‘Hobbit’: Peter Jackson has ‘absolute belief’ in 48-frame format

Nov. 27, 2012 | 12:56 p.m.

When “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” opens in theaters Dec. 14, audiences will have the option of viewing the film in  a revolutionary 48 frames per second format — a new projection technique that’s designed to offer viewers a hyper-realistic “immersive” experience, according to director Peter Jackson.

But even he acknowledged that it will probably take a bit for moviegoers to become comfortable with the new technology.

Jackson spoke with Hero Complex contributor John Horn at Comic-Con International in July, just before announcing that the two-film adaptation of “The Hobbit” would become a trilogy. Watch the first part of their conversation above, and look for subsequent installments in the coming days.

PHOTOS: 60 images from ‘The Hobbit’

In the interview, the filmmaker revealed how he selected the footage that was unveiled at the pop culture expo, describing those scenes as “more character based”  while still speaking to the feeling of the story and the tone of the film. He also talked about the decision to screen the early footage at 24 frames per second rather than the new 48 frames per second rate he employed for the shoot.

Jackson had screened 10 minutes of the movie at 48 frames per second in April at the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas to mixed reviews.

Jackson said he was frustrated by the reaction but remains a fan of the format, though he acknowledged, “48 frames per second is something you have to get used to. I’ve got absolute belief and faith in 48 frames … it’s something that could have ramifications for the entire industry. ‘The Hobbit’ really is the test of that.”

As for what moviegoers can expect from the first of the three films adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved tale, Jackson said, “‘I’ve always tried to make movies that pull the audience out of their seats. … I want audiences to be transported.”

– Gina McIntyre

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12 Responses to ‘Hobbit’: Peter Jackson has ‘absolute belief’ in 48-frame format

  1. @maceodkat says:

    i'm torn, cause i want to see the IMAX trailer for the new Trek, but I must watch this in glorious 48fps… bollocks.

  2. jerry says:

    This will not turn out well. 48 fps will make it look like the soap opera effect that you get when you turn up the refresh rate on lcd tvs. It’s weird, and it looks artificial. Jackson is making a mistake.

  3. Guest says:

    Awkwardly high table….

    • Agarina says:

      Peter looks so "tiny" behind that table. LOL!
      Anyways, I love Peter Jackson and I support his effort with the 48FPS whatsoeva. :)

  4. James Van Hise says:

    I don't know why Peter Jackson thinks this is a new idea. In 1985 Douglas Trumbull developed a 60 fps film process he called Showscan. He shot a 30 minute test film which he screened for studios and other test audiences. I attended one of those screenings and saw what for all the world looked like a a very well shot 1950s TV show. Trumbull could not interest any studio in financing a feature in this process, nor could Trumbull raise the money anywhere else. He wound up only able to sell films made this way to theme parks, like Universal Studios Back To The Future ride. It is film which looks like video and destroys the suspension of disbelief needed for a movie to work. A feature film shot in this process will look like a 3 hour behind the scenes video. What the studio is also going to run into are audiences going to see this not realizing how different it will look and they'll get mad, walk out and demand their money back. This "test" of a 48 fps feature has disaster written all over it and the studio is not making it clear to audiences in any way that there is a big difference between the normal 24 fps version and the 48 fps version as none of the 48 fps footage has been put into any advertisement. The difference in the two processes is as jarring as the difference between seeing the same film in color or in black and white. Audiences need to be properly informed in order to make an informed decision.

    • Frabjous says:

      It’s just a faster frame rate. That’s all. all the means is that it will look more life-like. I cannot understand this bizarre reaction.

    • evilknick says:

      Jackson discovered the illusion of reality that high FPS gives while working on the King Kong 3D amusement park ride. That's exactly where he discovered he wanted to see that illusion in a real movie.

      Amusement parks use that FPS because you can fool people into thinking a projected image is real with that FPS, not because it's some cheap alternative. Jackson wants this to look like a window into another world, not a widescreen cinematic film. It's in a way an amusement park ride, or virtual reality.

  5. Rick says:

    It will certainly make film look more like you're looking out of a window rather than cinema. 24 frames/sec imparts a certain mood that we have gotten used to in terms of entertainment.
    It will be pretty cool for those who aren't luddites.

  6. Moviedude says:

    48 FPS will never look right for the same reason showscan's 60 FPS never looked right. Higher speed cameras do not capture blurs that happen during motion that the brain expects to see. When things speed up we know how much it should blur. Move your hand past your face and that's what the brain expects. When you shoot at high speeds these kinds of blurs aren't captured because of the short shutter times. Cutting the frame rate in half in post won't un-do this situation, because those frames also are missing the blurs that would have been captured with longer shutter speeds. The mistake of logic is believing in the idea of a "natural blur" from increasing the fidelity by capturing more frames. But you are not capturing movement. You are instead taking more photos in the same time. You get the opposite, and worse problem, no or less blurs which the brain expects, and more of a stroboscopic or "cheap" look which seems to happen at about 30fps, the look we associate with soap operas. If you look at a Buster Keaton silent movie which is shot at 18FPS roughly, the motion looks oddly more believable than 30FPS typically.

  7. @nza1 says:

    I saw The Hobbit in HFR 3D. It was different to what I was used to….but then it is meant to be different…or why bother. I enjoyed the movie. I like 3D. In any scenes the HFR produced a very 'real' feel to the action. I like it. I hope more film makers use it.

  8. SKull says:

    I hadn`t heard about this 48fps nonsense before seeing the film and literally didn`t notice a thing. Great movie and fortunately almost no Elijah Wood. All this controversy is just some weird media bandwagon people should ignore completely.

  9. John Alexander says:

    I saw this film in 48fps. This is a very important advancement in movie creation/projection. This makes a movie something that cannot be easily re-experienced in a home setting. It also reveals a wealth of detail that can be ogled over and over. When I was in my seat, after half-hour or so, I left this world and was THERE in Middle-Earth. After I left, I wanted to go back. I went in open to the experience, and I let it take me away. That's what Peter Jackson intended all along.

    I believe that not only viewers, but film-makers will adjust to the change. Since there is so much to pay attention to, keeping the audiences attention where it belongs in order for them to become engrossed in the story will be a challenge. Lighting may need to be addressed separately in the 48 fps versions.

    Did I notice little issues? Yes. There were visible problems with make-up and sets. Gandalf had a stray hair that was a distraction during a very important speech. These things were few and can be rectified in post in the future. This has simply upped the bar for the movie artists, because their work will finally be seen in all it's glory.

    Does observing these problems kill the story? Maybe, but no. Remember A Wizard of Oz? You could tell that the scarecrow was wearing make-up, and everything else was a costume. The sets appeared to be created for plays. Does any of this detract from the story or the production in a material way? If it does, it's taken a long time to come to light.

    Don't shoot down this amazing advancement in theater technology because of the first attempt, which was is actually quite grand. A movie for me was finally an experience that was akin to an attraction (like Micheal Jackson's EO that used to be at Disney, and rightfully so.

    This is the future of film, and not working it in slowly but surely is a mistake. I don't know if its the same magnitude as color, but it's certainly the same magnitude as going from standard TV to HD. Who back then said this cheapened and took away from television shows?

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