Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was revealed on Tuesday at CinemaCon via 10 minutes worth of Middle Earth footage. Unlike other big CinemaCon reveals that were judged solely on their content, The Hobbit became instantly controversial for Jackson’s use of 48 frames-per-second (fps) filming, a year removed from James Cameron championing the framerate after 80 odd years of the industry working almost exclusively in 24 fps.
Twitter provided numerous mixed reactions from what will be the first major motion picture to utilize the technology. Some tweeted the footage, which wasn’t completed, is extremely clear and focused in long scenery shots despite the use of 3D. Jackson explained 48fps as creating “a strong sense of reality” and reduces the “strobing and flicker” evident in existing 24fps 3D, creating a much more “gentle experience on the eyes.” He likens the 48fps experience to looking through a “hole cut in the wall of the cinema.”
More traditional movie fans blasted the new framerate as looking like a “soap opera” with all traces of film grain removed, leaving an artificial representation in its place. It’s the Blu-ray vs. film or CD vs. vinyl argument all over again, only this time on a much grander scale. Even Jackson himself warned prior to the footage’s unveiling that the new framerate requires an adjustment period for the eyes.
Those who take offense to 48fps should have no issues finding a cinema playing the film in 24fps. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be down-converted to 24fps for cinemas that don’t have projectors capable of throwing a 48fps image. Much like the early days of 3D, it may be harder to find a theater running the film in 48fps than 24fps.
Because of all the framerate controversy stemming from The Hobbit footage reveal, little is being said about what was shown. From reports around the Internet, the footage thus far looks to be on-par with what Jackson accomplished in The Lord of the Rings, for what that’s worth. We probably won’t see a new The Hobbit trailer until this summer when Warner’s The Dark Knight Rises arrives.