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The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema

COW Library : Cinematography : Debra Kaufman : The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
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CreativeCOW presents The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema -- Cinematography Editorial


Santa Monica California USA

©2012 CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.


Any change in the way we watch movies creates a heated debate, from the introduction of sound and color to digital acquisition and stereoscopic 3D. Now, the subject of debate is High Frame Rate cinema and, naturally, the debate is emotional. From watching hundreds, maybe thousands, of movies, we all have an idea of what a movie ought to look like, and for some people, HFR doesn't fit into the picture. Other moviegoers are excited about HFR's potential -- but to fulfill it, filmmakers and technologists have a lot of work ahead of them.



The Hobbit gave us a chance to see a movie projected at 48 fps, and, unless he changes his mind, James Cameron plans to show us Avatar 2 at 60 fps. Others, including Douglas Trumbull, are talking -- and working in -- 120 fps.

Rob Legato, ASC
Rob Legato, ASC on the set of Hugo
It's to be expected that many people who've spent a lifetime watching and making 24 fps movies object to the look, many calling it similar to TV or video. HFR Cinema simply goes against the grain. "I prefer the romanticized version of 24 fps for films," says Rob Legato, ASC. "I come from a generation that saw the difference between film and video because of frame rate. Anything that was 30 fps looked like a PBS documentary and anything in 24 fps looked like a film, which was what I was interested in."

Legato notes that "there is no evidence at the moment that everyone is clamoring to see 48 fps," and opines that 48 fps would be ideal to use for "reality show" sequences in features. "I think there's a place for it," he says. And he also realizes that not everyone has his bias for the look of 24 fps movies.

"Another generation that didn't grow up with that and that sees video games at a high frame rate may become more used to it than I did or not have that negative connotation," he says. "So I don't rule it out. I'll reserve judgment but I'm not a fan of 48 fps for a narrative format."

Douglas Trumbull
Douglas Trumbull
Plenty of film/TV professionals agree with Legato's assessment. But it's also a good idea to hear from people who believe that HFR adds something to the cinema experience. Take Douglas Trumbull, someone who knows a thing or two about High Frame Rate Cinema. When he developed the Showscan Film process in the late 1970s, he added a twist to the 70mm wide screen presentation format: 60 fps. In fact, Trumbull was an advocate of HFR 3D before there was a name for it.

Now, with the debut of The Hobbit from director Peter Jackson, Trumbull -- who is now working on Showscan Digital at 120 fps -- believes he sees the beginning of an exciting new era in filmmaking. "In broad strokes, my guess is that The Hobbit will be received very enthusiastically," he says. "I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that improving frame rate improves all the bad aspects of 3D."

People who have been involved with the technical development of HFR Cinema are more circumspect. "In terms of storytelling, I find it hard to predict how I will react to the HFR and non-HFR versions of The Hobbit," says Michael Karagosian, co-chair of SMPTE's HFR Study Group. [Read more, as Michael Karagosian focuses on 3D, Digital Cinema & HFR] "The visual appearance of HFR should be well known: motion will be observed with an appearance closer to normal eyesight, as opposed to the blur introduced by 24 fps. But that doesn't necessarily equate to a better experience."

Rob Engle, Sony Imageworks
Rob Engle, Sony Imageworks
Rob Engle, a 3D supervisor at Sony Imageworks, notes the advantage of 3D HFR. "Things feel smoother," he says. "There's more of a sense that you're there." At the same time, he notes, every new advance in cinematic technology has trade-offs. "Projectors are limited in terms of the total speed at which they can change the image. When you make the transition from triple to double flash, you increase the appearance of 3D temporal artifacts. A pan doesn't have a problem but if someone runs left to right, they lift off the surface or run into the ground depending on how they're running."

His point -- well taken -- is that the introduction of HFR Cinema may mean that we have yet to discover some of the pitfalls that the new technology creates.

John Galt, Panavision
John Galt, Panavision
Somebody who lived that experience with the long introduction of High Definition is John Galt, now Senior Vice President of Digital Imaging at Panavision. [Read John Galt's look at 2K, 4K and the future of pixels] He's enthused about Trumbull's work on 120 fps. "He sees 60 fps as the low end of the HFR," says Galt. "He's with NHK and the Ultra HD folks, saying that 120 fps is the frame rate. What he's proposing is an extension of what he did 25 years ago with Showscan, except now it's technically possible to do. I always felt Showscan was the most 3D-like images I ever saw. It was like looking through a window into a scene behind the screen."

Siegried Foessel, Fraunhofer
Siegried Foessel, Fraunhofer
The push to 120 fps is also echoed in the research being done at Fraunhofer's Department of Moving Picture Technologies. According to Department head Siegried Foessel, his group has conducted tests with the ARRI Alexa, shooting at 120 fps per eye. The goal was to test ways to down-convert HFR Cinema to lower frame rates -- an issue that filmmakers will face for years to come.

"What we discovered is that if you shoot with 120 fps, it's quite easy to create in parallel 24 and 60 out of the same material," says Foessel. "We also saw that with the higher frame rate you can get more immersive or realistic look."

"You have to differentiate between production and projection frame rate," adds Foessel. "For production, it's good to have 120 fps and then you can derive all the different distribution formats out of this. For projection frame rate, 60 fps is enough. In principal, there isn't a big difference between 60 and 120 fps because the motion blur is so small the human eye cannot really differentiate this high frame rate. It will be different if you have a 4K or 8K screen where you look at a wide angle, then this will be different. But in a regular theatre, 60 fps will be enough."

What everyone agrees on is that 48 fps is just not enough. "You see 2K and HFR every night when you watch TV," Galt says. "Depending on what you watch, it's 60 fields per second. I don't think that this is really going to come of age until you're doing at least 60 fps and you're doing true 4K acquisition and true 4K projection. Then you're going to see a significant difference."

Which brings us to the fact that, parallel to theatrical releases, special venue filmmaking embraces HFR to create immersive experiences. Telenova is working on two 20-minute productions of phantasmagoric fables, for release in fulldome theaters at two locales in China: Mohe in Heilongjiang Province and Changbai in Jilin Province.


Mohe, Heilongjiang Fulldome cinema
Mohe, Heilongjiang Fulldome cinema



...and the Fulldome experience.


Terry Tanner Clark
Terry Tanner Clark
"We plan to merge 8K stereoscopic CGI with 4K 3D video to deliver 8K resolution at 60 fps," says director/producer Barry Clark, who works with writer Terry Tanner Clark. "The productions are designed for presentation in specialized fulldome theatres, equipped with 12 x 4K xenon-powered DLP projectors, to display 8K across half of the 360 degree circumference of the screens."

"We, like Mr. Jackson, will be shooting in deep focus, and we, like him, will welcome the surreal look that this produces," he continues. "We will also welcome the increment in perceived spatial resolution that the faster frame rate affords. By our calculations, the system we plan to deploy will produce an angular resolution of about 82 arcseconds per pixel, which compares favorably with the approximately 78 arcseconds per pixel of a 15/70 IMAX film." He further notes that the "limit of acuity of the average human eye is said to be about 30 arcseconds per pixel, although "there is wide disagreement on the exact figure, just as there is wide disagreement on the temporal resolution of the average human eye."

Barry Clark
Barry Clark & 3D rig
Clark says the 12 x 4K DLPs should deliver a luminance to the eyes of the viewers (after accounting for losses in the passive 3D glasses) of about 2.4 ftL, which is less than half the luminance that is claimed for 3D 15/70 IMAX (5.5 ftL), but not much less than the approx. 3 ftL that 3D digital cinema systems seem to deliver to the eye. "Brightness is a critical factor in big screen 3D presentations, and because of this we are waiting eagerly for the commercial introduction of the laser-powered DLPs, which, in tests, have output up to 75K lumens, compared to the maximum of 35K lumens claimed for the xenon-arc DLPs," he says. "Barco and Christie both have prototype DLPs that employ TI's 4K chips, and Christie tells us that their prototype projector is operating at 60K lumens. They say that, unless the deployment is delayed by safety certifications, they will be able to begin delivering these projectors by mid-2015."

"I know what Peter Jackson means when he says he can achieve a storybook feel by shooting with deep focus at 48 fps," Clark adds. "Deep focus is a plus for 3D since it does not force the audience to attempt to resolve images on the screen that cannot be brought into focus; but our eyes do not see in deep focus. James Cameron, however, believes in using shallow and selective focus in 3D productions, arguing that the viewer's eyes can be directed to the subjects upon which the director wishes them to focus and, if they do that, they will not let their eyes roam around the screen and attempt to resolve elements that cannot be resolved."

Clark admits there will be resistance to changing the theater-going experience. "Steven Poster, ASC [president of the International Camera Guild] said it many years ago, that we have come to enjoy the flickering images we see on a movie screen," he says. "The steady flicker, and the motion judder, somehow make us feel at ease, a feeling that we don't get, for example, when we go to the theatre and see live human beings performing on a stage. But I have no doubt that, with the benefit of accumulated experience, the majority of moviegoers will adjust to the new language of 60 fps, and higher, motion pictures, and will look back on the only 24 fps world in the way we look back on black & white movies at 18 fps: quaint artifacts of another world."


(L-r) IAN McKELLEN as Gandalf and HUGO WEAVING as the Elf Lord Elrond in the fantasy adventure THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), released by Warner Bros. Pictures and MGM. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Not a quaint artifact from another world. Scene from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


I still love seeing old movies...black & white, silent. I don't want to see them all the time, but I'm glad they're there and still available to audiences. I'm not so sure that I see all movies moving to HFR, just as I don't think all movies need to be in stereoscopic 3D. To the argument that all movies should be in 3D because we see in 3D, my response is that stereoscopic 3D in the movie theater is merely an illusion, a simulacrum of human vision. What intrigues me about HFR are the still-unplumbed opportunities to create a variety of looks, or illusions if you prefer, that, to my eye at least, can be immersive and beautiful.

Movie-making trends will go where the money is, and early box office for The Hobbit is record-breaking: $27.3 million in 42 overseas markets and $13 million in U.S./Canada opening night. Granted, that's not all on HFR 3D screens, but my guess is that when the bean-counters do the breakdown, HFR 3D will look even more promising -- especially for studios and exhibitors -- for the future of movie exhibition.






(L-r) IAN McKELLEN as Gandalf and HUGO WEAVING as the Elf Lord Elrond in the fantasy adventure "THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY," a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), released by Warner Bros. Pictures and MGM. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Title image treatment: (L-r) CATE BLANCHETT as Galadriel and IAN McKELLEN as Gandalf in the fantasy adventure "THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY," a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), released by Warner Bros. Pictures and MGM. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

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Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by David Forrester
Doug:

I meant no disservice whatsoever to what you talked about and indeed you put into words, my very thoughts well expressed. I feel exactly the same way - trust me, I know the work involved and the brilliance of the cast and crew. And yes, there was technical advances in set, camera work and so on. In Avatar, there was 4 years of work on CGI which was stunning and damned expensive - although I didn't really go for the violence and story line, the art work was incredible - made you feel like you were in heaven or gives a glimpse of what heaven may look like - so it is welcomed.

My point that I am trying to make is simply this: A good story well told (produced, acted, etc.) wins every time. The story has to be the kingpin. A success cannot be made on technical merit above the story. There is something about 24 fps that still keeps us in the 'movie' mindset - this is a story, a movie my friends, not the real world. We don't want anymore real world for 2-3 hours. I want out of it for a bit. That 24 fps accomplishes it subconsciously. I think this is what I am trying to say.

There is something almost romantic about the jerkiness of a quick pan, the wheels going backwards, the slightly 'strobe' effects of frame advances that reminds your brain - hey this is a movie, fantasy land, a land to dream, to live in your imagination, to escape. Do not believe we are in the real world (unless it is Argo or something). It is after all, a big white wall with pictures on it and sound from all over. When you wake up, you will walk out and be real again - but in the meantime, enjoy the moment.

24 fps does that. A great story captures our hearts. A great story well told as you so aptly stated, wins Oscars and our respect forever
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by David Forrester
A lot of talk on the subject - so will weigh in once again. I think there is a lot of 'pixel peeping' going on.

Why all this technical talk? After all, movies are supposed to be an enjoyable and relaxing experience - something that moves you. Some films have been winners big time - ET, Ben Hur, Star Wars, LOTR, Titanic etc. Was it the technical wizardry? Not really. It was because we were immersed in an incredible story. ET reigned for 15 years. Kids cried and laughed. Adults related to it. In Titanic, we got wet and froze our butts off and rebelled at the arrogance of filthy rich snobs. In Ben-Hur, we got dirt in our teeth during the chariot race - we went for the ride. We cried when Ben saw his restored family again.

Damn it guys, it is the story. There was nothing technically crazy except perhaps 65mm film for Ben-Hur. Hell, even ET was grainy. Who cares?

These things make a story come alive from fake in a way. I know that ET does not exist, but I want to. I know that Ben-Hur did not exist, but I want to ride on that chariot and get even with Messalah. It is a human desire for victory and righteousness. The movies allow me to experience that. Do I want HFR? NO, damn it - it becomes almost too real and as one stated - this is like a BBC broadcast - no thanks. Let me live in fantasy and enjoy it. Let me live my emotions with a good story even if it was done on an iPhone (OK, that is pushing it) - but you know what I mean. Let there be more Steven Spielberg's out there to be discovered with a damn good story well told, well acted and well directed.

The techno stuff could be an excuse for a lack of good story.
@David Forrester
by Douglas Bowker
Funny that this thread comes back to life every now and again. Of course, since this is a technical forum/site it's natural that's where a lot of the talk will gravitate to. In hindsight, it appears the High-Frame rate "wave" never happened at all. I can't recall hearing about ANY other movie using it so far, so I'd say the jury (the buying audiences) has spoken and the verdict is "meh".

I think I need to point out though that although each of the movies you mentioned all had OK, and few had great stories, none would have even registered were it not the heroic and ground-breaking efforts of hundreds of visual effects artists, model makers, set builders and costumers. You do a real disservice to the men and women who have literally poured blood, sweat and tears into films like these to allow us to spend time in another world, era or experience. They allow the story to exist on the screen. Otherwise, you may as well just read the "book" and be done with it.

Each one of those movies, had you cut the budget, even by a quarter, would not have become the iconic films they are today. Star Wars would be nothing but another B-movie space opera of the 60s/70s. LOTR? Just another Dragon Slayer, even if it arguably had the strongest story to start out with. Ben-HUR? You are kidding if you think that it wasn't the spectacle, the literal cast of thousands, and incredibly expensive sets that went along with it that made it what it was/is.

The Titanic? That story had been filmed before many times (like about 10 times before), and I'm sure a few did OK, but not like Cameron's version. Why? Better story? No. It was because you believed you were on it! And you believed you were seeing a real ship, deck-chairs and musicians included, all sliding off it and into real freezing water. All of that was totally cutting edges effects, incredible sets and models not to mention the largest water movie tank ever constructed. In fact, the film was the most expensive ever made at the time. That wasn't the ONLY reason it resonated of course, but an identical script with half the budget and there is no way it would have gone on to be one of the biggest box office sellers of all time.

So absolutely, you have to have a good story, but without the vision, the visuals and everything else, you won't likely have a classic.

Doug Bowker

Motion graphics, video and 3D Animation for the Medical and Technical World
http://www.dbowker3d.com
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Marcus Strong
How about the non-3d 48fps. Could this all just be a bad match of formats, 3D with 48fps?
@The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by John Ayala
It seems like only industry people are fond of this new format. I've heard mostly complaints from the audience, and the people who don't hate it, seem to be indifferent. Industry people are the one's drooling over this format. I hope to god that this doesn't become the norm. Just because the Hobbit made a lot of money at the box office, doesn't make it the standard. I hope that it eventually leads to more of the Dark Knight Rises 70mm/I-Max format. I know it's more expensive, but we're talking about Blockbuster- effect driven movies, not independent drama. I think they can afford it.
+1
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Eddie Justo
I didn't like the whole 48fps thing that was going on, it looked to tv type and was really missing the film touch.

Benefits and advantages of corporate video production
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Douglas Bowker
Everyone here should really read the latest American Cinematographer piece on the Hobbit for the real inside look to this process. For one thing, I think it's valid to ask why such a massive production opted for what were essentially prototype Red One cameras. Seriously? You do a three movie, near "cost no object" series and go with untested technology? And why not use the real "big boys" gear and get Arri cameras?

Page after page you hear members of the production mention how many firmware updates they got during filming ("some daily!") as if that was a good thing! And of course each update had a ripple effect with post work and many other details. So much for making it up as you go along...

My thought throughout the whole article was: Are you kidding? What professional here would think it was a good idea to have constantly moving target for production process? Who here would be OK with having 100 shots in a movie to edit and 45 slightly different ways it was shot? Who here thinks that sounds like a recipe for trouble from day one?

I think Peter Jackson certainly has plenty of talent. And I'm all for innovation and pushing the boundary. But there comes a time when you are just letting the tail wag the dog. I finally saw the 24 fps 2D version this last weekend and damn if it didn't look so much better then the 3D one. Clearer, better depth of field, brighter (way brighter!) and better color balance. No contest. They could have saved so much money on this whole thing, and filmed it on big beautiful 70mm if Jackson wanted to wow people.

Doug Bowker

3D Animation for the Medical and Technical World
http://www.dbowker3d.com
@Douglas Bowker
by Marianna LaFollette
Please read more about the technical aspects, from the stereographers, etc. As explained to me by one these 'stereographers' as he set up his cameras and software carts for a 3D shoot--and I asked the same questions, why the smaller versus the bigger cameras--fyi, he said one advantage of the smaller cameras like the Red that are used for 3D setups is because they are lighter and work better for the camera setup itself (not too heavy) and therefore, they create smoother camera movements for the 3D shot aspect (what is 'gathered' as video footage, for later editing), smoother than what can be obtained if the heavier bigger cameras were used in the same camera setups. Therefore, you get better shot footage with the smaller cameras, as regarding what's needed for the 3D shots. Food-for-thought, in your musings about "And why not use the real "big boys" gear and get Arri cameras"--and so, fyi, it'll be good to research along these lines. Hope this info gives you another line of research, and just a hint of an answer to your musings... Cheers, Marianna (Location Sound)

My community, the world and beyond....
@Marianna LaFollette
by Douglas Bowker
Marianna: Yes, I read the same sort of reasoning in both Cinefex Magazine and American Cinematographer. However, that all sounds more like excuses that don't add up when one compares the two cameras actual output. Take a look at Avatar, essentially the first serious 3D film to come out in the last 4-5 years. And think of that: it's near five years old and I have yet to see a 3D film match it technically. The images are still stunning, and crystal clear nearly all of the time. when you watched it the 3D almost disappeared because it just worked.Like all capture, whether it's recording sound or image, you cannot get anything more than what you start out with.

The Red cameras are just not ready for major productions like The Hobbit, and from what I can tell no other film maker is saying so either. In fact, take a look at the Wiki article and see what major movies have been made with them. (I included the link at the end)The Hobbit is the only big budget movie listed! Seriously? You embark on a project like this one and worry about if it's too heavy? And again, who works with equipment that is getting constantly changed and updated in the middle of a project? I'm a tiny one-man animation shop and I know better than to do that.

I was just watching some of Fellowship of the Ring tonight and it's just not the same with The Hobbit. And granted, I did have fun watching The Hobbit, but I have to say, it didn't inspire me the way the LOTR films did. You can see it in every frame when you compare. The capture itself was just better!

Lets look at an analogous scenario: The last two Dark Knight films, (plus Inception) used 50% or more real 70mm Imax footage for filming, which as we know use massive and difficult to manipulate cameras. But look at how amazing those images are! You could not even bother with what is happening and just marvel at how beautifully composed and lit those shots are. Gorgeous depth of field, incredible details, tone and texture like paintings. In short: Nolan is going for Art.

Maybe it just comes down to the vision and skill of the director. Exactly when does convenience ever even enter into the equation when a film maker is trying to do something great? That really is what falls down here. Something got lost on the way to Greatness, and instead a detour was taken to merely novel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Digital_Cinema_Camera_Company#Notable_work...

Doug Bowker

3D Animation for the Medical and Technical World
http://www.dbowker3d.com
@Douglas Bowker
by Marianna LaFollette
Hmm. Sad to say, the close-mindedness that informs your musings while overlooking facts and expert 3D experience, it seems that you are speaking from a platform of a lack of experience in field production with the various production gear that is being used, the technical crews, their tech experience, and their stories of past productions of how they did them and why--and how they've grown from one setup to the next, pros and cons of using a particular camera setup versus another, comparing different people's shoots (the films), etc., etc.--especially in regards to 3D shoots and the expert camera crews, the tested setups, etc.

I really don't know why you replied back to me, because, I'm not the expert Stereographer. Instead, I was trying to be kind and helpful in getting you some useful information, by suggesting that you go talk to THEM, the 3D Stereographers, the experts in this field, the ones who are working the researched concepts, the equipment, the rigs, as part of your line of continued research to get answers to your questions (which, I now see are quite angry). You will not convince me of your opinion. I have field experience and 3D production knowledge from expert colleagues so I’m set there in my learning and continuing career growth; I loved the Hobbit for alls its full storytelling visual glory. I really don’t care that you hate it, nor do I feel a need to convince you of its qualities and story (that is just really depressing, all the negativity, which is ironic, because the negativity, that’s really the total opposite of the story elements of the Hobbit. The company of Dwarves/positive vs. the orcs/negativity). Nor do I want to get into a running battle here in ‘public’ with you in complaining. I’m too positive and production knowledgeable to go that route with someone I don’t know, and who’s not in my field… for there will always be naysayers to strokes of genius, especially when someone tries something new (3D 48fps) instead of the traditional methods (2D 24fps). I stay away from naysayers, and unfortunately, my first post here to creative cow, again, with an aim to be kind and pass on a line of a helpful info, boy, it’s blown up in my face with your return complaints to me that are based on non-fact and inexperience in field production.

Again, I suggest you follow a line of research with 3D STEREOGRAPHERS and others with working knowledge in the camera fields, to get the answers to your musings (rather just reading general articles, and, especially, Wiki, which is not an expert source at all. People have gotten fired for trying to use Wiki…).

Here’s a suggestion for where you can go to get expert information from 3D Stereographers and others in the field (not me!!!): go visit the annual NAB conference coming up in April, http://www.nabshow.com/. You'll find loads of production/3D experts there visiting from all over the US--and internationally--who will have the expert 3D knowledge that will add to a more informed knowledge base--from the camera/software 3D vendors (the big boys such as Sony, Panasonic, and of course, the Red camera company) to the working camera production professionals and film/video companies and studios (Disney, Dreamworks Animation, Imax, MGM Studios, Nat Geo, Discovery, BBC, etc., etc.,).

There will be all kinds of production people/companies on the exhibit floor, in classes, seminars and networking groups that will take place all week; all kinds of 3D Stereoscopic topics will be discussed. For example, "Creative Master Series (Techniques for all Screens)" http://www.nabshow.com/2013/education/conferences/creative_master_series/,
or even better yet, "Technology Summit on Cinema" where the issue of high frame rate will be discussed, http://www.nabshow.com/2013/education/conferences/technology_summit_cinema.....

One media partner of NAB is http://3Droundabout.com/. And, here we go, here's a recent article from their site, written by a 'Director of Stereography': "Small format cameras for 3D production", ttp://3droundabout.com/2012/12/9006/small-format-cameras-for-stereo-3d-production.html.

So as you can see, there are many website locations to find better information regarding 3D filming, and information that's provided by working camera/production professionals working the 3D field, in additon to the sources you've been using such as Cinefex and Am. Cinem--and it's better to have an open mind and listen and BELIEVE the working professionals about their working knowledge and concepts (which continues to evolve and improve, because after all, 3D is still a new technology, and technology is constantly changing), rather than basically calling them liars and saying that their information and experience are just ‘excuses’… and therefore, you just believe and go with your own ‘feeling’--which has no basis of truth--and accusing the production professionals of making ‘excuses’ for what you perceive are their bad decisions and failings…. just because you don’t like the end results, for yourself.

And, even though you read some info about weight considerations in Cinefex and Am. Cinem., I find it strange that you think 'it all sounds like excuses.' What??? I think it's just your own perception and emotions that informs your opinion and is creating a false sense of the existence of 'excuses', versus the reality of the facts of the technical setups as truly used and tested by the 3D production experts. How can an actual, particular setup that has a consideration of weight, as determined by the 3D working experts in the field doing an actual shot, who are actually using the equipment and creating the shots, seeing how they look with certain shot compositions and camera movements—how can they be wrong and are instead just using an 'excuse' to use the smaller cameras, rather than the more known bigger cameras (traditionally used in the past) that you support (though it sounds like, you haven’t used the Arri big cameras yourself)? No answer needed…

Instead of dealing with the issue of 3D, camera usage, rig setups—and learning more about the technical aspects in order to expand your knowledge and understand better the things involved with 3D production, so that maybe you can better enjoy the 3D films such as the Hobbit--instead, you insult the crews, the filmmakers, by saying that they are only giving ‘excuses’ for decisions that you just don’t agree with—‘excuses’ = laziness--and you put more weight behind your own ‘feeling’ as more true and justified, even after you read from experts in the magazines the issue of weight as a factual consideration, and even after I gave you the firsthand account from a 3D Stereographer about his use of the smaller cameras for better 3D rig and shots. Why overrule facts and information--especially by the 3D experts--in favor of a 'feeling'?. No answer needed…

That said, there really is a sense of 'Loyalty, honor and a willing heart' as part of the professional production field, which is why I love the Hobbit and how it was shot, the used techniques, the story so intensely; I'm working these concepts with my fellow techs and other production crew, producers, etc.-- it's all the same strong, good work ethic and approach, the Mastery of the Craft.

No one who does production (including those in the new technical and storytelling quest for 3D) and no one who follows the path of ‘mastery of the craft’—which strongly exists in professional productions--will ever! EVER make an ‘excuse’ that you suggest—basically, lie! It's a sense of pride, a sense of doing a good job, that no production expert will EVER do a shot in such a shoddy manner that you are suggesting for 3D and the Hobbit--or use inferior equipment for setups and shots that demand quality. Nor will a good, experienced production person give an 'excuse,' a lie, to cover up an inadequacy that doesn't meet high standards—and neither will the Director/filmmaker who has the final say of a shot, will ever allow the crappy footage and sloppy work approach exist.

Liars and lazy people—those who make ‘excuses’-- don’t have business being on a professional production shoot (including 3D)/And, when there’s new equipment such as the 3D rigs, new techniques (3D vs. 2D), and other 3D-related considerations, it takes a strong, confident, experienced individual to make decisions that others are too cowardly to make—i.e., other less confident people are too scared to ‘take a chance’ on doing something different and instead, just plays ‘it’ safe, refusing to try a new style, technique or action, at the same time in denying the validity and credence of ‘playing the edge’ of a new technique such as 3D and the various camera options that could be best for the storytelling job. A true artist, ‘a master of his craft’ will always ‘play the edge’—and will end up being more successful than those who hang back in tradition…

I also suggest, in order to get more answers to your 3D musings and add to your base of knowledge regarding production crew elements and 3D technical aspects for setups, shot decisions, etc. (rather than going on ‘feelings’ and traditional viewing aspects of what you’re used to –24 fps traditional film-look vs. the new 48fps), to get out of your one-man shop of animation and get on some field production crews, do some production freelancing, work with both US and international crews, and you'll get a better idea of really what's going on out there for productions of all types, the different setups and the reasons, etc. etc. And, geez, don't equate size to quality! Everyone in production knows, part of a production success is ALWAYS the people behind the equipment!

btw, according to interviews, Jackson had discussions with Cameron prior to shooting, about 3D, camera and equipment options to use, etc., etc...much technical experiments done, too, so again, choices made were not taken lightly at all. Btw, Cameron bought land near Jackson’s home in Miramar…. Give Jackson and the Hobbit crew a break for doing something new, with new 3D setups, camera usage, new camera techniques (because 3D shots are done differently than 2D), etc. It's those who 'play the edge' who are grow to be the Masters of their craft, and also move 'the craft' itself to better and better realms, to open up the more possibilities of telling a good story in additional different ways as had been told before...

The Hobbit is a genius, inspirational production and storytelling masterpiece and will prove naysayers, they are wrong.

Too bad you can't see that through your feelings cloud your perceptions that are based on non-facts and a lack of 3D production experience, and overall production experience...

My community, the world and beyond....
@Marianna LaFollette
by Douglas Bowker
I didn't mean for you to think I was questioning your own point of view, let alone call into question the integrity of the field of Production, which I am part of and love as well. If anything, it's because I love film-making perhaps more than any other art form that I was expressing a sense of disappointment and frustration. That I stand by, though if you loved The Hobbit and it's presentation it looks I can respect that too. I wasn't looking for a personal or public fight in any way and it's regrettable if it seemed I was.

I didn't hate The Hobbit, not at all. But it kept jarring me out of itself and that kept me from loving it, which I guess I wanted to. And that's what we are all here for right? To discuss process and the results you get with one over the other. It's not personal, even if all of it gets down to personal observation and opinion. My previous response wasn't meant to be a taken personally, only since you mentioned me by name in your first response I thought it OK to do the same. Apologies if you thought what I wrote was a personal attack or anything like it.

And when I said it seemed as if the crew were making "excuses" I was not calling them "Liars and lazy people." If when you see the word excuse used that's what pops in your head I can see how you'd think I was being overly harsh. That was not my point at all. It was my feeling (maybe wrong) that they were perhaps trying to put the best spin on what sounded like a nightmare way of working. Really there is only one person truly answerable to the decisions made: Peter Jackson. He appears to actually believe the 3D aspect as well as the 48fps is all that and bag of chips. If he doesn't want to listen or see any issues with it, then OK.

I have done plenty of research into 3D sterography, and appreciate all that goes into a good production. I never questioned the effort it takes, just whether it's a good idea to use it at all for most movies. In my opinion, there is something getting lost in the story telling in too many 3D productions, and in The Hobbit in particular, and it's not just the script.

Isn't it equally valid on a forum like this one to question not just the specifics of a production, but also the overall direction the industry might be going? Big trends trickle down over time. Huge money-making productions like the Hobbit mean a lot to studio execs, and it will give them the message that "All 3D, all the time" is the way to go. I disagree. It's not that 3D is never justified or entertaining, but 9 out of 10 movies I've seen in 3D don't need it and suffer for it. Call me a luddite, but of the favorite movies I've seen in the last five years, nearly all were in 2D and captured on film. I love what CG can do, and as a CG animator for the past 16+ years both for medium sized companies and freelance, I live and breath forward moving technology. But like lens flares, time-warping, and all CG environments, technology should be in the service to the story, not the driver.

Consider this: JJ Abrams recently came out to say that when he went to do his second Star Trek film, the studio insisted he release it in 3D (which he said he adamantly didn't want to do) or they would not finance it! How is that a good thing for better story telling? It sounds like he made it pretty much how he wanted to anyway, and there will be a 2D version, but I can't be the only one thinking the tail is really starting to wag the dog here.

Peace
Doug

Doug Bowker

3D Animation for the Medical and Technical World
http://www.dbowker3d.com
@Douglas Bowker
by Marianna LaFollette
Oh, brother, why in the world do you keep trying to convince me of your point of view???? Quite a lack of self confidence you’re showing that you feel a need to keep pecking at me, that you feel a need to prove me wrong—which just makes me think, there’s something lacking on your end, that you’re tyring to make yourself feel better with a complete stranger on the web. You just don’t know how, or when, to ‘agree to disagree’.

Geez, go elsewhere to get your 3D LOCATION PRODUCTION answers, because a continued pecking at me is a REAL waste of time of space, in trying to to talk to a non-3D stereographer about these issues—especially since AGAIN, I love the Hobbit and Jackson’s choices!... Why are you not just using your annoyance, closemindedness and lack of knowledge to enlighten yourself with the right people who are the production experts in the 3D production field, the 3D stereographers? How hard is it to use your energy—albeit negative energy at the moment—to just go talk to the actual 3D professionals and filmmakers who are workings these concepts, doing the experiments, testing, researching, etc—all in the continued quest in improving the new 3D/equipment/filmmaking approaches, in order to overcome problems that arise with these new formats, with a desired end result of creating a great film and story in a new way?! Why are you hesitating in doing this action, and instead, spending your time here in continuing to arguing and pestering me, and wasting my time??? What a real negative action you are pursuing. It’s really quite a bullying tactic, to make yourself feel better for an obvious lack of self confidence that I see you have, that you feel the need to ignore my absolute decision to ‘to agree to disagree’, to try to force me to your unfavorable opinion about the Hobbit, and most especially, about Peter Jackson, who I believe is actually a genius, a ‘master of his craft’ who continues moving forward towards self-improvement, a positive career growth type of approach, and therefore, someone who, obviously to me, has such a large amount of positive enthusiastic energy.

I would work with anyone like him ANY DAY – oh wait, I do!

You are a real drag with your negative approach—which doesn’t help with new setups and technologies, except for making others, such as myself, fight against you, to prove you wrong and, therefore, totally leave you behind in the dark ages.

Gee whiz, what a total opposite of conversations that occur in the production field (and other forums) in trading experiences, stories and approaches, and discussing the pros of cons for desired end results.

This is the last time I'm replying, because well, I’ve got too much work to do in getting ready for shoots coming up, getting the proper gear, analyzing the clients shoot setups (and yes, they’re using totally new cameras on the scene, so a total new way of doing things now, with the continued demand for the final piece being of high quality), etc. I don’t need to enlighten myself with information/approach that I certainly don’t subscribe to.

I guess, I should change myself to your negative, Ludditte, uninformed approach, and I should just tell my client, “you’re wrong, the stuff we’ll do will look awful with these cameras! I refuse to do it! We should stick, instead, with VHS cameras!”

They’ll laugh at me. I’ll never get hired again for my daftness and Luddite approach.

What a waste of time here. I'm not interested.

Again, agree to disagree and just let it go!

Again, I don't understand why you do not use your anger and disappointment to present your musings to the 3D Stereographers, the 'horses mouths', (which is why I do talk to THEM, myself, about these issues, and not YOU who have no experience and certainly don't work professionally in the location production field), and instead, you obviously are making yourself feel better in thinking that your bullying into submission of someone who disagrees with you is a good thing—for whom? Not me, certainly. This negative approach, the pecking and bullying and continuation of a discussion and the refusal to ‘agree to disagree’, and drop the conversation, it’s really weeeeird. (for I’m trying to keep the peace—and I keep saying, go to the 3D stereographers, not me!).

And, notice, I’m not getting into the 3D technical aspects because it’s all better addressed by the experts—so why do you keep demanding it of me? Weird.

It just would’ve been best to take my kind helpfulness--in providing information initially to you about more firsthand 3D knowledge and to which direction would be better for your research and questions--by just acknowledging, simply, “Thanks for the info and the suggestions for another, better line of research with actual 3D stereographer experts who can better address and answer my musings and questions. Cheers.”

And, it just keeps going from worse to bad. You now believe that “since you mentioned me by name in YOUR first response I thought it OK to do the same.” Sadly funny, because actually, that’s an absolute NON truth! Reread my reply; I NEVER said your name at all! (if you refer to the “@Douglas Bowker” part at the top of the forum message, THAT is provided by creativecow, not me!). And I especially never said to reply back to me—instead, I initially said to go ELSEWHERE, to “please read more about the tech aspects from the STEREOGRAPHERSs, etc… so it’ll be good to research along these lines.” No direct usage of your name, and nothing saying, ‘contact me for more info.’ Instead, I say, ‘… from the STEREOGRAPHERS.’

The truth will prevail over any imaginings.

In your attempt to prove yourself right, you follow a lacking shallow approach—as continue evidence by your reading of your name in my reply, which DOESN’T EXIST! You so want to prove your point to another, to prove your opinion is right, regarding 3D production and the terrible Jackson approach that you consider a failure, that you are reading and seeing non-existant things (again, the ‘excuses’ that you ONLY ARE IMAGINING, and instead, therefore, the credence you put more on your own, uninformed ‘feeling.’).

Again, I think it’s your own narrow perceptions that are preventing you from seeing and enjoying the Hobbit—and Jackson/crew’s approach—and the genius it is, in its story, the acting and the technical aspects.

Sort of glad to hear about all that you say—informs me to the types of information and the failing negative approaches to stay away from, because for enlightenment and growth, a negative approach of naysaying is actually the true failure. I hope to never be like that, because what a depressing way approaching the production job and life. That youthful enthusiasm, the passion and excitement for film and all-things-art—the beauty of life—THAT is what is lost and gone with negative approach, with naysayers. Jackson and crew, the positive growth and committed approach that encourages passion and excitement and changes—versus the naysayers, whose discouragement lead instead to loss.

I’m glad to NOT call myself a Luddite, which is a total short-sighted negative approach to things here in the 21st6 century, which has much good technology that improves all aspects of life around us—including the NEW technology of computer 3D animation and now, production 3D filmmaking. Luddittes are just scared of change.

Funny and ironic.

—and funny, that you call yourself a Luddite, since you are in a new 21st century field of work/art, COMPUTER 3D ANIMATION! What a total opposite approach of my 3D animator friend who was totally excited and passionate for new production technologies, setups, etc. and who, in the mid -90s had to ignore his college professor who made fun of, and tried to discourage, his desire to do the new, untried animation of 3D (aka, ‘3D animation is a failure and will never happen, don’t waste your time’). But he stuck to his guns and his passion and desires to do the new technology and approach of 3D animation, a strength of character and confidence he had to ignore the naysayers who tried to cut him down and who tried to discourage him, rather than encourage the passion and the energy. Then, bam! within a few short years, Pixar jumped into the scene and totally proved the naysayers of the old animation approach how wrong they were to discount the new animation technology and approach. The new 3D animation companies and their animators, proved how wrong were these naysayers’ with their narrow negative criticisms—their Luditte approaches—and these new 3D computer animators overcame the disrespect the naysayers had for these 3D animator visionaries who ‘played the edge’, who chose to do new ways of doing animation, continued working hard to create the new field of 3D animation; and how these new same visionary 3D/MAC/computer animators stuck to their guns in their belief and continued to work towards a new field and approach, to overcame the dismissal of the naysayers, those who wanted to continue the same ol, same ol of traditional animation methods that had been done for decades. And now look how successful the visionary 3D animators have become: a commonly used 3D animation with many people who now regularly use the 3D techniques for video, film and the internet. Boy, what changes THEIR positive approaches have wrought—to the point of creating the new field, approach and the technologies—and, therefore, the clients and the work—and so, therefore, creating a situation where, you yourself have a job today!

Computer 3D animation did not exist 20 years ago! Luddites were not responsible for the success; visionaries and those who ‘play the edge’ are the ones to thank—and encourage!

The artists.

Sort of sounds like what’s happening with Jackson and others like him—how naysayers are totally dismissing Jackson and crewmembers in their work in achieving a new approach for THEIR field of film production and achieving a new type of film, 3D, 48 fps—they will prove wrong the naysayers with their negative criticisms, by ‘playing the edge’ and choosing to do new ways of doing things, through their own continued hard work and decisions in working out the kinks of 3D production aspects and equipment; in addition, Jackson the visionary, and others such as the 3D stereographers, who ‘play the edge’, will stick to their guns in creating a new way of doing film, in order to follow the quest of improving and adding to their field of film –and never to replace other film types, but to ADD to the types that are out there (2D will always exist, alongside the new 3D films—for it’s just a tool for the storytelling, just like lighting, sound effects, and music, all to enhance the story). And Jackson and other visionaries will continue to work hard to create the new approach of production with 3D cameras/equipment/techniques—and 48fps and other high frame rates-- and will be successful with their positive approach (‘playing the edge’), and with their hard work, while ignoring the naysayers and their Luddite, traditional approaches, in order to be successful in creating a new, good additional way of a film style.

For after all, when color film came onto the scene decades ago, that, too had naysayers who typically, sadly, said ALL the same things as being said today regarding the efforts for 3D filmmaking and the high frame rate aspects, in which these b/w supporters took the same tact of discouragement, dismissal, and disrespect for the efforts of growth and improvement for the industry.

Sadly, it’s a negative aspect of humanity, that some people are so predictable for their negative approach and their resistance to change.

You are an orc and you will be defeated…

My community, the world and beyond....
@Marianna LaFollette
by Douglas Bowker
You know, the first time around I thought maybe we just had a misunderstanding.
So I apologized, struck a conciliatory tone, and tried to clarify a few points hoping to steer the overall conversation back to more friendly territory.

Now I realize it was a lot simpler all along: You are a Troll who enjoys making everything personal, and are clearly unable to have a civil conversation.

I won't make that mistake again.
@Douglas Bowker
by Joe Kaczorowski
I know I'm about a year behind on this.... but was that guy serious? I mean, to spend so much negative energy ranting and rambling and droning on and on simply repeating the same thing over and over again. Which happened to be completely contradictory to what and how he was actually saying. "I am going to spend hours typing something to tell you very harshly and negatively that I don't have the time to be negative" You are my hero for actually getting the last word! Thanks for having opinions and for wanting to share them.
@The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Matthew Woods
Did anyone else see both the HFR version and the 24p version? I saw the 24p version (in 2d) first and was disgusted by how bad it looked. There was no motion blur, and they took no effort to blend the frames so every pan looked horribly stuttery. Way worse than an ordinary 24p film.

It seemed to me they took no effort to blend the 48p frames to create the necessary motion blur required for 24p. When I did see the HFR version, all I could think was "although this fixes the lack of motion blur issue, but it doesn't seem much better than had it been 24p with motion blur." It seemed to me a deliberate attempt to make 24p look bad for people who had seen both versions.

The movie also reinforced my feeling that no amount of special effects, 3d, hfr or other gimmickry can fix a poor script. I love the hobbit, and this movie did not do it justice.

Need a quick break from motion graphics?
Try my game Constellation at:
http://www.paperdragongames.com
@The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Thomas Wall
At the risk of alienating people, I quite liked the high-res HFR in the Hobbit. It's different from 24 fps film, but looks like no TV/video I've ever seen. There are scenes where the 4K resolution and HFR are simply stunning. They drew me into the frame, and the story. I never missed the judder or blur I'm used to seeing (and disliking).

However, without in any way meaning to denigrate Peter Jackson or his excellent crew, what I _didn't_ like can, I think, almost all be laid down to technique, not to HFR.

As I've said elsewhere, the use of HFR stereoscopic 3D requires learning a new cinematic vocabulary, one we're just starting to understand. The issues I had were more about how HFR affected the 3D look, and not always in pleasing ways. Not because of HFR itself, but because -- I'm starting to think -- of how it was shot, and blended with the CGI.

For example: I sometimes felt like I was seeing 2-1/2D, where there was 3D action at the film plane, a background far away, and a weird gulf between them. (And I’m not just talking about the Rivendell scenes.) This isn't unusual in other 3D movies, but the 4K and HFR seems to have magnified its effect.

This is purely a guess, with no experimental evidence to back it up. But I suspect that there is an issue with having deep depth of field in the high res HFR stereo 3D plates when shot in relatively shallow sets with green screen starting rather close behind the point of principal focus. Because 4K resolution and HFR now allow us to see clearly the 3D depth of field falloff in a shot, having scenes where the depth of field goes beyond the practical set and "into" the green screen/CGI background causes problems. With camera motion and motion blur no longer camouflaging the issue, the discrepancy becomes visible on-screen. Which means, if true, that set design and shooting style will have to take such effects into account (as well as CG camera-move matching and rendering).

There were other issues, like the strangely desaturated colors at the beginning of the movie, especially in the Hobbiton exteriors. This is strictly due to color grading, not HFR. And some of those early shots with a strangely glowing lens flare/diffusion of the highlights: that just looked unnatural in 4K stereo 3D. Again, that’s someone’s choice, not due to the HFR per se. But they seem to get lumped into the “HFR look” of the film.

I also find it interesting that no one has even mentioned the real-time perspective compensation and parallax adjustment techniques that Jackson used while shooting, to make Gandalf appear larger than the Dwarves and the Hobbit. No one seems to notice. Could that have some subtle unexpected effects on the 3D “look” of this movie? Don’t know. And no one asks whether the 270 degree shutter helped or hurt the 48 fps version. With only this single example of an HFR movie, it’s all the “HFR look”. We just need to become more explicit about what is due to HFR and what isn’t.

A side note: I find it interesting that people keep talking about 120 Hz TV as if that were in any way related to seeing what we see on the screen in this movie. It isn’t.

The bottom line, for me, is that HFR (and 4K resolution) can be gorgeous, and can draw one into the movie, not distract from it. But, in addition to the obvious issues such as makeup and set detail, they introduce unexpected ones with the ways that movies are shot and composited and edited. This is a learning process that will take time. To repeat myself from another post, the fact that the Hobbit is as good as it is, is a testament to Peter Jackson’s, and his team’s, genius and talent. Can’t wait to see where we go from here.
+2
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Silton Buendia
I thought 48fps looked horrible worst then 30P or 60i and I see no point or benefit to it. It looks like those 120htz TVs which IMO makes movies look bad. To me the motion doesn't even look natural. I'm just not a fan of the look. Also I don't believe you need 48fps to show action better, 24fps looks fine with movies like Avengers, Avatar, and other major action movies.

I agree with the most that don't like 48fps, it makes the film look like video and its funny because back in the pre HD/24fps video days, people were trying hard to make video look like 24p because it made videos look more cinematic and film like.

Back in the 90s I read a very good article in American Cinematographer by a famous film maker (I forget who though) and what he said stuck with me to this day. Mainly the gist of it was that 60i looked like real life, and 24fps because of the missing frames it made your mind fill in the blanks therefor letting you fall more into the illusion/imagination/fantasy of it all.

Technology isn't always better for everything. If its not broken then no need to fix it. The frame rates are fine, and higher frame rates are awesome for slow motion. But I don't believe that we need to watch anything at more then 24P, 30P of 60P(for sports).

Silton Buendia
Magji Productions TM
+1
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by jim bachalo
All this talk about the need for cinema to be MORE immersive is missing the point IMHO.
Tell a good story and project on the big screen, if that's not immersive enough, tell a better story!
Personally, the only 3D films I've seen that really benefitted from 3D treatment were documentaries where 3D itself, the movement thru space, WAS the story. In particular Pina and Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
And IMHO both Hugo and Life of Pi didn't benefit at all thru 3D, the stories (and great cinematography) in each case were what mattered.

I have yet to see the 3D version of the Hobbit so take my comments with a grain of salt;)

Local is the new global
+1
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Tero Ahlfors
[jim bachalo] "Personally, the only 3D films I've seen that really benefitted from 3D treatment were documentaries where 3D itself, the movement thru space, WAS the story. In particular Pina and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. "

Those are really good 3D-movies. You should check out TT3D: Closer to the Edge too.
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Mark Suszko
Finally saw Hobbit in 3D and was not at all disturbed by HFR. I really found myself agreeing with Erik Jonason's view that this is a convergence of film and stage aesthetics, and this is not a bad thing. I feel it parallels what Welles was trying to achieve when shooting a lot of master shots in deep focus, using stage direction techniques to throw your attention where and when he wanted it.

I hate the 24p "look" and can't wait for us to evolve beyond it, it's an anachronism we've turned into habit and justified as an aesthetic over time. Like the old joke about the pot roast and why Mom cut off one end while preparing it.

(For those who don't know the joke, everybody loves how Mom prepared the roast, but one member asked the purpose of preparing it with a large section cut off one end. Mom says she picked up the tradition from grandma, who picked it up from great-grandma. Luckily, Great-gram is still alive, though very old. Asked why she cut the roast this way, she explains: "We didn't have a large-enough pan to cook it whole!")

24p was the too-small pan. Now we can cook it however we decide is best, not because we need the slowest frame rate that works with synch sound.
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Tim Wilson
[Mark Suszko] "I hate the 24p "look" and can't wait for us to evolve beyond it, it's an anachronism we've turned into habit and justified as an aesthetic over time. "

Great observation, and very much my feeling. I've been watching movies for nearly 50 years, and remember not enjoying the look of 24 frames almost from the beginning. I can't wait to get to what's next.

I also like your observation about incorporating stage aesthetics. Being in the same room with the performance -- THAT's immersive, which is the word that struck me over and over as I watched The Hobbit in 48fps.

More, please.
Re: Article: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Jason Jenkins
My wife and I saw The Hobbit in HFR 3D last night. With no prompting from me, my wife (not a video professional) said, "The lighting, or something, made it look like a BBC special." I tried to go in with an open mind (is that even possible?). I confess that, numerous times, I felt like I was watching a 'making of' video. I thought the HFR worked well/looked good when it came to the action scenes, but the slower scenes just looked too much like 60i. Interestingly, the 3D completely disappeared after a while. In other words, it became transparent to me; I didn't notice it all. I don't know if that's good or bad. I'd like to go back and see it again in 2D 24p, so I can determine if the HFR or 3D really added anything to my experience (besides the $5 premium).

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.
+2
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by che broadnax
After seeing The Hobbit in IMAX 3D HFR, I can finally weigh in without just being reactionary. Peter Jackson et al are correct that eventually (after about an hour and half) my eyes DID get used to the look, and I stopped being distracted by 48fps. HALFWAY THROUGH THE FILM. If we see more and more films this way, then I suppose that won't be the case. The same was true for a lot of people when 3D made its most recent come back.

But as for the other claims, I'm not so sure I see what everybody is so excited about. The picture is sharp and clear -- but it's a 5K acquisition format, and they didn't appear to be concerned with shying away from the RED look at all. The biggest problem with the film is this much-touted immersion. I was immersed in the film. And being immersed is exactly like being on set. Where props look fake. And sets look fake. I was surprised to see that the CGI was gorgeous and held up quite well. But sadly the practical elements did not. Does this mean this is the fault of HFR or the fault of filmmakers playing with a new, barely understood technology? As others have said, the thing feels like video. Particularly like the first HD stuff, before people understood how to embrace the format and make it look more... pardon... cinematic.

I suppose it is possible that people could learn from the mistakes of The Hobbit, and make a HFR film that didn't look like a cheap soap opera. And I understand that The Hobbit was not cheap, nor were the teams untalented. After all, many of these people brought us Lord of The Rings, which was magical, beautiful and immersive. But The Hobbit cannot shake a feeling of television. I also wonder if it is not only the HFR but also the HFR combined with deep focus. Deep focus is great when Orson Wells uses it, or in modern films like Jaws or Schindler's List -- all FILMS, at 24fps, on celluloid, organic, flickering, shuddering, beautiful. But it only enhanced the feeling of television here in The Hobbit. As did many scenes where the lighting felt simply... flat. Lighting for 3D is an interesting challenge. We've spent years trying to define depth and form with our lights, but with 3D, we no longer need the lights for that purpose (which doesn't mean we don't light that way anyway), but here in The Hobbit, the lighting again felt very television, and not very cinema.

There are those that will swear until the end of time that vinyl sounds the best, and I suspect that eventually the argument over frame rates (and over celluloid) will be left in a similar place. There are ineffable qualities to analog and organic media, as there are to digital, and ultimately people will have a preference, it might not be the same for everybody.

But if The Hobbit 3D 48fps is the future of cinema, there is less of a reason than ever to leave home and go to the theater, since the film looked like it was video playing on an HDTV with motion smoothing turned on. I can see that at home... and I don't WANT to.
+5
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Crye Biggie
Everything will inevitably evolve towards a balance of economy on one *important* hand, and on the other hand the scope to tweak and concurrently advance production and projection frame rate technology while mitigating pitfalls such as compatibility and up-/down-converting issues. The commercial part progressively taking over means limiting further the mostly helpless genuine audiences' latitude for choosing whether they want these HFRs or not, when it comes to using them (HFRs) where they were never used traditionally: film. As you'd expect, viewer experience and satisfaction with the contemporary HFR aesthetics varies widely, but while I don't think the trending-down in cinema fever until maybe fairly recently was as a direct result of increasing FRs in film, I'd badly miss the 24fps 'film look' were 24p to disappear. Not that I don't fully welcome HFRs any day ... well, I only fully so do for what they're best at delivering, even as the conservatist part in me has a substantially influential hand at that.

Altitude is not all the problem. Taking steps is more of it.
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Thomas Wall
Nick, you are incorrect about HFR not affecting (perceived) resolution. Frame rate and resolution are inter-related in terms of sharpness of an image.

At low frame rates and accompanying slow shutter speeds, every time a camera is panned or an object moves in the frame, you get motion blur.

HFR, when shot at 180 degree shutter angles and therefore faster shutter speeds, greatly reduces such blur. Objects moving across the screen maintain a much higher level of sharpness, due to the faster shutter, and the eye tends to track them in ways that we did not when looking at low frame rate shots. Especially at 60 fps and above, you see foam in water waves that was invisible, details in fabric and skin and in backgrounds that were not noticed at 24 fps, because even subtle motion blurred them. Shooting at 4K and above makes the maintenance of such detail even more obvious.

Today we have lenses and cameras that can capture that detail better than ever before. It becomes an artistic choice of how to deal with that. The Hobbit was shot at a slower shutter speed (larger shutter angle) than a "normal" 180 degree shutter, at least in part because of the need to create a 24fps version as well as 48fps. But also, I suspect, because of how that longer shutter speed affected the look.

So I think you are right about HFR being about "vividness" rather than just reality. Everything about motion pictures today, not just HFR or 3D, is a "trick" that fools our eyes & brain into seeing motion where there is none. HFR gives a cinematographer more choices about just how "vivid" he or she wants a scene to appear. It also presents more issues that cannot be ignored.
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Joseph W. Bourke
So this will then open up a whole new market for plugins which will make the "fake" look of high frame rate look more like film. Just as the clean look of video needed to be softened and frame blended to hide the details and mimic the filmic look. If cinematographers would just get back to basics, Kodak would be back in business...

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Nick Swinglehurst
3D and HFR are about vividness not realism. They help enhance the spectacle for the audience.

Neither of these techniques represent how humans actually see, they are just technical tricks. But filmmakers need to use every tool at their disposal to lure audiences back into cinemas.

Also with The Hobbit, there are a lot of misconceptions about the consequences of HFR versus the consequences of shooting with RED Epics. HFR is an increase in temporal resolution - about motion and movement. It doesn't affect how a stone looks, or how the armour or sets look. Those are the result of the high-resolution (spatial resolution, that is) of the RED optics and its image processing. That is a separate discussion entirely.

Documentaries need to be lucid, impartial and to convey complex issues simply and accessibly. I don't think 3D helps any of these things - except in special cases like nature or space documentaries which often need to be spectacular. Personally I would love to see some 3D documentaries! But clearly there have been very few and this is why.
+1
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Erik Jonason
When seeing the The Hobbit and experiencing 48 fps in 3D I realised that the theatrical movie experience has become more realistic and therefore more theatrical. This may be a paradox because Theater are real time illusionary events while Movies are illusions of real time events. These two Arts of human expression are both striving to become what the other already is: Theater performances strive for the illusion whilst Movies strive for the realism.
To me it appears as film now - as its technology is exceeding the limits of human perception in spatial and sensory Dimensions, frame rates and Kolors - has to come to terms with the creative challenges and opportunities of the real world events of performance arts. A new contract will be required with the viewing audiences on how we will participate in making in the illusions effective.
+4
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Thomas Wall
Unlike Mr. Forrester, I DON'T go to the movies in order to see dim blurry images. In fact, I usually find those kinds of images frustratingly distracting. They might be reverie inducing, but I don't need to pay the price of movie tickets to be lulled into reverie; a good hot bath will do just as well, without the spilled overpriced popcorn. :-) And from the way movie attendance has been going, fewer and fewer people value that kind of "movie experience".

Rather than nostalgia about the look and feel of movies past, I would welcome an experience that I could remember, be involved in. A new, unique, experience that would stick with me long afterward. But I am increasingly discouraged at being able to have such experiences in movie theaters.

Why? Because I don't think that the economics will work, at least not for movie theaters as we've known them. For example: To achieve frame rates at the 60 or 96 or 120 fps level will soon require new projectors, new media blocks, new servers, to replace or upgrade the existing Series II versions. HFR solves two of the major problems of stereo 3D display -- motion judder and the intermittent degradation of the 3D effect due to blurred images when an object is moving relative to the camera. But this is at the expense of another problem: reduced brightness. Going from 3, 4 or 5 flashes per frame (which the human eye tends to integrate and perceive as increased brighness, and hence better discremination of image detail and color) to only 1 or 2 flashes for an HFR frame is a major problem. The solution? Buy new, higher-brightness projectors (and their more expensive bulbs) in the next couple of years for almost every theater.

A fourth problem with stereo 3D: temporal artifacts due to alternating left eye-right eye projection. The solution? Buy a second such projector for each screen, and display both eyes simultaneously.

A fifth problem: go beyond the old standard 14fL reflected brightness level, to be able to better match real-world scene luminance and dynamic range. The solution? Buy new laser projectors, when they are available and if and when they can also handle the above problems.

But this creates a new problem: the current DCI standard uses 10 bits per color for all DCPs; this is barely adequate to handle today's brightness levels without banding or other artifacts. Increasing the brightness levels will require a new standard with more bits per channel, which will mean larger files sizes, and will require higher data rates of the media blocks, the servers and the networks that connect them. This, combined with HFR, will also probably mean that new compression techniques will be needed, which in turn will require more processing power to execute in real time. The solution: buy new hardware and software to support the larger DCPs, new compression techniques, and higher data rates needed for each projector, IMB and file server.

And we haven't even mentioned multi-dimensional sound, and how that can impact theater layout and construction.

All this capital expenditure, and accompanying infrastructure support and maintenance -- where is the financing going to come from? Will attendance (and ticket pricing) be adequate to pay for these improvements and still make any profit?

Given current attendance trends, the availability of on-line download and streaming services, mobile platform delivery, home theater advances with 4xHD and UHD wide-screen TV displays, etc., I am not very optimistic.

I expect that we will start to see "event theaters", where we can go and be part of a 3D experience of a live concert, for example, in ways we could never experience by attending in person. Or an opera or ballet, as we have never seen them before. Or the World Cup. Because these same technologies would be outstanding ways to present such events to much wider audiences than could ever attend the event in person, in ways they could never otherwise experience. These same theaters could also be home to the blockbuster "tent pole" movies that could afford to be made to take advantage of this level of technology. But would there need to be dozens of such theaters in every community? Could more than a few "event theaters" be supported outside of larger cities? I tend to doubt it.

So, for those of us who really do want a vastly expanded "movie experience", where HFR is just the first step, my question is: "Who will pay for it?"
@Thomas Wall
by Myron Hobizal
How do you think the 48fps was handled at current theaters? The projectors were retrofitted or new ones brought in to the select theaters to display it at that film rate. Replacing and/or upgrading a digital projector is a small part of the problem.
+1
@Myron Hobizal
by Thomas Wall
Myron,
The reason The Hobbit is at 48 fps is it's the fastest that the current Series II digital projectors could reliably go without a major upgrade. Some only required firmware updates -- some of which were charged for, some of which were not. Even then some Series II projectors also needed hardware upgrades, which were not cheap. None of the Series I digital projectors, which were purchased only a few years ago and are often still being paid off, could be upgraded. And even the Series II upgrades had lots of teething problems -- which is why the 48 fps release is so limited. (And all those service calls cost money.)

Only something with the potential audience of The Hobbit could justify all that.

The initial transition to digital is just being completed in the US this year. To go beyond that will require major hardware upgrades or complete replacement of those relatively new digital projectors currently in theaters, without the financial incentives from studios that allowed theaters to go digital in the first place. This will also involve new more expensive display technologies -- either brighter bulbs (and their heat dissipation) or laser projection, and new, brighter (but safe) screens. Add the cost of going beyond 5.1 or 7.1 sound to the new immersive sound technologies, and the construction (and even theater redesign) costs that will involve. And if you make those moves too soon, the technology will pass you by and you'll be faced with more upgrades or full replacements again within a few years.

All this when theaters are competing with on-demand delivery of movies to the home and mobile devices with increasinlgy sophisticated capabilities.

Don't underestimate the problems of smaller theater chains just obtaining financing for such propositions in this economy, whether here or abroad. The payback is not assured. So "limited release" could become the norm. I just hope that there are at least some people out there willing to take the chance, so we can get the chance to see it.
+1
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by Tero Ahlfors
"There's more of a sense that you're there."

Well 'there' seems to be behind the scenes at a movie set. I do not understand why people want this in narrative films. It looks like better TV motion interpolation crap. That said I love 3D documentaries and I would have liked to see Pina in 48fps 3D.
+3
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by David Forrester
When we go to the movies, we want something that takes us away from the world - an escape. The last thing I want is to be so reminded of the reality on the screen, that it defies the reason why I am there in the first place. Unless it is a space docu or something that is to an advantage. But the reality is that the cinema experience is an escape for 3 hours and a time to unwind - not get wound up!

I don't want to see it so damn real that it looks real. The romance of 24 fps has a magical quality about it. Why all this tech stuff, when Hollywood is sorely lacking in good stories? Get the story in place and there will be no need for high tech wizardry.

Cheers,
Take 5
+6
Re: The Aesthetics of High Frame Rate Cinema
by jin choung
I think an issue that will come up with hfr and Hollywood narrative films is the fact that trying to get things to look more 'real' will run at cross purposes with the fact that Hollywood is FAKE!

Stuff on a set, the props, the makeup... In real life that stuff looks as artificial as it actually is. You can tell the stones aren't stones and the armor's not metal and the swords aren't sharp.

We may not have known it but it could very well be that the lower frame rate along with grain was just the amount of 'beer goggles' we needed to make the fakery look as real add it does - it may have been the perfect balance point where the lack of fidelity perfectly covered up the glaring artifice that is Hollywood production.

In the end, I have a feeling that this push for hi fidelity visuals is misguided in not recognizing that we deal with that which is intrinsically false.

IMO, 3d and hfr will be great for documentaries and ride films. Not so much for the facade of fiction films.
+4


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