Peter Jackson's The Hobbit is at the cutting edge of a certain kind of film making technology and will bring the extraordinary new look and feel of 48fps feature films to a very wide audience. After showing off some scenes from the film at Vegas, however, Jackson saw many journalists and bloggers tear into his new aesthetic.
To these plaintiffs, the 48fps footage looked "cheap." Essentially, it's free of the smearing and grain implicit in 24fps film, and was therefore similar, in those basic respects, to crappy video.
But it's important to say that it isn't crappy video. While I've not seen any of the Hobbit in 3D 48fps, I have seen other work in the format, and in 60fps. And yes, I'll agree that it looks like video in some respects, it's only in that it lacks some of the inherent quirks of 24fps film.
Quirks that aren't inherently valuable to a film. Quirks that are simply familiar and comforting and… yawn. Complaints against 48fps seems stubborn and sentimental to me.
According to an interview with Hero Complex, Comic-Con's Hall H crowd won't be seeing The Hobbit at its best this Saturday. We'll be seeing the flat version with half of its frames dumped out.
I'm disappointed that Jackson has blinked.
On the other hand, I'm pleased tat he's coming to Con and bringing some of his new film with him. If he played it in black and white at 19fps the content would still be something I want to discover.
Here's Jackson's rationale. It makes me a little sad:
As we saw at CinemaCon earlier this year, with our 48 frames per second presentation, negative bloggers are the ones the mainstream press runs with and quotes from. I decided to screen the Hobbit reel at Comic-Con in 2-D and 24 frames per second, so the focus stays firmly with the content and not the technical stuff.
I'm very to see some of Jackson and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie's work in 48fps. I'm disappointed that I won't be sampling it this weekend, after all.
But I'll be there in December, ready and willing.