Russian DJ Arsen BPM is baguetting
Landscape by Bob Officer
I saw The Hobbit last night in 3D 48FPS and I’m glad I got a chance to see it in the theater. It’s a new thing to look at, it’s not the same as film, and it will have it’s own aesthetics and techniques.
I think a lot of what people are responding to with the 48 FPS looking cheap and like “BBC” has to do with production design and photography rather than the frame rate. Production techniques that work for traditional film don’t seem to work in this medium.
A lot of the dolly shots felt inelegant & slightly bumpy. These same shots probably look fine in 24 fps. But in the higher frame rate guys pushing a dolly down a track by hand and a guy turning the camera by hand did not feel flawlessly smooth. I don’t think there are any hand held shots in the film (probably b/c those cameras are fucking huge) but I really wanted to see one, something that’s not trying to be flawless. The CG camera moves however looked great. The zoom-in dolly-out shot was awesome.
A lot of the stuff shot in daylight had an unfinished look. There wan’t any sort of color treatment: it was neutral. I’m sure they’re trying to sell the “reality” of the look right up front but to me it looked unfinished. I don’t think the Red camera sensor pulled it off and probably needs a few years & a different color grade.
The light later on became much more stylistic, and worked a lot better for me. The scene with the guy that has bird shit all over his head looked great. That light in the woods was complex and you could see the atmosphere in the air. I think it was probably the best shot part of the film.
I read on some website the color of the art direction had to be over-saturated to accommodate the way the high frame rate sensor under saturates exposures. As a result it all felt subtly false. But everything about this film is far removed from anything close to “reality”. The dialog, physicality, costumes & props, set design, and visual effects are all highly theatrical. Once the dwarves started singing about a half hour in I decided to think of it like watching a stage show. Actors are very clearly performing, and we’re consciously accepting that what we’re watching is someone playing make believe. It’s a willful suspension of disbelief, not passive. If you’re not the sort of person that can do that you’ll hate the movie. All that aside, the high frame rate did feel more like actually looking at something rather than a screen.
I’m excited to see other photographers and directors use the medium. HFRmovies.com lists nothing but fantasy & sci-fi movies shooting high frame rate for the next 5 years. That sucks. Peter Greenaway’s films all feel like theatre, I’d love to see him use the technology and really lean in to how artificial it can be. I’d like to see Michael Bay shoot some of that cosmetic glossy Michael bay photography in 48 fps with lots of visible light & atmosphere. Or something very natural with long takes like a Mike Leigh film. I’d like to see a documentary like Planet Earth or Samsara in 3D 48fps. Or Step-up 5.
Looking at the movie was exciting. I bet the second and third Hobbit movies will improve on this one & have a much more refined look.