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Peter Jackson Wants to Change the Way You Watch Movies


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#1 Master Fwiffo

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:00 PM

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QUOTE
CinemaCon 2012: Monty Cristo Has Seen (Some of) THE HOBBIT at 48 Frames Per Second
Published at: Apr 24, 2012 3:58:10 PM CDT

?Monty Cristo" reporting in from filthy Las Vegas.



"Do not think I won?t kill you, dwarf?

?We eats it WHOLE!?

?One?of nine?



The instant this morning's Warner Bros presentation ended, the audience erupted in chatter. Almost everyone had just seen something that had never hit their eyes before. Forget 2D versus 3D, this is going to be a hell of a conversation come December (earlier, if they demo it).



Filmmaking at 48 frames per second, whether 3D or not, is going to be massively divisive.



For 80 years, we've been living with the 24fps standard, and people are used to the strobing and motion blur associated with it. It's that hard-to-describe look that we associate with a movie feeling like a movie. It?s a certain resolution and a certain number of still images hitting our eyes each second.



Now that "Digital Cinema" is taking over, the next step beyond resolution (1080p, 2K, 4K, or 8K, or whatever else) is the frame rate frontier. It?s being breached as we speak. With such a focus on 3D, more frames in those films will mean less headaches and blur and so on.



When I saw the HOBBIT trailer at 24fps in December at BNAT, there was something somewhat off. I felt it most directly in the bits that involved fast cutting and motion. My eyes had to do a lot of work to soak in everything they were seeing. Even after seeing it three times, I felt I?d missed things.



48fps makes those moments more fluid and clear, but there's something that people will absolutely hate about this upfront.



It's different, first of all, but the big issue people walked out of the room this morning feeling is that the look of THE HOBBIT is not what they associate with filmic, or movie-like, or at all traditionally cinematic. The effect of watching 1970?s BBC television dramas as compared to US TV from the same era was mentioned by various people around me.



In the opening minutes, I thought to myself "this looks like the TV department when they turn on 120Hz or TruMotion or whatever they call it". At once, it really doesn?t look like that. The smooth motion clarity is similar, but the 120Hz TV setting is the TV inventing visual information to fill in loads of completely nonexistent frames, creating the bulljive garbage you see walking through most TV departments in stores. Again, there is an element that 48fps and TruMotion share (which is where the comparison comes from), but 48 fps does not simply ?look like Korean soap operas? or TruMotion-enhanced TV images. That?s a reductive, sensationalist, utterly bulljive equivocation.



Despite that, loads of exhibitors and attendees echoed that exact thought all around me. The cinematic filter between the action and the audience is dissolved in favor of a more immediate lens on the world of the movie.



The High Frame Rate Effect is something that will take getting used to, and some will absolutely reject it outright. Many will do so pre-emptively. It?s already happening all over Twitter.



To be honest, it kind of terrified me at first. In his pre-recorded intro, Peter Jackson said that the reason we were seeing 10 minutes of content was that "it takes your eyes a little bit to adjust", and that is absolutely the case. The immersive experience was not immediate, but gradual. I felt much more comfortable toward the end of the presentation, but still disconcerted and outside a comfort zone.



The most upfront benefit I felt was in landscape and action sequences, where surprisingly intricate detail was easily absorbed, even in a very, very wide shot. I was drawing in more visual information than my brain was used to processing.



Motion blur was gone completely in fast-moving action scenes and dark environment. In general, 48fps has the ability to be at once crisp and smooth, subtle and bold. It is a maelstrom of contradictions when compared to the loads of filmed content I?ve seen in my life. Others started pronouncing it over immediately upon exiting, but I am not passing that judgment (or any for that matter) yet. I saw ten minutes of unfinished, un-graded, incomplete footage as a cross-section, not a full feature film.



I have major reservations, but at the same time am beyond awed at many elements of what hit my visual cortex. Recalling the sweeping landscape shots they opened with now, I almost feel tears welling, and I can?t explain why. It was overwhelming in the most literal sense. It directly assaults your synapses with twice as much information through your retinas as you have become conditioned to expect from traditional cinema. I did not see the digital seams around creatures like Gollum and the trolls, a major benefit over 24fps. The creatures had a sense of mass in the environment, which was disconcerting in a good way.



I started getting acclimated, and then it cut away again, and again, and again. The scene that really allowed me to relax and get used to it was the scene with Bilbo and Gollum in the cave, the longest segment they showed us. If there had been more contiguous sequences like that, cut together like a full scene (albeit with unfinished color grading and effects), I think the response might have been very different in that room today. The enemy of a radically new presentation like 48fps is the sizzle reel format of cutting. People needed to be given the benefit of their patience not being tried by rapid cutting back and forth from non-contiguous scenes.



My call is that it was a less than ideal way to introduce something that, despite it all, managed to actually show promise in places.



I just had three people in the press suite agree that they did in fact think the Bilbo/Gollum scene worked, no reservations. Those same people said that all the brief clips ?felt? like the 1970 I, CLAUDIUS in HD. They agreed that if they?d seen two or three sequences of that length, they may have been less reflexively averse to it. The most bizarre thing is that I found Jeffrey Wells singing 48fps? praises and guys like Alex Billington slamming it and setting it on fire.



I think anyone making a definitive pronouncement (positive or negative) based on that presentation does not have enough proper representative data. I?m a presentation obsessive when it comes to aspect ratio, resolution, contrast, color grading, and all the nitty gritty. For my part, I?m still holding out. I don?t think I (or anyone) got the right representative look at it. Keep that in mind as you read what I?m sure will be loads of articles calling for 48fps? pre-emptive death.



At once, I am beset with wonder at what the Battle of Five Armies will look like in motion. I wonder at what Smaug will look like in motion. There is so much more to see before all of that, which I assume is going to be in the second movie anyway.



Jackson mentioned something in his intro that I don?t think he was hedging with, about the frame rate of silent pictures being 16-18fps, and how going to 24fps was a big leap in the day. Think of the relative jump: from silent to sound, a few decades pass and they increase the number of frames by 50%?in this case, 80 years pass and they increase the frame rate to 150% more. This is a massive shift in visual clarity, composition, and perception. Like I said, if you thought 2D versus 3D has been fun, this is a quantum jump into another realm of perception, and I expect the debate to be exponentially more heated.



There's so much more that's gone on too, but this is the biggest industry-wide thing that's gone down since I've been here.





For reference, here are some things I saw in the footage itself that weren?t in the existing trailer:



Dwarves crossing mountains, bobbing down a river in barrels, and fighting trolls.

Gandalf in a dungeon, searching for?something. Some other thing is in there with him.

Gandalf showing Elrond and Galadriel a sword that troubles them deeply.

Legolas drawing his bow, and threatening to use it.

Bilbo and Gollum in a cave.

If just for a moment?Saruman.



Bring your best, Talkbackers. What say you?



Mois?s Chiullan
"Monty Cristo"


I'm very curious now to watch some film footage at 48 FPS...

#2 Cheetimus Primal

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:17 PM

THANK GOD!
Every time I see a movie I like I think to myself, "I can't wait to get this on Bluray so it'll look better and I can see everything more clearly."
I welcome this change wholeheartedly.
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#3 Sprocket

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:19 PM

Is that like with those newer HDTVs I see in Best Buy and PC Richards and how the footage has this unnatural looking speed to it that comes and goes depending on the scene?

Because I hate that.
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#4 Cheetimus Primal

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:22 PM

Because you don't own one. When I got my TV it was so odd yet with Bluray movies it was transfixing. It took me a while to get used to it but once I did I was in love.
Of course I adjust the framerate depending on what I'm watching, that only makes sense.

Believe me, watching the right stuff in the comfort of your home is grand. It makes going to the movies a tad lamer.
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#5 ChessPieceFace

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:30 PM

I was subjected to Captain America with that TV setting turned on. It was abominable.

I hope if 48fps does become The Next Big Thing, it looks significantly better than that setting. I assume it will, since that's just a simulation and not actual native 48fps. Definitely won't be seeing The Hobbit to find out, though.

#6 TM2-Megatron

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:35 PM

I hate the motion interpolation feature (known by various brand-specific names) on 120Hz+ HDTVs, and always leave it off for film and television content. The two HDTVs I have are 120Hz and 240Hz, so on both I had to go in and disable it. Maybe a movie filmed natively in 48fps might look different, and I'll certainly give it a chance, but I hate watching a native 24fps movie with the "soap opera effect" since it completely draws me out of the film. It's as if it triggers some subconscious recognition of a sense of artifice in the motion of what's happening on screen, and maybe that's what it is... the thing is only a consumer-tier DSP effect, after all; and how good is that really going to be? The TV has to invent all the new frames based on the existing ones, and you end up with more of those generated frames than true ones. Even if it's almost right, almost isn't enough when it comes to natural motion. Something is either natural, or artificial; and the human brain is pretty good at distinguishing the difference.

If I watched sports, I might turn it on for that (but I don't watch sports, so it's not an issue). But for a film, I like a bit of blur. And I've been subjected to motion interpolation on a regular basis for as long as a month, when I was staying with an aunt and uncle in France, and I never got used to it. Not everyone can get used to that; my mind rejects it.

Edited by TM2-Megatron, 24 April 2012 - 05:38 PM.


#7 mx-01 archon

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:47 PM

Oh good, I'm not the only one who hates that "Soap Opera effect" from the TruMotion feature on new TVs. It just looks unnatural. The effect of 24FPS is so commonplace that it's literally ingrained in my mind as part of the cinematic feeling.

Although I really do wonder how true 48FPS differs. I somehow doubt it looks as blatantly artificial as TruMotion.

#8 DarkeklawGW

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:51 PM

Well this isn't a filter or algarythm... This is more frames being sent to your eyes per second. In other words instead of the tv guessing at what's happening the information will actually be on the screen.
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#9 BlitzwingHaz

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:57 PM

It sounds interesting, like your brain will see it more as real life instead of animation. Eager to see this in motion.


#10 Benbot

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:58 PM

TruMotion or whatever else it is called sucks because it's making up frames to fill in between the real ones. 48fps is the future unlike 3D. It will make old 24fps look as bad as SD.

#11 TM2-Megatron

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:08 PM

QUOTE(Benbot @ Apr 24 2012, 06:58 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It will make old 24fps look as bad as SD.


I doubt it'll ever be quite that extreme. Decades of cinematic history exist in that format and, like the "organic" sound of vinyl I think 24fps film will always have its aficionados and retain some charm. 3-D has its place, too, even if it's not "the future". It seems to be here to stay this time; just not for every film.

Not everything needs to look as if you were looking at it through a picture window, anyway. The 24fps effect can also add a unique quality to something that takes place in very unreal/fantastical/etc. settings, when not giving off a sense of the real world is beneficial. Middle Earth is that kind of setting, of course, lol, but I won't mind seeing The Hobbit at 48fps. In fact, I'll probably try to see it in two different theaters to judge the difference for myself. It shouldn't be that hard to find an older theatre that can't afford 48fps digital equipment.

Edited by TM2-Megatron, 24 April 2012 - 06:09 PM.


#12 Dessl0ck

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:12 PM

I love this feature.. but I have as of yet figured out if my plasma even has that ability.
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#13 CORVUS

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:44 PM

QUOTE(ChessPieceFace @ Apr 24 2012, 06:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Definitely won't be seeing The Hobbit to find out, though.

Why?

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#14 Cheetimus Primal

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:52 PM

So much hate.
*shrugs and goes back to enjoying his TV*
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#15 Robowang

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 08:00 PM

This is all way over my head, but I really wish I had someone here to show me on my big screen what all this means. I always thought soap operas looked like they were filmed differently than regular shows, but I didn't understand why. I thought it was lighting or something. I guess I still don't understand why. All I know is that I can't get things on my big TV to look as nice as they do in the store.

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#16 Cheetimus Primal

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 08:09 PM

True motion tends to make things look like they're moving more fluidly but it's still 2-D so it comes off as just odd. And when the frame rate is already low such as with none bluray movies it looks extra odd when the camera pans side to side as that tends to have a better frame rate than the film itself. If you're not used to it the effect can be jarring.
I expect it's really uncomfortable for those prone to motion sickness but I'm not one of those people so I'm just guessing.
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#17 DarkeklawGW

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 08:33 PM

QUOTE(Robowang @ Apr 24 2012, 09:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This is all way over my head, but I really wish I had someone here to show me on my big screen what all this means. I always thought soap operas looked like they were filmed differently than regular shows, but I didn't understand why. I thought it was lighting or something. I guess I still don't understand why. All I know is that I can't get things on my big TV to look as nice as they do in the store.

Most Soaps aren't filmed on Film anymore they are filmed on video tape or digital because it's a faster turn around to the editing room. That's why the soaps look a clear and crisp as the nightly news while other weekly shows (Like say the office) are shot on film.
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#18 Aberration

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 09:21 PM

I'm not sure if the majority of Blu-rays are giving us more than 24fps. Looking at the specs here:

http://en.wikipedia....-ray_Disc#Video

it looks like the main choices are 1080p/24fps, 1080i/60fps, 720p/60fps, and 720p/24fps. I can't speak for every release out there, but I thought that 1080p is generally the standard. (I remember reading that they specifically released "Red Dwarf: Back to Earth" in 1080i to preserve the framerate though, so it's not unheard of.)

I was reading awhile back that some are actually experimenting with shooting 120fps, and then combining multiple frames to scale back down to 24/48/60fps. I'm actually more curious about the results of all this than I am with almost anything 3D.

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#19 Cybersnark

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 09:53 PM

QUOTE(DarkeklawGW @ Apr 24 2012, 09:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Most Soaps aren't filmed on Film anymore they are filmed on video tape or digital because it's a faster turn around to the editing room.

It's also much, much, much, MUCH cheaper. Filmstock tends to run hundreds of dollars per inch, IIRC.

Edited by Cybersnark, 24 April 2012 - 09:53 PM.


#20 ChessPieceFace

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 10:05 PM

QUOTE(^0^CORVUS^o^ @ Apr 24 2012, 05:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE(ChessPieceFace @ Apr 24 2012, 06:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Definitely won't be seeing The Hobbit to find out, though.

Why?

No interesting reason, just don't care to. Didn't read the book, don't like the whole elves-n-s*** genre, was bored by the LotR movies.



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