Weta Digital’s Joe Letteri On The Hobbit, VFX And 48fps

Earlier in the week I got to sit down with Joe Letteri, the senior supervisor of visual FX at Weta Digital, and ask him a series a questions about his work on The Hobbit and, for a moment, how he’ll be connected to the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

There are two things I want to note going in. Firstly, I loved the 48fps look of the film but many others found it a little disconcerting, for one reason or another, and there are even claims that the 48fps look has “hurt” the film by making the sets, props, lighting and even FX look inferior to how they’d appear in 24fps. I’d challenge all of those points. The 48fps shutter speed makes all of these things appear less stylised, maybe.

The other thing is that the 24fps version of the film wasn’t just created by taking every other frame of the 48fps version and screening those. That would create a choppy look that just wouldn’t be pleasing to the eye at all. However, when I tried to get Letteri to talk about the process by which a 48fps release is “adjusted” to 24fps, he tells me – as you’ll see – that it’s simply a question of dropping half of the frames.

That just isn’t true. I can only assume he was reading something else into my question. I did delay publishing this interview until I triple checked – the Hobbit conversion to 24fps does use a technique that changes the images to create a blur effect akin to native 24fps filming – you aren’t simply seeing half of the frames.

So please bear both of those points in mind as you watch this interview.

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Thanks again to Mr. Letteri for taking the time to talk to me. The Hobbit is in cinemas now and, frankly, you should go see the 48fps version and decide for yourself if you like the look or not. I think it’s incredible.

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