High Frame Rate Version of THE HOBBIT to See Limited Release, May Not Appear in All Major Cities

     August 7, 2012


When director Peter Jackson touted the high frame rate of 48 frames per second for his upcoming fantasy epic, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, we were understandably excited.  However, the reality of the technology had the unexpected consequence of looking too real, as if one were standing on set watching a movie being filmed.  While Warner Bros. still believes that 48fps is the way of cinematic future, they’re being careful with their first major release by limiting the sites that will screen The Hobbit at the higher frame rate.  There is talk of expanding the release of future installments in 48fps dependent on audience reaction.  Hit the jump for more.

peter-jackson-the-hobbitIn response to the criticism of the first look at The Hobbit in 48fps, Jackson came out in defense of the technology.  That being said, Variety is reporting that the new footage looks much more polished and less jarring.  The footage from CinemaCon was rather raw and hadn’t seen any post-production treatment.  I was under the impression that the screened footage was the finished product, but perhaps I was misinformed (or this is a smoke screen to temper any doubts).

There was no report of a list of which theaters will feature the 48fps The Hobbit, but it looks like it won’t appear in all major cities, at least not initially.  While the report goes on to say that, currently, no theaters are ready for the high frame rate presentation, some of them only require a software upgrade that will be available starting in September.  Some good news: if audiences respond positively to the 48fps version of The Hobbit, the studio is open to expanding the showings when the other two films in the planned trilogy are released.  Fingers crossed that all the bugs have been worked out and we get to see the new wave of cinematic technology from the director of some of the greatest films of all time.

Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, and Stephen FryThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released on December 14, 2012.


Around The Web
  • Justin_Warren

    I work in the industry as a Digital Imaging Technician, and I am very grateful that I’ll get a chance to see this new idea on a big screen. I’m a little worried it’ll look like “Auto Motion Plus” on a consumer television, aka soap-opera-ish. Or, it could be smooth, organic, and beautiful. I’m cautiously optimistic.

  • Scullibundo

    What’s it saying, my precious, my love? Peter losing his nerve?

    This is terrible news. I want to see this in 48fps the first time I see it. I don’t want to rely on others liking the format for the chance that I might get to see it that way as well.

    Save us based Cameron.

  • Brine

    I do not like this news.

  • Al Beef

    48fps should never be the standard. Higher fps is not always a good thing. I like Jackson but I don’t know where he’s getting this idea to push the industry to this Direction. Unless he’s getting kickbacks from someone to push this tech *cough* Red * cough*.

  • Tim

    Why are they trying to reinvent the wheel??
    24 f.p.s looks beautiful.

    Why change what looks sooo good. Just because the technology is available doesn’t mean it will look good. It really irritates me that they’re pushing this trash on viewers.

    Keep 48 f.p.s away!

  • justin

    mehh, i wish it was playing all over but…keeping my fingers crossed that it will be playing near me. And im glad, that the look of the 48 fps is looking A LOT better.

  • Mark

    Good news, and hopefully this 48fps will die a death quicker than stereoscopic movies. I’ve seen lots of footage shot and projected at 48 to 60 fps. It just doesn’t work beyond about 5 minutes.

  • Conor

    The first footage shown in 48 fps was likely without the final hues & film grain that would compose the series’ aesthetic. I’m sure the final version will look like the movie shown in 2D, only at 48 fps.

    • Drew

      Grain and hues have nothing to do with frames per second

  • gimpsuit

    Hopefully 48fps will die out fast so we can all have blurring panning shots for the rest of cinematic history

  • K-Man

    @ Scullibundo – No, it’s really not….and no, you really dont. Trust me. I’m all for experiencing new advancements in technology if they benefit the medium….but 48fps isn’t an advancement, Its a step back. If you want to see something similar to 48fps, then go watch a film and turn on the 120 hz. Its unflattering and cheap looking. It eliminates all motion blur and enhances the fake qualities of sets and prosthetics. A limited release is for the best….the less people who see it, the better.

    The only problem now is that in order to compensate for the higher frame-rate, Peter also adjusted the shutter-angle, opening it up to 270 degrees instead of 180 degrees, which creates an overly smooth picture….something that is also unflattering, letting in more light than normal, but helping with “jutter” or “strobing” effect.

    Looks like that was all for nothing. If The Hobbit fails (which i really hope it doesn’t) then it will go down as one of the most expensive experimental shoots of all time. Studios will NOT be happy….nor will the fans.

    I really wish he hadn’t “experimented” on The Hobbit.

    • Scullibundo

      Yeah… I’m going to go ahead and trust my own experience with 48fps footage. And you didn’t do yourself any favors by comparing it to the 120hz motion flow bullshit on TV’s that invents frames that aren’t there.

      People need to recognize that jarring and different doesn’t automatically = bad. Will it take adjusting to? Absolutely. We have been stuck on 24fps for almost eighty years. It has become what we associate as being the cinematic look. We need to redefine what we consider cinematic as we have countless times before. Otherwise we would still be watching black and what silent films in 4:3.

      Some of you need to grow up and actually spend some time with the format rather than immediately realizing it’s different to what you’re used to and therefore bad. I don’t see people clamoring for the days of old when we were stuck watching 16 – 18fps films.

      • Donovan McLean

        His comparison is very apt. Having shot projects at many different frame rates and having seen what 120HZ TVs look like I can tell you that when you watch something at 48, 60, 72 or higher frame rates it looks very, very much like the 120hz TVs.

        Those TVs and more frames per second BOTH reduce motion blur and create an unatural image. Humans naturally see blurred motion. Wave your hand in front of your face. You’ll see it. 24 frames per second simulates the way we see much better than the higher frame rates do.

        Which looks better to you? Film or video? Video plays at 30FPS (29.97) and looks much less aesthetically pleasing. (There are other factors involved of course, lenses, color information, sensor size… but frame rate is a factor.) Imagine now amplifying the effect of 30 FPS and going further with it. Sports are shot at 60FPS so we have already spent a lot of time with the format.

        This has also been tried before in the 80s and 70s. It has never worked. People don’t like the way it looks. Jacksons demonstration at NAB was just short of disastrous. It doesn’t look natural and people don’t like it.

  • Tim


    • TheTrickster

      Oh, the irony…

  • Lance

    I am willing to take a look at this. As Jackson himself says, there may be a slight period of adjustment (on the order of 10 minutes) before you accept the change. Once that happens, maybe the higher frame rate will be a big improvement.

    Or it could be awful. But you know what? The good thing here is that there will be a 24 fps version, so I don’t see why Jackson ought to be criticized so harshly. If a higher frame rate is a mistake, that mistake will quickly disappear, and the 24 fps version will be the movie of record.

  • Nomis1700

    What?! I want to see TH:AUJ in 48 FPS dammit!

  • ISeemToBeAVerb

    I hope I get a chance to experience 48fps, to see for myself. It’s hard to believe Jackson would be ga-ga over something that’s not a true improvement.

  • ISeemToBeAVerb

    I hope I get a chance to experience 48fps, to see for myself. It\’s hard to believe Jackson would be ga-ga over something that\’s not a true improvement.

  • Rev. Slappy

    The Arclight in Hollywood says they’re going to be prepared for the 48 fps version.

  • hunjeehi

    the dorks that even care about this format will go out of their way to see it, why take a chance on pissing off the normal paying customer (the 95%) with something that may annoy the hell out them? good move, you troglodytes don’t have any business sense

  • postthis

    Francis Coppola experimented with high frame-speed recording and playback years, no, decades ago and found that it inundates the viewers senses. Just too much information to process. Funny how the quite arbitrary 24fps (up from the original 16) was the perfect speed for watching films on the big screen. A bit of flicker is required. 48 fps might work as long as everything moves along slowly without a lot of edits,

  • Gene

    Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather(s), Appocalypse Now) experimented with high frame-speed recording and playback years, no, decades ago and found that it inundates the viewers senses. It was just too much information for an individual to process. Audiences had to look away. Funny how the quite arbitrary 24fps (up from the original 16) was the perfect speed for watching films on the big screen. A bit of flicker is required. 48 fps might work as long as everything moves along slowly without a lot of edits.

  • LucidObscurity

    I don’t understand why so many people are against a higher frame rate. It will greatly improve the quality of fast action sequences (so you can actually tell what is going on) and of course panning shots. Plus it will look all together more realistic. Sure, studios will have to spend more time on props and backdrops, but is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. Frankly, I’d be happier if they were moving to 60 fps to match the refresh rates of televisions…we would finally be rid of 3:2 pulldown.

  • Francis Chevy Coppola

    The comparison between this and the 120hz refresh of a flat-panel TV isn’t quite apt as in those cases, the TV has to interpolate frames that don’t exist in the lower-frame-rate source material. In the case of this film, there in actual 48 frames of information per second that has been recorded, so there’s no interpolation happening. How this will color the viewing experience remains to be seen, of course.

  • Stephen Kennedy

    You guys have to realize…that 24fps was NEVER created because it looked correctly. The ONLY reason they moved up from 16fps to 24 was because audio playback at 16fps was undesirable. When sound in movies came into the picture and had undesirable clarity at 16fps, they went to the next sub multiple of 48 (which is 24). Using a 2-bladed shutter, we ended up with 48 flashes of 24 frames per second….the best choice for supporting sound AND saving filming costs.

    While I admit that shooting footage at 48p and 24p is a huge difference. We\’re only complaining about aesthetics because we aren\’t used to them. At the dawn of digital when we went from Cassette tape to CD\’s, there was quite a bit of resistance on that front as well. Yes, tape is actually technically superior to digital audio regarding fidelity…but it\’s not quite the same cup of tea with video. Visual fidelity can be measured in the quality of our lenses/color depth and our frame rates. That all being said, if you want to stay close to \"what we perceive as real\" 48p is getting you there. People don\’t like 120hz because it \"makes things seem real\". …yet we\’re always looking for movies with the best gfx and cinematography genius to \"pull us in\" to the film.

    ….Let\’s face it though…most of us don\’t really watch a movie because we want to face reality. The real problem is not motion blur or the lack thereof. It\’s that we\’ve been indoctrinated to cinema frame rates since the late 1800\’s.

    I, for one, would be happy to view a higher frame rate film.

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