April 13, 2011

"[A] technical shift in moviemaking that's as significant as 3D, color, or even sound."

What is it?
Peter Jackson's plans to shoot "The Hobbit" at 48 frames per second -- twice the current rate...

James Cameron, who has verbally committed to shooting his "Avatar" prequels at 48p or higher, [said]  "If the 3D puts you into the picture... the higher frame rate takes the glass out of the window."

50 comments:

edutcher said...

Be nice if they posted a sample so we knew what we were going to be seeing.

Freeman Hunt said...

Bleh! Bleh! Gag!

No way.

Unless you want movies to start looking like home videos.

Freeman Hunt said...

Your average home video camera shoots at 30 fps. Your average movie is shot at 24 fps.

Freeman Hunt said...

Will a higher frame rate look more like real life? Yes. Does real life look aesthetically better than movies? No.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

Hollywood discovers reality? That would be a first.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jdonigan said...

You've never seen Doug Trumbull's ShowScan at 60fps.

It was "3D" in your head without the glasses.

Freeman Hunt said...

3D is terrible.

I guess this frame rate change is then as significant as 3D.

Calling it as significant as color or sound is absurd hyperbole.

Julius said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julius said...

Dudes, "p" is for the number of pixels in the vertical direction. You realize how fucking long it took to get Grandma & Grandpa to understand that, along with the underlying concept of digital screen resolution? Years! Damn fucking years!

Now you are going to reinterpret "p" as the frame rate? FUCK YOU! FUUUUCK YOU! You think that little letter can continuously carry the burden of whatever the trend of the moment in Hollywoodland is??? I think not! In fact, I think whoever did this is fucking cruel.

And its brother rho? That poor Greek lad has been the workhorse of Western Civilization ever since Constantine thrust it, along with a sadly unready Chi, upon the shields of his men on the night before the big shindig at the Milvian Bridge.

Give p a break. Retire rho. Let Jesus have his Chi and otherwise leave it be...

Y'all really ought to be more sensitive to what y'er doing to these letters.

Lem said...

Next stop 48p porn.

The Grand Inquisitor said...

I hate high refresh. It's just not cinematic. My brain can blur the 24 hertz great, but at a higher rate, it just looks wrong.

It's OK that movies are not exactly like reality.

Focus on scenes and acting, rather than this crap, IMO. I think Peter Jackson already will bring what I want in a movie (and Cameron usually won't).

Coketown said...

3D was a huge leap in the wrong direction, and this higher frame-rate thing is just silly. Haven't they been experimenting with frame-rates since the advent of moving pictures? Didn't they figure out that 24 fps is optimal for fluid motion?

This bullcrap, along with 3D, will go the way of 4:1 aspect ratios and, uh, Fantasound...and smell-o-vision. Stupid filmmakers. They sucker us into cooing like babies over some new novelty instead of noticing that, holy shit, that script was awful. And who are those actors? What the heeeeeell?

Maguro said...

Probably closer to 3D than color or sound.

Fred said...

If I understand correctly, this would be a noticeable improvement for 3-D movies, which are effectively 12fps for each eye, about half of the necessary rate to perceive smooth motion. Kudos to Jackson.

Freeman Hunt said...

Higher frame rates make for more fluid motion. Think Monday Night Football on HDTV. It gives the footage and ultra-realistic look.

For sports, great. For most movies, no. (I can see a place for this in certain movies, say something that's supposed to look like news or documentary footage or certain actual documentaries.)

shoutingthomas said...

It's all filler while we await the commercial debut of the Holodeck.

These steps toward higher resolution are important, no doubt.

But, nobody's really going to be happy until a full immersion 3D environment that puts the user in the middle of the action (and also makes the user part of the action) become a commercial reality.

It's not that far off. Maybe a decade.

Then the real struggle will begin, which is to create a story paradigm that correctly exploits the possibilities of the 3D immersion environment.

fivewheels said...

It's just like color in that there is a powerful Luddite strain that will choose to argue that what was once merely an unavoidable technical limitation is in fact a virtue unto itself.

That argument is likely (I won't say certain) to fade away in the same way.

ET1492 said...

I think shooting and projecting in higher frame rates could improve the theater experience if it fixes one problem I've noticed with digitally projected films.

When I saw episodes I, II and III of Star Wars digitally projected in a theater, spaceships flying through the foreground and background seemed to move smoothly across the screen, but ships flying through the middle-ground seemed to stutter.

I have since noticed the same kind of motion-stutter in digitally projected action movies.

I've noticed the problem on occasion while playing Blu-ray films on my 1080p TV with a 120hz refresh rate and a special mode that interpolates frames between frames to smooth out the motion.

I keep that turned off to play at the sources' native frame rates. It makes things look really weird during shaky-cam footage.

But I don't mind the "video look" and high frame rate video can be very immersive. I think good lighting has a bigger effect on the quality of the final product than frame rate and most video, (not counting super-high-tech and high budget movies like Star Wars and Avatar), is shot on the cheap and without "cinematic" lighting.

Freeman Hunt said...

It's just like color in that there is a powerful Luddite strain that will choose to argue that what was once merely an unavoidable technical limitation is in fact a virtue unto itself.

That argument is likely (I won't say certain) to fade away in the same way.


Home video cameras have been around for over twenty years.

Heard a lot of people at the movies saying, "I wish this had that better cinematic feel of our 1997 Thanksgiving video?"

Freeman Hunt said...

Why 48 and not 60? Is that so they can take out every other frame when people complain that it looks like video?

fivewheels said...

Heard a lot of people at the movies saying, "I wish this had that better cinematic feel of our 1997 Thanksgiving video?"

If the only difference between a $200 Sony and a $120,000 Panaflex was the frame rate, that might be a good question...

Andrew said...

Huge nerd and really liked what PJ did with LoTR so I trust him to treat The Hobbit in a similar manner.

The Grand Inquisitor said...

I agree that Peter Jackson has much more credibility than John Cameron on how to make a great movie.

Cameron just knows how to make money with movies that are marketed for idiots.

I think high refresh rate displays look very odd, and I don't think this is a luddite concern of mine, but I am willing to allow that high refresh rate screens just need the right kind of movie to shine.

Synova said...

I'm looking forward to the Hobbit. I don't care about how many frames per second.

3D is a stupid bust. Too many people get motion sick from it.

HD is a problem, I think. Everyone is all "Oooo! Oooo!" but when you're walking past the big flat screens at Costco and can see the pores in Spock's nose and all you can think of Kirk is OMG his FACE!

HD is a problem.

The movie makers think that can get more people to go to movies by making them cost more.

As amazingly stupid as that sounds, that's exactly what they're doing.

AJ Lynch said...

Avatar had such a great script & plot! [not] I felt like I was watching a re-make of Wounded Knee and Brando was going to make a cameo / I assume he is pretty blue by now.

Revenant said...

Interesting idea. I'll be curious to see how well it pans out.

Revenant said...

3D is a stupid bust. Too many people get motion sick from it.

I saw the new Tron movie in 3d and was left thinking "so what?".

I liked the movie, but I couldn't have cared less about the 3d aspect.

Steve Koch said...

3D is better for sports, action movies, cartoons, travelogues, interactive games, instructional videos, science/education. 3D will be huge and will dominate over 2D because 3D has more possibilities both in terms of depicting real life and in creating imaginary new worlds.

Once upon a time movies were just in black and white and the best directors went to great trouble to explore the visual artistic possibilities of black and white. Nowadays you cannot get a kid (and many adults) to watch black and white anything.

3D will do the same thing to 2D. There will be a new Ted Turner (probably working with James Cameron) to convert 2D movies to 3D.

The obvious use of 48 frames per second is to interleave two 24 frames per second streams (one for the left eye and one for the right eye).

rastajenk said...

My right eye doesn't focus on anything at all. Can I dial up one stream or dial the other down? Will I get headaches or vertigo?

ricpic said...

Then the real struggle will begin, which is to create a story paradigm that correctly exploits the possibilities of the 3D immersion environment.

Yes. How luddite of me but when all is said and done without a decent story paradigm all this technological razzmatazz amounts to bupkis.

Paco Wové said...

"3D is better for sports, action movies, cartoons, travelogues, interactive games, instructional videos, science/education."

Oh, bullshit. (Hey, this 'blind assertion without supporting arguments' stuff is pretty neat!)

Erik said...

Anyone who has played enough video games on the PC knows that high frame rate is in some ways more important than resolution. Especially in action scenes, it is sometimes astonishing how higher frame rates make the action seem smooth and natural. Which is why--back before near universal availability of 1080p--a lot of sports coverage was offered in 1080i, which offered faster refresh in exchange for loss of vertical resolution. I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

I will say this: I will never go to a 3D movie. The technology is lousy. It gives me a headache and doesn't really add to the quality of the experience.

Tibore said...

"Freeman Hunt said...
Your average home video camera shoots at 30 fps. Your average movie is shot at 24 fps.

4/13/11 9:42 PM
Freeman Hunt said...
Will a higher frame rate look more like real life? Yes. Does real life look aesthetically better than movies? No. "


Yes, THIS. There's a reason that 24Hz sync was introduced to TV's, and it's precisely because of the "live video" feel of faster frame rates making movies suddenly not feel like movies.

Add in CGI, and we might suddenly discover that the "Uncanny Valley" extends past human facsimilies to simply any faked representation in a film. We're already seeing that in the unreal feel of some CGI of aircraft; push that feeling with realtime video feel from increased framerates, and suspension of disbelief will suddenly go out the window just from the instinctive rejection alone.

Freeman's got it right: This is a bad idea.

cubanbob said...

3d is largely a waste. It's eyestrain for the most part for two simple reasons: first unless you are sitting near dead center all the way in the rear of the theater it will always look weird since the film isn't shot and displayed in 180 degree view. So the further from center you are positioned the worse. Second you eyes track objects as they approach you so the when presented with the illusion of something coming towards you that actually isn't the eyes track something that really is not coming towards you which is off putting to many people. And the glasses themselves are annoying especially if the viewer needs glasses to see. 48 frames will help a bit but what is lost is that movies are just moving picture stories. If the story stinks all the tech isn't going to save a bad story. A really good story will work just fine in basic 2d, heck even in black and white.

Freeman Hunt said...

A digression:

Nowadays you cannot get a kid (and many adults) to watch black and white anything.

My boys love Cars and Toy Story 3 just as much as any other kids. But they also love Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin. We've started loaning out our DVDs of black and white silent comedies to other people, and their kids love them and keep asking for more.

The only kids who won't watch black and white are kids who've never been introduced to it with a film they would like.

And as for adults, what adult won't watch black and white? I'm guessing it's the same adults who won't watch foreign films with subtitles ("I don't go to no movie to read!") and bought all their DVDs in pan and scan before the advent of the widescreen television because they didn't like the little black bars. The same people who will sit there and watch an entire movie with the image stretched if the aspect ratio doesn't match their screen because they can't be bothered to fix it.

In other words, philistines.

damikesc said...

I don't get the need to use "p" for frames per second when frames per second ("fps") is more informative.

And won't higher FPS trigger motion sickness as some games do?

Sofa King said...

A couple of nits to pick:

Dudes, "p" is for the number of pixels in the vertical direction. You realize how fucking long it took to get Grandma & Grandpa to understand that, along with the underlying concept of digital screen resolution? Years! Damn fucking years!

Sorry, no, "p" stands for "progressive." As in, your 720p television can display a 720-pixel tall progressive video stream. Progressive video is a complete frame every frame, as opposed to interleaved video (i.e., 1080i), where only every other line is drawn each frame.

Why 48 and not 60?

The obvious reason is to provide a "normal" 24 fps in both eyes while watching in 3D.

Yes, THIS. There's a reason that 24Hz sync was introduced to TV's, and it's precisely because of the "live video" feel of faster frame rates making movies suddenly not feel like movies.

That's wrong too. The *actual* reason was to remove the need to telecine the video. If the film source was, say 30 fps, then watching it on your 60 fps television would be easy: just show each film frame for two TV frames. But since the film is at 24 fps, it's not so easy: you have to double some and then *triple* others, leading to a noticable stuttering effect. Introducing a television mode with 24 fps removes the need to do this.

MrBuddwing said...

Second you eyes track objects as they approach you so the when presented with the illusion of something coming towards you that actually isn't the eyes track something that really is not coming towards you which is off putting to many people.

Not only that - your eyes remain focused on the screen while they're converging on the "approaching" object, which is not how your eyes work in real life. That gets tiring.

WV: minesa.

Sofa King said...

Will a higher frame rate look more like real life? Yes. Does real life look aesthetically better than movies? No.

Interesting experiment: put a 24 Hz stoboscope over your eyes. See if real life looks better.

Freeman Hunt said...

The obvious reason is to provide a "normal" 24 fps in both eyes while watching in 3D.

That's it? The point of this is just to make 3D look normal? The quote in the title of this post is even sillier in that case.

They must have thought that "We're going to 48fps to make the 3D look less choppy and more like a regular movie," wouldn't have made for a very exciting press release.

E.M. Davis said...

Nowadays you cannot get a kid (and many adults) to watch black and white anything.

My 7 year-old son sat down and watched The General with me. He was transfixed.

E.M. Davis said...

The obvious reason is to provide a "normal" 24 fps in both eyes while watching in 3D.

Yep. Because 3D looks glitchy in its current form.

I stumbled on a Harry Potter film (last one before Deathly Hallows I) showing on a higher-frame rate Blu-Ray HD combo in Best Buy last year.

It looked like a prom video. A very slickly produced Prom video, but video nonetheless.

Sofa King said...

I stumbled on a Harry Potter film (last one before Deathly Hallows I) showing on a higher-frame rate Blu-Ray HD combo in Best Buy last year.

It looked like a prom video. A very slickly produced Prom video, but video nonetheless.

This doesn't really make sense. Whatever the frame rate of the device you were watching it on, the frame rate of the source material was still 24 fps (assuming Harry Potter was actually filmed on film of course.)

Smilin' Jack said...

James Cameron, who has verbally committed to shooting his "Avatar" prequels at 48p or higher...

So everyone can see more clearly what crappy movies they are.

Clyde said...

jdonigan made the comment I would have made; why fool with going up to 48 fps if the sweet spot is at 60 fps? I first read about Showscan in Ken Grimwood's 1986 novel Replay.

Steve Koch said...

3D Goggles are probably going to produce a better experience than watching a screen. 3D goggles will also permit you to change the scene you are viewing by including the info of how your head and eyes and body are moving to look at the virtual reality displayed by the goggles.

For an real world example of why 3D is better than 2D for sports, try catching a football or frisbee with one eye closed (to produce a 2D image). It is extremely difficult because you've lost depth perception. Depth perception is critical in participatory viewing.

It is easy to construct examples of the superiority of 3D compared to 2D in other areas such as video gaming, instruction, anything where you are creating a virtual reality mimicking some kind of world that has 3 dimensions.

One example showing that color movies are far more attractive to most people than black and white movies is that Ted Turner made bazillions of bucks colorizing movies.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

There was some experimentation before 24fps was settled on for film. The original Edison was 48fps if I recall, and it was downgraded to 24fps to save on film costs and simplify projectors while still being good enough in image quality. In other words, the 24fps was a compromise tied to the physical media, even though the media it was tied to is on its last legs.

The TV standard was created to comply with the film standard, and the film standard was created as a result of the physical media.

I'd guess "simulator sickness" would be reduced by higher frame rates.

Erik said...

As Ernst said above, a lot of our current standards are really there because of technological limitations that no longer exist. There is nothing magical about 24 frames per second. While adjusting to 48 frames might take people some time, unlike 3D technology, it's not going to make you sick. Nor does it look like video (which often sacrifices depth-of-field). People said much the same thing about digital process for movies ten years ago, but no one seriously makes that argument now.

Steve Koch said...

We experience the world in 3D and it does not make us sick. My guess is that if you use goggles rather than look at a screen, the sickness problems go away.