WB Tweaking The Unnatural 48 FPS Look of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" for Comic-Con?

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

According to Jeffrey Wells, WB is thinking about “messaging” the unnaturally realistic look of the 48 fps format of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” for Comic-Con. They might add grain to the footage to make it look more cinematic and less high-def video.

When Peter Jackson presented a ten minute clip of the fantasy film to press and exhibitors at CinemaCon in April, the reaction was mixed, although more towards negative. They felt the footage looked so real that it felt fake. They felt like they were watching a stage play right in front of them.

I didn’t see the clip, but I could understand how the CinemaCon audience felt then. From the description of the reactions, it sounded like the experience I felt with my Samsung HDTV with motion interpolation turned on, which artificially adds extra frames to films so that it matches the higher frame rate of the TV screen.

Watching films on Blu-Ray, I felt like I was watching something recorded from an ultra High-Def camcorder. I felt like I was right there, on the set and just a few feet away from the actors. It’s as if the film was in 3D and actors and sets were just popping out of the screen. It initially felt unnatural and not very cinematic.

I wasn’t the only one. That was the same initial reaction I got from everyone else who watched a movie at my place. Eventually, we all got used to it, but it definitely throws you off for a few days (or weeks).

This is the experience I get from watching a film in Blu-ray on my Samsung HDTV with motion interpolation, not a 48 fps film shown on a movie screen. The extra frames on the TV screen are artificially added; the extra frames from CinemaCon’s “Hobbit” presentation were actually filmed and not artificially created on the fly. But the 48 fps experience described by audience members at CinemaCon sounded similar to my TV’s motion interpolation experience.

I think WB should just leave it. People will eventually get used to it and maybe even appreciate it. Why muddled it up with grain. If they’re gonna do that, they might as well just show it in 24 fps.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is the first of two films adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic childrens book. It’s the prequel to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, also directed by Peter Jackson. The first film will be released on December 14, 2012.

UPDATE: According to the LA Times, Peter Jackson has abandoned showing "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" clip(s) in 48 fps for the Comic-Con crowd; it'll be shown in the current 24 fps format. Wow. That's what negative reaction from CinemaCon does. Now, the future for this platform is kinda shaky. Jackson wants the audience to focus on the content of the clips rather the technology.

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