The Hobbit at 48 frames per second:

a great leap forward. 57% 35 votes
diminishes the magic. 42% 26 votes
61 total votes


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JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 24, 2012 at 9:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Should be interesting to see if I notice the difference.

If you've ever noticed how objects moving across the screen appear to be "blurred', that's because traditional film is shot at 24 frames per second, a relatively slow rate. Going to twice the frame rate should result in smoother movement, especially in fast action sequences.

TV soap operas are shot at 30 frames per second - that's why they have such a unique look with smooth motion compared to film. Some people who are accustomed to 24 fps object to the 30 fps "look".

I believe some live concert footage is also shot at higher frame rates. Look for the markings on the Bluray package.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 24, 2012 at 11:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You're half right EB. But it's that blur that gives the illusion of motion. 24 fps is just slightly higher than what the eye needs to complete this illusion in the brain. Thus it is the absence of motion blur which creates a phony effect, nit the opposite. Ask any CGI artist and they will tell you it's all about the blur. Theatre and film are often more about what we're not showing you than what we are.
It's not just TV soap operas that are shot at 29.9 fps but all US television/ video from day one. I think they went the higher frame rate to compensate or analog transmission image loss. Until the Dawn of Sound, films ran at random frame rates both when shot and projected! Sound required a standardized fps to keep synch and coherence.
24 fps is actually the perfect balance.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 24, 2012 at 11:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

In fact "motion blur" is the most accurate representation of motion. Wave your hand in front of your face a few times. You'll not only see blur but ghosting as well.
The old photochemical and current digital image capture process are in the end the same. The longer the shutter is open (just like on a still camera) the blurrier your image if it moves. Its getting that balance between the human eye and technology; i.e. "how we see" vs method of production and exhibition.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 24, 2012 at 12:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Scientific imaging is a professional interest of mine - I design imaging equipment that produces video to be analyzed by a computer. In my world, the faster the frame rate, the better. But motion pictures, at least the kind perceived by the human brain, is an area I haven't studied.

That said, I sense this frame-rate issue is partly one of aesthetics. How does the film-maker want his/her film to "look", etc. Here's a nice lay-overview I found:,2817,...

The above was interesting because I knew that theater projectors use a mechanical shutter (blade) to cause individual frames to "flash" (repeat) on the screen. I don't recall if the blades are there to reduce human perceptions of flicker, judder, or some other artifact.

Youtube has a bunch of videos demonstrating side-by-side video shot at 24/30/60 fps.

It still remains to be seen whether my video gaming experience will have pre-conditioned me for Hobbit @48fps :)

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 26, 2012 at 2:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

EB, did you know when you go to the movies half the time you're sitting in the dark?! The shudder on the projector has to close some time and it does so between frames!
Harking back to my "waving hand in front of your face experiment"; the absence of blur communicates inauthenticity because we see blur in the natural world (without a projector plunging us into darkness every frame.)
Would love to know more about your work EB!

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 26, 2012 at 3:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's an article that goes over some of what I've talked about and a bit more:

Look at a scene in a movie shot on film with slow motion. You may very well notice the absence of blur, a crisper image.* That's because the action shot has been broken down into more increments and since the camera shudder is open less time, less blur.

In this famous diving sequence from Leni Riefenstahl's "Olympia", the film goes from normal to slow motion. Notice the absence of blur even tho the divers are flying thru the air. Imagine if it was projected at the speed shot, it'd look unnatural, unlike the "normal" speed shots.

* To shoot slow motion to be projected at 24fps you shoot at a higher frame rate than 24fps, faster frame rate for slower motion.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 27, 2012 at 2:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Shouldn't have been the Hobit and then LOTR?

dou4now (anonymous profile)
December 28, 2012 at 8:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@KV, finally got time to follow up .. the Gizmodo article was very enlightening, thanks. It forced me to rethink what I "want" to see in a film. The discussion about depth of field was really useful ... I like how the use of DOF focuses my attention on a film subject. Plus it mimicks what I see in real life.

Until I read the article, I never liked motion blur (even if intended). My thinking was if I focused on the blurry running fighters in Braveheart, I expected to see them sharply in focus. But the discussion on DOF "refocused" my thinking ... in a scene with controlled DOF, it's not fair for me to look at the background and expect it to come into focus!

So my conclusion is that similar to DOF control, the use of motion blur is useful and helps the film maker focus the viewer's attention (Gizmodo's comments about non-HFR "masking out" imperfections was interesting as well).

I think my conclusion is counter-intuitive if you watch a lot of video games where everything is sharply in focus (although some games I've played intentionally blur objects to give the illusion of speed).

As a side note, this reminds me why I hate digital point-n-shoot cameras. I can never control DOF (never get enough "bokeh"). I took one apart and found the aperture is just a series of ND filters ... not a mechanical bladed aperture (where the aperture diameter changes).

I've been working on electro-optical applications lately. I've worked on some digital projectors in various wavelengths using either custom or commercial emitters. One project used a DLP array from Texas Instruments (I understand DLP was used for the first digital projection of Star Wars Episode 1). I've also worked on imaging systems using commercial or custom cameras. The coolest camera I've ever seen was a Phantom V9 that supports 1,000 FPS at 2MP (co-workers used in an astronomy application). The coolest lens I've ever used was a telecentric lens that removes perspective - only parallel light rays make it to the sensor. This allows a computer to make precise measurements of objects (it won't see the tops/bottoms of book shelves, only the front edges, no matter how tall the bookcase).

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 2:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Saw the movie. Was not affected by what I did not know. Movie was crisp, clear, and took more popcorn than most to get through. ;-)

Draxor (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 4:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Do you know which version you saw? There are no 48fps screenings in SB.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 12:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken- The Arlington Theatre is one of a small group of movie houses that will present The Hobbit in high-frame-rate 3-D, starting Friday, December 14, at midnight. This new form of digital presentation technology allows theaters to show films at 48 frames per second, twice the standard rate at which films are normally shown. For more, visit

mike (web content manager)
January 3, 2013 at 10:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks Mike, looks like 3D is (some say thankfully) dead anyways. It pops up every 25 years or so, lasts about three then becomes an historical novelty til a new generation is suckered in.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 9, 2013 at 12:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Billy Collins & Aimee Mann

Presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures, Former U.S. Poet Laureate ... Read More