Original Programming

Will “The Hobbit” Look Amazing…or Like a Soap Opera?

A coworker sent me a link to a Huffington Post article about the new 48 frames-per-second technology making its debut in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. For those of you who may not know, 24 frames-per-second has been the standard frame rate since the dawn of cinema. So this is really a pretty radical step. But judging from audiences’ reactions, it might be as short lived as the New Coke (of course, I was wrong about smart phones catching on, too, so there you go).

The problem with adding frames is that it makes the image seem much more fluid…which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Video cameras—at least until the advent of variable frame rate HD—shot almost exclusively at 30 frames, and we all know what the “video look” is. It’s, well, video-like. Good for soap operas, live sporting events, and YouTubevideos. But movies? Not so much.

When you add frames—especially when you double them—you’re really tampering with that strobing, filmic look we’ve all come to equate with cinema. “Too clear” is how some people are describing the 48 FPS experience.

But hey, you have to admire Peter Jackson for pushing the envelope. Or being an unfortunate guinea pig—one of the two.