48fps Sucks

Maybe the title of the post is overly blunt, but it’s true. I saw the Hobbit in 48fps, in 3D. Please don’t make the same mistake.

48fps, hobbit, peter jackson48fps. Looks great!

I have no idea if the Hobbit is a good film. The ‘soap opera’ look of 48fps combined with 3D was distracting and outright ruined many scenes by making them look like a low budget Saturday morning cartoon. The climatic scene actually works out pretty well, but for the first 2+ hours it’s an awful movie experience. Peter Jackson has gone on record as saying that 48fps makes 3D more enjoyable. Whatever he is smoking, please send some of it to San Francisco. 3D tends to brighten the image up to begin with and you add 48fps to that mix and the result is so bad it’s comical.

I was hoping the initial reports of the look of 48fps were exaggerated and due to viewing unfinished shots. I think it’s clear that in both cases it’s not. It looks like 3D humans suffering from the ‘uncanny valley’ effects. It doesn’t look like film, but it doesn’t look real either. It just looks like bad TV. With Hobbits. Maybe they can resurrect the Ewok Christmas special and shoot that in 48fps, 3D.

I realize there’s a lot of new technology out there and you have to test it out on something. But to test it out on a major motion picture? Honestly, I wish folks would just try to make better movies instead of screwing around with all this stuff (48fps, 3d) which doesn’t make the films look better and rarely adds anything to the story. In the case of the Hobbit, it really affected the story poorly.

I do think there’s some technology which will change movies for the better. The super high resolution cameras produce great looking imagery. Internet connected TVs will change the way we watch movies and how they get distributed. But 48fps is just crap. So thank you to Peter Jackson for proving that.

4 thoughts on “48fps Sucks”

  1. Jim,
    Many thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I am pleased to see not everyone is being swept along by the hype, nor afraid to speak out and tell it ‘like it is’!

  2. To be honest, saying that 48 FPS video sucks while 24 FPS is okay is just like saying that mp3 files encoded with 22 kHz sample rate are better than mp3s encoded with 44 kHz sample rate.

  3. I disagree. You’re comparing apples and oranges. We process audio and visual information very differently and you can filter the information differently. More information is not better in and of itself. Whether the additional info is better or not depends on the application.

    You can see this with the ‘uncanny valley’ effect for 3D humans. More information does not produce better results. At some point the 3D human looks real, but not quite real enough, and so it just looks weird and creepy. 48fps is not lifelike, but it’s sort of lifelike, so it looks off. Granted, in some fast moving scenes that additional temporal resolution helps, but in most scenes it doesn’t add anything except creating this psuedo-lifelike look.

    Also, it’s easier to filter sound. If you can hear a musician breathing you can usually remove that without affecting the music. This type of thing is much more difficult if you have visual information you don’t want.

  4. The movement of people just seems so un-natural in the Hobbit movie. It hurts my eyes and makes it difficult to enjoy the movie. BTW was Dark Knight Rises also filmed in 48 fps, because I found the same issue with that movie. The movement seems un natural when people are in non action scenes. Action scenes look better, it’s easy for the eye to track fast moving objects

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