The Hobbit in 48fps Demos Film Evolution, Pissed Some People Off

As you can tell, we here at Grizzly Bomb take our snobbish film elitist roles very seriously (duh, we’re on the internet immediately judging and shoving our opinion into people’s throats because we’re empowered by the web). We are also major geeks/nerds that will drool at the prospect of seeing The Hobbit hit the screen in two films. Sometimes these two things do not work in harmony though. We have the capacity to geek out, but news has come out today that will definitely be a talking point until The Hobbit comes out in December. What’s the issue? Peter Jackson has embraced the ‘evolution’ of filmmaking and filmed in 48fps. He decided to screen 10 minutes of the film to various critics at CinemaCon 2012. The problem? Everyone thinks it looks like it was filmed for television. Not even like good television. Like the afternoon soap opera with the motionflow on 120hz TVs. This…is an issue.

According to EW and FilmDrunk, many critics have taken to twitter to give their thoughts on the change and it’s easy to say that most have been very mixed. Kind of like a good news, bad news deal. Here are some thoughts:

“Saw ten minutes of Hobbit in 48fps 3D. Very exciting, but I’m now very unsure about higher framerates #CinemaCon” -Peter Sciretta, SlashFilm

“Great Scott, THE HOBBIT in 48 frames-per-second is a thing to behold. Totally different experience. Not all will like the change” – Josh Dickey, Variety

“Saw 10 min of THE HOBBIT in 48fps. It’s def a drastic change from 24fps and many are not going to be on board with it. #thehobbit” -Steve Weintraub, Collider

“Oh no. Not a fan of 48fps. Oh no no no. [...] Listening to Cinemacon people – theater owners – this 48fps demo sold NOBODY. [...] THE HOBBIT, frankly, did not look cinematic.” “Here’s what The Hobbit looked like to me: a hi-def version of the 1970s I, Claudius. It is drenched in a TV-like — specifically ’70s-era BBC — video look. People on Twitter have asked if it has that soap opera look you get from badly calibrated TVs at Best Buy, and the answer is an emphatic YES,” -Devin Faraci, BadassDigest

“It’s literally like being on the set next to the actors as they’re performing. [...] Once audiences get to seeThe Hobbit screened at the 48 frames per second rate when it’s released in theaters on December 14, 2012, I can guarantee moviegoers are going to demand all films be presented at 48 fps.”- Rebecca Murray, About.com

“Saw the 10 minutes of raw The Hobbit footage in 48FPS 3D. Intriguing, the footage looks amazing, but the 48FPS experience is an odd change” – Alex Billington, Firstshowing.com

Soooo yeah. Let’s tackle the apparent good first. This is huge for film because this was done to make the picture as crisp and realistic as possible and from all apparent signs, it has accomplished that. Film is usually filmed in 24fps so it has a certain look to it where it does not look real life in terms of movements with the camera and the action. Everyone says it is the sharpest picture they have ever seen. However, you are also undoing the look of film over the last several decades. Film has a certain quality to it and to change that look completely is completely jarring. So much so that Peter Jackson himself said he screened 10 minutes because it takes the eyes awhile to adjust to the new look.

Now let me add, I have not seen the footage and can only judge on my experience on watching movies with the motionflow feature. If it is anything like that, which some people on twitter have compared it to, I will have a conniption. Motionflow is great for smoothing out high movement shows like sports. It is terrific for hockey and basketball in my opinion because you want to feel like you are there in the bleachers without having any artifacting or stutters on the screen. However, watching Saving Private Ryan or Thor with this feature on feels…off. It does have a soap opera feel and takes you out of the experience. Storming the beach at Normandy felt like it was filled on a flip cam. It did not feel like a movie. Again, I do not doubt that this will look beautiful, or that this is probably the way filmmaking may go. But we are so used to having one thing and we all know how we all react to change. It is going to divide people and that is good. Filmmaking will always be debated down to the details and it will help “evolve” film whether by frames per second or certain details like film vs digital. I look forward to witnessing this for myself as will the rest of you. I also look forward to the debate at Dennys with Dr. Kronner after the midnight showing on whether it looked great, looked like garbage, and whether films should move in that direction or not. As it should be. Then we will probably get in a fight with someone at Dennys too. Because that’s how we roll at Grizzly Bomb.