The Hobbit at 48fps An HFR journey

first_imgThe Hobbit is the first major motion picture to hit the silver screen using HFR 3D, a format that has been both highly criticized and publicly applauded. If you’re heading to see The Hobbit in theaters, here’s what you can expect to see on the screen. (No spoilers, promise!)HFR, or High Frame Rate, shows a movie at twice the frame rate of whatever the last movie was you saw in the theater. The film was recorded using 30 RED Epic cameras to generate this effect. The closest parallel you can draw to describe how this looks is when you watch something on a television with an enhanced refresh rate. On your television, frames that weren’t there to begin with are being added by the television to reduce stuttering and create a smoother image. With HFR, there are actually more recorded frames to work with.If you are already watching television at home on a set with an enhanced refresh rate, the move from 24fps to 48ps will be less jarring, but if you’re coming from a standard HDTV or SDTV the difference will be significant. If you have chosen to watch the movie in HFR 3D you will experience significantly less eye strain than with 24fps 3D.The first thing you will notice when watching the opening of The Hobbit is that the characters seem to be moving almost as though they are in fast forward. It isn’t until the first character speaks in the film that you realize the audio and video are in sync. It’s going to take your brain a few minutes to accept what is going on is supposed to be happening.Once your brain has adjusted to the higher frame rate, you may notice a few things feel slightly out of place. Occasionally this gets described as feeling like you are seeing actors on a set instead of watching a movie. Especially in The Hobbit, with so many flips between CGI and props from the WETA team, if you are looking close enough you will find things that catch your eye during the film. Occasionally there will be smoke that seems obviously computer generated, or rocks that took false because of the way the light hits them is unlike that found in the rest of the scene. These artifacts, if you’re looking hard enough, feel almost like lack of polish but the good news is that these moments are few and far between.After the film is over and you have gone home (or maybe moved on to a different movie), there are no residual effects of watching something in HFR. You won’t sit down on your couch and decide that all of a sudden your television is insufficient because things now seem “slower”. For now, the HFR experience is something that will require some period of adjustment. It seems to me that theaters could eliminate the adjustment period by offering the previews in HFR as well, or some other mechanism that would train the brain to be OK with the difference before the movie starts. As it stands right now, the first few minutes of the film are somewhat distracting as you adjust.The Hobbit may be the first HFR 3D film, but it won’t be the last. Already James Cameron has discussed going this route for the next Avatar, and Andy Serkis plans to use it in his adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. On top of this, there are two other movies on their way to complete The Hobbit. It will take a few years for moviegoers to truly adjust to the format, but I think overall the HFR experience is a great addition to the theater experience.Oh, and there’s nothing after the credits.last_img read more