Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why 48FPS Fails

A new article from a photography breaks down why so many critics (and movie goers) disliked the 48 frames-per-second (aka high frame rate) format of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The writer decided to watch the HFR and the regular 24fps version of the movie on the same day. From that experience he realized he not only didn't enjoy the 48FPS version but it gave him no connection to the story. The however completely enjoyed the 24FPS version.

The article is an attempt to explain this conflicting reaction to what is essentially the same movie. What it comes down to is the increased clarity of image cause all details to come into focus. The increase is visual details essentially causes a sensory overload preventing you becoming immersed into the film as unable to track both the events of the story, take in all the details and know what to focus on all at the same time. In addition, the increase in details also means every little mistake pops out more then would otherwise. Click here to read the whole thing to get more detail about why his experience indicates that 48FPS might be dead on arrival.

The interesting thing to note is this opposing reaction has been mirrored by with the reviews by fans and professional critics. Just before the movie came out, most of the pro critics were (as the norm) giving the chance to screen the movie. Jackson and company chose to only let them see the movie at the 48FPS rate. The result were scathing reviews. Even worse most of the pros were unable to separate the viewing experience from the movie itself so it suffered an initial wave of bad reviews. After the movie came out, 2nd tier critics (aka have to pay for their tickets) and fans mostly saw the movie at the traditional 24FPS (as the main format available) resulting in higher praise.

From this there are several takeaways. One is watch the movie the first time at the traditional 24FPS. Only if up for a second viewing do you attempt the HFR viewing. The second takeaway, which most of us already know, is professional critics are not really worth listening to because they (more then anyone) should have been able to properly review the film to properly inform their audience if the movie itself was good even if the HFR was not. Most completely failed to make this point. Part of that could be they were not mindful that their free ticket did not represent the format that the majority of movie goers would be seeing the movie in. If I was an editor for these people I would insist many take a second viewing of the film in the 24FPS format and see if their opinions remain the same.

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