Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is filming the series’ two-part Hobbit prequel at 48 frames per second. This enhanced frame rate–upped from the traditional 24 frames per second–promises to deliver an improved cinema experience with ultra-clear picture, bringing the audience and the film closer to reality.
My thoughts: Really, Peter Jackson?
Like any cinema geek, I love The Lord of the Rings films and am excited to return to Middle Earth in the prequels. To this day, seeing the Fellowship, nine strong, fend off orcs, trolls and a Balrog in the Mines of Moria gives me goosebumps. In my opinion, though, scenes like this are hindered when picture quality is too close to reality. The reason being is the graininess of traditional film tricks our minds into separating from reality. After all, trolls and Balrogs don’t exist in real life, so providing visual cues, no matter how subtle, to suggest a disconnect from reality allows the viewer’s acceptance of what’s happening onscreen easier. When picture quality is so high, however, that it feels as though you’re watching a home movie or looking through a window, creatures, make-up and outlandish environments become less believable because we immediately address the fact that they couldn’t possibly exist in the real world. Films that are rife with these images, like The Lord of the Rings, need that element of “movie magic,” because without the visual separation from reality, extended elf ears and computer graphics become all the more recognizable.
I have no doubt that Jackson’s upcoming additions to the LOTR franchise will be beautiful, I just hope that the heightened frame rate won’t detract from my viewing experience as it has on Bluray and 120HZ televisions. That said, I also hope I haven’t just set myself up for a bad experience by thinking about this too hard.
Will this new movie tech take off and become the new standard? Forty-eight frames per second also requires more advanced equipment to run, at which case it will likely cost more for customers like 3D. In that event, would you pay more for clarity?