In the arts there is a constant drive to move forward – to see something one hasn’t seen before, to make something no one has made before. So it’s no surprise that artists and audiences get intrigued by new technological developments. Think of the possibilities!
Peter Jackson’s current fascination with 48 fps (hey, that’s double the traditional 24 fps of film so it must be twice as good, right?) is very much part of this tendency. He’s banking a lot of money and residual Lord of the Rings cred that audiences will flock to see his Hobbit trilogy in glorious 48 fps + 3D. It’ll revolutionize the way moves are made and seen… just ask him.
We love our technology and gadgetry here at NP, too, but we don’t assume the latest thing is necessarily the best thing. Is 48 fps the format of the glorious future? There’s room for skepticism. Let’s look at three things which give pause to consider whether Jackson is actually moving things forward or not.
First, in an interview with Deadline Hollywood Jackson says: “I think 48 is really spectacular and if it can get kids off their iPads and home entertainment systems and back into the movie theaters, I think it is something everyone has to look at very seriously.”
A couple problems here. Jackson wants to get the kids back in the theater. Great. What’s a movie ticket cost these days? Eight to ten bucks or more? Throw in another five-plus to see it in 3D (Jackson again: “It’s [48 fps] smooth and easy on the eyes, especially in 3D”). IMAX? Now you’re talking $20 or more to get the full effect. Oh, did you want popcorn, too? *ching* *ching* *ching* Forgive me for saying it but at that price it’s going to take more than just pretty pictures to get people to pony up cash that could just as well buy them a new video game.
Also, I can’t help but be a bit suspicious of his interest in reaching out to kids rather than adults. It’s easy to see why Hollywood is interested in appealing to kids: they’re easy to impress with big balls of nothing and marketing hoopla. But someone explain to me how making movies designed to bring more 14-year-old boys to the theater is going to advance the art of film. Sure, it’ll advance the careers of the Michael Bays of the industry, but… you know what, I don’t think I even need to finish that thought.
Second cause for pause: The Hobbit at 48 fps induces migraines, barfing.
Because it’s too good to pass up, from the above link a reviewer for Movieline says: “”It didn’t take a few minutes of adjusting to get used to it; even two hours and 40 minutes later my brain was rejecting the look of it. It felt like watching daytime soaps in HD, terrible BBC broadcasts, or Faerie Tale Theater circa 1985, only in amazingly sharp clarity and with hobbits. The 48 fps had me imagining how gorgeous everything might look in 24 fps.”
Maybe we’re just not used to it yet. That’s the line Jackson wants to go with, anyway. This brings us to the third point…
See for yourself: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer
Is this moving film forward or are we going back to the era of videotape (but now in HIGH DEF)?
(Also, somebody tell me: why do some of the dwarves look like humans while others look like humans in dwarf makeup?)