Shooting film at 24 frames per second is soooo 20th century. Also, it makes it smell bad. Okay, so that’s not exactly the sentiment expressed by Peter Jackson as he hits Facebook to explain the big change on the set of The Hobbit. But it would seem that the director has caught a touch of James Cameron Fever* as he responds to reports about his use of a new filming speed and his hopes that it’ll enhance our viewing pleasure.
Frankly, we’re just happy to see that things seem to be going well on the production in New Zealand, which could certainly use a smooth shoot after all the problems getting to this point. But while some of the technical details about frame rates and the history of cinema may be slightly dry, there’s no denying Jackson’s passion. We’ve excerpted just a little of what he has to say…
“We are indeed shooting at the higher frame rate. The key thing to understand is that this process requires both shooting and projecting at 48 fps, rather than the usual 24 fps (films have been shot at 24 frames per second since the late 1920's). So the result looks like normal speed, but the image has hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness. Looking at 24 frames every second may seem ok – and we've all seen thousands of films like this over the last 90 years – but there is often quite a lot of blur in each frame, during fast movements, and if the camera is moving around quickly, the image can judder or ‘strobe.’”
“Shooting and projecting at 48 fps does a lot to get rid of these issues. It looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3D. We've been watching Hobbit tests and dailies at 48 fps now for several months, and we often sit through two hours worth of footage without getting any eyestrain from the 3D. It looks great, and we've actually become used to it now, to the point that other film experiences look a little primitive. I saw a new movie in the cinema on Sunday and I kept getting distracted by the juddery panning and blurring. We're getting spoilt!”
You can check out the longer, full statement over at Jackson’s Facebook page. Can we sum it up in a word? No. A sound? “Woooooaargh!”
Oh, and the director also posted a picture of his video village setup from the set, where he can watch the shots in 3D as they happen. If that’s not the twinkly smile of a boy with a new train set, we don’t know what is.
The two films that make up The Hobbit will be out in December 2012 and 2013. Stay tuned, as PJ has promised video from the set…
*Latin name: Technofutris Kingworldi.