The question that remained unanswered in my previous review turned out being a big deal. How does ‘The Hobbit’ perform in 3D and with the brand new framerate of 48 frames per second?
Let’s kick things off with the technology we already know: 3D.
I am not the worlds biggest fan when it comes to 3D, in fact, I think it’s one of the most obvious ‘business’ decisions that Hollywood has ever forced upon us since the revenue from a 3D movie ticket is much higher than that of a regular one.
The technique has proven to be somewhat of a mixed bag, especially when applied in post processing (if you want a good example try ‘Clash of the Titans’). Peter Jackson has made the wise choice of filming ‘The Hobbit’ with the same 3D camera’s that James Cameron used for ‘Avatar’.
The results are what I would like to describe as ‘the most harmless way of using 3D’. It’s never obtrusive in any way, and while most directors try to take advantage of 3D by forcing obvious ‘made for 3D’ scenes in the movie, Jackson doesn’t. And when he does do it one time, it’s immersive and not at all irritating.
However, it doesn’t add anything noteworthy to the movie that can’t be enjoyed from seeing it in 2D.
And then we arrive at the biggest stir that ‘The Hobbit’ has caused around the world: 48 FPS.
A little background on this term is handy so here goes: movies are shot in 24 frames per second.
This means that every second consists of 24 images, it’s as simple as that.
So why double the count you might wonder?
Well, as those of you who have seen 3D movies in a cinema know: 3D can create a little phenomenon called shudder or lag. Because of the 24 images per second and the incorporated 3D, images can look shaky and the transition between scenes or movements can become increasingly bad and create the shudder effect, kind of like watching a video buffering on youtube for a second while you’re watching.
The solution to this is bumping up the framerate (frames per second) with the thought behind it that when applied, the 3D becomes more fluid. (more on my thoughts regarding this decision in a minute).
The side-effect of using this technique is what caused the controversy. Seeing ‘The Hobbit’ in 3D and 48FPS immediately showed the benefits and the downsides of the technique.
While scenes with CGI in them looked incredible at times (Gollum was lifelike), there are long stretches where the increased framerate makes things that normally would look ‘movie like’ into what we ourselves would film at home with a camera. Sets looked like styrofoam and plastic at times, and you wouldn’t be wrong thinking that you are watching a BBC television series instead of a grand epic movie.
At times it took you out of the experience and that’s something that a movie should ALWAYS avoid.
I don’t get the whole thought process behind this as well. You make a movie in 3D (which I think is unnecessary to begin with) then you apply a technique to prevent the 3D from creating the aforementioned lag in imagery. It all seems a bit weird to be honest.
While I think ‘The Hobbit’ is one of, if not the best movie to come out in 2012, the techniques at display here, while groundbreaking, are not at all worth your time or money.
While 3D is here to stay, I don’t think 48FPS will because of the tv-show effect it created.
But when applied in big numbers to big movies, people will eventually have to accept what’s forced on to us. In that regard, New Line Cinema made a smart move by introducing this technique in a movie that people will see, even if it means selling your child at the door for a ticket. They can now validate the technique by saying that it didn’t drove people away from the movie.
In conclusion: what you read on the internet, all be it a tad exaggerated is true. It’s not a great technique and it does pull you out of the movie at times. I do applaude Peter Jackson for trying his hand at this technology with the biggest cinematic release he’s done since ‘Return of the King’. But for us fans: don’t bother shelling out the extra cash for it (if you can even find an Imax® theater that shows it) and save that for the inevitable Extended Edition Bluray of ‘The Hobbit’.