Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Concerning HFR

What is the deal with 48 fps?

As a child, did you ever have a storytime when you listened to lots of essential but frankly quite dull background detail, and then just as things seemed to have got going and your imagination had lost itself in the world of the story, your mother told you it was bedtime. That rather represents my feelings about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I have now seen it three times, and with each viewing the fatigue at the exposition and delay of getting into the plot has increased, but so has the genuine sense that the whole trilogy kicks into life in the second half of this first film, and I cannot wait for part two.

Part two contains many exciting mysteries, but we have already had the big technological reveal of High Frame Rate (HFR). The decision to shoot these films at 48 frames per second was taken in order to improve the 3D experience. I first saw this film in IMAX which (bar a few exceptions) is projected at 24 frames per second (fps), and the usual 3D problems were there. There is often a blurring that takes place in 3D which is immensely distracting. Furthermore, the process of 3D removes a third of the colour.

What 48 fps does is give the eye more detail to take in, and this serves to cut out the blurring, and the nature of projecting the increased number of frames improves (though does not eliminate) the colour loss. Both of these were evident improvements in the HFR projection of The Hobbit.