Are Moviegoers Ready for 48 Frames Per Second? The Fallout From CinemaCon's 'The Hobbit' Screening

Posted 6:05 PM April 24th, 2012 by Binh Ngo
The Hobbit

Peter Jackson showed a 10-minute work-in-progress clip from The Hobbit at CinemaCon earlier today, and the reactions were decidedly mixed -- not the content of the clip itself, but the format it was presented in.

You see, the movies you see in theaters today are shown at 24 frames per second, but that Hobbit clip was shown at 48 frames per second. What is the problem, you asked?

From the gist of the complaints I've read, the problem was that the clip lost its "cinematic quality" with the higher frame rate because the picture clarity is so good that the footage look like the high-def video you see on TV today, but better.

I haven't seen the footage myself, but the concerns about the higher frame rate may be unwarranted because working at a higher frame rate is relativity new to most filmmakers so it may take time for them to bring out its full potential.

It's not like 24 fps was always the norm. In the past, movies were shown at different frame rates, depending on the movie, before 24 fps became the standard. So, it's all a matter of people getting accustomed to it.

From what I've read, the higher frame rate is less strenuous on the eyes so it may help those who couldn't watch movies in 3D due to motion sickness.

As for the footage being described as so smooth and clear that it's close to life? One can't help but be excited about the potential. In any case, we better get used to it because the future of cinema is 48 frames per second.

I've assembled some reviews of the tech display below so enjoy the read.

Jeffery Wells says "any action or spectacle director henceforth is going to have to use 48 fps, 3D or not. It's just too astonishing to dismiss."

"You can not get a more genuine, realistic viewing experience than this unless you are watching a performance live," writes Rebecca Murray.

Peter Sciretta is currently not a fan of the higher frame rate. He writes, "[i]t looked uncompromisingly real — so much so that it looked fake."

Devin Faraci also didn't like what he saw: "The 48fps footage I saw looked terrible. It looked completely non-cinematic. The sets looked like sets."

Aintitcool's Monty Cristo liked the frame rate's potential but had some reservations. "I felt much more comfortable toward the end of the presentation, but still disconcerted and outside a comfort zone," Cristo writes.

Deadline's Pete Hammond has already drawn a line in the sand. "For me, I'm a purist. I am already kinda missing film," he says.

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