Luke Evans Talks THE HOBBIT and What It’s Like to Shoot at 48 Frames Per Second on the RED EPIC

     April 18, 2012


With director James McTeigue‘s (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin) The Raven opening April 27, earlier today I got to speak with Luke Evans by phone since he’s busy shooting Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit movies in New Zealand.  If you’re not familiar with The Raven, the story takes place in 1840s Baltimore where a series of grisly murders appear to have been inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe (played by John Cusack).  Poe and a detective (Evans) must team up to find the killer before he takes out the woman Poe loves (Alice Eve).  The film also stars Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Brendan Gleeson.   For more on the film, here’s the trailer and 40 images.

While I’ll have the full interview with Evans online next week, I wanted to share what he said about The Hobbit today.  As most of you know, Jackson is shooting the films digitally on the RED EPIC in 3D and he’s pushing the boundaries of cinema forward by filming 48fps (frames per second) instead of the normal 24fps.  What that means is, you’ll see very little motion blur when the camera moves or during the action scenes.  I’ve seen 48fps and 60fps first hand and it’s like you’re looking through a window without any glass.  It’s incredible.  For more on 48fps, here’s Jackson’s recent video blog.  Anyway, Evans talks about his reaction to this new way of filming and what it means to be involved in the films.  Hit the jump for more.

luke-evans-imageCollider:  You mentioned at the beginning when we first started talking that you’re in New Zealand. I have to say that Lord of the Rings are some of my favorite films of all time, and I am so, so excited to see Peter Jackson’s take on The Hobbit. I definitely would love to ask how it’s going for you and how exciting it’s been for you to be involved in such a production?

Evans: It’s been immensely exciting. It feels like all the work I’ve done so far has been building up to this job and to work with The Master himself on a project which has been his baby since…a long time ago. I feel very lucky to be here, you know. I’m watching this being made, and then watching Pete do his thing. Because you only have to read any articles about the boys who were in the first three movies and how they talked about the experience being in New Zealand and working with Pete and the long period of time that you spent here. I was just very jealous of them, in a healthy way, but it was always something I was envious of. And now I’m here, and now I’m actually one of those boys. I’ll always remember this as one of those experiences in my life. It’s been fantastic, absolutely fantastic. Yes, we’re here ‘till July, so I’ve still got a few months left, some insane, tense months as well. So, yeah, it’s been great.

When did you arrive in New Zealand? Because I know you’re in both parts, was this one of these things where you’re committing to being there for eight months, have you been able to leave? What’s this production schedule like?

Evans: I’ve been here since last August; I arrived August the 1st last year. But, you know, on a movie of this scale there is a lot of down time, so I’ve had chances to go home a couple of times. But this block, I’ve been here since February and I’m here ‘till the end, so this is the longest stretch for me.

peter-jackson-the-hobbit-set-imageI’m going to ask you a nerdy question: One of the thing I’m so excited about is that Peter Jackson is shooting The Hobbit movies on the Red Epic, with the 48 frames a second, rather then the 24.

Evans: Yeah.

I’m not sure if you’re a film nerd like me.

Evans: It’s the first time it’s ever been done. Even if you’re not a nerd you can absolutely see the difference, it’s extraordinary.

Have you been looking at any of the playback on any of the monitors? Because one of the things I think casual fans will not realize what 48 frames a second does is reduces the motion blur. Have you seen any of the action without the motion blur and what does it look like through your eyes?

Evans: Yeah, I’ve seen myself in action and it’s incredible. It really is. It’s the closest to your own eye speed that we’ve ever seen on screen. And it takes a while, when you first put the glasses on, to just appreciate what it actually is that’s going on. Because you’re eyes are not deceiving you, there is no blur, it’s absolutely so effective. Especially for the lack of blur, which is something that we’ve always had to deal with in shooting in 3D, and now we don’t. So, yeah, we’re making history with technology as well as with film.


  • Anon

    Luke Evans has yet to be in a good movie. Hopefully that trend ends with the Hobbit.

    • Gunslinger

      Well, I’m guessing you didn’t see IMMORTALS then because that movie rocked. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hate on it, say it is a 300 rip off. And you would be wrong, it is so much more than that.

      • brandon

        You probably liked Sucker Punch and The Last Airbender as well.

      • Tarek

        LOL brandon. you are mean, but I agree. ^^

  • Gerberzy

    Alot of what makes movies look like movies is b/c they shoot them in 24fps. If you’re shooting 48fps (the same as cheap camcorders) or 60fps (the same as the human eye), then you loose part of that film feeling. So I’m curious to see what the footage looks like. I think it will work for a film as epic as the Hobbit especially shooting with a RED

    • Sci-fi

      “Alot of what makes movies look like movies is b/c they shoot them in 24fps. If you’re shooting 48fps (the same as cheap camcorders) or 60fps (the same as the human eye), then you loose part of that film feeling.”

      Absolutely not true. What makes movies look like movies is shutter speed/angle and lighting. Frame rate has little to do with it. You’re merely in love with motion blur. Motion blur does not make film look like “movies”, because you can shoot and project at higher than 24fps and lose motion blur, yet it’s still film and still a movie. If you have a super 8 camera that shoots 48fps and a super 8 projector that projects 48fps, you can see it for yourself. I have and it still retains the movie-like feel. Higher frame rates also has the effect of making the audience more emotionally involved in what they’re seeing. Douglas Trumbull did extensive scientific testing on this phenomenon. A quick google search of “Douglas Trumbull 72fps” should yield results.

    • JCRZ88

      60fps nearly removes any and all motion blur, where as 48fps is actually more accurate to the human eye. In the trailer you can see a slight difference but not too much. It is easily by far the best 3D that I’ve seen. I wonder if the color grading later on will effect that however?

    • Debo

      You make a somewhat valid point Gerberzy, but those camcorders usually don’t shoot well designed sets with intricate, artfully designed lighting schemes. I think we can expect something pretty spectacular.

    • Leon

      I agree but the thing is this is purpose made 3d film and to me 3d doesn’t work as well as it should at 24fps, the choppiness takes away the 3d, which already hampered by the lower brightness of the glasses. If this is projected as it should, perfect brightness, 48fps, 48k? Digital print, it would be a giant leap from the current 3d offerings.

  • Phil Beta

    It’s a shame seeing someone like Peter Jackson going the way of James Cameron. Well, it makes Christopher Nolan look a lot better.

    • Jon

      It really is a shame when artists attempt to do something new with a medium. Why not do things the way they’ve always been done? This kind of experimentation is everything that’s wrong with the movie industry today. The purity of the medium is paramount. Don’t they realize they are not true artists unless they only make movies the way the they have been made in the past?

      In case you didn’t catch it, that was irony.

      • Chris

        That wasn’t irony. That was sarcasm. Look it up.

  • Dare

    Phil, how is PJ going the way of JC? JC has not yet done a film at 48/60fps so how is that his ‘way’? It’s more like PJ’s way since he’s the one doing it first.

    • brandon

      Film vs. Digital, jack-ass.

    • mattedscreen

      I didnt know Jesus Christ was a film maker, especially over 2000 years ago when that equipment didnt exist! That is a miracle indeed!

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  • Chris

    Higher frames per second=soap opera feel – and YES, it is the motion blur that gives film the “film” look. It’s true that lighting and production design add to the quality of a film – but it is NOT what gives film its traditional look and feel.

    Interestingly, not all people even notice the difference. To me, the difference is horrendous and makes a film look cheap. To others, they don’t even notice and when I try to explain it to them, they don’t understand. At the time, I simply couldn’t believe that they didn’t notice the difference.

    I suppose it’s possible that we all see things differently (physically). For some of us, this change will amount to a much greater amount of detail – to others (like myself), the film will lose it’s cinematic quality.

  • Bard the Bowman

    I cant wait to see Luke pluck off that arrow into Smaug.

  • Sparrow

    Great. So what happens to the millions of people who CAN’T watch 3D? Do we get to see this great effect, too?

    It’s incredible to me that filmmakers like Jackson are pushing a process that will EXCLUDE so many people from seeing their films. Are they TRYING to shoot themselves in the foot, or is it just sheer blinkeredness?

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  • Max

    Um… it’s not “the first time it’s ever been done.” When Edison’s team invented film it was 48fps. It wasn’t until later that there was a switch to slower speeds. Jackson’s just going back to what the inventors of film already knew: faster speeds give a more fluid and natural movement. Whether that’s necessary or not is another question. I’m leaning toward “not.”

  • Stephen Lynch

    I remember watching Peter Jackson’s video blog where he went into a lot of detail about filming in 48fps using “Big Red”.
    I heard that the filming using Red Epic meant some of the colours tended to be a little faded and as a result certain scenes such as the Mirkwood Forest had all of the trees and scenery painted really brightly to ensure the colours came through…

  • DietCherry

    Jeez, people sure seem to be acting quite negatively towards the 48fps and 3D, and it’s not just here. Seriously, it’s Peter Jackson, not some hack like Michael Bay or M. Night Shyamalan. Come December 14th, give it a chance.

  • Jake

    Just like depth of field, which simulates the way our eyes tend to only be focused on one object at a time, motion blur simulates the blur our own eyes and brain experience when observing rapidly moving objects.

    For those who insist that “48fps is more human-like” please do a test, – try reading this text while quickly shaking your head left and right…blurry, right? Case closed.

    • Kevin Klawitter

      Yeah, cuz shaking your head while reading text on a website is TOTALLY comparable to a film being projected at twice the normal speed.

      And people have been subverting and reintegrating the way people naturally see things into movies for decades. Was Orson Welles’ use of Deep Focus Photography in “Citizen Kane” and his other films hackish because he went out of his way to make sure everything in frame was crisp and clear? By the way, despite its reputation as a stylized visual effect, the reason he did that was to make it look more natural. To paraphrase his own words, “you can look at anything you want in real life, why not in the movies?”

      So no, the case is NOT “closed”. And the fact that you insisted it was after making such a silly and useless argument is just more evidence of your ignorance.

      • Jake

        @Kevin: That’s the point…the blur that your brain creates while observing moving objects IS NOT comparable to sharp 48fps motion, it is totally unnatural to the way our brain subjectively processes imagery and skips/blurs all the “in-between frames” when observing moving objects. It IS, however, comparable to 24 frames per second, and works even at lower frame rates. Anything at 30 fps loses its subjective quality and essentially takes you out of the experience. That’s why it works well for television.

        Citizen Kane was still shot at 24fps and had motion blur, sorry.

  • Naomi

    Looking forward to the full interview…also on The Raven.

  • John

    well avatar 2 and 3 are going to be shot at 60 fps, so they are going to be the most realistic movies ever, and the people hating 3D, get a clue, it’s the new thing for movies now, and it’s not going anywhere, so just get used to it

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