Open Thread: There & Back Again, At 48 Frames per Second

PSA, for the not inconsiderable BJ nerd demographic. Mike Ryan, at Huffington Post:

Yes, there’s a new Hobbit movie coming out soon. (The first of three Hobbit movies, actually.) But, most of the buzz — both good and bad — stems from the fact that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be shown on a special kind of film with a rate of 48 frames per second. Truth be told, I had no idea what this meant when it was first announced. I’ve since learned that, to put it simply, viewers long accustomed to seeing 24 frames every second will see twice that many when they watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Over the summer, I spoke to Peter Jackson at Comic-Con and he mentioned that it takes the eye a few minutes to adjust to the frame rate. Having seen the entire film in 48 FPS, I know what he meant — and my feelings about the format are very mixed. With all that in mind, I’m just going to go ahead and answer every question I had about the format before seeing it for myself.

Q: How does the 48-FPS format differ from most other films?

A: It has twice as many frames per second. This gives it an incredibly clear picture. Which is part of the problem.

Q: Why would a clearer image be a problem?

A: Because, as it turns out, it’s possible for an image to look so clear that it no longer looks real. Or so real that it takes you out of the film. As in: that film set looks like … a film set. Put it this way: the picture is so clear that in one scene I could see Ian McKellen’s contact lenses. I won’t claim to be a Tolkien expert, but I am pretty sure Acuvue does not exist in Middle Earth…

Q: How was it distracting?

A: Granted, this could be related to my own attention-deficit issues, but I was often taken out of the story because I just wanted to look at things. There’s a scene that takes place in Rivendell in which Gandalf (McKellen) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) are having an important conversation near a waterfall — but all I could do was stare at the waterfall. It was so pretty. I mean, I could see each and every droplet of water coming out of this waterfall. All I wanted in the world was to drink from this waterfall. Of course, with all of my attention drawn to this waterfall, I missed most of what Gandalf and Galadriel were talking about.

Q: So everything in the film looks beautiful at 48 FPS? This sounds like a good thing.

A: Well, not so fast. Quite a few things don’t look great in 48 FPS. Most of the scenes that take place outdoors look fantastic, but indoors it was difficult to stop being conscious of the fact that we were staring at a movie set. And the scenes that were heavy on CGI yielded mixed results…

Q: Should I see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 48 FPS or 24 FPS.

A: Honestly, if you’re curious about the technology, see it in 48 FPS — if only to see something you’ve never seen before. But if you’re just a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and you want to watch The Hobbit without any distractions, see it in 24 FPS…

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

118 replies
  1. 1

    Prediction: by the end of this decade, some art or indie film will use the fact that it used “real film” as its main marketing ploy.

    (Basically what’s happened to vinyl).

    ETA: I am a fan of both vinyl and film (The Prisoner Blu-Ray transfer from original film stock almost made me cry. You can count the stones in the pavement fer-krissake). Just cynical about fads and “branding”.

  2. 2
    Yutsano says:

    So basically “(he Hobbit” wins Best Picture in three years again?

  3. 3
    MattF says:

    He’s just one of those complainer types. All he had to do was blink 24 times per second and then there’d be no problem.

  4. 4
    redshirt says:

    I read some nerd stuff from earlier this year and the opinion was SCATHING against 48FPS. I mean like, burn down the theater, rent your clothes, gouge your eyes, etc.

    The critique was above – too realistic. Looks like a soap opera. Took away the illusion of a mythical movie.

    I had a similar experiencing watching Lost going from an old TV to an LED HD ginormo flat screen. I did adjust over time, so who knows if 48FPS will become accepted. But the initial hurdle will be high. Apparently.

  5. 5
    Marcelo says:

    I teach at a filmmaking camp for elementary schoolers and middle schoolers. Normally we shoot on DSLRs, but we have one class that shoots on super 8 film, and you can bet we use “shoot on real film!” as a marketing thing, both for students and parents. It’s a lot of fun.

  6. 6
    Felonius Monk says:

    Will the 48-FPS Hobbit guide us over the fiscal cliff-bump? Can he work his magic on the Republican Impediments to a good life? Will he carry Raul Ryan and the Orange-A-Tan away to Middle Earth for eternity? If not, what good is he?

  7. 7
    aimai says:

    You aren’t going to get a choice of FPS are you? If its issued in 48 you are going to see it in 48. I dread it. I already have the same feeling when I’m watching Blu Ray–its so realistic/detailed that I actually have the same feeling I have when watching home videos: like I’m too close to the action, or its too intimate, or its too “real.” It makes me feel uncomfortably like a voyeur and it deglamorizes the actors.


  8. 8
    Baud says:

    I’ll wait for the 96 fps 3D version.

    ETA: Speaking of, where are the porn shops on this technology?

  9. 9
    handy says:

    Yeah I can’t stand that “soap opera look” on movies you see in the showrooms. I get that 48 fps is more “accurate” or “higher definition” in terms of pure data throughput, but part of the magic of film is that it’s, well, film. The medium itself helps to separate us from the fantasy we behold on the screen.

    This may end up working better with animation, which seems in my experience also does 3D better, the other big fad going these days.

  10. 10
    Anoniminous says:

    Probably see it the first time in 24 fps so I can enjoy the movie and then, if I get around to it and can get a cheap seat and can find it at an Imax house, at 48 to look at and “experience” the tech.

  11. 11
    handy says:


    They can always scale down to 24 FPS, which should give you that same “movie” look. I imagine you would see a lot of cinemas do this. How many have the equipment to run the full 48?

  12. 12
    dmsilev says:

    @aimai: Depends on the theater. From what I’ve read, most of the newest generation of digital projectors can at least in theory handle 48 fps, possibly with software updates. I think they’re planning on showing it in 48 in a few hundred theaters, and in 24 for the bulk of the release screens.

  13. 13
    VincentN says:

    I may watch it in 48 FPS just to see what the big deal is. I wonder if the discomfort that people are having is simply because of how new this is. Did people who lived through the transition from black and white to color film have similar reactions that movies suddenly looked ‘too real’?

  14. 14
    Cassidy says:

    I hate LED TV’s and not thrilled with 48 FPS. If I want to watch a soap opera, I’ll tune in to Smackdown like any other self-respecting Southern male.

  15. 15
    Alistair says:

    The “soap opera” effect comes from frame interpolation on modern HDTVs. They add additional calculated frames to bring 30 or 60 FPS material to 120 FPS. I don’t find it very pleasing, and always turn it off. However, I’m still open to seeing material originally shot and projected at 48 FPS to see if the effect is still there. There is nothing magical about 24 FPS, other than it has been around so long that we are used to it as the film-look. However, it is below the threshold for smooth motion, so there is noticeable judder in panning shots. 48 FPS could be a step forward.

  16. 16
    srv says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God: And then use a digital filter to make it look like polaroids. And you’ll have to wear wacky glasses, just because.

  17. 17
    Felonius Monk says:


    I already have the same feeling when I’m watching Blu Ray—its so realistic/detailed

    Not exactly the same perhaps, but I noticed this with some Road Runner cartoons. Older ones (i.e. pre-BluRay) even on a big flatscreen still have that cartoonish quality. Newer ones from 2010-2011 are so detailed it looks like Wiley is a plush stuffed coyote and many of the sight gags that were funny in the older ‘toons are too frightening realistic in the new ones. This is progress?

  18. 18
    elmo says:

    Heck, I’m still upset that its in 3D. I get really awful motion sickness in 3D and IMAX, so i have to take Dramamine ahead of time – which means that my fave part of my local theater, that it serves a full bar, is useless. If I drink with my Dramamine, I’ll barely notice the movie.

  19. 19
    celticdragonchick says:


    I saw a major problem watching the original War of the Worlds on Blu Ray: You can see the control wires on the Martian war machines. I had never been able to see them on old VHs tapes or on standard tv sets from the 70’s and 80’s. The clarity actually become a substantial liability.

  20. 20
    Citizen_X says:

    all I could do was stare at the waterfall. It was so pretty. I mean, I could see each and every droplet of water coming out of this waterfall. All I wanted in the world was to drink from this waterfall. Of course, with all of my attention drawn to this waterfall, I missed most of what Gandalf and Galadriel were talking about.

    Well, that problem’s easy to solve: don’t get high before seeing the film.

    At least the first time.

  21. 21
    WereBear says:

    For those who requested:

    It’s a holiday blog drive!

    Yes, I’m asking for a bit of help with bandwidth, security, etc, so I can keep helping folks love their kitties.

    Even a dollar! I’m easy!

    Thanks so much.

  22. 22
    different-church-lady says:

    Congratulations Peter Jackson: you’ve just reinvented high definition video!

    [rolls up sleeves, rubs hands together…]

    OK, some things “look like film” and other things “look like video”. Back in the day there was a very simple reason for this: stuff that looked like film was film, and stuff that looked like video was video. Film was shot at 24 frames a second and that was it. Video (in North America) was shot at something very close to 30 frames per second.

    High def and digital cinema cameras changed a lot of that. One thing they changed was the frame rate you could use. HD gives you the option of up to 60 very easily. And it also allowed, for the first time in consumer electronics, the ability to deliver a true 24 frames per second without pulling tricks to bring it up to 30 (like, for example, a standard def DVD does).

    Now, one of the options you have with the slower frame rate is that the shutter on the camera can be open for longer slices of time — things blurred a bit when you shot them on real film at 24. Cinematographers could control this blur by choosing “shutter angles” that increased or decreased the time the frame of film was exposed. Larger shutter angles = longer exposures = more blur.

    But if you shoot at 30 or 48 or 60, you can’t leave the shutter open that long, period. You get less blur. When digital cinema came along, most film makers continued shooting at 24 because that blur was considered a desirable part of the “film” look.

    There is, obviously, a lot more to the “film look” than just frame rate and blur — things like contrast qualities, lens ratios, and grain have effects as well. But I had an interesting first hand experience with the 24 frame effect the first time I worked on an independent film shot on a DSLR. (Indie filmmakers love DSLRs because they have a “film-like look”). The first time I looked at the monitor I was startled at how “film like” the picture this little 4 figure camera was producing. Then as I was watching some of the takes, the characters started off frame and there were a few seconds of just the set in the frame, and it looked like… video. But the moment the characters entered and started moving around… it looked like film again! Weird. I started to think that frame rate was a larger component to film look than I had imagined.

    The thing I don’t know is whether Jackson actually shot the entire film at 48, or if they’re using some trick to pull it up to 48. And if the former: then how are they taking the 48 footage back down to 24 for general release? Are they using software to interpolate a set of adjacent 48 fps frames back into a simulation of a “blurry” 24 fps frame? Because if you just left out every other frame then the 24 fps version would also look strange.

  23. 23
    redshirt says:

    I’m gonna make some hipster instagram anti-3d glasses, then be all cool seeing films like the olden, cooler times.

  24. 24
    different-church-lady says:


    Well, that problem’s easy to solve: don’t get high before seeing making the film.

    FTFY and Peter.

  25. 25
    Roger Moore says:


    I had a similar experiencing watching Lost going from an old TV to an LED HD ginormo flat screen. I did adjust over time, so who knows if 48FPS will become accepted. But the initial hurdle will be high. Apparently.

    It’s a good bet that at least some of the adjustment will be movie makers adapting to the different look of the higher frame rate. I remember reading that the move to HDTV required TV production houses to revamp a lot of their sets because the old ones were just too obviously fake. Something similar will probably happen with movies. Ryan is making the same general complaint about sets, and I’ll bet that there are similar problems with lower quality props and costumes, so there will have to be more shooting on location and higher quality sets, props, and costumes. CGI will presumably have to be done to a higher standard, too.

    Of course, another danger is that people will go way overboard with things that are only there to target the new technology. The most obvious example is the way 3D movies have a hard time resisting the temptation to have at least one scene where an object comes flying out of the screen toward the audience just to show off. It’s also interesting watching early color TV shows, where it’s obvious that stuff was made with deliberately overdone colors, either to show off the existence of any color at all or to make up for poor saturation on early generations of color TVs.

  26. 26
    different-church-lady says:


    They can always scale down to 24 FPS, which should give you that same “movie” look.

    Yes… and no. See my essay about shutter angles above. I imagine they can do things digitally to emulate the old look, but if the shutter ain’t open for a 24th of a second, it just ain’t. Stripping out every other frame doesn’t do the trick all by itself.

  27. 27
    AnonPhenom says:

    As in: that film set looks like … a film set.

    If it is anything like watching The Wizard of Oz in HD, I know exactly what he means

  28. 28
    Ben Franklin says:

    Former Israeli spy, now dissident, attacked by arsonist….

    October Surprise Allegations http://www.informationclearing.....e33214.htm

    Perhaps Ben-Menashe’s most controversial claim was that he and other Israeli intelligence officers assisted the Republicans in brokering a deal with Iran’s Islamic regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1980 to hold 52 American hostages until after the U.S. election to ensure President Jimmy Carter’s defeat. As a result of this so-called October Surprise caper, the hostages were not released until Jan. 20, 1981, immediately after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as U.S. President, Ben-Menashe said.

    After leveling his October Surprise accusations in 1990-1991 – and providing investigative journalist Seymour Hersh information about Israel’s nuclear program for his book The Samson Option – Ben-Menashe was essentially a man on the run from both the Israeli government and the U.S. administration of George H.W. Bush.

  29. 29
    Ben Franklin says:

    I sense the same old bullshit with the Syrian Chemical Weapons diatribe.

  30. 30
    Darkrose says:

    Am I the only one not planning to see the movie? I really, really, don’t need the spiders in high-def, but even more than that, THREE MOVIES? I thought it was bad when Christopher Tolkien started publishing everything his father scribbled down on a napkin. I was very unhappy with the way Jackson rewrote Lord of the Ring [insert rant on Faramir and Two Towers here]. The Hobbit is starting to sound more and more like the worst of all possible worlds for me.

  31. 31
    double nickel says:

    Not another “innovation”! Won’t someone please think of the porn industry? I don’t know how much more they can take.

  32. 32
    Robert says:

    Most theaters will be showing it at 24fps. You need special projection equipment to do 48fps. There was a list a few months ago of planned screening locations but I’ll be darned if I can find it right now. There were maybe 40 theaters using it out of 2000+ in the country.

    Found it. A lot more than before:


    The reverse 3D hipster glasses already exist:

  33. 33
    different-church-lady says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God:

    The Prisoner Blu-Ray transfer from original film stock almost made me cry. You can count the stones in the pavement fer-krissake

    Hail fellow Prisoner fan.

    Ah, but the interesting thing about the Blu-Ray/HD TV combo is that those devices can bring you that footage at a true 24 frames per second, where as old fashioned TV and VHS and DVD had to do a “pull down” to get the 24 frames to go into the mandatory 30 of that format. Take a look at the graphic that accompanies the link an observe the 3rd and 4th “frame” of the right hand column — that’s a bit of a jumbled mess, ain’t it?

    You can count the cobblestones not only because the scan of the original film was probably fantastic, but also because you’re being presented with one true frame at a time, instead of a bunch of blurred together half frames twice as often.

  34. 34
    Schlemizel says:


    Pointless pedantic point – you could rent your clothes out I suppose if you could find someone to give you money for their temporary use but if you attended an old country funeral or were deeply upset you would more likely rend your garments.
    This “I’m kinda an asshole” moment brought to you by simply because I can’t help myself 8-{D

    I will give Mr. J some props, he had to know that every little thing he does with this movie will be microscopically nit-picked and flamed. He either has large brass balls & thinks he can do anything perfectly or he is dumb as a post & thinks he do no wrong.

    I’m excited cuz I love that book. I want these movies to be great, to be everything the LOtRs movies didn’t quiet get right. But I am scared cuz I love this book & all the dinking around and all the ‘special’ stuff they are doing combined with Hollywood egos could easily turn this into the trilogy that makes us thing the Star Wars prequels were not that bad

  35. 35
    Liquid says:

    I remember watching Master and Commander (seen it many times) on a friends LED HD. It was like you were standing on the set, which is not a good thing.

  36. 36
    SatanicPanic says:

    I’m excited about this movie so nerds please stop trying to dampen my enthusiasm

  37. 37
    Ben Franklin says:

    Ben-Menashe, who served in Israeli military intelligence in the 1970s and 1980s, was arrested in the United States in 1989 for his involvement in military sales to Iran. He says the Israeli government then urged him to plead guilty to the U.S. charges, but he refused and began disclosing Israeli secrets to journalists, including me, in early 1990 when I was a correspondent for Newsweek magazine.

    At first, the Israeli government denounced Ben-Menashe as an “impostor” but after I obtained official Israeli letters of reference describing his decade-long work within the External Relations Department of the Israel Defence Forces, Israeli officials changed their story. They labeled him simply “a low-level translator.” But the letters described Ben-Menashe’s service in “key positions” and said he handled “complex and sensitive assignments.”

    Despite the evidence that Israeli officials had first lied and then retreated to a new cover story, the Bush administration and the Israeli government managed to galvanize friendly journalists who went out of their way to discredit Ben-Menashe as a compulsive liar. [For details about one of the key denouncers of Ben-Menashe, see’s “Unmasking October Surprise “Debunker'”.]

  38. 38
    Alistair says:

    I get somewhat bothered by TVs that are sold as “LED HDTVs”. They are LCDs. The backlight is comprised of LEDs. Nobody referred to older LCD TVs as “fluorescent HDTVs”.

  39. 39
    different-church-lady says:


    I really, really, don’t need the spiders in high-def, but even more than that, THREE MOVIES?

    I have friends who spend every New Year’s Day watching all three Ring films straight through.

    Every year.

    I think it would be a good replacement for electroshock therapy.

  40. 40
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @double nickel:

    Not another “innovation”! Won’t someone please think of the porn industry? I don’t know how much more they can take.


  41. 41
    Comrade Mary says:

    I got a new (cheap) Samsung tv last year and get HDTV on broadcast channels, but while nature shows and movies look great, people on many videotaped tv shows look — weird.

    For example, the medium shots on the French CBC shows are pretty unforgiving. You can see every line, zit and wrinkle on people’s faces. I can understand that level of weirdness, even though it’s disconcerting.

    But when I watch the local or national news (in English), or The Daily Show or Colbert, or most prime time dramas, faces often look like poorly compressed GIFs, or paint by number paintings, as people’s faces smear into several moderately blended blocks of colour. So is this some deliberate vanity-saving lighting, filtering and makeup, or a legacy of medium shots on my cheap tv?

    I saw a Samsung review (not my model, but in that price range) where one person called it the “clay faces” look. But it’s not universal: it just shows up on some shows shot on video.

    Hmm: is this an explanation?

    (Quick check: Coronation Street, The Wedding Singer, CBC French and TVO look fine. But on Rick Mercer’s show on English CBC, he looks clay-ish in a full body shot in the studio, and in one piece filmed in the studio, but just fine in the filmed remote piece at Woofstock.)

  42. 42
    WereBear says:

    @different-church-lady: They have done a film transfer of The Prisoner?

    Dagnab. Glad to know that before Christmas… such a Patrick McGoohan fan (he was offered James Bond before Connery, and turned it down because the man seemed a bit of a rakehell) and now I’m all excited.

  43. 43
    Ben Franklin says:

    btw; sorry to derail the FB depth of field.

  44. 44
    different-church-lady says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    faces often look like poorly compressed GIFs

    That’s because a lot of HD video consists of what is essentially a series of poorly compressed GIFs. And no, it’s probably not your TV — chances are your cable company or local affiliate is recompressing things before relaying them along. Digital isn’t always a good thing.

  45. 45
    Thomas F says:

    Someday, somehow, we will come to terms with the utter fraud that is Michael Moore.

  46. 46
    Ben Franklin says:

    BTW; I apologize to many for the diversion from Facebook entries.

  47. 47
    Roger Moore says:


    I thought it was bad when Christopher Tolkien started publishing everything his father scribbled down on a napkin.

    Have you read any of Christopher’s books? I find them fascinating, even if they can get a bit repetitive and the stories aren’t as good as they later turned out to be. It’s a very interesting window onto the development of his ideas, and IMO a very interesting read from the standpoint of getting to see the development of creative thoughts. Reading a few of them has definitely made me wonder more about how other authors develop their stories and whether they go through as many radical changes as some of Tolkien’s did. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I’ll admit.

  48. 48
    Darkrose says:

    @different-church-lady: At least it would take me as much time to watch all three movies as it would take me to read the books. The Hobbit is around 300 pages. I could finish it and still have half of the FIRST movie to go.

  49. 49
    cinesimon says:

    I really think a lot of the critiques are going to be stuff that was already noticeable at 24, but now that people are looking closer, they’ll be blaming everything on 48.
    The contact lens and film set comments are perfect examples of what I mean. I’m a fusspot, have a full hd projector and high-end blu ray player at home – and all that is there right now in HD at 24fps.

    Like republicans will be blaming all healthcare imperfections on Obamacare – its new, they didn’t look very carefully at the old system, therefore they can blame everything on the new one.

  50. 50
    Comrade Mary says:

    @different-church-lady: Sorry, I wasn’t clear: this is OTA tv with an antenna, not cable. And I’m seeing Rick Mercer’s face just fine in one part of his show and clayface Rick in another part.

    Would my local CBC affiliate be compressing the signal for all its shows, but some shots/lighting/makeup are more prone to this problem? I have noticed that almost everything on CTV looks like plastic.

  51. 51
    efgoldman says:


    Found it. A lot more than before:

    Whew. My suburban manyplex isn’t on the list.
    I hate 3D also too.

  52. 52
    Darkrose says:

    @Roger Moore: I quit after “Unfinished Tales Volume 2”, I think. Silly as it may sound, as a writer, I feel uncomfortable with the idea of publishing someone’s half-formed thoughts. I’d never want my drafts and notes being presented as if they were finished work; Christopher’s doing so has always felt like a cash grab to me.

  53. 53
    Maude says:

    People notice the detail and that distracts from the story. 24 fps is used because of the brain’s perception. Movies are light and shadow on a flat screen.

  54. 54
    different-church-lady says:

    @Comrade Mary: Could be a lot of things, including the compression rate varying on the fly. Digital can adjust itself to different throughput rates as needed. And sometimes broadcasters choke off the rates for stupid reasons.

    I know enough about this stuff to be either dangerous or helpful, depending on how much time I have to get to the bottom of it. I spent about 10 years rubbing shoulders with guys who’s job it was to get maximum quality out of consumer grade HD products. I let the propeller heads explain just enough of it to me so I could do my job, but I still can’t replicate the kinds of stuff they could do.

  55. 55
    cinesimon says:

    Re the three movies thing(a-flamin’-gain) – Jackson has made an excellent case as to why he went to three films.
    And he’s Peter Jackson. He’s going to rock those appendices!

  56. 56
    Keith G says:

    @Thomas F: I don’t see how that posting shows Moore to be a fraud. If you don’t like him, that’s fine, but don’t point to that as a reason.

  57. 57
    peorgietirebiter says:

    @different-church-lady: I’m long retired but as far back as the 80’s we shot most 35mm spots and all 16 mm at 30 frames to achieve 1 to 1 tranfers to tape.
    It avoided the pull-down, along with the need edit using drop frame s.m.p.t.e time code. Wth half the scan-lines, we didn’t concern ourselves over seeing too much detail.

  58. 58
    efgoldman says:

    @Thomas F:

    Someday, somehow, we will come to terms with the utter fraud that is Michael Moore.

    Enh, same thing as Curt Schilling getting $75 mil to move his failing video game company to RI. Somebody (LGM?) pointed to a NY Times article today.

  59. 59
    different-church-lady says:

    For his next series, Peter Jackson will be filming the entire bible in 2D, 3D, 4D, 48 frames per second, 96 frames per second, and experimental 500 frames per second, English, French, German, Japanese, and Inuit (so he doesn’t have to overdub), and with 4 different actors in each role.

    He’ll do this on the moon, because the tax credits there are just incredible.

  60. 60
    cinesimon says:


    24 was decided upon because it was the minimal(cheapest) frames per second required for audiences to be able to see an unbroken/smooth moving image. And even then, many of us see staggering.
    Point being, it wasn’t designed as the ‘optimal’ fps for our brainwaves(also consider when 24fps was decided upon), but as the ‘minimal acceptable’.

  61. 61
    different-church-lady says:

    @peorgietirebiter: Interesting — what did it look like? Technically, it makes sense, but you burn through more stock doing it that way (and real film and processing was never cheap). I admit shooting film at 30 for TV use escapes my historical knowledge. (I love this stuff!) Did they do TV shows like this or only commercials?

  62. 62
    Schlemizel says:

    @Keith G:

    Mike can’t win. Of course the wingnuts hate him & the corporate ass wipes, both R and D love to make sure they do. But a many on the left hate him partly because of the Nader thing, which he has apologized for repeatedly and tried to make up by strongly supporting Barack Obama twice despite probably wishing he were more liberal and partly because of this sort of ‘there must be something wrong with this guy’ whisper campaign that corporations have waged.

    Read his book and you get a real sense of the guy, what he is about and what he wants to do. The fact that he is so damn good at what he does has left the corporatists sucking wind trying to pin something, anything, on the guy.

  63. 63

    @Darkrose: See, I’m the other way. If anyone reads my stuff, I’m more than happy to let them see any copies I have of earlier versions. And as two posters here can attest, I’ll hand out rough drafts to just about anyone to critique.

  64. 64
    JC says:

    @Thomas F: Taking advantage of tax credits that are there for any film maker?

    Come on now.

    ‘Tax credits’ are the name of the game now, for any enterprise. And especially film, once you get into the details.

    Moore isn’t the focus of the article, and even he has investors he has to answer to, and accountants who advise him.

  65. 65
    different-church-lady says:

    @cinesimon: I’ve also seen a theory that 24 was a nice easy ratio for the available stepper motors of the early 20th century to deal with.

    And, as an aside, nobody really cared until sound came along. I work on silent film restoration projects, and it’s amazing the amount of detective work and guessing the have to do to figure out the projection frame rate the film maker intended. (In the silent era they’d just mark the rate they wanted on the can and the projectionist might even actually set the projector for it — or they might show it faster so they could turn audience over more often.) And then, once they’ve made their decision, they have to figure out how to get, say, 13 frames per second to go into our standard definition 30 — makes 3:2 pulldown seem like a walk in the park.

  66. 66
    Roger Moore says:

    I guess I was thinking more of the Book of Lost Tales and the history of the LOTR, which made it quite clear that they were showing works in progress. And, come to think of it, I’d think that titling something “Unfinished Tales” ought to be the equivalent of a giant flashing sign that it’s dealing with a work in progress. I’m not entirely happy with the cashing in on daddy’s work aspect to what Christopher Tolkien was doing, but he does seem to have been a reasonably conscientious literary executor.

  67. 67
    Mnemosyne says:


    24 was decided upon because it was the minimal(cheapest) frames per second required for audiences to be able to see an unbroken/smooth moving image.

    Actually, no — 24 FPS was chosen as the lowest rate at which you could synchronize sound with the film. As DCL points out in #65, there was no need for a standard frame rate in silent film and they are very idiosyncratic in their frame rates (18 FPS is the closest to a standard in silent film).

    But once they started trying to record dialogue on a set, the frame rate had to be standardized or it screwed up the sound, and the 24 FPS rate was chosen.

    ETA: For an entertaining example of this, watch Chaplin’s Modern Times, which has one (1) dialogue scene and notice that the frame rate is noticeably different than the rest of the film. Chaplin was a good enough filmmaker that he used the frame rate change thematically in the film, but it’s pretty obvious when you compare the two sections.

  68. 68
    Maude says:

    It works well. That’s why is it used, except Italy.

  69. 69
    killer says:

    @Comrade Mary: On HighDef cameras and broadcast Standard Def cameras there is an adjustment called “skin detail”. It does just what you would think.

  70. 70
    SFAW says:


    Speaking of, where are the porn shops on this technology?

    I’ve heard that their major concern is the uncertainty re: using 48 fps (instead of 24), specifically: will make six inches look like 12 inches, or look like 3 inches?

    Depending on the answer, they’d probably call it either V1agra Format, or Saltpeter Format.

  71. 71
    Maude says:

    That too, but I hate to get into all this type of detail I don’t like chats about half animation either.

  72. 72
    cinesimon says:

    I thought it was because of “the brain’s perception”?
    And it doesn’t work well for everyone – many of us do not find 24 comfortable at all, especially on th big screen at a theater.

    Thanks Mnemosyne, you learn something new every day. I had no idea that 24 is their minimum speed for syncing audio back in the day.

  73. 73
    Bubba Dave says:

    OK, I owe you a beer for the link to the 2D glasses. I’m one of those folks who gets a headache from watching 3D films (left eye much stronger than the right eye), so I’m always the guy who says “Fine, y’all go see the 3D film and I’ll see the 2D and we can meet up afterwards.” Those have the potential to make me 12% less antisocial!

  74. 74
    Anne Laurie says:


    I get really awful motion sickness in 3D and IMAX, so i have to take Dramamine ahead of time – which means that my fave part of my local theater, that it serves a full bar, is useless. If I drink with my Dramamine, I’ll barely notice the movie.

    Ever tried Bonine (meclazine hydrocloride)? I’m not a drinker, but Bonine works better for me than Dramamine — even for 3D viewing — and being ‘non-drowsy’ is one of its marketing points.

  75. 75
    peorgietirebiter says:

    @different-church-lady: It was state of the art for time. Most noticeable in 16mm and action sequences in 35 mm. The extra cost was neglible unless you were burning a ton of film and even the quality T.V. shows didn’t have any leisurely shooting schedules, so it depended on the producers priorities. Plus the developement of frames codes on the stock cut the cost of cutting the negative selects for xfer significantly. Back then, compared to labor costs, film was considered cheap. (about $1.oo a foot raw thru a one light work print.

  76. 76
    Maude says:

    It is all about perception. They synced the speed of tape to 24 fps. It took a lot to get this to work.
    Go argue with someone else.

  77. 77
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @Roger Moore: It should also be noted that Christopher Tolkien was involved in the creation of Middle-Earth in a way most children of famous authors were not. His father sent all of it to him as a serial while Christopher was posted overseas during World War II. Christopher is also the person who created most of the maps including the large scale one that is the standard for the Third Age.

  78. 78
    jenn says:

    @Ben Franklin: Interesting … thanks for sharing!

  79. 79
    Gian says:


    but Moore, like Gore, is fat. And he does movies that wingers don’t like, so the fact that he did what every other filmaker does is a sign that he should be held in utter contempt.

    and because we all believe global warming is happenening we all suck just as much because we have computers that were made in factories, so we all are liars.

    if you believe in global warming you must wear recycled clothing and live under a bridge while planting trees, and if you do a movie about corporate welfare with investors, you must no mean it if you ya know, get tax credits.

    stupid right wing crappy line of attack, and it’s trolling

  80. 80
    ShadeTail says:

    Gee, I guess video games have spoiled me. They’ve been 60 FPS for years now.

  81. 81
    Mnemosyne says:


    Until the 1990s, Italy did not use synchronized sound for their films — everything was post-dubbed. If you watch a pre-1990 Italian film carefully, you can often see that the actors are speaking their lines to each other in different languages.

  82. 82
    different-church-lady says:

    Ah HA:

    From 1927 to 1930, the rate of 24 FPS became standard for 35 mm sound film;[1] a speed of 456 millimetres (18.0 in) per second. This allowed for simple two-blade shutters to give a projected series of images at 48 per second. Many modern 35 mm film projectors use three-blade shutters to give 72 images per second—each frame flashed on screen three times.

  83. 83
    Cassidy says:

    specifically: will make six inches look like 12 inches

    Shit, tequila does that.

  84. 84
    Maude says:

    They used 26 fps, but I don’t remember why.
    I didn’t know they were still dubbing in the 1990s. What a pain.
    I give a lot of credit to Walt Disney for making creative movies. When he showed his first film to Columbia, they turned him down. That was stupid.

  85. 85
    Nylund says:

    I HATE 48 fps. (I think) It’s the same issue you get when you watch HDTV on a TV with a really high refresh rate (or whatever it’s called) that hasn’t been set properly with how it deals with the missing frames…

    I think the internet calls it the “Soap Opera Effect.” My thoughts are exactly like what the post says. You’re painfully aware that everything you’re watching is just a movie set. You no longer feel like you’re watching another world, but instead, like you’re watching actors speak lines on a phony plastic stage. I just can’t get into it whatsoever. It absolutely ruins things for me (and my wife).

  86. 86
    pastormaker says:

    You mean I have to instagram a 200 million dollar movie to make it watchable?

  87. 87
    The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik says:

    The whole dust up with Costa makes me realize just how much of a goddamned lost cause gun control still is. Even the most modest suggestions end up turning you into a goddamned pariah because they get misconstrued as “YOU GON’ TAKE ALL MY GUNS ‘WAY, YOU FUCKIN’ COMMMIE!!!”

  88. 88
    different-church-lady says:


    You’re painfully aware that everything you’re watching is just a movie set.

    Hell, this is a Peter Jackson film — even at 24 everything looks like a computer landscape.

    Upthread I was was talking about my friends who watch all the Ring films straight through? The first year I did it with them I remember being brought up amazed by this one shot of them riding horses across the landscape with the mountains in the background — simply beautiful. The second time I did it I was getting really bored and then I got amazed by the same shot — completely compelling. And I was trying to figure out what was so amazing about it — yeah, it was beautiful, but why was it so arresting? It was just people riding horses in great light. And then it hit me: this was the first time in about four hours I had seen a non-CGI background. All the pieces lined up according to the laws of physics, and my eyes screamed THANK GOD I’M NOT LOOKING AT A DAMN FUNHOUSE MIRROR ANYMORE.

  89. 89
    Greyjoy says:


    I get somewhat bothered by TVs that are sold as “LED HDTVs”. They are LCDs. The backlight is comprised of LEDs. Nobody referred to older LCD TVs as “fluorescent HDTVs”.

    I work for a nationwide electronics retailer, and when LCD TVs were first released, we called them LED TVs. Then for a while we were required to refer to them as LCD-LED TVs, to emphasize that they’re still LCD. Now we’re back to LED TVs because apparently nobody cares about the difference, and it’s shorter than “LCD-LED”.

    So, I guess, be comforted by the fact that retailers actually do pay attention to that level of detail, but good usability is about making things intuitive to the user, and if everyone calls it an LED TV, then so it shall be.

  90. 90
    Maude says:

    That’s what I was talking about. I just want to watch something, not pay attention to the tech.
    Some people get sick with 3D.
    They tried smells in theaters.

  91. 91
    Mnemosyne says:


    I wonder if it’s akin to the Uncanny Valley. We can process a movie as artificial and a stage play as real, but we’re having trouble with something that’s broadcast with sharpness similar to that of a stage play but is still obviously a recording.

  92. 92
    JoeShabadoo says:

    People have gotten used to a big negative. If you are consistently given shit sandwiches you will think that is what a sandwich should be. The first time someone gives you ham and cheese it is going to be weird. Some people will ask for another shit sandwich just because its different. Everyone else will try it and slowly eat more. Eventually ham and cheese takes over because it is better than shit. It doesn’t stop old people and hipsters from using nostalgia to talk about how shit is what really makes it a sandwich though.

  93. 93
    Robert says:

    I got really sick during Life of Pi in 3D. Like, almost left the theater sick. I do not respond well to 3D. I can endure it when it’s exceptionally well done (Avatar and Coraline come to mind and the Disney 3D transfers like Nightmare Before Christmas), but most of the time I wind up closing one eye or the other and letting it all go flat.

    I won’t be seeing The Hobbit in 48FPS 3D even though every multiplex around me has the technology. I will find a 2D screening and suffer the lack of seeing the faux painting techniques clear as day on the sets.

  94. 94
    SFAW says:


    Shit, tequila does that.

    But it’s so low-tech.

  95. 95
    SectionH says:

    Report from a friend in LA who was at a fancy screening (had PJ and Phillipa for Q & A after, apparently, and yes I am wildly envious) is “Do Not see the movie in HFR 3D,” at least the first time. He seemed to think regular 3D would be ok.

    I’m not happy. Got tickets for us & another couple for 7pm on the 14th at a HFR 3D cinema. The annoying thing is I bought as soon as they went on sale because she asked (they’re Aussies, so buying the tickets would have been tricky for them). So the one time when my usual procrastinating style might have been useful, I didn’t. Sigh. I’ve never seen a 3D movie of any flavor, and now I’m worried.

    Maybe I’ll sneak into an 11:30am showing at a place with 24 fps format, so at least if I get sick and/or distracted for the fancy-schmancy showing, I’ll have been able to see it the old-fashioned way first.

  96. 96
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Interest in simulacra is probably the only thing that could get me to watch this movie in the first place so thanks for the heads-up…

  97. 97
    Triassic Sands says:

    I’ve never seen a film in 48fps, but when you began to describe it, the first thing I thought of was how problematic that might be for CGI. Even the best CGI is often barely acceptable (if you’re looking closely) and with the added clarity of 48fps, I have a hard time believing some scenes won’t come close to falling apart.

    Back in the late nineties, when Titanic was the rage, I took a friend to see it (he was recovering from a brain injury and I told him to choose whichever film he wanted to see — sadly, he chose Titanic). People were gushing over the CGI in the film, but when we were looking at scenes of the ship from some distance away, the computer generated people didn’t look even arguably real — they were obviously “cartoon characters.” I can imagine how terrible that would look in 48fps.

    Eventually, CGI will progress to the point where it can stand up under the severe scrutiny that HD and 48fps present, but today, I suspect Anne is right — if you want to enjoy The Hobbit, it will be better in the slower speed.

    Anne, what you didn’t mention, and what I’m most interested in is Jackson’s decision to stretch a pretty thin novel out to three feature length films. In adapting many books to the screen it can be difficult to decide what to cut and great adaptations often depend how how well the screenwriter decided what to keep and what to toss. With The Hobbit, which I’ve always felt is significantly inferior to the Lord of the Rings, three films may mean that almost everything is “in,” or that some things are stretched to the point of breaking. In King Kong Jackson gave in to bloat, as seen especially in scenes like the absurdly interminable fight between Kong and the herd of T-Rexes. (Hey, if fighting one T-Rex is exciting, then fighting two or three or fifteen will be even better. Right?) If he’s done the same thing in the Hobbit, I fear it will become tedious.

    What did you think, Anne?

  98. 98
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I’m just . . . how do you make that book into three movies? My school did the stage musical when I was a kid and there’s barely enough in the book for that, where everything gets sung and takes twice as long.

  99. 99
    danah gaz says:

    w00t. I’m planning a trip to Buenos Aires.

    Vacation/Medical Tourism – I’m dropping about 20k to get my skull shaped the way I’ve wanted. (Long boilerplate plastic surgery apologist rant follows) Because I’m a vain bitch, and because I’d like to comfortably go out without makeup, and because without it, I’m most comfortable blurring gender binaries, but this isn’t always appropriate, particularly professionally. It tends to confuse people.

    For instance, me – wearing my nerdy “boy” glasses (because they’re more comfy, esp when tinkering with tiny netbook screws, which I had just been doing).

    I can pass as female when I want to, but it’d be nice if it came easier and didn’t take 2hrs in the morning, or leave me with the feeling (real or imagined) that I’m getting “clocked” all the time in public. Say what you want about plastic surgery. I’m not above it. =) In any case, it gives me an excuse to take an extended trip to Argentina. Here it’d ten times as costly, and the doctors aren’t as good for this kind of thing.

  100. 100
    lol says:

    @AA+ Bonds:

    They’re creating new material to fill in the stuff that happens “off-screen” in the books, so to speak. Primarily, the stuff that leads into LOTR.

  101. 101

    @AA+ Bonds: Flashback, for one. There is a ton of backstory in how all those dwarves end up with Gandalf at Bag End. Tolkien expanded on quite a bit of it in other writings, and Jackson is using some of it.

  102. 102
    PanurgeATL says:


    What I wanna know is how hipsters became “nostalgists”–or more accurately why the hipsters-as-“nostalgists” thing has stuck around for so long. It’s become The Thing Pop Culture Can’t Get Rid Of, like I knew it would when I was 14.

  103. 103
    dommyluc says:

    I don’t know what the hell you people are doing to your TVs, but my 47″ LG LED and Sony Blu-ray look astonishing. Do you have the smart motion controls turned on? If so, turn them down to a minimum or shut them off altogether. The motion control problems of an LCD TV are overstated, unless you have a TV over 32″ with a refresh rate of 60hz, and you shouldn’t buy a TV over 32″ without a rate of at least 120hz. I had people over the other day to watch the Blu-ray version of “Prometheus”. Stunning. They were amazed, and there was no “soap opera effect” (which drives me crazy, too, BTW, when I see it in demos at electronics stores) and I can’t recall having any serious motion blur even with the motion controls turned off. Read your manuals, people! And nearly every audio/video magazine, when reviewing LCD TVs, shuts the motion controls off. If you must, turn it on only during sporting events but I have not noticed any motion problems while watching that either. Of course, then it wouldn’t make any difference because live broadcast sporting events look like video anyway and not film. Oh, and I agree with the previous commentor who stated if you are going to be fixated by the waterfall in the background of a scene from “The Hobbit”, you smoked too much weed before you entered the theater.

  104. 104
    Laertes says:

    @Thomas F:

    Moore does a film about corporate welfare, and takes corporate welfare to get it done? And I’m supposed to think that that’s anything besides awesome?

    Are you out of your mind?

    Go ahead. Try and explain it, and don’t skip any steps. You’re going to find that the idea falls apart under a moment’s examination.

  105. 105
    Anne Laurie says:


    I’ve never seen a 3D movie of any flavor, and now I’m worried.

    If you’ve ever had a problem with motion sickness, take your anti-nausea drug of choice before you go. The eye-to-brain-to-eye stutter that most people don’t notice is the same sort of problem that makes some of us queasy on cars (trains / planes / high-rise elevators / ferris wheels).

    I mentioned Bonine to someone else above, and the brand name is sold OTC as a fast-acting chewable, if you want to have some on hand for your friends.

  106. 106
    Suffern ACE says:

    @PanurgeATL: it changes. I say this as the guy who skipped the 70s retro hipsterdom of the early 90s, but went in for the Martini-Cigar-Jump Jive-Lounge hipsterdom of the mid nineties and then the roots rock alt country hipsterdom of the late 1990s. And then I stopped. It is nostalgia, but its not always the same and it moves rather quickly onto the next old thing.

  107. 107
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Triassic Sands: Haven’t seen it yet — that was the HuffPo reviewer’s recommendation. When I do see it, it’ll probably be in 2D, not least because I have the same reservations as you do about Peter Jackson’s ability to ‘overtell’ a story.

  108. 108
    Tripod says:

    If this was filmed and projected on a high frame rate film system like Showscan or Maxivision, these luddite cinefapping fuckheads would be publicly fellating Jackson, regardless of how it looked.

    I’ve only gotten the occasional 3D nausea, which suggests to me lousy projection was the root cause. You might want to try another exhibitor before writing it off.

    Remember, if a theater does a lousy presentation, they’re doing the same half-assed job cleaning the snack bar.

  109. 109
    YellowJournalism says:


    I work on silent film restoration projects,

    So jealous of you right now.

  110. 110
    SectionH says:

    @Anne Laurie: I’m fine on the motion-sickness thing, I won’t worry on that score. Thanks. I’ll just have to hope the theater has its act together on the projection. My friend says they’re happy to see it as PJ wants ppl to. They go to lotsa movies, so I figure they’ll cope.

    I guess my attitude to 3 Hobbit films is, at least if PJ indulges his propensity for OTTness (those endless battle scenes… I’m already dreading the Battle of Five Armies), he won’t have to leave out other hugely more important things to fit the running time.

  111. 111
    Steeplejack says:


    Do you have the smart motion controls turned on? If so, turn them down to a minimum or shut them off altogether.


    Late to the thread, but this is what makes movies–especially old black-and-white ones–look too “real” or video-y. Turn off that smart-motion stuff. You don’t need it unless you’re playing a video game on your TV.

  112. 112
    Jason says:

    @Triassic Sands

    with the added clarity of 48fps, I have a hard time believing some scenes won’t come close to falling apart.

    This is a feature, not a bug, as far as I’m concerned. Anything that challenges the overreliance on CGI action sequences in today’s Hollywood I consider a good thing.

  113. 113
    Jason says:

    @Baud: ETA: Speaking of, where are the porn shops on this technology?

    Porn already has huge problems with Hi-Def. With VHS, you can cake on the makeup on a two dollar whore and hide the track marks and implant scars well enough, but when it comes to Hi-Def, every imperfection jumps out at you. You can just imagine the challenges that 48 FPS creates.

  114. 114
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    @Baud: And we have the winner of the best comment on the Internet for this 24 hour period.

  115. 115
    nemesis says:

    I dont know…seems like a lot of nashing of teeth over very little.

    I enjoy listening to familiar music on high quality sound systems where I notice subtle nuances in the music, or gigantic glaring sound abnormalities not heard with poorer quality systems, and it makes me happy. I love to find a hidden sound in a recording I have previously missed.

    That said, it would be allsome to view film is such detail, although its understandable that upon the initial viewing the increased resolution may be distracting. Id love to be able to watch older, more familiar films in a 48 fps format. I love eye and ear candy.

  116. 116
    Sasha says:

    Because, as it turns out, it’s possible for an image to look so clear that it no longer looks real. Or so real that it takes you out of the film. As in: that film set looks like … a film set.

    Anyone who’s been to a Best Buy recently and watched THE AVENGERS playing on a 240Hz HDTV knows exactly what he’s talking about.

  117. 117
    JoeShabadoo says:

    @PanurgeATL: Hipsters didn’t become nostalgists. I say old people and hipsters. Old people actually feel nostalgia because they remember these things. Hipsters on the other hand go after things that cause nostalgia without have any nostalgia for it themselves.

  118. 118
    Diana Vernon says:

    @Darkrose: I won’t be seeing this Hobbit ‘trilogy’.

    There is nothing that justifies puffing out the story in the Hobbit to three movies of nearly 2 hours each.

    Like Bilbo once said to Gandalf: I feel thin. Sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.

Comments are closed.