but then the sequels were just awful. Why? Because they didn't have anything else to say. They weren't driven by a new idea to advance the saga, they were driven by the money made by the first movie.

 

I just watched the trailer for GI Joe 2, not that I was expecting it to be remotely good, but seriously, why bother? Every single shot in there has been done several times before just in the last few years. You could cut that exact same trailer using only stuff from other recent blockbusters.

 

The case with The Hobbit and so many others nowadays is that it's just a technical showcase, 48fps and 4k were driving the making of the film, the story wasn't. Back in the day, they were inventing new techniques and tools in order to tell the story of Star Wars, these days it's the other way round, story is not driving these movies at all, it probably even gets in their way.

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Posted

You're right it is a business, a failing one. They've got it all wrong.

 

I agree that it's all upside down with their system, unfortunately 2012 was the best year ever for Hollywood, so regardless of how wrong it is, it's definitely working for them.

 

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118063558

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Posted

all of you have been had by Jackson and the Japanese because the real metaphorical message to all is "HFR Hobbit porn for the world!"

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Posted

I saw the Hobbit yesterday in 3D/48 and actually really enjoyed the 48fps. It provides nice fast camera movement without the usual 24p stuttering.

 

What I really dislike however was the really poor grading in the highlights - too much dynamic there, should be more compressed. I really thinks that it was the element that gave the TV look more than the framerate. Even more, the highlight were really badly balanced between live action and CGI.

 

I fuond that it really missed a beauty pass on most scene - mainly on the atmospheric side. For example, in the cave with all hundreds of orcs, there was no fading, no dust in air covering the orcs far behind. The result is really more theatrical than cinematic.

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Posted

Just got drunk with (whats a gathering of projectionists?) with a load of old De Lane Lea projection and film legends, who've seen it all more than once on the xmas do - verdict from the old chaps - video couldnt have been mentioned more - it is what it is

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Posted

Compared to the best cinematic action sequences they’re artless and devoid of any real feeling, executed by a committee of CGI renderers lacking in the basic language of cinema. I cannot escape the fact they’re a team of designers with a mouse. They’re not auteurs. They’re not feeling anything as they animate. Great graphics. So what? The greatest animators put a ton of subtlety and personal feeling into their work. Theres nothing subtle about shoving hordes of goblins into a fiery pit for 10 minutes continuously. Andy Serkis as Gollum is not Oscar worthy in my view. Gollum is annoying. The only feeling I got from the CGI heavy sequences of not just The Hobbit but almost every blockbuster CGI sequences it that here’s a team of renderers really trying to push the polygon count up.

 

Although I never worked on The Hobbit I do work within the visual effects industry. I have to take exception to your comments above. I work with many highly skilled animators who all try to convey emotion in every scene they work on. Although not all of them may be fully versed in cinema language a great many of them are. It is an essential part of being a good animator. Ultimately the creative decisions made on how a CG shot should feel in terms of camera framing and movement, pacing, look and emotion come down to the director. Every CG shot has to go through an approval process before it is deemed fit to be in the film and the final decision ultimately lies with the director. If he or she's not happy it either doesn't make the cut or has to be re-worked until it does work.

I agree that many blockbuster films are too CG heavy and lack the subtlety that may be conveyed in live-action. I feel that this problem is not due to uninspired or uneducated CG artists but more to uninspiring films and direction. Too often films are made to outdo each other in terms of the scale of CG used. I believe this is driven by studios trying to get more people through the cinema door and is guided by directors who are often so beholden to the studios that they have no real creative control over a film. I'd think that Peter Jackson has more control over his films (though the fact they've stretched The Hobbit out to 3 films make me question this somewhat) and that if the CG isn't working it's his fault, not the artists creating it. We, as visual effects artists, are often so far down the line of creative authority that we have no say in how a shot is to be constructed.

CG doesn't have to be big, loud and showy. In my opinion the best work is that which you don't even notice, and it does exist more than you probably realise. So please, realise that when you say dismissive things like we're just a team of designers with a mouse and not artists that some of us may find it offensive.

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Posted

Has anyone here seen anything with a significantly high frame rate (100+fps)? anytime I've heard rumor of such things, the verdict seems to be that it looks incredibly lifelike, not at all like 60fps TV and certainly better than gimmicky 3D. Unfortunately, 48fps seems to be locked in as the new 3D projection standard for a while now, but I'd like to see super high frame rates become at least limitedly accessible.

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Posted

this film is completely misunderstood! it´s actually a brilliant satire! it´s a bad taste version of spaceballs! he´s even mocking digital cinema and cgi with the video look! brilliant! and the hollywood neo-cons with his facist undertones! ("there i saw someone i could follow!") and he smuggled in some fast forward scenes right at the beginning! (bilbo getting his letters is definitley running too fast, that´s not just 48frames look.)

 

3d really has bigger problems than frame rate, but it is the easiest to tamper with. the polarized light technique is rubbish. the filter glasses take away too much light and contrast and give a horrible greenish tint. the material has to be oversaturated and the dr compressed so strongly to compensate for what the polarization process takes away. if these where the shadows and highlights that  the epic actually produces nobody would work with it. fast motion still is disturbing. i felt nausea more than once during the show.

 

high framerates have until now been used for effect and that´s where they belong. but then that´s what the hobbit is, one very long effect sequence.

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Posted

I just saw it in 48fps at a theatre on The Hobbit's official list of HFR theaters, and I have to say, the 48fps made a difference. It didn't erase the story or makeup/set problems, but the cinematic aesthetics were improved by the high frame rate, most notably the action sequences which are too fast and blurry in 24p to even be decipherable. In 48fps, that stuff was actually readable. I too caught the "ramping" effect in Bilbo's walk in the beginning, but I'm not sure that they ramped, I think it was the 48fps. Here is my theory on the "speed ramp" effect that seemed to pop up here and there:

 

48fps is (obviously) higher frame rate than we are used to seeing in the cinema, and for most motion in the cinema, it is fast enough to not even really have a noticeable flicker. But when objects in frame reach a certain (not sure of the right term) "screen speed", they CAN still break up and reveal the 48fps cadence. When this happens, it has the illusion of having been ramped to 2X speed, because the cadence is double that of 24fps, which we have been trained to accept as normal speed. Because 48fps is double what our brains are expecting, it registers as having been sped up even when it as not. I paid pretty close attention to shots were this was happening, and I don't think they were sped up from their original speed. 

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Posted

Just saw the 3d hfr. The first few scenes inside the house just brought back memories of old Masterpiece theater reruns... A lot of scenes looked like dioramas/miniatures/popup story books. The crashing wood and stone looked like styrofoam bouncing off thier heads. The cg was very well made actually. The character rigging/movements were pretty much awesome. The 48fps did make the 3d fast action scenes watchable. The worst part though is I lost 3 hours of my life just to watch close to nothing happen!!! Nothing frickin happens in 3 looooong hours!!! If you thought schindlers list(possibly my favorite movie) was long at 186 minutes try watching dwarves walk/run/eat/camp/kill for 174 minutes!!!! Argh!!!!

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Posted

I agree. I would have enjoyed any film with an interesting story in 4:3 and black&white. This was the longest HFR test shot, and it wasn't the framerate that made it bad.

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Posted

...This was the longest HFR test shot, and it wasn't the framerate that made it bad.

 

Actually no, HFR narrative drama is almost as old as television itself.  You could spend years watching it continuously and without breaks.  (See: soap opera)

 

That's drama at 60fps in NTSC regions and 50fps in PAL countries.

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Posted

Actually no, HFR narrative drama is almost as old as television itself.  You could spend years watching it continuously and without breaks.  (See: soap opera)

 

That's drama at 60fps in NTSC regions and 50fps in PAL countries.

 

Yeah, I know. For cinema, it is still a novum, unless you count Trumbulls Showscan (70mm @ 60 fps) from the seventies, which for one or two decades was used in amusement parks. I compared The Hobbit to a DSLR test on youtube, because I found it equally uninteresting.

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Posted

Yeah, I was just being a dick.

 

:)

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