48 FPS

A few days ago I watched The Hobbit at 48 frames per second (FPS), and I have to say it detracted from the experience, at least on a first viewing. The picture was of such high quality and clarity that it appeared too lifelike, and I could not get immersed into the story. It felt like I was watching actors performing lines, doing a rehearsal or staging a live play, rather than watching characters in a film. It was missing the magic of the movies. Despite the high ratings on IMDB, I'd have to rate the film a mere 6/10 at this point.

I've seen several other movies shot at the standard 24 FPS since, and by contrast they did seem fuzzier. However, I was able to suspend disbelief and enjoy those movies.

The Hobbit is also showing at 24 FPS in the downtown Toronto IMAX, so I plan to watch it again, to see if it fares better in the IMAX format at the lower frame rate. If I like it, I'll go back and try the 48 FPS version a second time.

James Cameron is apparently experimenting with 60 FPS for the sequel to Avatar. I like the fact that we're seeing directors pushing the technical boundaries on film making. If they weren't, we'd still be watching black and white silent films! We have to accept that, despite their best intentions, there will sometimes be glitches and a learning curve for audiences, just like there was for 3D. I think the higher frame rates might be very useful for sports or other events where one does want the picture to be very lifelike. At this time, I'm willing to keep an open mind, to see if the next film that utilizes the new technology can be an improvement over what I felt for The Hobbit.

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