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An Expert Weighs in on the "Problem" with 48FPS in the Hobbit

By Will Smith

Wired founder Kevin Kelly spoke to John Knoll, the co-creator of Photoshop and an Oscar-winning visual effects director, about shooting movies in 48fps.

As we all know by now, Peter Jackson chose to shoot The Hobbit at 48 frames per second, double the traditional frame rate for movies. People who've seen the film projected with a higher frame rate have described it as distracting, unreal, or even fake-looking. At the very least, it takes some getting used to--when I saw the movie, the highly-saturated, high-contrast lighting took me quite a while to adjust to.

Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly recently spoke to John Knoll, the co-creator of Photoshop and an Oscar-winning visual effects director, about the reasons behind the audience's mostly negative reaction to 48fps filmmaking. Knoll put forth a theory I hadn't heard before:

The text-book reason filmmakers add makeup to actors and then light them brightly is that film is not as sensitive as the human eye, so these aids compensated for the film's deficiencies of being insensitive to low light and needing the extra contrast provided by makeup. These fakeries were added to "correct" film so it seemed more like we saw.

The not-exactly-an-interview is worth reading if you're interested in either the history or future of filmmaking. I found Knoll's insights into the differences between lighting exterior and interior lighting particularly enlightening.