Peter Jackson Responds to Criticism of 48fps Filming in THE HOBBIT

     April 27, 2012


When director Peter Jackson announced that he would be filming The Hobbit in 48fps (double the frame rate of the industry standard 24fps), it sounded like a brilliant idea: crystal-clear resolution, a feeling of realism and elimination of motion blur.  However, the response to some test footage projected at 48fps at CinemaCon was not as glowing as one would have expected.  Steve was on hand to view the footage and described it by saying:

“The 48fps is so jarring that I’m not sure casual moviegoers will enjoy it.”

I recommend checking out Steve’s video blog in which he discusses his reaction to viewing The Hobbit footage in 48fps. Jackson spoke briefly in response to the criticism. Hit the jump to see what he has to say.

EW reports peter-jackson-martin-freeman-the-hobbit-set-imagethat word of the lukewarm reaction to Jackson’s footage for The Hobbit elicited a bit of frustration from the director.  Much like Steve described as a transition from silent movies to those with sound or from black and white to color, projection at 24fps to 48fps may be the way of cinematic future…we just happen to be experiencing some growing pains. As Jackson put it:

“Nobody is going to stop. This technology is going to keep evolving.”

During the presentation, Jackson did notice that many people seemed to get over their initial anxiety:

“I just wonder if it they were getting into the dialogue, the characters and the story. That’s what happens in the movie. You settle into it.”

I haven’t seen the 48fps myself, but it seems reminiscent of the transition to HDTV, where movements were just a bit off, news anchors’ make-up was glaringly obvious and every facial imperfection was viewable in the highest resolution.  We got over it.  Hopefully, theater goers will have the option of watching it in 24fps vs 48fps when it opens December 14th, but in time, I’d wager that 48fps is here to stay. Check out the synopsis for The Hobbit below:

“The Hobbit” follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakensheild. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever … Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities … A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.



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  • ISI


    • dogg


      • Phil Beta


      • excpired

        All caps doesn’t mean yelling to me. It just means some idiot was to angry or stupid to realize he left his caps-key on. Now quit typing in all caps damnit! (That is yelling).

  • JJ

    It’s like auto motion plus, but an even faster frame rate. And that option sucks. Movies shouldn’t look like BBC documentaries.

  • Junierizzle

    Local news and Movies are two different things. I want a movie to look like a movie, not high-def video. A movie has to look like film even if it was shot digitally.

    Im all for new technology but it has to look like film. I don’t care if the picture is so clear that I can see the nose hairs on someone if, it looks like video. It’s always been about making video look like film. Now the best technology looks like video? Whaaaaaaaat?

    • Matty

      In addition to the HDTV thing, I remember thinking that bluray looked too “soap-opera-y” when it first came out but now that my eyes have adjusted it looks amazing and I far prefer it to DVD now. I havent seen 48 fps yet but im sure its just like every other video upgrade. With time, people will get used to it and realize it looks better.

      • MisterEd

        Would you guys stop making that silly comparison between watching a film on DVD and Bluray and what’s going on here with The Hobbit? It’s absolutely not comparable at all.

        First of all, 99.9% of the movies you see on Bluray run at the industry standard of 24fps. So you still enjoy every movie looking like a film should look like, but at a higher resolution than dvd.

        With The Hobbit, we’re talking about the film looking like a typical soap opera tv show. Which makes it look cheap and very very not impressive.

  • RIC

    Maybe I was simply too young, but nobody I know complained about HDTV when it started out. This harsh response to this technology appears to be indictment of not the technology, but rather how the film itself was shot within it’s context. I hope Jackson knows what he is doing.. Although, I have no evidence or right to say that he does not.

  • vj1277

    I like the idea that PJ is pushing 48fps but it shouldn’t happen on ‘The Hobbit’. The film will “feel” different from the Lord of The Rings trilogy. All 5 films should feel the same. This is the main problem fans have with the Star Wars films, yet on more of a visual level than story and tone. PJ should have tried this with a different project.

    • chris

      the trailer of THE HOBBIT had BAD digital cinematography. the scenes in the place of the elves(forgot the name) looks like BBC television. i’m serious. they need to do a lot of things in the post so it will look consistent with the other films.

      • kangarookid

        not sure which trailer you are talking about, but i LOVED the trailer for the hobbit! if there was only ONE movie i was allowed to watch this year, it would be the hobbit… but i would be a very sad man, as there are other movies i really want to see… but maybe i was caught up in the costuming and make=up, and so just didn’t realize anything wrong… though, most likely i was just simply caught up that the hobbit was actually going to be a movie!

  • AlexHeyNa

    The technology is probably best not used for a fantasy film like The Hobbit. However, as Steve also said, it will probably be the future of animated films and 3D concert movies.

    That being said, we’ve already seen what the 48fps looks like when it’s projected at 24fps: the first trailer. And it doesn’t look bad. Theaters will be giving the option of seeing it projected at 48fps OR 24fps, so if the 48 is really that jarring and uncomfortable, we can still see it at 24, which looks great (judging by the trailer).

    • Spence

      Honestly, theaters offering it in both frame rates is probably not going to be the case. A vast majority of theaters have switched over to digital projection, and most digital projectors will support 48fps. If you want to see it in 24fps, you’ll more than likely have to find a film print projection of the movie, which unfortunately will not be very easy to do.

      This is very disappointing to me, as I’m conceptually very against 48fps. The only time I think it might be beneficial is when it’s used for 3D. 3D at 24fps strains my eyes and makes my head hurt, so 48fps might help that. It’ll also add to that feeling of looking throuhg a window into the film world.

      But 2D 48fps? I can’t really think of a good reason to do it.

  • Oskars

    Paning shots are atrocios in 24 fps. They are so flickery it takes out of the movie. Just watch some good quality f1 races on HD and high frames per second and you will fall in love. No shitty blur, no stuttering as if you where playing a new game on a budget computer.
    The same can be said for inadequate bluring, especially on film.

  • growndhawgg

    Probably the same people complaining about a green blu-Ray

  • mattedscreen

    I did some test footage in college at 48fps just to see what it’d look like, and it is jarring at first, it gave me a headache cus my eyes wernt used to it. So I thought it was a titanic failure. HOWEVER, upon second viewing you’re able to take it all in. What freaks you out is how REAL it looks. There isnt the 4th wall anymore. It breaks the notion in your brain that you’re watching a movie. It is truly an amazing thing to see and experience. People are still pissing all over 3D even when it’s done right. They’re going to do the same here. breaking a mass of people out of their comfort zone is a tough gig, and good on Jackson for doing it with one of the most anticipated movies. Will every movie need to be shot and projected in 48fps? Just like 3D, NO! but will those tools make some movies all the more enjoyable? Absolutely – Dont knock it till you’ve tried it, and a few mins of footage is not an entire movie going experience.

  • Slice

    Is this a case of a director putting toys above a story?


    Do the toys advance the storytelling?

    The audience is always right. Time will tell, but video is video and this stuff isn’t new. Jackson really can’t play the “new” technology card since high frame capture has been around – and used widely – on video for a long freaking time.

    • bjemmi

      Look at what James Cameron did with Avatar as an example. He used the most advanced technology that even movies in 5 years will have trouble competing, and it worked. But look at George Lucas who tried to “pioneer” realistic special effects, he put toys above the story and failed (critically)

    • VMDP

      I never thought of the audience always being right, I guess because I like too many cult films.

  • Film4ever

    This is not good. If you initially dont like the way it looks, why should we be forced to like it in the future? The thing about the HDTV is that the image looks to kinda be flickery, and does not resemble film. Film is way more advanced and better looking than digital any day.

  • Drew

    The HDTV reference doesn’t hold up b/c HD and frame rate are completely different things. HD refers to resolution, frame rate refers to the amount of information captured in each second. It’s possible to have a higher frame rate and still have a blurry, low-resolution image (i.e. video)

  • Daniel

    I think I read that this was uncolored footage…? As somebody who works in video production, I cannot overstate how much of an influence proper color is. Raw Red footage looks surprisingly unspectacular. But it is RAW files. They are going to make it look stunning I am positive.

  • Grayden

    This is exactly why I bought a 60hZ refresh rate tv. Not only did I save myself $200, but I also don’t have to deal with my movies and tv shows looking like they’re documentaries. Nothing against THAT look, but when I’m watching fantasy or sci-fi, I don’t want it to look that real. I don’t want to feel like I’m on set. It immediately takes me out of the fantasy and into reality and that defeats the purpose. Jackson is a phenomenal director so I trust his judgement, but I hope the end product does NOT look like a football game, televised live.

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  • tarek

    I don’t care. I will see it in 3D 48 fps as Peter intended it to be. Move along!

    • Rockslide

      Agreed. I’m excited to see the new progress on a big film with a big director. To not even try would be the biggest mistake.

    • That Film Nerd

      I agree as well, people complain way too much. it’s something they are not used too so they go hostile. James Cameron said that he might do 48fps for Avatar 2 and 3. Film is always evolving, you cant hide from it.

  • Boomstick

    Well I’m looking forward to the Hobbit. But i am skeptical, LOTR sfx and Kong sfx look very dated. Mainly the compositing work.

    I hope this 48fps hi def filming will fix that green screened look and not exaggerate it more.

    And i hope it does not look like tv. Nolans got the right idea with preserving film stock.

  • Franklin

    Looks like a short lesson is in order:

    1. The HDTV vs. DVD analogy is not right. Greater resolution is not connected to frame rate.

    Frame rate for North American HDTV broadcasts can go up to 60fps. Most movies are shot at 24fps. The frame rate of most movies that are shot digitally are downgraded to 24fps in post production to help simulate the look of traditional film.

    2. The refresh rate of some modern-day, flat-screen TVs can make a movie you watch on it, especially through Blu-ray or one that is broadcast in HD resolution (720p or 1080i or 1080p), look video-like. This effect is the result of the refresh rate simulating extra frames between the original movie’s 24fps.

    Most TVs now have a setting which allows you to downgrade the refresh rate for when you are watching movies. (Many of them refer to this setting as simply “movie mode”.)

  • Charlotte

    I think that if it looks as real as a documentary, it will add to the magic. I bet children will love it – it will seem as if The Hobbit truly is real.

    Our eyes may get a bit edgy over it (mine did; I also did an experiment at college with 48fps, & it felt a bit weird at first, but also more realistic), but everyone should get used to it.

    I know films are meant to look like films, but I think I’ll like this. I think everyone will. Well done to PJ for breaking the boundaries – not just the 4th wall, but our stuck-in-the-mud opinions about films.

  • Pocketses

    Here’s the end of it all. Peter Jackson has shown himself worthy of being trusted with this story. He has shown himself capable of making decisions that impact the story, but make them great for fans. He has proven himself a more than capable director, and helped bring about the most convincing digital character of all-time, pushing the boundaries of technology, and did it with a story that had long been considered “impossible” to tell in a film.

    He’s earned my money and my trust with the Hobbit. He famously worked with post production film grading to alter the coloration and clarity of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, my bet is that the footage shown at CinemaCon did not have this treatment yet. He is capable of making this film look as perfect as it needs to be. Also, other sites (I’m looking at you, AICN) have had much better representations of the footage, talking both cautiously negative, but with a hint of understanding of where the technology is heading.

    Read their write up on the released footage, it filled me with much more hope than Collider’s, whom I normally trust for this type of information. Additionally, the reports have all been consistent in the fact that the footage that “worked” most was the Gollum/Bilbo scene, which was the longest, most complete moment of the entire thing. I think it goes to show that your eyes will take time, but they will adjust. Sure, it may be jarring in the first 5-10 minutes of watching 48FPS, but they will adjust. Just like turning off the lights to go to bed, at first, you cannot see a thing, you can fumble around, searching with your hands for the bed, but when you’ve been there for 10 minutes, you adjust. You can see things a little clearer now. It’s amazing what the human body can do, and this will be one of them.

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  • Peregrine

    When I was a kid, I LOVED the hobbit, and still do. It is one of the most wondrous novels I have ever read, and if there was a way to see the films in a way that would make it seem more real, there’s no way in hell I’d turn it down.

  • Ant

    I believe that for this movie it may make it look a little fake as honestly lord of the rings on bluray looked kind of fake but it’s the type of movie it is I believe….for movies like Avatar, Tron, Transformers, avengers, and Man of Steel ect would look great at 48-60 fps….movies recorded in real life places like cities or countrysides, and movies that are digital/green screen would look great at higher frame rates but movies like the hobbit that have built set pieces all around it’s no Wonder it looks bad cause u can see the set pieces are set pieces!!