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The Hobbit linkage: a rant on what's wrong with the 48 FPS discussion and Martin Freeman's interview with GQ

Dec. 14, 2012by: Alejandro Stepenberg
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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 656 title

Here are two bits of news related to THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, neither of them released as strictly promotional material and both of them fun and insightful in their own way.  Which is certainly refreshing after the constant cascade of clips and TV spots and posters and hi-res stills over the last few weeks.

Firstly we have an editorial by the fantastic Renn Brown over at Chud regarding the greater 48 FPS discussion that has followed Peter Jackson's latest film everywhere like a hungry Hobbit, where he takes the track that audiences and filmmakers alike are talking about the new format with entirely the wrong language.  And I think he's definitely on to something, likening the existence of 48 FPS to a special effect/storytelling tool similar to slow motion rather than the greater industry-changing shift that occurred when Hollywood transitioned from silent pictures to talkies or black and white to color.  In other words, to his mind 48 FPS is "not a format, it’s a creative, technological  filmmaking tool."

The editorial is a great piece of insight, a great source for bolstering your fevered discussions with friends about 48 FPS after viewing THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY this weekend, and an all around great read in general.  So if you have ten minutes, I strongly recommend checking it out right here.

Peter Jackson directing in blue coat

Secondly we have the GQ interview, short and sweet, with HOBBIT and "Sherlock" star Martin Freeman. 

Of particular note is how Freeman was far from a lover of Tolkien in his youth, something that just speaks further to the enchanting power of Peter Jackson's vision and and a good actor's willingness to be involved in a very special storytelling opportunity simply for its own sake.

Was there any part of you that thought, Why is Peter Jackson so convinced I'd make a great hobbit?
Yeah. Once we'd actually started, I wasn't sure if he was right about me. All I'd ever heard from Pete and the team was that I'm the only person who could do it—which is never true, you know. There's always other people who can do it. But I'm glad they saw something in me that made them think I was the only one.

Okay, here's my obligatory question about filming in New Zealand: It was magical, I assume?
It was! It was good. It's hard to talk about New Zealand without feeling like you're working for the tourist board. It is magical. But so is London.

Were you a fan of the Tolkien books growing up?
No, that wasn't really my bag.

While they were making the Lord of the Rings trilogy, all the actors got tattoos. Did you guys do anything similar?
Yeah, we all got large hoop piercings under the waistband. No, we didn't. I'm not a tattoo fan. We just shared our closeness in bars and pubs instead.

And I suppose you had to add fake hair to your hands and feet to play a hobbit?
Yep—though not the hands. Hobbits have very soft palms, apparently, and no facial hair. I was told in no uncertain terms: No facial hair on hobbits. All their body hair, I think, goes on their legs and feet.

And they're supposed to be rather soft in the lower middle, right?
You mean the hair...?

Like, did you get to let yourself go a little bit?
Oh! I genuinely thought you meant "Did you let your hair go a bit around the lower middle?"

No, I meant weight, not pubes!
The worrying thing is, I was about to answer it! Yeah, you do kind of let yourself go a bit. The hobbits are described as a bit tubby, but they're not all tubby. They certainly like their food, and I'm not exactly a beanpole in The Hobbit.

What about the other hobbit actors?
We were all quite sensible. Film sets these days are more like what old mothers' meetings would've been twenty years ago, you know? It's sort of men laying off the carbs and discussing wheat allergies, stuff like that. Not exactly Richard Harris and Richard Burton anymore.

Extra Tidbit: I'm already dreaming of that first hi-res still of Evangeline Lilly in all her beautiful elven glory. I imagine she'll show up in THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, so it can't be too much longer before our first look.
Source: ChudGQ

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4:16PM on 12/14/2012

48fps was amazing!

I saw the film at midnight and I fucking loved it! The 48 fps was truly magical I thought it really enhanced the experience and made the 3D look even better!!
I saw the film at midnight and I fucking loved it! The 48 fps was truly magical I thought it really enhanced the experience and made the 3D look even better!!
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12:26PM on 12/14/2012
Looks like Peter Jackson fucked up. Thankfully most will be able to see it in 24 fps, so it's not a movie ruining experiment. What's weird is that, just like when shooting on film, filmmakers choose different film stocks for their aesthetic qualities (sometimes different stocks for different scenes/sequences), why did PJ feel it was necessary for the whole film should use the higher frame rate? Hell, even 3D doesn't have to on all the time, the difference is with that you'd require audiences
Looks like Peter Jackson fucked up. Thankfully most will be able to see it in 24 fps, so it's not a movie ruining experiment. What's weird is that, just like when shooting on film, filmmakers choose different film stocks for their aesthetic qualities (sometimes different stocks for different scenes/sequences), why did PJ feel it was necessary for the whole film should use the higher frame rate? Hell, even 3D doesn't have to on all the time, the difference is with that you'd require audiences to constantly be taking off/putting on the glasses.
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8:29AM on 12/14/2012
The problem with 48fps is easy to pinpoint. It has no motion blur. In reality we see motion blur all the time. Without motion blur movement just looks wrong & jarring.

This is why 24fps was chosen in the first place. Studies were done in depth back in the 20s & 30s, and they discovered that 24fps is the most visually appealing frame rate. Any faster or slower then the motion becomes unnatural & unappealing. This whole fiction about 24fps being chosen because it was the cheapest route to go
The problem with 48fps is easy to pinpoint. It has no motion blur. In reality we see motion blur all the time. Without motion blur movement just looks wrong & jarring.

This is why 24fps was chosen in the first place. Studies were done in depth back in the 20s & 30s, and they discovered that 24fps is the most visually appealing frame rate. Any faster or slower then the motion becomes unnatural & unappealing. This whole fiction about 24fps being chosen because it was the cheapest route to go is to sell the 48fps technology (because you can go all the way down to 10fps before it becomes unwatchable, so why didn't they go with 20fps or 18fps?).
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4:25PM on 12/14/2012
24fps was chosen over 18fps back in the 20s because that was the lowest amount of frames necessary to record sound that was properly synced. The lack of motion blur in 48 frames is due to a faster shutter speed not necessarily frame rate. The same quality can be portrayed in 24fps like many of the action scenes in "Saving Private Ryan". 24 frames was not chose because it looked better.
24fps was chosen over 18fps back in the 20s because that was the lowest amount of frames necessary to record sound that was properly synced. The lack of motion blur in 48 frames is due to a faster shutter speed not necessarily frame rate. The same quality can be portrayed in 24fps like many of the action scenes in "Saving Private Ryan". 24 frames was not chose because it looked better.
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