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Peter Jackson’s 48fps Presentation Of ‘The Hobbit’ At CinemaCon Gets A Mixed Response

Peter Jackson's 48fps Presentation Of 'The Hobbit' At CinemaCon Gets A Mixed Response

While the fact that Peter Jackson was shooting the upcoming “The Hobbit” films in 3D at 48 frames-per-second rate instead of the standard 24 frames-per-second has been around since proudction started, it gained a bit more steam last week. There were concerns about how prepared (or not) theaters would be for the blockbuster film come December, to show it in the format that Jackson intends it be viewed. The short version is that exhibitors/theater owners will need to upgrade the software on their 3D projectors to handle 48fps, and it’s not cheap (about $10,000). However, the selling point is that 48 fps offers a crisp viewing experience, free of any motion artifiacts, juttering or any other anomalies sometimes present in 24 fps screenings. Win/win right? Unfortunately for Jackson, it’s not quite a slam dunk. Presenting 10 minutes of footage today in the fancy new format at CinemaCon, the screening left many unimpressed.

On the more negative end of the spectrum was Devin Faraci who took to Twitter to say “Oh no. Not a fan of 48fps. Oh no no no,” adding that “THE HOBBIT, frankly, did not look cinematic.” Over on his Badass Digest blog he elaborated his thoughts, and essentially, the crisper looking image had the odd effect of making everything seem almost too realistic. “The 48fps footage I saw looked terrible. It looked completely non-cinematic. The sets looked like sets,” he explained.

But response from the rest of the crowd, even if negative, was toned with a bit of caution as well. Josh Dickey at Variety had a myriad of thoughts tweeting, “Great Scott, THE HOBBIT in 48 frames-per-second is a thing to behold. Totally different experience. Not all will like the change. 48 fps has an immediacy that is almost jarring. And lighting it just right will be a learning process, as 3D was and still is. 48 fps also, unfortunately, looks a bit like television. But it does bring 3D to a different level.”

Peter Sciretta at /Film also had mixed feelings saying, “Saw ten minutes of Hobbit in 48fps 3D. Very exciting, but I’m now very unsure about higher framerates. 48fps feature films will likely divide moviegoers — I expect to see stronger hate, more so than 3D.”

Meanwhile, the usually very picky Jeff Wells was impressed, but also echoed some of Devin Faraci’s concerns. “I felt astonished & amazed…the term is WOWED…and yet a bit uncertain about the 48 fps 3D footage from Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit.’ In a word, 48 fps 3D looks like high-def video.  It doesn’t look ‘cinematic’, lacking that filtered or gauzy look we’re all accustomed to,” he tweeted. But it was Alex Billington at First Showing who proabably hit the nail on the head of what unfolded this afternoon: “There are going to be endless debates about 48FPS and how good/bad it looks. I just think we need to get used to change after 80yr of 24FPS.”

It’s too early to determine the success or failure of this new “format” (for lack of a better term), but calling it a “mistake” (as some people are) based on 10 minutes of footage is premature at best. In fact, much of the reaction today is reminiscent of the same concerns that James Cameron‘s “Avatar” was met with in the months leading up to its release, that 3D wouldn’t be the game changer that Fox was hoping for, and audiences wouldn’t be impressed enough to make it a hit. And then it went on to make over 2 billion dollars. But at the current moment, while everyone at CinemaCon is talking about 48fps, to the average regular moviegoer out in the real world? They have no idea what that means.

Just search “48fps” on Twitter and you’ll see numerous people who don’t know what it is or that “The Hobbit” was even shooting in that format. The problems that 48 fps purports to solve are arguably not even noticed by the average viewer. Terms like “artificating” and “juttering” are terms still best known among hardcore tech heads, not moviegoers, and frankly, that’s because when most people watch movies, they aren’t seeing those “problems.” The only criteria for the average person buying a movie ticket is that the film is good, and that the presentation doesn’t take them out of the movie. Will 48 fps be too real? Too digital? Too crisp? And more worryingly, uncinematic? Time will tell.

All told, the sky isn’t falling. Yes, footage of “The Hobbit” was shown and people were concerned. But it was a brief bunch of footage that, it could be said, wasn’t long enough to allow the viewer to truly settle in and get used to it. Our guess? More footage of the “The Hobbit” will be shown at Comic-Con and many of the people at CinemaCon today, now prepared for how it looks and feels, will start to turn their opinion around. As for the rest of us, we’ll see if 48 fps makes a difference or not when “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” opens on December 14th.

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I just saw the Hobbitt a week ago and complained to my wife that it didn't "look" real. I couldn't explain the feeling. Just that everything looked fake, made up with CGI. Lord of the Ring looked more natural and better. Then I come across this article and it finally explains what I was seeing. 48 fps doesn't look good. And the new tv's that are 120 Hz or better have the same problem. I go to friends homes and their tv isn't watchable to me. Looks like video.


Just as bad as the upscaled 120Hz TV's years ago. Too realistic, takes away from the film experience. The 4th wall has just been smashed, and its not pretty.

Michael McMullen

I'm waiting to see what kind of response the general audience will give it, too. I'm not convinced, yet, that it's the major revolution Jackson/Cameron are hoping it will be, but I'm curious enough to give it a shot.

Tom Larkin

I tested 24, 30, 48, and 60fps on the same video because of all of this hobbit hoopla. Check out my results:


I wonder what will be the preferred BluRay encoding format for 48 fps movies. I believe most movies are encoded in 1920x1080x24p. Current players do not support 1920x1080x48p. Instead, the best support option to show the improved frame rate would be 1280x720x50p which would mean playback would be at a lower resolution. Also, it would take more than just a firmware update to add support for 1920x1080x48p to the standard since the most players can't decode faster than the BluRay specified limit of 40 Mbit/s video. If the studios decide to push 48 fps, we may start seeing special edition BluRay releases with 2 discs (one in 1920x1080x24p and one in 1280x720x50p).


Whatever. I gave up on motion pictures when scenarios became optional and the loudness wars also had their effect on the soundtracks. These days any major production is just a continuous low frequency rumble on a volume just below pain threshold.
Combine that with the dismal theatre experiences and I wish them all a lot of luck but without my money, I'll catch it on TV in a few years.


Is it possible to see an example of 48 fps video on YouTube or some other site? Can someone link it?


This is gonna be just like those "talkies" and that color stuff Hollywood added to real cinema.

Why does Hollywood keep cramming this stuff down our throats? If I wanted something realistic, I'd walk outside.


This is such a cultural/psychological thing. If we had grown up with movies at 30fps and TV at 24fps, then it'd be the former we'd consider 'cinematic'.


It's because we are always catering for the average person that advancements in media / technology in general take so long to become the standard.

And yes, I notice the difference between 24, 48 and 60+ fps.
I also always complained that any computer screen that operates under 60Hertz is complete crap and gives me headaches.


It seems to me the problem isn't with the higher frame rate, it's with the failure of the rest of the filmmaking process to keep up. If everything else on-set was operating at the same advanced level of technology, people would be blown away! Improve make-up, set design, camera movement, etc – don't "dumb-down" the frame rate to make it look ok. By that logic, cinema would never improve as it would always be held back by the lowest performing aspects of production!

James Causey

I saw a film at DisneyWorld way back in 1978 that had been shot at 48fps. It was in Fantasyland as a special attraction at that time and I cannot remember it's title at all. It had lots of nature footage.

I recall being quite taken aback by it. It was TOO realistic looking. The film did 'star' a few people, and when they were in conversation, I don't know how to explain it' but everything seemed…slow motion. I THINK because the brain is having to process so much more information.

Although it LOOKED great, almost 3D, it was entirely too realistic and because of the 'time slowing' effect, I could not ever imagine seeing a real narrative movie in this format. I was indeed left with a very disconcerted feeling at age 13.

Needless to say, I can't recall another Disney attraction in the last 35 years that used the higher fps.

Tl;dr, I had a feeling once people saw this high frame rate, it would not go over very well.

Bob H

Then they are really going to hate the 120fps that I've seen produce the most fantastic motion reproduction… I've always hated the idea of 24fps, partly because it is a legacy system of a legacy celluloid age and mainly because it isn't very good at motion reproduction.


The jaded generation strikes again. The younger generations- 30, maybe 35 and younger- simply hate *everything*. New technology? Hate it. New game? Hate it. New movie? Hate it. Sequel to a hit franchise? Hate it.

I simply can't comprehend how rough of an existence it is for these people. As for me, growing up on a Vic 20 and my imagination to entertain me, when technology improves, it does just that- improves. 3D, when done with the Cameron technology, is simply amazing (Avatar was as immersive an experience as one can have in a theater) and 48fps is 24fps better than before.

This is an improvement, and the luddites need to step out of the way and let some progress be made for once. The LOTR series is still the best three movies ever made- perfection at every level. There is nothing you could say to convince me Jackson's hands on the two Hobbit movies won't make them slide right up into the top five as easy as a scalding knife through butter. The man is a genius, and has proven he can make amazing films with amazing technology. Nothing will be different this time.

If people want it to be grainier, they can rub dirt on their glasses. The rest of us want to feel like we're *there*- like it's reality. That's what this will do.


I have one of those TVs that does a good job at extrapolating frames (Samsung 7000 led). And when you turn that functionality on, it does make everything look more 'fake'.

It makes movies feel more like theater than cinema. When I first got the TV, I really noticed the makeup and excessive hairspray on men a lot. Also, the props in sci-fi movies look like they were foam or plastic (since that is actually what they are). Iron Man, for example, looked very plasticy.

It only took a week or two to get used to it and now I mostly don't notice it anymore and actually prefer the crisper looking images. It's especially great for documentaries such as Planet Earth where everything is more life like. I know some people have difficulty getting used to it.

Mark McA

To people growing up with 240 line VHS and 480/625 line TVs, cinema always looked better.

To those growing up with 1080 HDTV and 85 fps graphics, cinema looks worse. It has to leap ahead again, and it will. In time, we'll all wonder what the fuss was about.

Nobody rents a VHS for the olde-world feel.

Tim Creed

The article was great! BUT they forgot to mention that Peter Jackson STRESSED that the footage wasn't in it's complete state.

John C

I would like to disagree with one point of the article. " In fact, much of the reaction today is reminiscent of the same concerns that James Cameron's "Avatar" was met with in the months leading up to its release, that 3D wouldn't be the game changer that that Fox was hoping for, and audiences wouldn't be impressed enough to make it a hit."

I would argue that 3D is still a problem for most movies other than those released in the early going after Avatar. Avatar was the one movie so far that made 3D seem feasible, and other moviegoers have struggled mightily to find an audience for it. Even Hugo, a critic's darling and supposedly a herald of 3D movie making by a master artisan, failed to make headway.

48FPS might be the future. In fact, at some point I wouldn't be surprised if the kids who start their moviegoing experience with 48FPS movies begin to see 24FPS like many of us see B&W TV. But there will be a period where many, if not most of us struggle to accept it.


I think it's silly to reject something that makes things more true to life, but I think a majority of the complaints will come from camera movement in 48fps films. More frames = more noticeable changes in position = more cognisance of instability. less frames helps smooth those quirks out, so I hope they get those dollies oiled up slick!


Very excited about Dark Knight – looks great. I think the problem with "The Hobbit" is not the frame speed or splitting it into 2 movies, the problem is that fanboys would prefer that a "fat Peter Jackson" direct instead of the less successful "skinny Peter Jackson"…


I can't believe people got to watch 10 minutes of The Hobbit and all they want to talk about is the frame rate. What happened in the footage? I could not care less whether it has a soap opera effect(though it's going to be available in ALL types of formats, so if you don't like the frame rate, just go watch it in regular 2D, it'll be there for you watch, you have your choice, what's the big deal?), I want to know what happened in the scene(s) shown.


Does anyone know if the 24fps projections will lose this television style quality and feel more like what we're used to?


I had a feeling this would be the case. Nobody knows why they prefer films at 24fps, they just know they do. The stutter of cinema adds a slight, intangible barrier of separation of the viewer from the cinematic dimension that, like the uncanny valley of graphics, allows us to step away from our reality while we watch it, just enough to accept the film and its obviously faked lighting and production design as fantasy rather than to scrutinize it's imperfections.


Trust me. We'll all get used to it looking "too realistic". And u guys are definitely wrong to think that it'll be just like the filter we have on ours tv's that we can turn on and off that make it look soap opera-y.


I personally hate 25 frames! I think that looks fake and "soap opera" but 48 frames is just too much. As stated, the only people that are going to notice these changes are the hardcore tech heads, so why only annoy them with this stupid change?

First we jump over to digital… then it was 3D… what next? Contemporary cinema has lost its way.

Kevin Klawitter

So it doesn't look "grungy or filtered" and some people are consiering that a BAD thing? I remembered when James Cameron first mentioned doing the "Avatar" sequels in 48-60 fps he said it was because he wanted it to work with the 3D to look like you were just looking at Pandora, rather than looking at Pandora through a screen or glass. Based on these reports, that seems to be pretty much the case with "The Hobbit".

Just another example of how people CLAIM to be all for innovation, but in practice reject anything that seems "different".


Oh God, this is worse than I thought. It's going to be exactly like that terrible "soap-opera"
effect on HD TVs, isn't it?

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