‘The Hobbit’ Shooting With Technology That James Cameron Called “The Future of Cinema”


‘The Hobbit’ Shooting With Technology That James Cameron Called “The Future of Cinema”

Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2011 by Peter Sciretta

Last week at CinemaCon, James Cameron gave a big presentation called “A Demonstration and Exclusive Look at The Future of Cinema”. You might remember reading about it here on /Film.

At the demonstration, Cameron noted that not only will he shoot Avatar 2 with this new technology, but George Lucas and Peter Jackson were also in support of the changes, and that Jackson had even explored shooting The Hobbit at high speeds. Cameron had heard that Jackson suffered illness before he could complete the tests and convince studio brass to make it happen. But it seems that Cameron heard wrong….

 The basic gist is this: Cameron proposes that future movies should be shot and projected at either 48 or 60 frames per second. All of the digital film cameras are able to shoot at that speed, and all of the second generation digital cinema projectors (2010 on) should be able to project at that speed with a software upgrade. The result is a lot smoother movement, less of the strobing effect, which gives the impression of an enhanced resolution. And of course, the higher frame rate will help with the discomfort some experience with 3D. The footage I screened during Cameron’s presentation, shot/screend at 48 frames a second in 3D, looked incredible. The best way to describe it, is to quote Cameron: “If watching a 3D movie is like looking through a window, then [with this] we’ve taken the glass out of the window and we’re staring at reality.”

Our friends at Marketsaw have learned that Jackson is shooting The Hobbit in 47.96 frames per second with the previously reported 30 RED Epic cameras.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the film will be distributed in 48fps.Who knows if New Line/Warner Bros is going to pay to have the visual effects rendered at 48 frames per second (While some claim it would double the price of rendering, Cameron argued during the presentation that smart pipeline software could choose which motion heavy footage would require the extra rendered frames, resulting in only a 10% increase in price). And if the studio is on board, then movie theaters would need to make sure their equipment is upgraded for 48fps presentation.

This would all need to happen before December 19th 2012. While I’m pretty sure Cameron will convince Fox and theater owners to upgrade before the release of Avatar 2, which is still a few years away. The good news is that even if The Hobbit doesn’t get a high speed release, it will be future proofed for a future release when the tech is widely available (which includes home video release, where the ability to play 48fps video is already a reality).

My Take:

Ah, another CinemaCon article. I am loving this! I love the movie Avatar. When it was being filmed I heard that there was a special lense that was used to shoot each scene. All I knew was that it would be greater and much better than any other film I had seen before. I didn’t know exactly what made it different, but I could see a difference. Not only with the 3D effects, I have seen those many times, but with clarity. The picture was so clear that it took my eyes a little while to adjust. Now I know that the cameras that were shooting Avatar are so clear due to the rate of pictures taken per second. I am so impressed that cameras can take 60 frames per second. WOW. I feel like a novice when it comes to film, and I am. Yet I am ready and willing to learn all about this new technology. Avatar was shot with 48 fps and now The Hobbit, which I have been waiting with anticipation for a few years now, will be shot with 47.96 fps. This is all too exciting. I am a huge fan of LOTR, those films were shot brilliantly. Now I can’t wait to see how realistic The Hobbit will be. 47.96 fps is a little short of what was used for Avatar, but I believe it will have just as good of an impact.


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