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…