Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Peter Jackson Explains "48 Frames Per Second"

Sir Peter Jackson uses his inaugural post on his official Facebook page on The Hobbit to explain why 48 frames per second rather than the decades long tradition of 24 frames. In addition he posted an image (right) of him near is director setup that shows of a bit of Gollum's gave. I think the dual monitor setup is specifically for the 3D cameras (left eye/right eye). Below is half the post, the rest can be found here.
Time for an update. Actually, we've been intending to kick off with a video, which is almost done, so look out for that in the next day or two. In the meantime, I thought I'd address the news that has been reported about us shooting THE HOBBIT at 48 frames per second, and explain to you what my thoughts are about this.

We are indeed shooting at the higher frame rate. The key thing to understand is that this process requires both shooting and projecting at 48 fps, rather than the usual 24 fps (films have been shot at 24 frames per second since the late 1920's). So the result looks like normal speed, but the image has hugely enhanced clarity and smoothness. Looking at 24 frames every second may seem ok--and we've all seen thousands of films like this over the last 90 years--but there is often quite a lot of blur in each frame, during fast movements, and if the camera is moving around quickly, the image can judder or "strobe."

Shooting and projecting at 48 fps does a lot to get rid of these issues. It looks much more lifelike, and it is much easier to watch, especially in 3-D. We've been watching HOBBIT tests and dailies at 48 fps now for several months, and we often sit through two hours worth of footage without getting any eye strain from the 3-D. It looks great, and we've actually become used to it now, to the point that other film experiences look a little primitive. I saw a new movie in the cinema on Sunday and I kept getting distracted by the juddery panning and blurring. We're getting spoilt!

Originally, 24 fps was chosen based on the technical requirements of the early sound era. I suspect it was the minimum speed required to get some audio fidelity out of the first optical sound tracks. They would have settled on the minimum speed because of the cost of the film stock. 35mm film is expensive, and the cost per foot (to buy the negative stock, develop it and print it), has been a fairly significant part of any film budget.

So we have lived with 24 fps for 9 decades--not because it's the best film speed (it's not by any stretch), but because it was the cheapest speed to achieve basic acceptable results back in 1927 or whenever it was adopted.


  1. this is an amazing step forward, esp now in the digital age of film and special effects, i can see all kinds of things braking free from this format and one day we will look back and wonder what we where thinking prior to this

  2. 48 frames in a second seems not that fast.But Peter's explain makes me feel a bit different afterward.

  3. As a former rotogimp this pains me to see.