Peter Jackson Defends the Decision to Shoot The Hobbit at 48 fps

After all the mixed reactions to the 48 fps footage of The Hobbit that screened last week at CinemaCon, it seemed like the industry push for higher frame rates had suffered a bit of a PR setback. Granted, most average moviegoers still have not seen it for themselves, but would theatre owners get cold feet and would New Line and MGM think twice about releasing such a huge blockbuster in this format? Over the weekend, director Peter Jackson stepped forward to defend the higher frame rate and to reassure fans who might be worried about the look of the film. Essentially he feels that it will just take time, and that over the course of the film, viewers will get pulled into the story and the visual difference will fade away. Here is what he had to say:

“It does take you a while to get used to… Ten minutes is sort of marginal, it probably needed a little bit more. Another thing that I think is a factor is it’s different to look at a bunch of clips and some were fast-cutting, montage-style clips. This is different experience than watching a character and story unfold… I personally wouldn’t advocate a 48-frame trailer because the 48 frames is something you should experience with the entire film. A 2 1/2 minute trailer isn’t enough time to adjust to the immersive quality.”

He also explained that the scenes that were shown at CinemaCon had not yet been colour corrected or digitally graded and that the visual effects were unfinished. That sounds a little bit like he is making excuses, but I guess this is why we ultimately can’t judge it until the final film has been released. He does say that once you get used to 48 fps, going back to 24 makes you “very aware of the strobing, the flicker and the artifacts.”

Jackson agrees that 48 fps may not be appropriate for every film, but I am still unclear why he thinks it is appropriate for The Hobbit. He keeps talking about realism and immersion, but this is a fantasy film that takes place in an imaginary land. The thing that has me worried is that there are also quotes from Jackson and other industry people who insist that we have to keep pushing technology forward in order to revitalize the industry and keep people coming to the theatre. If you ask me, the technological bells and whistles will only ever be a temporary fix; ultimately it is the quality of the movies themselves that matters. What do you think, do Peter Jackson’s words make you less worried about higher frame rates or are you still suspicious about deviating from almost a century of film history?

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  • “every film, but I am still unclear why he thinks it is appropriate for The Hobbit.” exactly! I don’t understand either…it is only an advantage for the special effects but I hear this is making practical effects like MAKEUP a nightmare.

    either way – misjudging the reaction to released footage,or, picking the wrong workflow in the first place – this is a major misstep from the largest current franchise in production at this time.

  • Maopheus

    Sounds like Jackson and Nolan might have a little argument as to why keep pushing cinematic technology forward just for the sake of it.

  • Everybody please calm down. There would be a 24fps release too. Just dont go to watch the 3D-48fps… let it for meeee!!!

  • Nelson

    I think that if there were ever a film to introduce new technology like this, it would have to be a “Lord of the Rings” film, because these are some of the best “fantasy” films ever. Based on the amount of money those films made and the fanbase for them, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for people to forgo seeing one of the films because of a change in the way the movie was filmed.

    If the Hobbit films are only shown at 48 fps, odds are that the majority of people that go out and see the films won’t have a clue about the 48 fps until afterward. If it’s a positive thing and actually adds to the experience, there will be a lot of buzz about it. People will be commenting that the film looked “different” and they’ll be wondering what the change was and that will build publicity for the new technology.

    If it takes more of an adjustment then Jackson thinks, to get used to the 48 fps, but the film, in and of itself, is still awesome and engrossing, the backlash probably won’t be as bad as it would be if the 48 fps were being introduced in any other film.

    The point is, unless it’s completely unwatchable, I don’t think there are many people that will refuse to watch the film solely because it’s filmed in a new way.

    As a Peter Jackson fan, if someone told me that the film was only going to be released in black and white, I would still be half tempted to show up on opening day and see it, that is the draw of these films. That’s why if there’s a time to introduce a new filming method, that is the time.

  • flixchic

    “If you ask me, the technological bells and whistles will only ever be a temporary fix; ultimately it is the quality of the movies themselves that matters.”

    We don’t want to take the risk with a movie we’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Tried and true will always be the safest route.

    On the other hand, a safe life is not as exciting or fulfilling. Filmmakers need to take these risks to fulfill their own needs for creative achievement. This doesn’t scare me in the slightest. This is how progress is made. I’ve always been curious where the human mind will take technology. I can’t wait to see The Hobbit and how 48fps will look. I trust that the professionals that make movie magic happen will do just that.

  • Brooke

    We handled the shaky craze of Cloverfield and the found footage style films. I can’t imagine anything that would be more difficult to watch. So I’m sure we can handle doubling the frame rate.

  • I don’t think you guys really understand the issue. This isn’t about technology and when/where it should enter the public. It’s about how the eye sees, projected image, the way the mind interprets said images, comfort, and the “forgiveness” of the frame rate. The Hobbit has as many practical effects as computer. More frame rate and loss of the inherent “forgiveness” from 24f could be a real problem. We need to “suspense disbelief” to enter the world of The Hobbit – why would you increase frame rate to make the images more in-tune if the real world?! Its a decision catering to the computer work flow not the audience. Reports say the lushness is gone and the higher frame rate makes you feel like you ARE PART OF A documentary on the making of The Hobbit!

  • Color correction is a potentially real issue with the unfinished product. Once you top 30fps colors can potentially start blurring together (single frames of black and white alternating would eventually become grey at a high enough rate). Thus their could be a real issue with the colors being muted pre-color correction.

    Of course with higher frame rates you can also run into issues with judder on screen. It can be an issue with 50″ HDTV’s, god knows how big of a problem it can be on a 50′ movie screen. You’d have to use crap tons of motion blur to eliminate it which could lead to a softening and blurriness to the image. Though this hasn’t been an issue with modern digital projectors, so I’m hesitant to get too worried about it.

    That all being said, judging 48fps on a 10 minute unfinished promo seems to be much ado about nothing IMO, especially I don’t exactly trust the mass majority of those attending to discern what looks good and what doesn’t.

  • LordAwesome

    No really news. I mean he was hardly going to come out and say “Shit, I was wrong and completely screwed up this movie”. Of course he’s going to defend it even if he is completely wrong.